Overview, Initial Assignments and Career Path
The Direct Commission Physician Assistant Selected Reserve program is an opportunity for trained Physician Assistants to serve their country in the United States Coast Guard within their specialty, while maintaining their civilian employment. Individuals who are accepted into the program will receive a commission as a reserve officer, and fulfill a selected reserve contract, where they commit to 4 years of reserve duty. Reserve duty typically consists of two full working days (four “drills”) of Inactive Duty Training (IDT) every month, and two weeks of Active Duty Training (ADT) during the year. DCPA-SELRES selectees receive assignments to Coast Guard PSUs (Port Security Units), where they perform drills with their unit and should anticipate deployment approximately once every five years. Following an initial tour at a PSU, subsequent opportunities for reassignment to a Coast Guard clinic as a drilling reserve Physician Assistant may be available. In this capacity, a reserve Physician Assistant will augment the Active Duty PAs assigned to the clinic. Individuals without previous experience as a Coast Guard or Coast Guard Reserve CWO (PA) are required to attend a three-week Reserve Officer Candidate Indoctrination (ROCI) course in New London, CT.
DCPA-SELRES Eligibility Requirements:
- Age: Have reached your 21st but not your 41st birthday as of 30 September of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes. For fiscal year 2015, for example, you cannot have reached your 41st birthday by 30 September 2015.
- Character Standards:
- All applicants must be of outstanding moral character,
- Applicants currently in the Coast Guard: Applicants are ineligible for commissioning if in the 36 months prior to the first DCO class convening date in the selection cycle, they have been convicted by a court-martial, been awarded non-judicial punishment (NJP), received an “Unsatisfactory” conduct mark, received a mark of less than “4” in any performance dimension, received a negative Administrative Remarks (CG Form 3307), or been involved in an alcohol-related incident.
- Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
- Clearance: Must be eligible for a secret clearance
- If single, may not have sole or primary custody of dependents
- May not have more than 3 dependents (your spouse is considered your dependent, regardless of military status).
- Education and GPA:
- Have a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, and<
- Before appointment, have successfully completed a physician associate or assistant program course approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
- Financial: Must meet all financial obligations, and not have a debt to income ratio in excess of 80% (ratio of debt to projected income at applicant’s highest accession level i.e. at the O1, O2, or O3* level depending on the applicant’s training and experience). *This calculation should be done using the reserve pay scale (i.e. monthly drill pay for 4 drills) plus the applicant’s monthly civilian income).
- May not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 10 years
- Interview: DCPA-SELRES applicants must receive the recommendation of a Coast Guard Interview Board, administered by 3 Coast Guard Officers (refer to Application Process, Section C, Interview Board Detail for specifics) one of which should be a CG Physician Assistant. The interview board will complete the CG-5527 form. The most junior member of the Interview Board should not be a lower rank than the highest rank for which the applicant is eligible to be accessed.
- Military Service: (all of the below must apply)
- Cannot exceed 10 years of non-Coast Guard active-duty military service as of the selection panel convening date.
- Have less than 14 years of previous service creditable for retirement in another branch of the Armed Forces or its Reserve component.
- Current military members in another service or the CG Reserves must furnish as signed DD368 (conditional release). Recruiters and applicants shall complete section I of the DD368 form. Recruiters shall then submit the DD368 to the CGRC Accessions branch. CGRC will facilitate release directly with the applicant’s service.
- Note (1): Commissioned officers separated or removed from active duty from any Service as a result of non-selection for promotion, extension, or integration may not apply for any Coast Guard commissioning program.
- Physical (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
- Normal Color Vision
- Meet height/weight standards.
- For ROCI attendees:
- Must submit a health and physical pre-assessment 30 days prior to reporting to ROCI (detailed in the ROCI pre-reporting guide, link in item 11 below).
- Shall be able to pass a Physical Fitness Test and Swim Test prior to graduation from ROCI training
- Test Score: There is no test score requirement for DCPA applicants
- Program-Specific Experience/ Information:
- Be certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistant (NCCPA)
- Possess a State License
- (If applicable) provide proof of documented patient care experience such as adult/family medicine, ER/urgent care, etc.
- Tattoos: Applicants may not have tattoos or body markings that are inconsistent with the CG tattoo, body marking, body piercing, and mutilation policy.
DCPA-SELRES Terms of Service and Appointment Grade:
- Applicants who receive appointments will receive have a four-year initial contract.
- The selection panel will determine the appointment grade of each selectee.
- Selected applicants will receive a commission as a Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2) or Lieutenant (O-2).
DCPA-SELRES Frequently Asked Questions:
- What if I don’t have documented patient care hours? Am I still eligible to apply?
- Yes, as long as you meet all program eligibility requirements, you are eligible to apply. The Coast Guard prefers that applicants have patient experience
- I have heard about other Physician Assistant/Medical Officer Opportunities in the CG, can you please describe them to me?
- Yes, there is an active Duty Direct Commission Physician Assistant Program and information can be found on the Coast Guard Reserve Officer Programs Page.
- If you are interested in the Public Health Service; PHS Officers also support the CG’s medical officer needs (dentists, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, etc.). The hiring process for PHS is not managed by CGRC. Once hired, PHS-commissioned officers are detailed to the USCG.
- Additionally, there is a Inter-service Physician Assistant Program (IPAP) that solicits annually for qualified enlisted personnel and junior officers. The IPAP totals approximately 29 months of PA training. Graduates attend DCO school in New London, CT, with other DCO selectees (including DCPA selectees).