What is the Medical Service Corps?

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  • Written By: Barbara R. Cochran
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Images By: Steve Cukrov, Darren Baker, Commander, U.s. 7Th Fleet
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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The Medical Service Corps (MSC) is an important support to different branches of the United States Military, especially since shortly after World War Two. It is particularly active as part of the Army's mission, which is "to conserve fighting strength." The Medical Service Corps is also present in the Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

The officers who are commissioned for the Corps carry out administrative, clinical, and scientific work that helps ensure the smooth running of their branch's operation. They accomplish this through research, management of care, and direct intervention with troops and their families. They must have the appropriate degree, certification, and/or license. The different branches of the military offer many program options to those who want to serve in the Medical Service Corps for earning a Masters or PhD degree, or to train in a private industry setting. This ensures that the candidate for a commission has the necessary skills and credentials.

Doctors who work for the Army branch of the Corps might work close to the front lines. In many cases, he or she may be stationed at a United States military base, at home or abroad. Navy Medical Service Corps doctors might serve their commission on board an aircraft carrier, anywhere in the world.


Medical Service Corps teams practice several specialties. In addition to surgeries and the treatment of wounds that might be needed when a soldier, sailor, pilot, or Marine is injured during the course of his or her enlistment, the teams practice other jobs. They offer podiatric and optometry services for members of the military and their families. An enlistee can also avail him- or herself of pharmacy services. With all of these services, some of which are preventive, the The Corps attempts to ensure that military members will enjoy optimal care and health, which, in turn, heightens their ability to perform their duties.

Behavioral intervention, and other social services, have become increasingly important for military personnel, especially during and after the Vietnam and Gulf wars when many soldiers were found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Corps offer enlistees services from clinical and counseling psychologists, as well as from social workers. These degreed and licensed professionals aid military personnel in making personal and psychological adjustments while they are serving, and as they transition into new roles.

Roughly 35% of Medical Service Corps personnel work behind the scenes. They do medical research or administrative tasks as they pertain to the specific military branch they work in. Biochemists and microbiologists work on solutions to bio-terrorism so that Americans, and the world at large, can be kept safe. Psychological research is also carried out. Corps administrators concentrate on financial and patient management, as well as operations research and manpower systems analysis.


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