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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The officer running the medical facilities here did not begin his Navy career as an officer.

But Cmdr. Ronald Dodge, officer in charge at Sasebo’s Navy Branch Medical Clinic, found his way into the Medical Service Corps In-service Procurement Program in 1984, as a petty officer first class serving in Okinawa.

The program provides an opportunity for eligible active-duty enlisted sailors to obtain a commission as an officer in the Medical Service Corps.

“Some of our challenging and rewarding career fields include health care administration, physician assistant, radiation health, environmental health, industrial hygiene, entomology and pharmacy,” Beverly Kemp stated in a Navy news report released last week. Kemp is enlisted commissioning programs manager at the Naval Medical Education Training Command.

“It’s one of the best programs available to those interested in pursuing a career in health care,” Dodge said Friday, whether as a health care administrator, physician assistant “or any of the other health-care related fields available.”

He recommends the program to sailors who want to make “a bigger contribution to our mission accomplishment” and those who aspire to “higher levels of responsibility and scope of practice.”

“Everyone in the health-care system fills an important role, from the hospitalmen on the front lines, to the commander of the hospital,” Dodge said, “but each has its own responsibilities. Depending on the drive and dedication of the individual, anything is possible.

“Those that want to do more need to go for it.”

Things have changed, Dodge said, since he entered the program 20 years ago.

“I had to take a Navy-wide exam in order to qualify to submit my commissioning package,” he said. “The IPP then was only open to E-6 and above, and only hospitalmen and dental technicians. More than 400 sailors took the test that year and only 120 were ‘invited’ to submit their packages, with 20 ultimately being selected.”

Now, the program is open all Navy ratings with no exam required; it includes other career possibilities, such as physician assistant, radiation health and industrial hygiene.

Dodge said the In-service Procurement Program “gave me the confidence to pursue even higher goals, and to lead, mentor and shape the force of the future.

“To have joined the Navy right out of high school in 1973 as a hospitalman recruit, to now being a commander and the officer in charge of a forward-deployed medical clinic with a staff of 75 responsible for more than 7,000 beneficiaries in Sasebo — what a ride,” he said.

“The IPP was the vehicle that made my dream a reality. It’s open today to virtually every sailor who wants to reach for it; it’s the best.”

How to apply

Medical Service Corps program is seeking interested applicants. The program provides an opportunity for eligible active-duty enlisted sailors to obtain a commission as an officer in the Medical Service Corps.

Those interested should apply now for the fiscal 2005 In-service Procurement Program selection board slated for Oct. 20. Applications must be postmarked by Aug. 27; any additional documents needed to demonstrate eligibility must be postmarked by Sept. 17. College entrance exam scores must be postmarked prior to the board convening, according to the Navy report.

Program applicants interested in earning a commission as a physician assistant must submit official transcripts and a complete list of schools attended to the Naval Medical Education Training Command by June 18, before submitting an application.

Submission criteria is detailed in Navy Instruction 1420.1A ch.2 available online at: nshs.med.navy.mil/mscipp/mscipp.htm

For more information, check out the Navy Administrative message 104/04 online at: www.bupers.navy.mil/navadmin/nav04/nav04104.txt

— Greg Tyler

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