Army Medical Department (United States)

Army Medical Department (United States)
Army Medical Department
US Army Medical Department Regimental Crest.jpg

The AMEDD Regimental Insignia
Active 1775 – present day
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Motto "To Conserve Fighting Strength"

The Army Medical Department of the U.S. Army – known as the AMEDD – comprises the Army's six medical Special Branches (or "Corps") of officers and medical enlisted soldiers. It was established as the "Army Hospital" in July 1775 to coordinate the medical care required by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The AMEDD is led by the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, a lieutenant general.

The AMEDD is the U.S. Army's healthcare organization, not a U.S. Army command. The AMEDD is found in all three components of the Army: the Active Army, the U.S. Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard. Its headquarters are at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, which hosts the AMEDD Center and School. Equal numbers of AMEDD senior leaders can be found in Washington D.C., divided between the Pentagon and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC).

The Academy of Health Sciences, under the Army Medical Department Center & School, provides training to the officers and enlisted soldiers of the AMEDD. As a result of BRAC 2005, enlisted medical training was transferred to the new Medical Education and Training Campus, consolidating most military enlisted medical training at Fort Sam Houston.[1][2]

The current Army Surgeon General is LTG Eric Schoomaker. He is also commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM).



See footnote[3]

Both the AMEDD and the Army Medical Corps trace their origins to 27 July 1775, when the Continental Congress established the "Army Hospital" headed by a "Director General and Chief Physician." Congress provided a medical organization of the Army only in time of war or emergency until 1818, when it created a permanent and continuous "Medical Department". The Army Nurse Corps dates from 1901, the Dental Corps from 1911, the Veterinary Corps from 1916, the Medical Service Corps from 1917, and the Army Medical Specialist Corps from 1947.

The Army Organization Act of 1950 renamed the Medical Department as the "Army Medical Service" (AMS). However, on 4 June 1968 the AMS was redesignated the Army Medical Department (AMEDD).


See also: Rod of Asclepius and Caduceus

Coat of arms

The AMEDD Regimental Coat of Arms

A regimental coat of arms was devised for the Medical Department and probably first used in 1818. The 20 white stars on a blue background and the red and white stripes represent the U.S. flag of 1818. The green staff entwined with green serpent (the rod of Asclepius from Classical mythology) is symbolic of medicine and healing. (Green was the color associated with the Medical Corps during the last half of the 19th century.) Symbology of the coat of arms: The colors Argent and Gules are those associated with the Army Medical Department. The cross and the wreath are adapted from devices authorized for hospital stewards and other medical enlisted men when the Hospital Corps was established in 1887. The seven stars emphasize the elements of the organization: the six officer branches (Medical Corps, Army Nurse Corps, Dental Corps, Veterinary Corps, Medical Service Corps, Medical Specialist Corps) and the Enlisted Medical Specialists. The AMEDD motto "TO CONSERVE FIGHTING STRENGTH" reflects the medical mission.

Branch (corps) insignia

In 1851 "a caduceus embroidered in yellow silk on a half chevron of emerald green silk" was first authorized and worn by hospital stewards of the Medical Department. The caduceus in its present form was approved in 1902. Today, the AMEDD branch (corps) insignia is a gold color medal caduceus, 1 inch in height. With the exception of the Medical Corps, each Corps is identified by a black enamel letter (or letters) centered on the caduceus indicative of the specific branch. The insignia for Medical Service Corps is silver. Rooted in Classical mythology and associated with the Greek god Hermes, the US Army's long-standing use of the caduceus has made it a well known emblem of physicians and medical skill throughout the world. (Purists, however, often assert that the rod of Asclepius, with its single serpent, is the more proper medical emblem.)

Regimental insignia (crest)

The design of the AMEDD regimental insignia (crest) is derived from the regimental coat of arms. It is one of the US Army’s 14 regimental corps insignias. These insignias are worn over the right breast pocket on the Class A uniform signifying each service member’s unique branch of service. The AMEDD insignia was originally approved on 17 April 1986, but the size was changed from 1 1/4 inch to 1 inch on 28 August 1986.

Medical special branches

There are currently six special officer branches (corps) in the AMEDD.

