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Army Medical Service Corps celebrates 100 years of service

What types of positions do Commissioned Corps officers hold in the agencies where they serve? Commissioned Corps officers hold positions in the areas of health care delivery; disease control and prevention; biomedical research; regulation of food, drugs, and medical devices; mental health and drug abuse.

Refer to the Officer Video Profiles on the multimedia page to learn about life in the Corps. In what locations could I serve as a Commissioned Corps officer? There are many opportunities to serve in the Commissioned Corps throughout the Nation. Refer to the Active Duty Station Map to learn more about the duty stations where Corps officers are currently serving. Would I have to change locations as a Commissioned Corps officer?

It is recommended for career development that an officer have at least 3 different programmatic or geographic experiences during their career. How does the Commissioned Corps differ from the military armed forces?

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The mission of the Commissioned Corps differs from that of the armed forces i. The Commissioned Corps is a non-military uniformed service and Corps officers are not trained in arms. Officers have the flexibility and freedom to ensure they have a diverse and fulfilling career. As an officer in the Commissioned Corps, you may work throughout the U.

Department of Health and Human Services and in other Federal agencies and programs.

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By the 20th year in their corps, most physicians, dentists, and JAGs have been promoted to O By contrast, less than 2 percent of nurses have become O-6s by their 20th year in the Nurse Corps. Nurses generally have entered at lower ranks, have spent more time as lieutenants, and have been less likely to be promoted. When nurses have been promoted, they have not been promoted as quickly as, for instance, MSCs have been promoted.

Since , every corps has had a greater average annual attrition rate than average annual accession rate, implying that each corps was smaller on September 30, , than it was on September 30, In a steady state, a corps would have the same number of accessions and departures in a given year.

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This equivalence would imply that the corps' population equals its number of annual accessions divided by its attrition rate. A corps with more accessions can tolerate a higher attrition rate. Using — accession-level and attrition-rate averages, the Nurse Corps' estimated steady-state population is 19 percent below its actual September 30, , level.


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The Nurse Corps appears to be the corps most likely to shrink further in the future. The finding that the Nurse Corps is most likely to shrink in the future is preserved using — and — accession-level and attrition-rate averages. We were hopeful that authorization data would be central to our inquiry. However, as our project progressed, we grew increasingly concerned about the authorization data and what they mean.


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One troubling aspect of the authorization data is that there have consistently been many more chaplains than authorized, dating back to When an overage is so consistent, we cannot help but assume the Air Force needs more chaplains than authorized. Authorizations appear to be unstable when disaggregated to the rank level. For example, for many years, there were considerably more O-5s in the Nurse Corps than authorized in , almost 90 percent more.

Since then, it appears Nurse Corps O-5 authorizations were increased to ratify the actual number of O-5s in the Nurse Corps rather than actual levels being adjusted to move toward authorized levels. Authorized Nurse Corps O-5s do not appear to have been a stable statement of how many O-5 nurses the Air Force wanted to have. Given our doubts about what the authorization data mean, we are more inclined to believe insights from actual population trends. The Air Force and the DoD put considerable effort into determining how recruiting and retention investments are made.


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There are several high-level questions to consider. First, is there a problem—i. Second, assuming there is a population that has had undesired outcomes, how best should problems be addressed? Would there be greater return, for instance, in devoting incremental resources to recruiting or retention?

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The Air Force is unlikely to be indifferent across points on an isoquant of accession levels and attrition rates consistent with a given steady-state population size. If the Air Force wants a youthful workforce, a combination of high accessions and high attrition would be preferred. A high accession outcome requires greater recruiting resources; a low attrition outcome requires greater retention resources.

This report suggests that the Air Force medical and professional corps with the most-adverse population trends is the Nurse Corps.

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Given our concerns about Air Force authorization data, the analysis technique set forth in this article is better suited to characterizing military populations' current statuses and recent trends than it is to attaching normative interpretation to those statuses and trends.