Practicing medicine in the Navy means providing the highest quality healthcare to beneficiaries worldwide. You will deploy alongside Sailors and U.S. Marines to provide critical care on land, on the sea and in the air. Back home, you’ll provide care to service members and their families, retirees and military veterans. 

Whether you choose a full-time, active-duty commitment, or serve as a Navy Reservist and maintain your own practice, you’ll enter as a commissioned officer. As an Officer, you’ll get the chance to lead others earlier than you can expect in the civilian world and do so in a diverse range of global work environments.

Core Mission

Navy Medicine is a global healthcare system that provides high-quality healthcare to service members and their families during peacetime and times of conflict. As a physician in the Navy, you will deploy worldwide to provide mission support in a variety of situations and experiences. Back home, Navy physicians provide care for service members and their families and retirees. Every day, you will be ready to provide expert care to those who need it, no matter the environment. The Navy also plays a key role in humanitarian assistance and disaster response at home and around the world.

Career Highlights

The Navy offers the opportunity to serve two military forces: The Navy and the United States Marine Corps (USMC). This unique opportunity represents the chance to serve on the front lines, in a hospital, or anywhere in between. Available specialties include, but are not limited to: 

  • Anesthesiology
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Colorectal Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedics
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Pulmonology
  • Trauma/Critical Care Surgery
  • Urology
  • Vascular Surgery


Another career opportunity is a two- to three-year General Medical Officer (GMO) tour. Starting after your intern year, graduates join the Navy fleet or the Fleet Marine Forces to serve as a general practitioner. GMOs are licensed, practicing physicians who may not be residency trained or may even be board certified in their respective fields. Going on a GMO tour gives graduates the opportunity to join and directly support U.S. Sailors and Marines working within operational units.

There are many other GMO opportunities available today in the Navy, including: 

  • Fleet Marine forces doctors assigned to Marine units.
  • Underwater/dive medical officers who earn certification as Navy divers and work with submariners, special operations divers, and Navy SEALS.
  • Flight surgeons, who undergo aviation pre-flight instruction, attend primary flight school, and are assigned to both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft squadrons both in the Navy and Marine Corps. 

It is important to note that going on a GMO tour may mean putting residency on hold for that duration, which could increase the time it takes to become a board-certified physician.


Navy hospitals and research stations are typically located in populated areas near water, although this is not always the case. 

Within the Navy, there are 19 medical centers and hospitals, two hospital ships, and over 30 Navy medical commands and ambulatory care clinics.

Unique Programs + Opportunities

Through a number of support resources and exclusive research opportunities, the Navy can help ease financial burdens and advance your career.

For example, the Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP) provides anywhere from $157,000 to $269,000 while students finish medical school. This financial assistance option also includes a monthly salary and housing allowance from $3,280 to $5,610 for up to 48 months of your program (housing allowance may vary depending upon location). 

In addition, there are numerous clinical and basic science research opportunities within the Navy, which are spread across eight enterprise research and development laboratories. A few of the current Naval Medical Research and Development Enterprise laboratories include:

  • Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC)

    Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., NMRC functions as a major research laboratory and headquarters for the seven other Navy Research Development Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) laboratories. Research at NMRC focuses on mission-aborting infectious disease agents; infectious disease vaccine development; operational and undersea medicine; bone marrow research; and biological defense.

  • Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL)

    Located in Groton, Conn., the research programs at NSMRL focus on submariner wellness, psychological fitness, shipboard health and performance, underwater bioeffects, submarine survival and escape, and human systems.

  • Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton (NAMRU-D)

    NAMRU-D research conducted in Dayton, Ohio, is focused on maximizing warfighter performance and survivability through aeromedical and environmental health studies. Key areas of research include spatial disorientation; situational awareness; motion sickness; unusual acceleration environments; fatigue; vision and hearing studies; effects of altitude; and the toxicity of chemicals and materials used in military operations.

Learn More About Medical Careers in the Navy