Navy Medical Corps
Service Selecting Navy Medical Corps
Points of Contact:
Dr. Chris Kinter
Chair, Premedical/Predental Advising Committee
USNA Chemistry Department
Michelson Hall 254
Dr. Ina O'Carroll
Member, Premedical/Predental Advising Committee
USNA Chemistry Department
Michelson Hall 183
Back to Premedical/Predental Opportunities page.
Role of the PPAC (Premedical Predental Advising Committee)
Applying to Medical School Later
Getting Information (links)
The opportunity exists for a very limited number of midshipmen to service select Navy Medical or Dental Corps and enter medical or dental school directly upon graduation from USNA. The purpose of this document is to provide some basic information about the program and to provide some advice about the application processes for a medical/dental corps billet and for admission to medical/dental school. The focus will be on medical school, but most of the discussion can be equally well applied to dental school. If you are a midshipman interested in the program you should contact Dr. Kinter to be included on the e-mail list so that you receive announcements about information sessions, important deadlines, and the like. Also, please feel free to contact either Dr. Kinter or Dr. O'Carroll for advisement regarding issues such as major selection, course selection, extra-curricular activities, the application process, or any other questions you might have.
The premedical program at USNA began in 1970 with the Class of 1974. In 1982, The Secretary of the Navy, upon recommendation by the Chief of Naval Operations, established a program which would permit a limited number of highly motivated and well qualified Naval Academy graduates to participate in subsequent naval medical training. In 1996, the Secretary of the Navy expanded the program to provide midshipmen with the opportunity to enter either the Medical or Dental Corps. Current Navy regulations cap the maximum number of combined Medical and Dental Corps billets for graduating USNA midshipmen at 15, but, in any given year, the actual number of billets available may be less than that depending on the needs of the Navy.
Midshipmen are encouraged to read in its entirety USNA Instruction 1531.47C which governs the program. This instruction states a number of minimum qualifications including:
- CQPR (grade point average) of at least 3.2 (however, the average value for those who’ve been recommended for the billet in recent years and have been accepted to medical school is ~ 3.6)
- No grade in military performance lower than B in second and first class years.
- No grade in conduct lower than B in second and first class years
- Completion of the medical school required courses before the start of 1/C year
- Competitive score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) by mid-summer prior to 1/C year
The role of the Premedical/Predental Advising Committee (PPAC) is to provide information and counseling to midshipmen interested in Navy medicine or dentistry and to provide to the Superintendent its recommendations concerning the selection of midshipmen for the Medical and Dental Corps. The committee is chaired by the Naval Academy Premedical Adviser (Dr. Kinter) and consists of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, a senior representative of the Commandant’s staff (normally a Battalion Officer), a Navy physician representing Navy Medical Corps (a senior officer from Brigade Medical, for instance), a Navy dentist representing Navy Dental Corps (a senior officer from Brigade Dental, for instance) and a faculty representative from the Chemistry Department (Dr. O'Carroll). Midshipmen who wish to be considered for a Medical or Dental Corps billet will submit a formal application to the PPAC Chair by the end of 2/C year. The PPAC will review all of the application materials, conduct interviews of the applicants over the summer, and make recommendations to the Superintendent about billet selection early in the fall of 1/C year.
Medical (and dental) schools generally do not require any one particular major but rather list specific courses as requirements. They accept applicants from many different academic majors as long as the required courses have been completed. You should check the webpages of the specific schools in which you are interested for their specific requirements. Generally, medical schools list the required courses as: one year each, of Biology with lab, Physics with lab, General Chemistry with lab, Organic Chemistry with lab, Calculus, and English. Several of these courses are contained in the USNA Core Curriculum and thus are fulfilled by any academic major at the Naval Academy. The courses that are remaining include one year of Biology with lab and one year of Organic Chemistry with lab. Fundamentals of Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology (SB251-252 including the labs) are offered by the USNA Chemistry Department. Organic Chemistry I and II (SC225-226), and the corequisite lab course (SC261-262), is also offered in the Chemistry Department. SC225, SC226, SC261, and SC262 are required courses for Chemistry Majors. For this reason, many midshipmen interested in pursuing medical corps choose to major in chemistry. But, you are certainly free to major in whatever you like. If you choose to major in something other than chemistry you must be very sure that you will be able to accomplish all of the medical school requirements by the end of second class year. The fact that these are laboratory sciences introduces some difficult scheduling challenges. For example, Integrated Lab I and II, the lab courses that accompany Organic Chemistry I and II, meet for three-hour sessions twice weekly. Typically midshipmen choosing majors other than chemistry take advantage of significant validation credits and/or voluntary summer school. Without validation credit, it will be very difficult or perhaps impossible to complete the required courses by the end of second class year as required for consideration for the billet. Note, medical schools generally do not accept AP credit so courses in the prerequisite subject areas must be taken in college. Over the period of 1998 to 2009, midshipmen from 13 different majors attended medical school after USNA graduation with about two thirds of them coming from the chemistry major.
