Medical Field


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Nov 29, 2008
Hi, I am a sophomore in high school and am planning to apply to USNA as my number one choice. I am very interested in having a career in the medical field and was just wondering what the USNA offers for that? Any information on that would be excellent!

Also, when should i start to contact my BGO and MOC? Another question that may seem stupid, how do i find out who my BGO is?
USNA for Medical

As you continue to research USNA and perhaps other service academies, you will learn more about their mission. The job of the military academies is to produce warriors (line officers) to serve at sea in warfare specialties such as surface ships, aviation, submarines and others, as well as Marine Corps warfare paths. It is not a major function to produce doctors, lawyers or other staff officers. The services usually fill health practitioner needs by direct commissioning (fully qual'ed doctor comes in direct from civilian life), health professional scholarships for medical school followed by commissioning and obligated service time, USUHS (uniformed services med school, look it up), special ROTC options, line officers who have served in their warfare specialty who transfer to Medical Corps after taking time off to go to medical school, come up through enlisted corpsmen ranks.... many paths, but the rarest is usually via a service academy.

That said, USNA allows a handful of graduating midshipmen to go to medical school each year and then on to a career in the Medical Corps. It's highly competitive. I know we have a USUHS grad on here, and others have good info too. Thread research may produce earlier discussions.

You should think about your mid-term and long-term goals. Do you want to be a physician first? A physician in uniform? A physician in a naval uniform? USNA is just 4 years, and while it's a great goal to shoot for, is it the right thing for you? Do some thinking about that, and let that inform your decision process.

Information is key. Lots of good advice here on the road to a service academy, and if you can connect with a military health care officer, all the better to help you decide on a path.

Good luck.
BGOs are generally assigned based on high school. Check your college/career counselor at your high school to find out who your BGO is. As for contacting him/her -- there is no need to do so until June of your senior (rising senior) year. IOW, establishing contact over the years really won't help you from an admissions standpoint. However, if you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact your BGO at any time.

As for entering the medical field, the opportunity still exists but it is very limited (and could always be withdrawn without notice). You should enter USNA expecting to be a line officer (ships, subs (for males), USMC, pilot, NFO, and a few others) b/c that is where you will likely end up. Remember that you can always enter med school after that initial commitment -- and many grads do just that.

If you do decide on the medical program -- and are accepted for it -- you can expect to spend AT LEAST 17 yrs of your life in the USN (USNA, med school plus commitment years for both). I believe residency/fellowship time gets added to this, but am not sure. In some ways, it's a great deal but it's also a big commitment to make.
I failed to answer what might be one of your questions..."I am very interested in having a career in the medical field and was just wondering what the USNA offers for that?"
USNA does not have a pre-med major. The midshipmen selected to go to medical school usually cobble a curriculum together from the Chem major and augment as they need to. Everyone at USNA gets a B.S., regardless of major, so there's no problem with physical science courses. Life science courses are a bit trickier. There are faculty who assist those midshipmen who self-identify early on as being interested in that track. From my time on the staff at USNA when I was the Commandant's rep on the academic board for medical candidates, I recall the successful candidates were near the top of the class, had a variety of majors though Chem was the classic, spent their limited summer leave periods doing med-related internships or "follow the doctor." and knew they would have many, many more years of obligated service down the road after their med school, internship and residency ended.

Midshipmen are responsible for taking MCATS and getting accepted to med school. If USNA selects them, then the Navy (I think this is the way it works) pays for the civilian med school. Whether they get into Stanford, Johns Hopkins or Home State School of Med, Navy pays. Many choose to go to USUHS, where they are in uniform and spend time at military teaching hospitals such as Bethesda National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Obligated active duty service payback starts later and goes longer.
That's a little bit more practical info, but the Big Picture questions I raised in my first post are valid.
If you start down the path of applying for USNA, saying "I want to go to medical school" is not going to wow the folks you meet on that path. You have to want to serve on active duty as a Navy or Marine Corps officer (though all docs are Navy), understanding once you raise your right hand and stay after the first two years, the Navy has the final say. It's perfectly fine to say you want to explore the medical school option alongside the warfare options, in the cause of honesty.

