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).