Gaining admission to medical school is a highly competitive undertaking and earning high grades is paramount. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), for the period of 2021 – 2023, only ~45,000 of the ~118,000 applicants to U.S. medical schools were accepted. In 2009, the average GPA for those entering U. S medical schools was 3.66. The average GPA of those who applied for admission, but did not matriculate, was 3.39. Thus, each year across the county a large and highly competitive pool of applicants is vying to become part of a very select group who will gain acceptance to one of the 133 U.S. medical schools. In order to compete well in this applicant pool you should endeavor to build the strongest academic record possible with high grades in all subjects. In the application process, your grades in biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses are segregated into a separate category thus highlighting your performance in these key areas to prospective medical schools. The average GPA of those midshipmen who were recommended for a Medical Corps billet during the period of 1999 – 2009 was 3.63.
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized examination that is used as part of the admission process by essentially every U. S. medical school. It contains four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. The MCAT is offered numerous times beginning in late January through early September. For the class entering U.S. medical schools in 2009, the average score on the MCAT (PS, VR, and BS sections combined) was 30.8 (of 45 max). The average MCAT score among midshipmen awarded a Medical Corps billet during the period 1999 – 2009 was 29.8.
To be considered for a Med Corps billet, the PPAC must have your best MCAT score by early in August prior to your first-class year. Midshipmen should plan on taking the MCAT by spring of 2/C year. This will allow enough time to schedule and prepare for a retake in the event one is needed, and receive the new scores in time for PPAC consideration. MCAT scores are typically released 30 to 35 days after the test is taken. Also, gearing up for a retake may require significant preparation time especially if one is counting on the score improving significantly.
All MCAT attempts “count” in the eyes medical schools. You should prepare well for the MCAT and try to get the best score you possibly can. Many midshipmen find that with ample preparation, one MCAT is all that is needed. However, it is very dangerous to put off taking the MCAT for the first time until the last minute in case you discover you do need to retake the test because of a low score or because of unforeseen circumstances such as an illness on test day. It has happened that midshipmen who have delayed taking their first MCAT until 1/C summer have received an unexpectedly low score. Because they waited until the last minute to take the first MCAT, the score for the retake did not come back in time to impact the PPAC decision regarding a billet. We have seen very well qualified applicants lose the billet this way even though the score on the retake improved significantly; the better score just didn’t arrive in time. The scores on record when PPAC deliberates in early August of first-class year are the ones upon which the PPAC decision will be based.
In addition to identifying applicants with outstanding academic credentials, medical school admission committees are also very interested in individuals with a proven track record of service to others and of leadership. Your desire to come to USNA is a strong testament to your willingness to serve your country and your desire take on the responsibility of leadership roles. You should also seek opportunities to engage in community volunteer activities. Be sure to adequately document all of your activities outside the classroom in your medical school application as you will participate in a variety of experiences that none of your counterparts in the large medical school applicant pool will.
It is also important to gain clinical experience to help you discern if working with patients appeals to you. Medical schools look for this kind of experience to be sure that you know about the issues facing healthcare providers today and that you have seen an insider’s view of the medical profession. There is a formal mechanism available to selected midshipmen in the form of an internship for rising 1/C. See below for more information about the USNA medical internship opportunities. But, you should also try to take advantage of any opportunities to shadow physicians or volunteer at local hospitals that you can. Also, on your summer cruises, you may be able to get the opportunity to see Navy medicine in action. Many midshipmen report that they have been able to interact with personnel in the medical departments aboard ship during their cruises.
The Chemistry Department sponsors two internship programs available to midshipmen in any academic major specifically designed for those interested in Navy medicine and dentistry. These internships are available only to rising first class midshipmen with approval of the USNA faculty POCs. It is important to note that midshipmen are responsible for travel and other costs associated with these internships. It is possible that the internships may be counted for summer training credit for qualified midshipmen.
- Clinical Rotations at Navy Medical Centers (USNA POC: Dr. O'Carroll, Chemistry Dept.)
- This program provides midshipmen the opportunity to spend a summer block shadowing Navy physicians in a variety of medical departments in a large navy hospital. The internship runs at the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Navy Medical Center San Diego (Balboa), and Navy Medical Center Portsmouth.
- Infectious Disease Research/Tropical Medicine (USNA POC: Dr. Kinter, Chemistry Dept.)
- This program takes place at the U. S. Naval Medical Research Center Detachment Lima and Iquitos, Peru. Midshipmen will participate in research in infectious disease and tropical medicine and may also work alongside Navy Medical Corps staff providing healthcare and humanitarian aid in the region.
- 4/C Year Academic Year
- Do very well academically
- Choose an appropriate major that will allow you to complete all of the medical school requirements by the end of 2/C year.
