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How to Become a Doctor with the Marines

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A Marine physician is actually a U.S. Navy (USN) doctor. Marines get their health care needs from Navy physicians, corpsmen and other healthcare providers. USN physicians practice in more than 30 specialty areas. Some of these naval specialty and practice setting opportunities are rare in civilian settings, like aerospace medicine, flight surgeon and undersea/diving medicine. You can enlist to join the Navy at any point during your studies and medical career from medical student, resident and even practicing physician.

While you're in high school...

Make sure you complete college preparatory courses. Check with your high school academic counselor to make sure you are taking the right combination of courses to fulfill these requirements.

Contact and meet with a Navy medical career recruiter to explore which education, career and financial options are available as you begin your college studies.

Decide whether you want to apply for admission to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. This is one route to becoming a Navy physician. You will receive your undergraduate degree and additional military training free in exchange for a Navy service commitment.

Consider joining the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at your college. The NROTC offers scholarships for undergraduate studies and additional military training in exchange for a service commitment following graduation.

During your undergraduate studies...

Take the following undergraduate courses regardless of your undergraduate field of study: one year each of biology, physics with lab, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus and English. Most medical schools will require these courses for admission .

Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Apply to medical schools. You can attend a civilian medical school or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland (USUHS). The application processes are similar with additional requirements for physical fitness if you attend USUHS. If you are in the NROTC, you will have to apply with the Navy in addition to applying to medical schools.

Apply for Navy scholarships to help pay for a civilian medical school. There are two different Navy scholarships programs: the Health Professions Scholarship Program and the Health Services Collegiate Program. Each scholarship covers most, if not all, medical school expenses in exchange for military service following graduation.

If you have graduated medical school graduate...

Contact a Navy medical recruiter to discuss your enlistment options. You may have access to programs that will help pay for educational loans and your medical residency training in exchange for your service commitment.

Contact a Navy medical recruiter to discuss your enlistment options as a practicing physician. You can discuss service options and which financial or bonus programs are in force at the time of your enlistment.

Get healthy and maintain good physical condition. Make sure you're prepared for the physical fitness and health eligibility requirements to apply for a position as a Navy physician.

Tip

With the NROTC, you will not automatically be allowed to attend medical school through the Navy. If the Navy decides that your skills and talents are needed elsewhere, you may be re-assigned to a non-healthcare or non-physician position.

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About the Author

Dr. Nicole Stelter has a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Capella University, Minnesota, and a counseling master's degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Dr. Stelter began writing professionally in 2002 and has published research on diversity and leadership development in research journals and in monograph format. She regularly contributes business and mental health articles to LIVESTRONG and eHow.