Of course, if you do land at USNA, you may become enthralled with the idea of driving jets, ships, subs or leading Marines. Lots of opportunities along the way to explore the various paths.

Knowledge is power. Great time to be doing the research at this point in high school.
So, to be clear, I would be able to attend USNA, and become a line officer for the amount of years required. Then I could enroll in medical school to get my doctorates and go back and become a doctor in the Navy? If i were to tell that to the academy, would i have a less chance of being nominated or accepted? But, if i liked being a line officer and wanted to stay there and not pursue my medical school, does it matter if i have two paths i might take and decide on while still in USNA?
As noted, quite a few USNA grads eventually go to med school after spending time as a line officer. There are various ways that can be done and I confess I don't know what they are.

In terms of your application, you should always be honest. If your current goal is to be a line officer, see how that goes, and then decide whether you want to be a Navy doctor (and, if so, pursue that), that's what you should say and I doubt it will hurt you.

If you want to be a doctor right out of USNA, you should say that (b/c it's the truth) but emphasize that, if it doesn't work out, you would be happy in a line community. Because, if you wouldn't, you shouldn't be at USNA.

The reason it CAN "hurt" your application to say you want to do the med school thing right out of USNA is (1) the mission of USNA is to produce line officers, not MDs; (2) it is a very limited program with 10-25 grads/year and, if they take too many people who only want to be MDs, they will end up with a lot of unhappy line officers b/c a lot of them won't get selected; and (3) there are other programs to develop Navy MDs that cost the Navy a lot less.
Last edited:
Thank you so much for your help. You have cleared everything up and helped me understand my question.

Thank you!:biggrin:
Wow, I saw a medical field thread in the USNA forum and thought for sure that I was going to open it and see the usual 'beat up the candidate who dares mention they would like to be a physician'; however, I must say that USNA1985 and Capt MJ have both provided some very good insight.

First as a little background of me, USMMA grad, sailed on oil tankers, then went to USUHS and will be pinning on wings as a naval flight surgeon in the near future.

The key if you want to attend USNA and be a physician is as already mentioned keep in the back of your mind that a likely result of attending USNA will be service as a line officer. If you are okay with spending a few (likely 5) years as a line officer before going to medical school then USNA is a great option for you and will set you up well for medical school no matter when you go.

Now, for some of the details that will be important later on, but will give you a good idea of how it will work at USNA. There is a limit to the number of grads who are allowed to go into the medical corps. The limit is, I believe, around 2%, which comes out to about 20 people. There is an application process at USNA which will take all those who are interested in the medical corps and decide who will be allowed to pursue that path. Now, if you are a competitive candidate for medical school acceptance (GPA ~3.5 or higher, MCAT >30, worthwhile extracurriculars, etc) then you will likely be competitive for the USNA nod. Along this path you will also submit your application to medical schools. You will likely apply to the military's medical school USUHS as well as any number of other "regular" medical schools.

At USUHS you would be on active duty as an Ensign and will be paid a full salary and benefits. You will not accrue any time until retirement (you will get the four years once you hit 20 though) and you will owe 7 years in addition to your 5 year USNA commitment (in reality the minimum time served will be 15 years total starting the day you graduate medical school). If you go to a "regular" college you will also apply to the HPSP program which is a scholarship program. In this program you will have your tuition and fees paid as well as receive a stipend each month. Currently the stipend is around 1400 I believe and there is also a sign up bonus, but I'm not sure if USNA grads get the bonus or not. After graduation from this program you would owe 4 years plus your 5 year USNA commitment (again, the real commitment would be more like 12 years minimum).

okay, slight pause for breathing......

