I’ve done a lot of courses and educational programs during my 17.5 years in the Navy. Here are the best ones I’ve done and why they are so good:
- Advanced Medical Department Officer Course (AMDOC) – This is tops on the list because it is the most useful and educational course with the widest applicability. Everyone should attend AMDOC as early as they can in their Naval career. This is where you’ll learn about BUMED, the Defense Health Agency (DHA), fitness reports, managing your career, and a whole host of other useful topics. While it was always hard to get into the course, it has recently become easier since they shortened it from 2 weeks down to 1 week, doubling the number of courses. You can find info on the course here.
- Naval War College Fleet Seminar Program – This is how I did my Joint Professional Military Education I (which incidentally is one of the best AQDs you can get). I tried to do the on-line Air Force version that everyone said was easier, but I’ve never been less motivated to do anything in my life. When I did the Fleet Seminar Program it was a lot easier because I had a class I had to show up to and classmates I had projects we were working on. It was also a lot more interesting to have discussions with folks of all backgrounds than doing it by myself on-line. You can read about it on their website.
- Naval Postgraduate School Executive MBA Program – This allows you to get a defense focused MBA in 2 years. The commitment is 3 years from the time you finish or quit, and it doesn’t interfere with your medical special pays. It is accredited as a standard MBA program, so you get all the usual MBA content you’d expect (finance, accounting, etc.), but there is a defense focus. This means that you take a class on funding the DoD and 2 semesters about how to purchase weapons programs. The weapons acquisition class was the least fun part of the degree for me, but I was warned ahead of time so I knew it was coming. I combined this non-medical MBA with the Certified Physician Executive courses to learn medical related leadership principles in addition to standard business principles. The work isn’t hard, but it is time consuming and about 10-20 hours per week. Overall, I’d highly recommend this program as you get a quality MBA for only the cost of books.
- Interagency Institute for Federal Health Care Executives (IFFHCE) – This is a very senior level course that is filled with O6 and the equivalent personnel from all branches and governmental agencies. When I attended I was a senior O5 and was the among the most junior in the class. You get exposed to all sorts of very influential speakers who are experts on their high-level strategic topics. It is tough to get into this class, but if you can go I’d highly recommend it.
- MHS Medical Executive Skills Capstone Course – This is similar to the IFFHCE (#4 above). It is senior and strategic. The course topics overlap, but both are excellent.
- MedXellence – This is a course run by the Uniformed Services University that they take on the road. You can often find that the course is coming to your area and sign up when it is local. This course is senior and more operational/tactical than the last 2 courses. It is for those interested in the business aspects of Navy Medicine, like clinic managers, department heads, OICs, Directors, etc. It is similar to an advanced clinic management course.
- Naval Justice School Senior Officer Legal Course – This course is for anyone who has Executive Medicine in their future. You will learn about legal challenges that senior leaders face in a case-based and enjoyable format. I was able to get into the course pretty easily as an O5. You don’t have to be slated to be an XO.
- Lean Six Sigma – If you are at a medium-large command, you should have someone somewhere that is the command’s Lean Six Sigma black belt. You may even have an entire office dedicated to it. I’ve done the green belt certification and taken the black belt course but never completed the full black belt certification. If you want an introduction to process improvement, start taking LSS classes available to you at your command.
- Medical Management of Chemical and Biological Casualties Course – I took this course a long time ago when I was a GMO, but it was great then and probably is still great. You get to go to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). This is probably of even greater relevance lately due to all of the Ebola outbreaks.
- TRICARE Financial Management Executive’s Program (TFMEP) – This is another road show similar to MedXellence. You can find the course info here. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to rise to the senior levels of leadership at any MTF.
- Joint Senior Medical Leader Course (JSMLC)
- Joint Medical Operations Course – I did these last 2 courses back-to-back at DHA before I was deployed as a Joint Task Force Surgeon. They were a good introduction to the world of joint operations, but not among my favorites, which is why they are at the bottom of the list. If you want to be introduced to the world of joint publications and find out if “joint” really means “Army” have at it!
I’m sure there are other great courses available in the Navy, but these are the ones I’ve done that I found useful. If you have others you’d suggest, post them in the comments section.
Those transitioning to the Reserves or already in the Reserves may want to read this new instruction on subspecialty codes and additional qualification designators (AQDs):
The Joint Medical Executive Skills Program website is currently unavailable, making it difficult to get the Executive Medicine (67A) Additional Qualification Designator (AQD). As a temporary fix, they can manually create your profile in their database and update any information such as: education, experience, certifications, etc.
To create your account, they will require your:
- Name (First, MI, Last, Suffix)
- Current Duty Station report date
- Projected Rotation Date
Also, here is a matrix containing information on which competencies you are required to obtain the AQD. It also contains information on how they can be fulfilled.
If you have any questions/concerns, I’d e-mail them here:
I’ve received a few questions in the last 1-2 weeks about how to get the 67A Executive Medicine Additional Qualification Designator. After tracking down the latest info, it appears that for now the website is down. They are working on revamping the criteria to achieve the AQD and working the issue, but for now there is no way to get the AQD.
Once I have further info I’ll post it.
