Navy Post-Internship Tracks are Serious But Exciting Career Choices | 2022-09-07

By Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

Image of Two Naval medical officers in masks discuss career opportunities in San Diego.
Left, Capt. Rhett Barrett, Navy BUMED medical core career planner, and right, Lt. Aaron Wickard, a Naval Medical Center-San Diego general surgery intern, discuss post-internship career opportunities in the four major Naval operational medicine communities.

Navy doctors in training who are past their internships have many opportunities to take dynamic and exclusive career paths.

“We need highly skilled and trained physicians who have developed themselves clinically and operationally as leaders,” said Capt. Rhett Barrett, Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) medical core career planner.

“This is vital to ensure that the medical corps community helps ensure that the warfighter is ready for any call today – and tomorrow,” Barrett said.

Barrett made his remarks at the annual operational roadshow at the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) San Diego on Aug. 25.

The roadshow highlights the current and projected composition of each Navy operational medicine community. Medical interns attended the presentation to help decide where next to take their Naval and medical careers.

Presenters included senior medical corps officers from BUMED, Navy Personnel Command (PERS), and each of the four major operational medicine communities: Surface Fleet, Undersea Medicine, Aviation Medicine, and Fleet Marine Force.

Undersea Medicine

One Naval Medical Center-San Diego (NMCSD) intern has his heart set on becoming an undersea medical officer.

Lt. Aaron Wickard, a general surgery intern, said: “Today’s briefings were highly insightful as to the various medical communities. For me, it only solidified the fact that I want to serve as part of the Undersea Medicine community.”

Wickard, a 2018 Naval Academy graduate and a Harvard Medical School graduate, is eager to serve with Naval divers.

“I can’t think of anything more enticing than to support the Navy’s dive community. And to know that I too would have opportunities to do some actual diving as an undersea medical officer is exhilarating,” Wickard added.

Aviation Medicine

Aviation Medicine is another crucially needed medical career path.

“As a flight surgeon, the health matters of entire air wing can rest on your shoulders,” Capt. (Dr.) Ian Laughlin, NMCSD command intern advisor, told the interns.

“Your leadership will look to you, and you need to be ready to provide the medical expertise expected of you.”

"Any one of these operational medicine communities offer unique opportunities to our interns,” added Laughlin, who is also a Naval flight surgeon.

“There is no better way to learn about the fleet operational environment than to join the fleet,” he said.

“At the end of the day it’s about credibility, and you gain that by being part of a team in an operational setting.”

The Importance of Selection

Capt. (Dr.) Travis Deaton, a 1st Marine Division surgeon, reminded the audience just how important the medical corps is. “Two years ago, in these same chairs, sat an intern just like you, and one year later — almost to the day — he was in Kabul,” he said.

“Do you remember what happened one year ago?” Deaton asked. “The Kabul airport suicide bombing.”

The armed services’ medical response to the ISIS attack was quick and lifesaving that day. From lab techs to surgeons, Navy and other services’ medical teams rushed into action to treat both wounded service members and Afghan civilians caught in the chaos and terror.

What do all of the operational medicine communities have in common? At the core, they serve our Naval and Marine Corps warfighters. This is why such post-internship career selections are not to be taken lightly.

NMCSD's mission is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high-quality health care services, and shape the future of military medicine through education, training, and research.