Guest Post – Advice for Your GMO Tour

Posted on Updated on

Becoming a non-residency trained Flight Surgeon, Dive Officer, or General Medical Officer, collectively referred to as a GMO tour, is a unique time in a young physician’s career. It’s typically the first time you are not in a training program. In addition to increasing their fund of knowledge, a GMO tour is prime time to develop a strategy for professional development. With a proactive approach, a GMO tour can serve to lay the foundation for a successful career as a Medical Corps Officer. Below are some tips to consider during a GMO tour:

  1. Devise a plan: After spending the first month or so settling into your new role, devote some time thinking about what you want to accomplish in the next 5-10 years. With these goals in mind, you can set mini-goals along the way. This goal setting does not have to be done alone. In fact, I encourage you to speak to your mentor(s) about your future plans; often, they can provide insights you had not considered. If you don’t have any mentors, now is the perfect time to gain a few. The MC Chief’s Office is an excellent resource if you need some support developing mentor-mentee relationships.
  2. Obtain a warfare device: Depending on the unit you are assigned to, you will be eligible to obtain several warfare devices. These devices include are generally available in Fleet Marine Force, Surface Force, Flight Surgery, Undersea Medical Officer, and Seabee billets.
  3. Take a few leadership courses: Each fiscal year, the annual Medical Corps leadership course catalog is published by the MC Career Planner. Participating in classes that are rank appropriate and of interest to you are a great way to better prepare you for your future assignments.
  4. Complete Joint Professional Military Education 1 (JPME-1): Completing JPME-1 is emphasized as a requirement for promotion beyond Lieutenant Commander. Each Service branch has a version, and it does not matter which one you complete. The Navy recently restructured its online program to be completed in a year. However, there is a waitlist to register, so sign-up early.
    1. If you are an O-4s or above, you are eligible to register for the Air Force’s online JPME-1 program. Historically, this can be completed the quickest.
  5. Consider taking online classes: With potentially more free time on your hands than years past, now is the perfect time to take a few online courses either for fun or towards a certificate or degree program. Some programs to consider include a nutrition certification, clinical informatics, Master of Public Health (MPH), or Master of Business Administration (MBA). To my knowledge, these courses/programs are not funded by local commands or BUMED, but if CME is offered, it doesn’t hurt to ask. For longer degree programs such as an MBA or MPH, you can seek out scholarships or consider using your GI Bill.
  6. Achieve an Additional Qualification Designator (AQD) or two: AQDs are used to identify Officers with experience or education in a particular area. A common one achieved is the Executive Medicine (67A) AQD. You can track your progress and review your eligibility for this and other AQDs via the Joint Medical Executive Skills Program (JMESP) site

Overall, a GMO tour provides the perfect opportunity to revisit your career plan and set achievable goals to obtain while in the fleet. With some planning, this time will be both fun and career enhancing. Good luck!

Ayeetin “Vibes” Azah, MD, MBA


Flight Surgeon

U.S. NMRTU Bahrain

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

One thought on “Guest Post – Advice for Your GMO Tour

    Syed Hussain said:
    August 24, 2021 at 23:03

    Good advice. I took a slightly different strategy and focused on being just really good at my job. I learned the administrative fundamentals of LIMDU, legal lab work, medical planning for missions, CASEVAC, the plethora of physicals we have to know, medical separations, etc. I also did a lot of corpsman training. I ensured I was available for my command, and provided them with the best subject matter expertise I could. And above all I learned how to be a good primary care physician (not my current residency focus).

    In retrospect, I don’t think I would have done anything different, except for maybe add some time focused on my return to GME as well as some more career oriented things mentioned above. You can forget a lot in 3 years. Might have been more feasible if it weren’t for the strain COVID put on unit medical across the Navy.

    For those new to the administrative burden of GMO life, I recommend signing up for an account at the (unofficial) Navy Operational Medicine Wiki. It’s got probably 90% of the gouge and knowledge you need to get started as a successful GMO, all in an easy to search format. Just be sure you indicate your affiliation with Navy medicine when signing up to get your account approved quicker.

    While you may return to the fleet in an operational capacity later in your career, you’ll only have one chance to do it as a junior officer – make the best of it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s