Commentary

January 31, 2014

Diversity is strength of MDG Biomedical Sciences Corps

Captain Breanne Kormendy
99th Medical Group

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The Biomedical Sciences Corps celebrates the 49th anniversary of Special Order CA-5 that established the Air Force Medical Services BSC Jan. 28, and everyone is invited to celebrate with the BSC until Jan. 31.

The Air Force Medical Service Corps includes the Nurse Corps, Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps and BSC.

The easiest way to explain and remember the Biomedical Sciences Corps is to think of it as the “all others” corps. If a medical officer is not a nurse, physician, medical administrator or dentist, then he or she is part of the BSC.

This corps is very diverse with 15 different Air Force Specialty Codes covering 18 distinct career fields leading and supporting the medical service corps mission.

The Biomedical Service Corps is divided in two. One half of the corps has clinical specialists who see patients, diagnose or treat illnesses while the other half has non-clinical specialists who have a more scientific role.

There are approximately 2,389 people, which constitutes 4 percent of all officers Air force wide, 37 percent of whom have doctoral degrees, 30 percent with prior service experience and all with varied backgrounds.

Most BSC officers are found in hospitals or clinics but also hold key positions as squadron or hospital commanders, Major command and air staff positions, in training, medical intelligence, research and development, and in health promotions.

The Biomedical Sciences roots go back to World War I with the establishment of the Army Sanitary Corps May 18, 1917. The Army Sanitary Corps was a combination of scientific and health related specialties and was established to combat infectious diseases.

Multiple transitions added and eliminated different corps that spanned multiple scientific specialties, including pharmacy to dietetics and industrial hygiene to entomology during the next 30 years. These transitions resulted in an Army Medical Service Corps in 1947 that serviced both the Army and the newly created Air Force.

The Air Force Medical Service Corps was established July 1, 1949, with six major corps that included the Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Nurse Corps, Veterinary Corps, Medical Service Corps and Women’s Medical Specialist Corps. It wasn’t until Jan. 28, 1965, that the vision of Col. Alvin F. Meyer, Jr., who wanted to have a scientific and engineering corps, established the Biomedical Sciences Corps.

The BSC was officially created March 15, 1965, and Meyer was appointed as the first BSC Corps chief. This change combined all the scientific and technical members from the Medical Service Corps and the Medical Specialist Corps.

There has been some reorganization during the past 20 years, but overall, the specialties have remained the same. There are 15 AFSCs that make up the Biomedical Sciences Corps today with the motto “diversity united in one mission, one voice, one corps.”

The following specialties fall under the Biomedical Science Corps:

  • Aerospace Operational Physiology – Non-clinical scientific specialists that plan, conduct, and direct aerospace physiology acquisition, science and technology programs; manage specialized physiology support divisions for high altitude projects; and life support equipment functions.
  • Audiology and Speech Pathology – Clinicians who evaluate, treat and oversee prevention programs for hearing loss and related disorders for newborns to geriatrics.
  • Bioenvironmental Engineers – Non-clinical scientific specialists that identify and evaluate occupational and environmental hazards, recommend controls for risk management decisions, and ensures force health protection through industrial hygiene, health and medical physics, architecture and medical construction.
  • Clinical Psychology – Clinicians that enhance the resiliency and psychological health of Airmen, promote the well-being and functioning of the Air Force at large-with balanced individual treatment, commander and unit consultation, and program development.
  • Dietetics – Clinicians that provide medical nutrition therapy for patients admitted in the hospital and provide preventative activities and education to improve the overall wellness of outpatients.
  • Entomology – Non-clinical specialists that survey, manage, research and implement environmental programs to protect forces from vector-borne/zoonotic disease and injury.
  • Bio Medical Laboratory – Non-clinical specialists certified as Clinical Laboratory Scientists that manage and perform analyses of biologic and related materials in various areas, perform research and development and at Nellis AFB, and oversee eight clinical laboratory sections.
  • Occupational Therapy; Clinicians that restore independent function required for the daily activities necessary for living through physical, cognitive, and mental health functional independence.
  • Optometry; Clinicians that evaluate, treat diseases and disorders that affect the visual system, the eye and associated structures.
  • Pharmacy; Non-clinical specialists that develop and coordinate pharmaceutical care activities and ensures prescription dispensing, patient medication counseling, drug regimen reviews, and other related activities are carried out to professional standards.
  • Physical Therapy; Clinicians that evaluate, diagnose, and treat disabilities, impairments, or limitations to restore physical function, mobility and to decrease pain.
  • Physician Assistants; Clinicians that provide the entire spectrum of health care including outpatient, emergency, specialty care and surgical assistance, evaluate Airmen to ensure nuclear safety, and provide insight for occupational safety, flight safety and aeromedical evacuation.
  • Podiatry; Clinicians that evaluate and treat diseases and disorders of the foot and its related structures.
  • Public Health; Non-Clinical Specialists that apply preventive and public health knowledge and skills to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases, occupational illnesses, food borne diseases, and promote health.
  • Social Work; Clinicians that provide mental health diagnoses and establish treatment; they provide research, consultation, and preventive programs for military individuals, families, groups, and organizations.

This diversity is an amazing strength. The everyday hard work of the Nellis BSC team to lead and support the AFMS mission has just been rewarded.




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