Medical Corps (MC)

The Medical Corps consists entirely of commissioned medical officers who are physicians (doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathic medicine) who have completed at least one year of post-graduate training (internship) or those promoted from O-1 to O-3 following completion of medical school through USUHS or the HPSP.

USA - Army Medical Corps.png

The MC traces its origins to 27 July 1775, when the Continental Congress created “a Hospital” – essentially a Medical Department and corps of physicians – for the Continental Army. Medical officers in the U.S. Army were authorized uniforms only in 1816 and were accorded military rank only in 1847. Congress made official the designation of "Medical Corps" in 1908, although the term had long been in use informally among the AMEDD's regular physicians. Today, members of the MC work around the world at all echelons of the Army. The Chief of the MC is a major general, whereas the senior MC officer is the Surgeon General (a lieutenant general).

Military Physicians serve in one of several general career fields. The three main fields are Operational Field, Clinical Field, and Research Field.

Operational Medicine is the field of Army medicine that provides medical support to the Soldier and his/her Chain of Command. Many Operational Physicians serve as Division, Brigade and Battalion level Surgeons (the word "surgeon" is used to identify a physician that is assigned to a unit as a primary care provider and not necessarily as a General Surgeon). These Physicians are either assigned through the "PROFIS" system or through permanent assignment (PCS). Deployments with units to combat theaters are for the duration of a deployment and the jobs are mostly filled by primary care physicians. A PROFIS provider can expect to be deployed away from their family for a total of 16 months (1 month before deployment, 12 months in theater, and 3 months for "stabilization" after return to the assigned units home station). This means that primary care physicians are deployed for longer periods than most "specialist Physicians". A specialist (i.e. General Surgeon, Pulmonologist, Cardiologist, Trauma Surgeon, Rheumatologist) are usually deployed for 6 months. Operational Physicians should expect that greater than 60% of their time will be spent in administrative roles and non-patient care. 40% of the Operational providers time is spent caring for Soldiers or supervising unit Physician Assistants (PA). With the recent Brigade Combat Team (BCT) restructuring, the demand for Operational Surgeons have increased. Likely the poor retention of Captains and junior Major rank Physicians in the primary care fields are due to the relative inequality of deployment length and deployment frequency between primary care and specialty Physicians.

Clinical Medicine is the field of Army medicine where a Physician in uniform basically functions like a Physician in the Civilian arena. These Physicians are assigned to the various Army MEDCEN (Medical Centers) and MEDDAC (Medical and Dental facilities). Each of these Physicians are assigned to a PROFIS unit. Usually primary care physicians deploy to fill Battalion level Surgeon positions. Medical Specialists deploy to support CSH (combat support hospitals)

Research Medicine is filled by the minority of military physicians. Most of these research Physicians are based in larger Army Medical Centers.[4]

Nurse Corps (AN)

USA - Army Medical Nurse.png

The Army Nurse Corps became a permanent corps of the Medical Department under the Army Reorganization Act (31 STat. 753) passed by Congress on 2 February 1901.[5] Its motto is "EMBRACE THE PAST – ENGAGE THE PRESENT – ENVISION THE FUTURE" and it mission statement declares that "All actions and tasks must lead and work toward promoting the wellness of Warriors and their families, supporting the delivery of Warrior and family healthcare, and all those entrusted to our care and ultimately, positioning the Army Nurse Corps as a force multiplier for the future of military medicine."

Dental Corps (DC)

USA - Army Medical Dental.png

The Dental Corps (DC) consists of commissioned officers holding the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. The chief of the Dental Corps is a major general. Enlisted soldiers may be assigned as dental assistants, although their collar insignia lacks the 'D' and is the same as that worn by medics. Army Dental Officers can be trained to specialize in the following advanced training programs after Dental School:

  • General Dentist
  • General Dentist (1 year AEGD Graduate)
  • Comprehensive Dentist* (2 year AEGD Graduate) (*"Comprehensive" and "General" Dentistry are not recognized ADA accredited specialties.)
  • Endodontist
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
  • Orthodontist
  • Pediatric Dentist
  • Periodontist
  • Prosthodontist
  • Public Health Dentist
  • Oral Pathologist

The chief of the Army Dental Corps is Major General Ming "Ted" Wong.[6]

Veterinary Corps (VC)

USA - Army Medical Veterinary.png

The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps was established by an Act of Congress on 3 June 1916. Recognition of the need for veterinary expertise had been evolving since 1776 when General Washington directed that a "regiment of horse with a farrier" be raised. It has evolved to include sanitary food inspectors and animal healthcare specialists.