- 3/C Summer
- Gain some exposure to Navy Medical Corps while on summer cruise if possible
- Volunteer or shadow while on leave if possible
- 3/C Year
- Do very well academically
- Earn high grades in medical school requirements (organic chemistry and/or biology and the accompanying labs)
- 2/C Summer
- Prep for MCAT (some mids opt to take the MCAT during the summer prior to 2/C year if they’ve completed both biology and organic chemistry).
- Gain some clinical experience and/or participate in volunteer work
- 2/C Year
- Do very well academically
- Complete the medical school requirements (organic chemistry and/or biology and the accompanying labs)
- Take the MCAT: NOTE: PPAC must have your final score by early August of 1/C year. Be sure to allow ample time in case a retake is necessary!!)
- Submit PPAC application end of 2/C year.
- 1/C Summer
- Retake MCAT if necessary (in EARLY summer at the latest)
- Participate in a medical internship
- Submit AMCAS primary application. AMCAS is an electronic clearing house where you load all of your application information including grades in college courses. The information is then normalized and validated. You fill out one AMCAS application for all of the schools to which you are applying. The application opens on 1 June. Most medical schools operate on a rolling admissions basis meaning it is in your best interest to submit your AMCAS application early.
- Interview with PPAC
- Return secondary applications. Upon receipt of your AMCAS application, medical schools may or may not send you a secondary application. Secondary applications are specific to individual medical schools. You should return these to schools in a timely fashion. Medical school admissions committees may interpret the timeliness with which you process the secondary application as an indication of your level of interest in their school.
- 1/C Year
- Continue to return secondary applications
- Interview at medical schools
- Await Supt’s decision on Med. Corps Billets
- Prepare HPSP application
The figure below shows the timeline for the pathway to a Medical Corps billet.
The figure below shows one example of how the timeline can fit into a midshipman’s matrix. This example is the case of a chemistry major with no validation credit. The organic chemistry courses are part of the major requirements in 3/C year. Fundamentals of Biology is taken during 3/C Fall or Spring and Human Anatomy and Physiology is taken during 3/C Spring or 2/C Fall. This allows the MCAT to be taken in the spring of 2/C year with ample time for a retake by early summer if needed. The presence of validation credit may allow biology (and therefore the MCAT) to be taken earlier. For other majors, it will be necessary to make use of open slots from validations and/or summer school. Make sure you can map out a specific plan where organic chemistry with lab, biology with lab, and the MCAT can be all be accomplished the end of 2/C year and that all of the needed courses will fit into a schedule for each semester along the way. Biochemistry I (SC335) is not required for the billet, but many medical schools require it. Therefore, it is a good idea to plan for adding this course into your matrix. SC335 is part of the chemistry major requirements.
The path to becoming a physician involves four years of medical school followed by post-graduate training in the form of a residency program. First-year residents are known as interns. The duration of the residency training program depends on the specialty. For example, family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics are three-year residency programs, OB/GYN is four years, and general surgery residencies are typically five-year programs. Subspecialty training may extend these time frames further.
There are two pathways to medical school available to graduating midshipmen:
- HPSP: Health Professions Scholarship Program:
- Scholarship to any U. S. medical school.
- HPSP pays educational costs including tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment
- Students receive a monthly stipend ($2200 as of Feb 2017) plus full active duty pay and benefits for 45 days per year.
- 4 year service obligation
- USUHS: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences:
- DoD health sciences university
- No tuition. DoD pays education cost.
- Students receive full salary and benefits of a junior officer.
- 7 year service obligation
- Notes about service obligation for both HPSP and USUHS:
- The service obligation is to be paid back while in a non-training status. Thus, the time spent in residency training does not apply to the service obligation.
- The service obligation incurred for medical school is normally added to the USNA obligation
- See program websites and/or contact program representatives for details
Many USNA graduates attend medical school later in life. In some cases, this happens while still on active duty via a lateral transfer into the medical corps. In other cases, individuals opt to go to medical school after fulfilling their USNA service obligation. For some individuals, there was an interest in medicine when they were midshipmen but they did not obtain a med. corps billet, or they simply chose to do something else in the Navy first (aviation, submarines, surface warfare, etc.). For others, the thought of going into medicine didn’t happen until later in life. Regardless of the circumstances, we have seen many USNA graduates attend medical school some years after USNA and go on to have successful careers in medicine in both the Navy and the civilian world. Medical schools are very attracted to individuals who have had varied life experiences, have sought opportunities to serve, have shouldered responsibility, and have developed strong leadership qualities. Thus, applicants who have spent time in the Fleet and Marine Corps make for attractive candidates. The application requirements are the same as those stated above in terms of academic course work and the MCAT. Thus, those going this route will often need to fill in some gaps in terms of required courses, take refresher courses, and prepare for the MCAT. Dr. Kinter and Dr. O'Carroll can help advise former midshipmen about the process.
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
- Navy Physician (Medical Corps)
- Navy Dentist (Dental Corps)
- American Dental Education Association (ADEA)