U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps | www.usphs.gov |
Published in the September/October 2010 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Rear Admiral David Rutstein would like servicemembers to stay in uniform when they leave the military – a different uniform. He’d love for them to join the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a federal uniformed service with a lot in common with the U.S. military.
Rutstein is the Acting Deputy Surgeon General, assisting the Surgeon General in articulating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal health and the health of the nation. He also assists the Surgeon General in overseeing the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
The Corps needs physicians, nurses and pharmacists, but also engineers, scientists and even veterinarians to help fight against disease and poor health conditions in the United States. Rutstein said they are on the front lines of that battle.
“Unlike our sister uniformed services, our medical officers are line officers and not staff officers,” he said. “They wouldn’t be sitting back supporting other units. Their missions take them to where the action is.”
The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a team of more than 6,600 full-time, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs, and advancing public health science. As one of America’s seven uniformed services, the Commissioned Corps fills essential public health leadership and service roles within the federal government agencies and programs. There are officers in many professions, including physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, engineers, environmental health officers, mental health specialists, health services officers, scientists, therapists, and veterinarians.
“Servicemembers are able to roll over their years of service,” Rutstein said. “But unlike the military most of our people do not have a long-term obligation when they join us. That’s a major reason why we want people who join us to be happy and passionate about what they do. We realize that as medical professionals that they could work in the civilian sector quite easily. We need them to consider this work to be their mission.”
Rutstein estimates that 55 percent of the billets there are clinicians, leaving the remaining 45 percent to be filled by researchers, scientists, and other occupations that don’t deal directly with patients. “Being a uniformed service, but not part of the military allows us to have the best of both worlds,” Rutstein said. “We understand how the military works and its benefits, but we have a foot in the civilian world as well. We’re a bridge between two worlds that allows us to see and experience things with different perspective.”
To qualify for the Commissioned Corps, applicants must be a U.S. citizen, be less than 44 years of age, be medically qualified, have a current, unrestricted license (if applicable) and have a qualifying degree or higher degree from an accredited institution (this varies depending on occupation). Rutstein said it’s easier to become a member of the Commissioned Corps than to get a civilian federal job because the application process is shorter and more direct. There are also career assistant managers available to help former service members who apply because the process is similar to applying for a civilian job than what they have experienced in the military.
He said that there are many openings currently, particularly in the mental health field. They are currently trying to fill a contract with the Army to provide more mental health professionals to help soldiers who are returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.