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Welcome to the official webpage for the Medical Service Corps (MSC). I am deeply honored to serve as the 20th Director of the Medical Service Corps.  MSC officers have a long-standing commitment to service that is demonstrated by supporting the Navy Medicine’s campaign plan to deliver manned, trained, equipped, certified, and sustained medical units that provide enduring support to the Fleet, Fleet Marine Force, and Joint Forces.  We’re looking for resilient and adaptable professionals with an unwavering spirit to continue supporting operational readiness and optimize our most important warfighting advantage in our arsenal—the human weapons system—that fights and wins our nation’s wars.
Rear Admiral Matthew Case
Medical Service Corps
RDML Matthew Case

If you would like to speak directly to a Navy Medical Service Corps Officer, please email:

The eightieth U.S. Congress passed the Army-Navy Medical Service Corps Act on 4 August 1947.  This legislation ensured that our country’s critical wartime medical specialties would always be there to support the naval Forces.  Today, more than 3,000 Active and Reserve officers comprise the 31 specialties who continue to man administrative, clinical, and scientific roles as a pillar of Navy Medicine.  Medical Service Corps officers provide direct support to Navy and Marine Corps commands, squadrons, battalions and units and deploy in support of combat operations, disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance missions, providing the best care our nation can offer ashore and afloat.   

The Three Tracks within the Medical Service Corps

  • Healthcare Administration
  • Healthcare Clinician
  • Healthcare Scientist
Healthcare Administrators:
* Specialties that enter the Navy as a Healthcare Administrator then specialize in different healthcare-related fields. 
Healthcare Clinicians:
Healthcare Scientists:


MSC Logo
KEY WEST, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2021) - Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Keil, an optometrist at Naval Branch Health Clinic Key West, performs an eye exam on U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Thomas Li. Keil is a native of Palmer, Alaska and holds a doctor of optometry from University of Missouri. He says, "If we find signs of eye disease early, we can treat it before it gets worse. That's why everyone needs eye exams, not just those who wear glasses. It's really about the long-term health of your eyes." (U.S. Navy photo by Deidre Smith, Naval Hospital Jacksonville/Released).


  • What is the annual salary of a Medical Service Corps Officer?
  • How long will you have to serve?
    • The initial service requirement on active duty could be as few as three years.  It depends on your specialty and a variety of other factors.
  • Will I have to go to bootcamp to join?
    • Medical Service Corps officers attend Officer Development School or “ODS” in Newport, Rhode Island.
  • Will I have to wear a uniform every day?
    • Yes, in most cases.  The uniform varies depending on the needs of the position.
  • Do I have to live on a military base?
    • The majority of MSC officers do not live on a military base.  It depends on the requirements of each duty station and space availability.
  • What are the most basic qualifications to join the Navy?
    • Be a U.S. citizen, be willing to serve a minimum of three years on Active Duty, meet the general requirements for age and physical condition, and meet all background requirements specific to your specialty.
  • What if I have a medical issue or if I’m not sure that I will qualify physically?
  • Do I need a drivers license?
    • A driver’s license is not a requirement but highly encouraged.
  • What are the steps to join the Navy?
    • Talk to a recruiter, apply for the position, and begin your training!
  • Do I have to join on Active Duty?
    • No. There is also a Reserve Officer component who serve part-time.  There are only 18 MSC specialties within the reserves.  It is a way you can maintain a civilian career while serving as few as two days a month and two weeks a year.  With opportunities for additional service and pay.  There is also the possibility of arranging flexible drilling options to better meet service requirements while enjoying many of the same advantages and benefits of full-time service.

History of Medical Service Corps

The history of the Medical Service Corps transcends the formal establishment of the Corps in 1947 and traces back to the tradition of medical service support from the genesis of the American Navy.  The history proceeds chronologically, beginning with the paramedical “faithful attendant” of the Navy in the age of sail, through the establishment of the Medical Service Corps when the U. S. Navy was the undisputed master of the seas.  In the modern age, the Medical Service Corps is portrayed in all environments: patient care, the laboratory, research, preventive medicine, at sea, in the air, with the Fleet Marine Forces, and in offices and clinics. In war and peace, this history presents the medical Service Corps as central in accomplishment of nearly all of our Nation’s most significant national policy objectives in the last two centuries. 