Now onto the serve as a line officer for your initial commitment then medical school path. You would fulfill your USNA obligation as a line officer (had a handful in my med school who went this path, actually mostly former aviators) and then apply to medical school. Since your commitment to the Navy is up there is no board to apply to for the Navy to approve your path. You can again apply to both USUHS as well as the HPSP programs OR you can simply get out of the military completely and be a normal medical student who takes out loans. For USUHS you would accrue a 7yr commitment and for HPSP a 4yr commitment. This is actually a very viable option for many people and there are many "non-traditional" students in every medical school class. My class alone had three former naval aviators, one army armor officer, one navy seal, one army ranger, a handful of former enlisted, a former submarine officer, a vetenarian (yes, seriously), and I'm sure I'm missing a few others.

Okay, so what does it all boil down to: If you really want to be a physician USNA is a viable, but difficult option. If you really want to go to USNA then it is an awesome option. If you are okay with doing something else before being a physician then USNA is still an awesome option. If you want to be a physician no matter what then USNA is not a good option.
Awesome gouge, kp2001. That's a clip-and-save message, I hoped you would show up with the detailed path info.
Thank - you!

I was really pleasently surprised to find this thread. I am a freshman in high school and am praying to get into the NA. I also hope to become a pediatric surgeon. All of these threads have given me more insight into career opportunities the NA can provide. I will continue to do more research but if the NA can get me where I want to be, however difficult, I can do it! That is what they prepare you for , isn't it, being prepared and staying tough. GO NAVY!
It's very good advice to make sure that you would want to go to USNA and serve in Navy/MC even if you didn't get chosen for medical (or aviation, etc.), or whatever your first choice service selection would be.

My Plebe was actively discouraged from considering a medical future via USNA until arriving there. Now, the USNA academic advisor is being extremely encouraging that the possibility for success is real. Practically, that means Plebe was able to validate several classes, is planning to major in chemistry, and has added an extra, non-required (bio I) class this semester. 20 credit hours as a Plebe means you need to really keep after the studying, and be as organized as possible.

USNA offers enough bio classes to give adequate prep for MCAT. All of the chem and bio classes are listed on the USNA web site on the Chem dept page.

The USNA regulation for choosing the medical/dental career path has some interesting limits:
- the limit is a maximum of 15 billets for med or dental school + 3 alternates, but there is no obligation for USNA to select anyone
- any Mid who gets USNA approval must be accepted into an approved med or dental school by 10 May of the year of graduation/commissioning, or else they will be assigned to another billet based on the needs of the service (they can express a preference, but by then, almost all billets will be full)

This may not be the latest revision, but here is a link to the USNA instruction regarding medical/dental careers via USNA. Note that the tone is not meant to encourage participation!
Go for it, With your Eyes Open

- the limit is a maximum of 15 billets for med or dental school + 3 alternates, but there is no obligation for USNA to select anyone
This may not be the latest revision, but here is a link to the USNA instruction regarding medical/dental careers via USNA. Note that the tone is not meant to encourage participation!

In a bulletin to BGOs earlier this year it was announced that the limit for class of 2010 and following would be 25 MC and DC vice the 15 cited above.
Thanks for the clarification. I could not find a more recent INST than the one listed.
It IS important to keep in mind that people's goals and desires in life often change between the age of 15/16 and the age of 35/40. When I was your age (h.s.) , I thought I might want to be a doctor. However, I wasn't great at science -- it didn't fascinate me. So, I went to USNA to get a technical edcuation and to become a naval officer.

Along the way, I again thought I wanted to be a doctor. However, I also realized I hated science lab courses and didn't want to go back for organic chem, bio, etc. What I HAD loved at USNA were the courses in law. I took some "interest inventory" tests and was told that the two things I liked and was good at were the military and law. So, at age 30, I left the military, attended law school, and now practice in an area that intersects with medicine (no, NOT an ambulance chaser!:biggrin:).

The point is that you will have a long life and there is nothing wrong with coming to a new profession later on that road. If you're committed to serving in the military, it can be a great place to start. While many USNA grads stay for a career, more do not. Lots of those folks go on to other careers that aren't necessarily related to the military. Much depends, quite honestly, on your personal situation (marriage, kids, finances), etc. But that's way down the road.

The bottom line is that you don't have to make your ultimate career decision at age 16. And, time in the military is well spent, no matter what you end up doing.