I have some questions about becoming a Navy, Air Force, or Marine Doctor (USUHS question also)

Jun 8, 2022
That's a pretty broad title, so I apologize for that. I want to have a career in the Navy or Marines branch of the military serving as an emergency physician. I'd like to end up going to medical school at the Uniformed Services University of Health and Science (USUHS), but I don't know where to go for undergraduate school to get my bachelor's degree. I've tried to find the schools that USUHS accepts students from the most, but I cannot find anything. I want to help people internationally with disaster relief and emergency medical care.

I'm going to be a junior in high school-- if there's any advice you can give, for example, what programs or opportunities I should take advantage of, please let me know. For some background:
  • I have a 4.0 unweighted, I am in volleyball and track, but only have a varsity letter for track from this past year. I think I will be on varsity for both this year, but nothing is finite.
  • I work out every single week along with going to summer practices for volleyball, and I maintain a healthy and balanced diet; if there is any other sport I should try out for, please let me know.
  • I was one of the students at my school this past year nominated for my state's leadership seminar, which only takes one student from each school. Unfortunately, I did not win, and have been trying to find leadership opportunities since.
  • I took no study halls my sophomore year and instead filled my schedule with two semester classes---- Sociology and Total Body Fitness ---and the only AP classes sophomores were allowed to take--- AP World History and AP Computer Science Principles (this filled my schedule as there are other classes that are required). This year I am hoping to take AP Biology, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Psychology, AP United States History, Anatomy and Physiology, Biotechnology and Epidemics, and Latin (along with Spanish III).
  • I started an American Sign Language Club at my school with a friend of mine, and we run the club trying to spread awareness of the deaf and hard of hearing community, bring a greater understanding of the community and respect to them, while also introducing sign language learning material by deaf and/or HoH authors. I am part of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS), the Science Olympiad team, and I think I can join the National Honor Society (NHS) this year (it's only available to juniors and seniors at my school).
  • I am trying to join a medical program offered by a local hospital and I'm also applying to volunteer at said hospital.
  • I love language learning, I have so many different languages I'd like to learn, but my focus right now is on Spanish, Greek, Indonesian, and Russian. My mom and I are saving up as much money as we can so that I can do my senior year in a Spanish-speaking country, so if you have any ideas for which country I should go to, please send recommendations.
  • Lastly, I would like to do the Summer Leaders Experience (SLE) program West Point is offering next summer, but I'm afraid I don't have enough to really stand out among all the other applicants.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and maybe you can provide some information on colleges or advice for what I can do right now.
A few brief replies to your admittedly broad question:

- Marines do not have their own medical staff; Navy doctors, nurses, dentists, medical service and enlisted corpsmen provide their care, or providers from other services if at a joint base ashore.
- Emergency medicine. If the Navy pays for your medical school, they also determine which specialty and residency down the road. Needs of the Navy drive everything. Of course, there is a process to match your desire with Navy needs, but Navy needs are weighted more heavily.
- “I want to help people internationally with disaster relief and emergency medical care.” Admirable, but you may not get to do a lot of that in military medicine. Much will depend on your specialty and what’s going on in the world.
- Though there are paths to military medicine from the service academies, it is a very narrow path and few are chosen. The mission of the SAs is to produce warriors. The military gets the majority of its doctors from “regular” colleges and medical schools.

- I assume you are also researching Navy, Army and Air Force Health Professional Scholarship Programs, HPSP.

- USUHS will use the same criteria other medical schools look at, such as MCAT and undergraduate performance, and other performance factors. You will also have to be deemed medically qualified to enter military service, among other military related criteria. Research colleges that have strong pre-med programs, that you will be competitive for and that you can afford - and that you feel will be a good fit for you.

- Add to your research serving as a uniformed officer in the USPHS, a uniformed service but not an armed service. There are scholarships and other programs. They are fine professionals, with similar benefits to armed services. Their uniforms look like Navy but have their own insignia. Same ranks. They can also attend USUHS.

- The Department of State has its own medical team.
Last edited:
You are writing your resume as if it’s a SA in your future.

What you want IMO is a college where you can do outstanding academic work while getting outstanding grades and great standard medical school admission tests. Good enough to get into medical school.

And I doubt that many medical schools some years down the road are going to care about much in your list. A SA would.

And if you do get those grades in undergrad and think you might get into medical school you should be open to all the military services.

I have worked with quite a few commissioned corps docs and none of those came into the cc as a brand new doctor. They were already experts in their field. That is not to say that the cc could not be an option. A

And if the cc is an option something like these folks might be a good place to look. Places where medical folks are delivering basic health care.

.https://www.ihs.gov/. (Indian health service)

Your best bet will be with the military IMO.

Option #2 —-Military nursing.

Option #3 ——Enlist and become medic or corpsman and do the actual medical work while the doctors and nurses chat and drink coffee.
Last edited:
One clarification

Marines may not have their own doctors , nurses and corpsman but they often have their own doctors , nurses and corpsman.

You won’t be a Marine doctor but you can be a Navy doctor trained to serve directly with Marines. Considered—-Green Side. You go thru some fairly light USMC combat training.

Our bn medical doctor, and all USMC battalions have doctors, found himself very much in the field, in combat and under fire.
All good advice.
Look at required undergraduate courses for medical school. No matter which route you decide upon, try to knock out these prerequisites.
Don’t count out the Army medicine side as well. Medicine in all the services have advantages and disadvantages.
Getting medical school directly from a service academy is very competitive, but it’s possible.
Don’t necessarily be in a rush to go straight to medical school. There is nothing wrong with the “traditional” medical school route, but once you go that route that’s what you are- a doctor. You still have many options in the medical field, but they are limited.
I know many “non traditional” military medical students who have had very successful medical careers. These are people who did a wide variety of military specialties before medical school. SEAL, pilot, armor officer… you name it. They bring things to the table as doctors that traditional doctors might lack.
Reference specialties after medical school. As pointed out, “needs of the military”. Some services send more doctors to residencies than others. It’s not unusual for new graduates to do a “GMO” (general medical officer) tour before a residency. If you don’t get what you want you can reapply (if that’s the correct term), for a different residency when you leave the service. My cousin (who was a Navy pilot before medical school), ran the ER program at a major university and saw former military doctors all the time. I knew one doctor who did 3 residencies before he found the one that was his passion (not recommended).
The simpler route is to go to a civilian college, then go to medical school and specialize in whatever you want. AFter you become an MD, join the military. Obviously getting into medical school is hard but doing it through the civilian world gives you many options compared to trying to do it through the military. Its possible you get into an academy, do well and yet not be allowed to go to Medical School. Then what. Sure you can go to medical school after you finish serving but that defeats your purpose of being a doctor in the military