A “plankowner” is a person who has been on board since the ship was commissioned according to the Naval Terms Dictionary.  On 10 September 1947, 251 officers were commissioned in the Navy Medical Service Corps.  Those officers are the “plankowners” of the Corps.  They served in 16 functional areas.  After more than seventy years, only a handful of living plankowners remain.  The Medical Service Corps and Navy Medicine are forever indebted to the pioneer plankowners for their dedication and service.

History of the "Twig"

MSC Twig

The caduceus has long been a symbol for the medical profession. However, the modern insignia of the commissioned officers of the United States Navy Medical Department has no symbolic basis in the history or traditions of the medical profession. The gold oak leaf motif used to denote officers of the Medical Department is based solely upon uniform traditions of the United States Navy.

Arrangements of oak leaves and acorns have long adorned the uniforms of United States Naval officers. All dress uniforms, whether staff or line, were copiously festooned with oak leaves and acorns. So much, that one wag once said that a Navy physician of the 1830s looked like a "walking arboretum."

Throughout the nineteenth century the Navy attempted to modify uniforms and insignia to better distinguish line from staff officers. A series of medical symbols were attempted to differentiate physicians of the Medical Corps from other officers. The caduceus made an early appearance in the 1830s, followed by a stylized branch of live oak. The initials ''MD" were adopted in 1847, with a subsequent return to a branch of live oak in 1864. Dress uniforms tended to be excessively ornate, and efforts were made before the turn of the twentieth century to simplify and prune away super­fluous gold. By 1883 the current design, "a spread oak leaf embroidered in dead gold, with an acorn embroidered in silver upon it," was adopted. The 1883 Medical Corps design forms the basis for the insignia of the Nurse Corps, Dental Corps, and Medical Service Corps.

Before establishment of tl1e Medical Service Corps in 1947, the insignia used to denote naval pharmacist warrant officers and the Hospital Corps underwent an evolution all its own. A general order of 25 June 1898 directed that naval pharmacists wear the uniform of warrant officers; the collar device for their frock coats was the Geneva Cross embroidered in gold. Their cap devices consisted of two crossed gold fouled anchors. Enlisted members of the Hospital Corps worn a red Geneva Cross to denote their rating. Once chief pharmacists were authorized in 1912, uniform regulations changed the design of the pharmacist insignia from the Geneva Cross to the caduceus. caduceus was embroidered in silver or gold for the chief pharmacist or pharmacist. Chief pharmacists rated a half-inch broken gold stripe on the sleeve of their frock coats, and wore the same head gear as other commissioned officers. Pharmacists had no sleeve stripe and retained the crossed gold fouled anchors cap device. The insignia adopted for botl1 pharmacists and chief pharmacists in 1922 was a gold caduceus; the differ­ences in rank were denoted by the width of the broken gold stripe on their coat sleeves.

With the advent of World War II, special legislation permitted Hospital Corps officers to advance beyond the grade of chief warrant officer. The gold embroidered caduceus remained the insignia of Hospital Corps officers. Similarly, Naval Reserve officers that entered the Naval service during World War II, the H-V(S) (hospital-volunteer specialists) wore the gold caduceus to designate their association with the Medical Department. In 1948 the caduceus was adopted as the insignia for the enlisted members of the Hospital Corps, replacing the red Geneva Cross. Medical Service Warrant Officers retained the caduceus as the symbol of their profession.

The insignia for the Medical Service Corps was approved by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Policy Board on 28 August 1947, authorized by the Bureau of Naval Personnel on 5 February 1948, and promulgated by Change No. I to the Uniform Regulations of 1947. It was natural that a gold leaf motif be adopted for the insignia of the newest commissioned corps in the Medical Department. Selection of the modifier was the challenge. The distinctive twig at the stem of an oak leaf, symbolizing the support rendered to the Medical Corps, was first suggested as early as September 1945. A proposal for establishment of a Navy Medical Scientist Corps suggested that the corps device "shall consist of a modification of the oak leaf and acorn of the Medical Corps. The modification shall be a small gold bar, attached to the base of the oak leaf, centered and at right angles to the stem." The uniform regulations defined the Corps device as "a spread oak leaf embroi­dered in gold, with a twig below the stem and attached thereto; the twig to be inclined at an angle of 30 degrees from horizontal." A revision of the Uniform Regulations of 1948 changed the angle of the twig from 30 to 15 degrees. Worn on the sleeve, the spread oak leaf is positioned stem down with the lower end of the twig to the front. The collar device is of the same design, constructed of gold metal. It is the twig on the base of the gold oak leaf that has inspired the sobriquet "Twig" denoting officers of the Navy Medical Service Corps.

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