The Veterinary Corps consists of commissioned doctors of veterinary medicine. Warrant officers are the core of its Food Inspection service. Enlisted personnel can serve as Food Inspection specialists and veterinary technicians; enlisted collar insignia lacks the 'V' and is the same as that worn by medics.

The Chief of the Veterinary Corps is Brigadier General Timothy K. Adams.

Medical Service Corps (MS)

USA - Army Medical Specialist Corps.png

The Medical Service Corps consists entirely of commissioned and warrant officers. Members are required to hold at least a Bachelors Degree before receiving a commission. The MS is the most diverse branch of the Army, with members performing the greatest range of duties. Members perform administrative and support duties such as healthcare administrators, health services officers in operational units, healthcare comptrollers, healthcare informatics officers, patient administrators, health service human resource managers, medical operations and plans officers, medical logisticians, health services maintenance technicians, and medical evacuation pilots. MS officers serve in clinical support roles as clinical laboratory science officers, environmental science officers, pharmacists and preventive medicine officers. Medical Service Corps Officers serve as commanders of field medical units in garrison and combat environments. MS officers provide healthcare to patients as psychologists (PhD, PsyD), social workers (MSW with state license), optometrists, pharmacist, podiatrists, and audiologists. The Medical Service Corps also functions as a transitional branch, encompassing commissioned medical, dental, and veterinary students who have not completed their training through the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) or the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).

Medical Service Corp officers are accessioned from the various Army commissioning sources (USMA, ROTC, and the federal and state Office Candidate Schools), following a branch-immaterial curriculum. Since a primary function of the Medical Service Corps is to manage combat health support activities,[7] its officers hold general command authority and can compete for company- and field-grade command of medical support formations and detachments, similar to officers of the "competitive category" branches (infantry, ordnance, quartermaster, etc.). In contrast, Medical Corps and Dental Corps officers are limited to command billets specific to their respective corps (e.g. hospitals, MEDDACs, clinics for doctors; dental clinics, DENTACs for dentists).[8]

The Chief of the Medical Service Corps is Major General David A. Rubenstein.

Medical Specialist Corps (SP)

USA - Army Medical Specialist.png

The Army Medical Specialist Corps consists entirely of commissioned officers. Members hold professional degrees and serve as clinical dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physician assistants. Members of the SP serve all around the world and at all echelons of the Army. The Chief of the SP Corps is COL Theresa Schneider.

Enlisted Medical Career Management Fields (CMFs)

There are currently 17 military occupational specialties (MOSs) for enlisted medical soldiers: Biomedical Equipment Specialist (MOS 68A), Operating Room Specialist (68D), Dental Specialist (68E), Patient Administration Specialist (68G), Optical Laboratory Specialist (68H), Medical Logistics Specialist (68J), Medical Laboratory Specialist (68K), Nutrition Care Specialist (68M), Radiology Specialist (68P), Pharmacy Specialist (68Q), Food Safety Inspector (68R), Preventive Medicine Specialist (68S), Animal Care Specialist (68T), Respiratory Specialist (68V), Healthcare Specialist/Combat Medic (68W, formerly 91A, 91B), Mental Health Specialist (68X), and Chief Medical NCO (68Z). In addition, outside the AMEDD, is the Special Forces Medical Sergeant (18D).



See also



  1. ^ "Fort Sam Houston". United States Air Force. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Fort Sam Houston". 21 August 2005. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  3. ^ AMEDD Corps History. Office of Medical History. U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD). Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  4. ^ Army Medical Department (AMEDD), "Training, history, education, FAQ"; Available from
  5. ^ Carolyn M. Feller, Debora R. Cox, ed (2000). Highlights in the history of the Army nurse corps. CMH Pub 85-1 (Revised and Expanded Edition ed.). Washington, DC: United States Army Center of Military History. pp. 103. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ AR 600-20, Army Command Policy

Further reading

This article also contains information that originally came from US Government publications and websites and is in the public domain.

External links

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