Similar to what the Global Health Engagement community did, there is a new pathway to apply for recognition as a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)/Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Medical Specialist. Anyone interested can find the packet containing all the info here:
Here are the slides for a lecture on “Outside the Box Opportunities” that I gave at the 2017 Transition to Practice Symposium at NMCSD for all the graduating residents and fellows:
Topics covered include:
- Moving after your are selected for promotion
- How to PCS away from a command you want to leave before your rotation date
- Naval Hospital 29 Palms
- Naval Postgraduate School Distance Learning MBA program
- CMO and OIC positions
- Job announcements on this blog
Here is a video podcast:
[Editor’s Note: The POC for anyone interested in War College is the Detailer. A cheat sheet of all the Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) options can be found here. If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, contact me here.]
By CDR Lanny Littlejohn, MC, USN (Lanny.Littlejohn < at > usnwc.edu)
I rolled out of bed at 0700 this morning to finish my paper on corruption in the Ukraine. Ukraine is currently the most corrupt country in all of Europe; its corruption destabilizes it to the point that it is subject to influence from its eastern neighbor, Russia. Russia is currently in a “hybrid” war with Ukraine, a new type of warfare that Russia has been perfecting for the past decade. The Chinese are perfecting a different type called “unrestricted” warfare. Then there is ISIS. Two months ago, I had very little insight into these issues. After finishing the paper, I went to class at the Blue Plate Diner in Newport wearing jeans, flops, and sweatshirt since it is cooling off a bit up here in RI. I have not put a uniform in quite some time. This week we have “seminar” for three hours each morning (M-Th), with the afternoons, and all of Friday, off to work on assignments. While not a walk in the park, it is different enough from medicine to serve as a well deserved breather I have enjoyed so far. You should strongly consider getting your Joint Profession Military Education (JPME) on.
Programs and Prerequisites
There are two primary programs of study at the Naval War College (NWC): the junior (JPME-1) and the senior program (JPME-2). The junior program (JPME-1) is completed as a resident or nonresident. Nonresident options include the fleet seminar program, NWC online program, and from war colleges of other services. I received my JPME-1 via the NWC online program several years ago. There is also a rare opportunity for officers at the 12-15 year mark to attend JPME-1 as a resident here [limited to O4 and below]. However, medical officers will likely need to obtain JPME-1 as a nonresident.
The senior program is via the College of Naval Warfare (CNW). Officers selected have typically completed JPME-1 and apply through their detailer at the 15-20 year mark (O5 or O6). Completion of this residency program grants a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. Accreditation is via the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
For both JPME-1 and JPME-2, there are three courses: Joint Military Operations (JMO), National Security Decision Making (NSDM), and Strategy and Policy (S&P). The main difference between the two programs is that the junior course focuses on the Tactical/Operational level and the senior course on the higher Strategic level. As a resident at the NWC, you are also required to take an elective each trimester. I just finished the Political Warfare elective – super cool.
Additional Qualifier Designations (AQDs) are awarded for JPME-1 and JPME-2. Many elective pathways also result in an AQD. So that’s three AQDs you can receive if you are an AQD collector – I know you’re out there. [And promotion boards know that these AQDs are difficult to get, unlike some of the others.]
NWC is academia at its best. Students wear business casual so that neither service nor rank are distinguished. All services are in attendance including the Coast Guard. You will find that there are several interagency (State Department, Justice Department, CIA, etc.) students and many international students as well. There may be one lecture per week with the entire student body, but most classes are in a seminar (12 students, two instructors). My seminar includes students from Greece, Lebanon, and Singapore along with two “agency” students and six other service students. Teaching is Socratic (You know, that method you thought you would be using before receiving the letter of rejection from Harvard). Exams are essay – not multiple choice. You do not have to publish, but many of the best papers are submitted for publication. This should definitely help your Google H-index.
Follow on Assignments
Medical officers who complete JPME-2 are highly valued at the higher levels in operational medicine. This may be as a joint force command surgeon, fleet surgeon, a Pentagon tour, or in any of the various naval service operational commands. This follow-on assignment is not a requirement, however. Your Detailer and Specialty Leader will ultimately work with you on what your next assignment will be. Some have returned to the MTF after NWC only to go operational on the very next tour. Commitment after obtaining JPME-2 is two years, served concurrently with any existing obligations.
There are several beneficiaries of a tour at the NWC. First, you and your family. Newport and surrounding vicinity is a great place to live with good schools and lots of history and activities. If you have been in the MTF for multiple tours, you may need a break so a brief sabbatical here can help recharge the batteries. You will still work hard (tons of reading and paper writing) but time structure is on your terms. Second, your specialty and our Navy. Every specialty in Navy Medicine (with rare exceptions) has elements that operationalize to support the mission of the Navy. To have the 30,000-foot strategic view of how your part comes into play is a great benefit to your specialty and service. Third, the nation needs thinkers and leaders. We all have the feeling that something has gone sideways in the last few decades. We need strong leaders who have the integrity to make the tough calls and argue for the right decisions on the national level. After you leave the naval service, this education and degree will go with you and will likely have great utility no matter how your large your future circle of influence may be.