Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Military physicians and surgeons represent all of the major fields of medical specialization. Physicians and surgeons are the chief providers of medical services to military personnel and their dependents. They examine patients, diagnose their injuries or illnesses, and provide medical treatment.

Job Details:

What They Do:

Physicians and surgeons in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Examine patients to detect abnormalities in pulse, breathing, or other body functions
  • Determine presence and extent of illness or injury by reviewing medical histories, X-rays, laboratory reports, and examination reports
  • Develop treatment plans that may include medication, therapy, or surgery
  • Perform surgery to treat injuries or illnesses
  • Advise patients on their health problems and personal habits
  • Coordinate the activities of nurses, physician assistants, medical specialists, therapists, and other medical personnel
  • Conduct medical research

Work Environment:

Physicians and surgeons work in hospitals and clinics on land and aboard ships.

Training Provided:

No initial job training is provided to officers in this occupation. However, ad-vanced courses and programs in medical specialties are available. In addition, scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for an obligated period of military service.


The services have a total of about 12,000 physicians and surgeons, including all general practitioners and specialists. Each year, they need new physicians and surgeons due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field.

The services give several hundred scholarships yearly to attend civilian medical schools or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, in return for an obligated period of military service after graduation. The services normally hire physicians who have completed medical school and their internships.

However, some services have programs to grant early officer commissions to civilians who are in medical school, internship, or residency status in return for an obligated period of service. Positions for physicians and surgeons in the Coast Guard are filled by U.S. Public Health Service Officers. After gaining experience in the military, physicians and surgeons may advance to senior management or command positions in the services' medical corps.