Do you want to practice your medical specialty in a fast-paced, patient-focused environment? Consider this — in the Coast Guard, medical providers are able to concentrate on clinical practice without the hassle of maintaining a private business. Your patients will almost exclusively be active-duty military members whose medical readiness is critical to enabling the success of Coast Guard missions. Plus, you’ll enjoy both the tangible and intangible benefits of military service.
For Coast Guard officers with no medical training, there are opportunities to enter the healthcare field by competing for advanced education as a physician, physician assistant, or medical administrator.
Physicians & Physician Assistants
Through a combination of direct employment and partnership with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), the Coast Guard employs board certified/board eligible primary care physicians who are typically residency-trained in family medicine, internal medicine, or emergency medicine. Positions also exist in psychiatry, aerospace, occupational, preventive medicine, and pediatrics.
If you meet the relevant medical standards and desire a more operational experience, you could qualify for additional training to become a flight surgeon, aviation physician assistant, or hyperbaric medical officer.
Coast Guard dentists are employed through a combination of partnership with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and direct employment. As a licensed dentist, you’ll provide general dental care for active-duty members of the Coast Guard or other military services. Positions also exist in endodontics, exodontia, and oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Through a combination of direct employment and partnership with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), the Coast Guard employs licensed pharmacists. While primarily assigned to Coast Guard clinics, you’ll find a wide variety of work—including caring for patients; reviewing, approving, and monitoring new drugs; and assisting in public health emergencies.
Environmental health officers are employed through a combination of partnership with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and direct employment. Examples of the work you may see include epidemiological surveillance, disease prevention, radiological health, industrial hygiene, food safety, injury prevention and education, and emergency preparedness. During natural disasters and other emergencies, you’ll protect Coast Guard personnel from environmental threats and help communities recover.
Officers in this specialty manage and administer healthcare facilities such as Coast Guard clinics. You’ll supervise assigned enlisted health services technicians, manage the clinic’s budget, and coordinate care to ensure the medical and dental readiness of all military personnel in your area. At the senior level, you’ll manage entire regions, programs for health, safety, and work-life, or develop policy for programs.
How to Enter the Specialty
If you have prior education and credentials, you can enter the field through the Direct Commission Health Services Officer or Direct Commission Physician Assistant programs. To pursue assignment as a detailed USPHS provider, contact the USCG Program Manager.
If you’re an enlisted health services technician or junior officer from a general source such as Officer Candidate School (OCS), you can apply for opportunities to complete the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP). You can become a medical administrator by beginning your career through a general commissioning source like OCS and competing for post-graduate education opportunities.