The New Medical Corps Career Progression Slide – What Does It Mean to You?

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Navy Medicine has been undergoing a lot of change. We have a new Surgeon General, a new Corps Chief, and a renewed focus on readiness. With these changes come a new career progression and path for the Medical Corps (MC) Officer (PDF version, PPT version). Let’s take a look at the new model and discuss some of the ways it will impact you as your career progresses. We’ll start at the top of the slide and work our way down, translating it into action items for every MC Officer.

 

Intent and Expectations

What should a MC Officer note in this section? To be competitive for promotion, you need to have been operational AND clinical. The days of camping at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) are over. Everyone needs to be operationally relevant, and this is consistent with the most recent changes in the O6 promotion board convening order. It can be with the Surface Force, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Undersea, Air, Special Operations, Joint environment, Expeditionary Combat Command, or any other operational setting you find yourself in. It doesn’t matter how or in what setting, but everyone needs to be operationally relevant.

Action #1 – Deliberately develop your operational relevance.

 

Recommended Medical and Professional Development Path

Very simply, this spells out your educational pathway. Completing residency and becoming board certified is not a new concept or path for the MC Officer. What is new, though, is the expectation that everyone will serve in an operational setting by the time they are up for promotion to O5 and in a more senior operational role before they are up for O6. The concept of everyone becoming an Operational Medical Officer (OMO) is explained in detail at the bottom of the slide.

In addition to serving as an OMO, the expectation is that those who want to serve in more senior roles will complete Joint Professional Military Education Levels I and II (JPME I/II) and obtain formal management or leadership training, such as a Master’s in Business Administration or similar degree.

Action #2 – Start JPME I now if you haven’t already, and develop a strategy and timeline with your mentors to obtain more senior education.

 

High Reliability Organization Training

The new SG is a huge proponent of high reliability, and Navy Medicine is constantly striving to adopt the principles of a High Reliability Organization (HRO). Many of the classes mentioned on the career path slide are undergoing modifications and updates to incorporate high reliability education.

Action #3 – Attend or complete the listed HRO courses.

 

Example Assignments

The example assignments are divided into Fleet and Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command/Unit (NMRTC/U) positions. They are also stratified according to the typical ranks at which they would occur. These are general guidelines and variability will certainly occur, so be flexible. For example, we know that it takes a minimum of seven years to become a Neurosurgeon, so their path will vary. Other specialties that require longer training are in a similar situation. As a result of this, we are going to ask each Specialty Leader to take this generic career path and modify it for their own specialty.

Another takeaway from this portion of the slide is to alternate between operational assignments and NMRTC/U assignments where you are serving primarily in a clinical role, likely at an MTF. Time at the MTF will allow you to solidify your individual clinical skills and contribute to our Graduate Medical Education mission. After that tour, return to the operational setting in a more senior role. Rinse and repeat this pattern as your career progresses.

Action #4 – Print the career path slide and get a red and black pen. In black circle the jobs, roles, and courses you’ve already done. In red circle ones you’d like to do. When it is time for your next set of orders, jump from realm where you currently are (Fleet or NMRTC/U) to the other and aim for one of the positions to the right that you circled in red.

 

An Example – My Career Path

Just to visualize the way we are encouraging you to use the career path slide, let’s take a look at My Career Path. I circled the things I’ve done in black, and the things I’d like to do in red.

As a 19 year O6, I have a lot of black ink, but there are some red circles to the right indicating the things I’d like to do. As the Deputy Corps Chief, I am currently in a senior headquarters role toward the right end of the Fleet portion. Most likely, my next career move will be to obtain JPME II or enter Executive Medicine as an Executive Officer (XO) because completing an XO and Commanding Officer (CO) tour is mandatory before I can compete for the more senior leadership roles. Use a similar analysis of where you’ve been (black ink) and where you want to go (red ink) to come up with options for your next career move.

 

Summary

The new MC career path should serve as the basic framework around which you structure your career. A quick summary of the actions you should take include:

  • Deliberately develop your operational relevance.
  • Start JPME I now if you haven’t already, and develop a strategy and timeline with your mentors to obtain more senior education.
  • Attend or complete the listed HRO courses.
  • Circle the jobs, roles, and courses you’ve already done in black. Circle ones you’d like to do in red. When it is time for your next set of orders, jump from the realm where you currently are (Fleet or NMRTC/U) to the other and aim for one of the positions to the right that you circled in red.

5 thoughts on “The New Medical Corps Career Progression Slide – What Does It Mean to You?

    LT David Frey, NC, USN said:
    April 15, 2020 at 08:53

    I just tried enrolling in the distance learning JPME I two weeks ago and was told that I would “hopefully” have a seat by 2021. Although not a big deal for me (I have time), I imagine this would be frustrating for someone who may really need it. So, yes, get your name on that wait-list sooner than later. Thanks for the comprehensive breakdown, sir. V/r, LT Frey

    Like

      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      April 15, 2020 at 08:59

      Because of the waiting list, we are working on an update about all the JPME options. More to follow soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      Benny Lava said:
      April 18, 2020 at 07:03

      I signed up for JPME p.1 through the Navy one year ago (in March 2019). I’m still waiting for a seat. I’m laughing that we have to wait so long for an online course. It’s such a joke 🙂

      Meanwhile, I’m almost done with all the JPME p.1 coursework through the Air Force (Air University, ACSC). I took me about 10 months to complete. You just read a bunch of articles, take multiple-choice online tests, participate in online discussions and write essays every once in a while.

      Like

        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        April 18, 2020 at 09:10

        Yes, I know that signing up for the Navy version has a long wait list. We created a JPME I update that I’ll post very soon to give people the latest on all the options.

        Like

    CDR Michael Kaplan said:
    April 16, 2020 at 02:15

    This concept of weaving from clinical to operational and back is not novel. The challenge is there are still too many communities that don’t have enough Billets or bodies to ensure certain service lines don’t collapse when the body goes operational. As long as we have GME this is a major challenge and a barrier to allowing folks to navigate in and out of the hospital.

    Considering much of the conventional wisdom has been recently questioned thanks to the global pandemic (i.e. austere POM cuts to Internal medicine and other non ER/ non surgical subspecialties, EMF-Mike platform divided into 5 separate units- Houston , Dallas, NOLA, Baton Rouge and now USNS Comfort) leaving behind most if not all surgical assets it will be interesting to see how long any policy or practice lasts in this new reality.

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