service schools

The Best Education You Can Get in the Navy

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Joint Senior Medical Leader Course (JSMLC)
  12. 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.

My Service School OSR Update

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I’m in zone for O6 in February, and I’ve attended a number of service schools recently, necessitating an update to my Officer Service Record (OSR). It took months and as the guy who wrote the Promo Prep, it was interesting to actually experience. Here’s how it went down…

This is what the service schools section of my OSR looked like at the start:

“NWC OFFCAMP SE” was added automatically (how nice is that!) in June when I completed JPME I via the Fleet Seminar Program, but the rest are quite old from 2011, 2002, and 2001.

This year I attended the MHS Capstone, Interagency Institute for Federal Healthcare Executives, and Navy Senior Legal Course, all of which are service schools but were not automatically added to my OSR.

How does the guy who wrote the Promo Prep update his service schools? Realizing that nothing is perfect, it might not work the first time, it’ll probably take quite a while, and wanting to get it over with, I used the e-mail, fax, and mailing option discussed in the Promo Prep all at the same time. Once and done! If it didn’t work, I was just going to send a letter to the board.

So, on one day after completing the courses I e-mailed, faxed, and snail mailed the required information.

First I got this:

I’m not sure if the address I have is wrong or the USPS just didn’t like my abbreviations, but the snail mail attempt clearly didn’t work.

Next, I started getting strange e-mails reminiscent of the ones you get when you put in a trouble ticket on your computer. I’m not sure if this was from the e-mail submission, the fax submission, or both. Here’s what one of them looked like:

From: ITSM ­ Do Not Reply [mailto:DoNotReply@navy.mil]

To: Schofer, Joel M CDR USN NAVHOSP PORS VA (US)

Subject: Incident INC000002230401 with a Priority of Low has been logged for your issue

Importance: High

Incident INC000002230401 with a Priority of Low has been logged for your issue. This number should be retained for reference purposes.

Customer Site:

Product Type: Software

Nomenclature:

Common Name: CDM

Product Categorization Tier 2: ODC

Product Categorization Tier 3: SERVICE SCHOOL

Product Name:

Model/Version:

System Model Number:

Urgency: 4­-Low

Status: Assigned

Summary: SERVICE SCHOOL (ODC BLK 52)

Notes: Request to add service school to Officer Data Card (ODC) to reflect course number 595, SEP 2017, 1 WK

We look forward to providing you continued support.

I particularly like the part where they say my request is low priority.

They then told me I already had too many service schools and needed to pick which ones I wanted:

From: ITSM ­ Do Not Reply [mailto:DoNotReply@navy.mil]

To: Schofer, Joel M CDR USN NAVHOSP PORS VA (US)

Subject: INC000002211696

CDR Schofer,

A maximum of seven service schools can be assigned and you currently have seven. Please indicate which service schools 04D and 059 will replace on your ODC.

Send information to Xxxx.Xxxx.ctr@navy.mil. Reference incident number 2211696 in the subject line.

Wow! A person who is going to help me resolve this problem. My faith in the system has been restored.

I told them to just remove the oldest service schools and replace them with the new ones. I then got this message:

From: ITSM ­ Do Not Reply <DoNotReply@navy.mil>
To: CDR Joel Schofer
Subject: Incident INC000002230401 reported by you has been resolved. SERVICE SCHOOL (ODC BLK 52)

Reply­To: ITSM ­ Do Not Reply <DoNotReply@navy.mil>

Dear JOEL SCHOFER,
We are pleased to inform you that your reported Incident has been resolved.

Reference No.: INC000002230401
Summary: SERVICE SCHOOL (ODC BLK 52)

Your reported Incident has been resolved with the following resolution: CDR Schofer,

Your online record has been updated to include service school code 595. Allow at least two weeks for changes to reflect on your ODC after online systems update.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Service Desk should there be any further questions or inquiries regarding your Incident. Please quote your assigned Reference Number.

Yours sincerely, Service Desk

This is what the final product looked like:

As you can see, my three new service schools are all there, and my record is ready for my O6 board. It took about 3 months in total, and involved a returned envelope and some strange e-mails, but thanks to whoever at NSIPS addressed this issue for me.

Updated List of Service Schools – MedXellence and MHS Capstone Added

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There are 2 new service schools, MedXellence and MHS Capstone.  If you want these added to your record, check the updated promo prep document below for the procedure:

Joel Schofer’s Promo Prep Guidance – 23 SEP 2015

Service Schools (Medical Only)