Healthcare symposium highlights career opportunities for enlisted Marines
Stripes Japan | .
published: May 05, 2016
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Naval medical professionals of the Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Clinic and the U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka discussed naval leadership, officer commissioning programs, and career management and progression during the inaugural Healthcare Officer Symposium at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, April 28, 2016.
This informative symposium allowed Navy medicine specialists and guests of other military branches a chance to network in an environment with like-minded individuals who share interests in this field.
“We came up with this symposium for service members who are curious about the enlisted to officer commissioning programs,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jessica Beard, officer in charge of the station medical clinic. “We offer information geared toward how to do this and we walk them through what they need to do to be ready and qualified. We have a lot of enlisted people here who are thirsty for that knowledge, and that’s what this is all about.”
The symposium began with a naval leadership discussion that helped connect attendees in a manner that all service members serving their country could relate to.
“This is a talk that I give in Yokosuka and it reminds ourselves of what is expected of us in all levels of leadership and branches,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Glen Crawford, commanding officer of U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka. “There’s something different about providing healthcare in the Navy. The nation’s expectation of us by virtue of what we wear is higher. We have skilled healthcare professionals in Navy medicine, but they are also committed to the mission and to the country. That’s what makes Navy medicine a very special organization.”
Although enlisted personnel may find the decision to commission unnerving, this event provided time for the curious to bond with the experienced and discover their professional options.
The Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program was the first of programs reviewed. As a pathway to commission in the Navy Nurse Corps, MECP allows qualified men and women, of any rate or rank, serving on active duty in the U.S.
Marine Corps and Navy, a chance to earn an entry level bachelor’s degree in nursing and be appointed as a Nurse Corps officer.
Upon graduation, candidates will commission as an ensign and incur a commissioned obligation of eight years, four of which must be served on active duty.
It is not intended to serve as a precursor to medical school, nor for academic programs leading to certification, or licensure as a physical therapist, physician assistant, or other health care specialty as stated by the Operational Naval Instruction 1420.1B.
As a product of MECP, Beard served eight years in the Navy as an enlisted medical store keeper before becoming a corpsman and eventually a certified nurse midwife.
“It was an awesome experience, well worth the challenge and well worth the work it took to get there,” said Beard. “My whole goal from day one was to take care of women-to teach women how to care for themselves. I noticed women weren’t a priority … and they didn’t know how to care for themselves in many aspects. The education that I provide is very important, and I try to give that to every woman that I come into contact with. That’s been my motivation from day one and from doing the program we are doing today, we are helping other sailors and service members find their motivation.”
Enlisted personnel looking to transfer as a medical officer can also apply for the Medical Service Corps In-Service Procurement Program. The MSC IPP provides a pathway to an officer commission for career motivated Marines and sailors who meet the eligibility criteria defined in the OPNAVINST 1420.1B. Some of these programs even provide opportunities to complete a baccalaureate, master’s, or other professional degree in a specific field.
MSC IPP offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate training opportunities in a variety of MSC specialties such as health care administration, environmental health, industrial hygiene, pharmacy, physician assistant, occupational therapy, social work and radiation health as stated by Marine Administration 403/14.
Individuals interested in the MSC IPP can be of any rate but must be of paygrades E-5 through E-9 at the time of application.
Both the MECP and MSC IPP are valuable passageways to beginning medical careers in the military. Furthermore, they give the enlisted Marine a unique chance to commission with accredited time in service into a new specialty catering to their interests.
“I’ve always had a severe desire to be a part of the athletic medical field and thought that this event would give me more insight into these professions,” said Sgt. Michael Eckert, quality control chief of motor transport company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “There’s many commissioning programs out there and the difficult part is narrowing down the choices that fit you best. This event helped me discover what I can and cannot do in regards to a Navy medicine commission, so it just helped me figure my future out even more.”
Beard said she encourages sailors and Marines to seek guidance and information for these programs and that the symposium will continue annually to offer this learning and networking opportunity for service members.
“Our motto for the symposium was ‘building leaders today for tomorrow’s Navy,’” said Beard. “But it can really be said as ‘building leaders today for tomorrow’s military.’”
For more information about enlisted to officer commissioning programs please review the updated references found at http://www.marines.mil/News/Messages/MARADMINS.aspx and http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmpdc/Pages/index.aspx or speak to your career counselor for professional assistance.