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How Do I Become a Combat Medic?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Images By: Benjaminnolte, Overcrew, Hansenn, Shiva, n/a, John Gomez
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
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Training to become a combat medic requires passing basic training and an advanced course that provides medical skills. No specialized degree is required before entering training, beyond a high school diploma or equivalency certificate. The military also has need for qualified doctors and nurses to provide advanced medical care for patients brought in for treatment by combat medics. After military service, an ex-combat medic may be able to work on first responder crews and in hospitals, nursing homes, and similar environments.

The first step for someone who wants to become a combat medic is physical fitness. Medical personnel, also known as corpsmen in some branches, need to be able to pass fitness standards to enlist, and must maintain their fitness. Recruiters can provide information about fitness standards as well as training programs, but activities like running, biking, and swimming can help people prepare. It is also necessary to be of good character, as recruits can be rejected on moral grounds.

Applicants for combat medic positions may need to take a vocational skills test for placement purposes. The test provides information about potentially suitable positions and allows a recruiter to recommend a particular job placement. If an enlistee plans to become a combat medic, it is a good idea to discuss this with a recruiter. After enlistment, new military members attend basic training to receive an orientation into military life.

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Combat medic candidates are sent on to advanced training, which typically lasts 16 weeks. During this training to become a combat medic, students spend time in the classroom and in simulated battlefield environments. The work is grueling and highly demanding, as students need to acquire a broad set of skills before they are ready for active duty. This training typically includes orientation in performing exams, securing airways, administering medications, and packaging patients for transport to medical facilities.

After training to become a combat medic is complete, a medic can be assigned to a unit. Medics provide first aid on active engagements as well as support when the unit is on base. This work requires continuing education to stay current with first aid standards and learn about new techniques. Combat medics also need to maintain weapons qualifications. Historically, medics were unarmed because they were viewed as noncombatants, but the changing face of modern warfare has made it necessary for many militaries to arm their medical personnel for their safety and that of others.

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