Big Changes to Navy Medical Pay – FY19 Medical Department Special Pays Guidance

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Here are the official BUMED talking points on the FY19 special pays plan. The pay plan guidance for each Corps is expected to be released early next week.

NOTE: The guidance currently posted on the BUMED special pays website is from FY18 and not FY19.  This new guidance only applies to FY19 pays.


Navy Medicine’s mission does not change – to keep the Navy and Marine Corps family healthy, ready and on the job. Ensuring the Department of the Navy has a ready medical force to meet assigned operational missions remains paramount. To do this, we must maximize recruitment and retention tools such as special and incentive pay to attract and retain medical department officers with critical specialties.

Navy Medicine is responsible for properly aligning its uniformed force structure to support the medical capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps operating forces. The Fiscal Year 2019 special pays guidance focuses on meeting congressional intent of NDAA 2017 which specifically focuses on the improvement of infrastructure and alignment to operational readiness.

Navy Medicine analyzed current manning data, end-strength forecasts, loss and retention rates, training timeframes, recruitment rates, and Department of Labor statistics to craft the FY19 Medical Department Special Pays Guidance.


Key Messages:

  • The Department of Defense and the Navy are taking a critical look at force structure across the services and within each military department in an effort to align to defense planning guidance priorities and to meet CNO guidance.
  • Navy Medicine is managing its medical force to meet the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps.
  • Navy Medicine must have properly aligned uniformed force structure to meet the medical capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps operating forces.
  • Navy Medicine uses special and incentive pay, coupled with other personnel management tools, to influence recruitment and retention behavior and ensure we have the right specialty mix, experience, and talent to meet our mission.

Talking Points:

  • Changes to the FY19 Medical Department Special Pays Guidance provide Navy Medicine with significant flexibility and enhanced options for the recruitment and retention of needed specialties.
  • Navy Medicine increased accession and retention numbers in key specialty areas.
  • Navy Medicine carefully considered these changes to optimize personnel career progression and talent management.
  • The vast majority of officers eligible for special and incentive pays within Navy Medicine will be minimally impacted; there will be some impact on a few select specialties.
  • Updates include the following:
    • Accession Bonus:
      • Updated list of eligible specialties for the Critically Short Wartime Skills Accession Bonus to include cardio-thoracic surgery, trauma/critical care surgery, and medical technology, and eliminated internal medicine, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, and pediatrics.
      • Increased accession bonus amounts for critical specialties to include aerospace medicine, anesthesia, emergency medicine, family practice, orthopedics, preventive medicine, psychiatry, pulmonary/critical care, radiology, urology, and nurse anesthetist.
      • Authorized a direct accession critical care nurse to forgo the accession bonus and request retention bonus upon reporting to the first permanent command (must meet board certification & education/training criteria).
    • Retention Bonus:
      • Added 6-year retention bonus for critical specialties to include general surgery, category I subspecialties, orthopedics, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family practice, psychiatry, pulmonary/critical care, comprehensive dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral maxillofacial surgery, physician assistant, clinical psychology, critical care nursing, psychiatric nursing, perioperative nursing, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists.
      • Added additional eligible specialties for the retention bonus to include graduate prepared Clinical Nurse Specialists in medical-surgical and emergency room nursing (must meet board certification and education/training criteria).
      • Authorized critical care nurses and family nurse practitioners to take retention bonuses while under obligation for graduate education through Duty Under Instruction (DUINS), incurring a consecutive obligation.
      • Authorized critical care nurses to apply for selection to DUINS as Clinical Nurse Specialists in critical care nursing while under retention bonus.
      • Removed language allowing 2-year Retention Bonus for non-certified critical care nurses.
      • Limited ability to terminate early and renegotiate contracts for certain specialties to include pediatrics, radiology, radiation oncology, general dentistry, endodontics, exodontia, public health dentistry, oral pathology, pediatric dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, pediatric nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwife.
      • Limited Nurse Corps retention bonus to Commander/O-5 for all specialties except nurse anesthetists.
      • Limited Medical Service Corps retention bonus to 22 years of commissioned service or less.
      • Limited retention bonus length to 2 or 3-years for pharmacy, optometry, pediatric nurse practitioner, and certified nurse midwife.
  • All personnel who are eligible for medical department special pays should review their corps specific guidance available on the Navy Medicine website.

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