FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Independent Duty Corpsmen (IDCs) are
specialized hospital corpsmen who aspire to reach the
pinnacle of Navy Medicine. These Sailors serve on land or at
sea alongside Navy and Marine Corps warfighters, and at
isolated duty stations where no medical officer is assigned.
IDCs fulfill a variety of critical duties in support of
the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps mission. They serve as
clinical or specialty technicians in more than 38
occupational specialties, including key administrative roles
at military treatment facilities around the world.
Chief Hospital Corpsman Reyes Camacho,
right, checks the heartbeat of Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Rudy
Taylor, left, aboard the Los Angeles class attack submarine USS
Toledo (SSN 769), Dec. 15, 2014. Submarine Force Independent Duty
Corpsmen are the sole medical professionals permanently assigned to
submarine crews. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st
Class Bill Larned)
IDCs are assistants in the treatment and prevention of
disease, and serve side-by-side with medical officers,
doctors, dentists and nurses. They can be found aboard ships
and submarines, or ashore throughout the United States and
They are also assigned to specific Navy
warfare communities, including surface, submarine or Fleet
Marine Force IDCs.
“The position of Independent Duty
Corpsman is one of the most responsible and challenging
enlisted assignments in the armed forces. Whether performing
minor surgeries below the sea, steaming to provide
humanitarian assistance in distant waters or rendering
emergency care on the battlefield, IDCs play an integral
role in the success of Navy Medicine,” said master chief
hospital corpsman Blake West, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine
and Surgery IDC program manager.
The scope of an
IDC's responsibility extends beyond providing hands-on
medical care and includes providing advice and counsel to
“It takes a particular type of
Sailor, and a specific type of corpsman to fulfill the role
of IDC,” said West.
“After witnessing the IDC on my
first ship flawlessly triage patients during the earthquake
in Haiti in 2010, I realized a call to serve as an IDC and
as a Navy Medicine leader," said chief hospital corpsman
Mercedes R. Sawin, USS Ross (DDG 71) senior medical
Specific training is
required for IDCs to operate in the various units and
locations at which they are typically assigned.
attend a 19-week school at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Following basic training, IDCs must attend additional
schools located in North Carolina, Connecticut and
California in order to qualify in a warfare specialty.
For example, Groton, Connecticut, is home to the Basic
Enlisted Submarine School (BESS) where IDCs attend 58-weeks
of instruction to include six-weeks of initial BESS
training. In lieu of BESS, a corpsman selected to serve as a
surface or dive IDC will attend a12-week school in San
Diego. Alternatively, special operations IDCs attend a
19-week school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with four of
those weeks spent in San Antonio, Texas, learning special
operations medical techniques.
“Being an IDC is one
of the biggest rewards any hospital corpsman can hope to
achieve. We are entrusted to care for some of the most
talented and selfless men and women in our country. Our
professionalism and quality of care has a direct impact on
the health and well-being of our Navy and Marine Corps
team,” said chief hospital corpsman Jeremy L. Simon, USS
Leyte Gulf (CG 55) senior medical department representative.
U.S. Navy Medicine is a global health care network of
63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide
high quality health care to more than one million eligible
beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors
and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support
aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the
By Matt Lyman
U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
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