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Navy Medical Corps

logo commemorating the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Navy Medical Corps 1871-2021

The Navy Medical Corps is comprised of more than 4,300 active duty and reserve physicians who are practicing or training in 23 medical and surgical specialties with more than 200 subspecialties. Navy physicians are stationed at military treatment facilities, medical education institutions, clinics, hospitals, research units, on ships, and with Marine forces located within the United States and various overseas locations. Navy physicians provide direct support to Navy and Marine Corps commands, squadrons, battalions, and units. Navy physicians deploy in support of combat operations, disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance missions, providing the best care our nation can offer ashore and afloat.

The U.S. Navy recognizes 3 March 1871 as the anniversary of the Navy Medical Corps, but this date does not represent the advent of uniformed physicians in the Navy nor the start of the Navy Medical Department. However, the passage of the Appropriations Act on 3 March 1871 gave Navy physicians a rank relative to their line counterparts, acknowledged their role as staff corps, and established the title of “surgeon general” for the Navy’s top medical officer/head of the Navy Medical Department.

For more information on the history of the Navy Medical Corps, read The Formative Years of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, 1798−1871, by André B. Sobocinski, Historian, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED).



Notable Navy Doctors

Oral Histories

Documentary Histories and Archives



Additional Reading

Photo #: NH 98464 USS Columbus (CG-12)

USS Columbus (CG-12) ship's doctor examines a patient in the sick bay, during the filming of a movie by a Johns Hopkins University film crew, 2 April 1965. (NH 98464)

Portrait of a Navy doctor in a pith helmet

Navy Doctor, drawing, charcoal on paper; by Joseph Hirsch; C. 1943; Unframed Dimensions 22H X 15W. (88-159-FT as a Gift of Abbott Laboratories)

Photo #: 80-G-K-13003 (Color) Munsan-Ni, Korea

Munsan-Ni, Korea. Doctor and corpsmen irrigate muscle tissue, as a wounded man is prepared for an operation, at the Medical Company, 23 September 1952. (80-G-K-13003)

Photo #: 80-G-K-4554 (Color) USS Missouri (BB-63)

USS Missouri (BB-63). Commander Louis E. Gilge, Medical Corps, makes his rounds in the battleship's sick bay as Pharmacist's Mate Second Class Frank Mancini stands by at left. Photographed during Missouri's shakedown cruise, circa August 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives. (80-G-K-4554)

Cape Gloucester, New Britain, December 1943

Cape Gloucester, New Britain, December 1943, aboard a Coast Guard-manned Landing Ship, Tank (LST), a Navy doctor and Coast Guard pharmacist's mate perform an emergency operation on a wounded man. (NH 94755)

Staff Officers of Naval Hospital, Memphis Tennessee 1863

Staff Officers of Naval Hospital, Memphis, TN, 1863. (NH 53388)

Photo #: NH 53317 Captain Norman J. Blackwood, USN (Medical Corps)

Captain Norman J. Blackwood, USN (Medical Corps) seated, second from right With the officers of USS Mercy (ID # 1305, later AH-4), May 1918. Note wicker chairs. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. (NH 53317)

Navy Medical Corps Anniversary Celebration

Navy Medical Corps anniversary celebration at the naval hospital, Portsmouth, VA., during World War II. Present are (L-R) Capt. Griffith E. Thomas, USN (MC), CMR Helen M. Bunty, USN (NC), Ensign Lillian Prosak, USN (NC), COL. John R. Henley, C.O Norfolk Navy Yard Marine BKS. 

Published: Wed Jun 16 10:56:30 EDT 2021