Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

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Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Seal of USU
Motto Learning to Care For Those In Harm's Way[1]
Established 1972
Type Federal medical school
President Charles L. Rice, MD
Academic staff
1,087 (775 civilians; 312 military)
More than 4,000 off-campus
Undergraduates None
Postgraduates About 1,200
Location Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
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Campus Suburban
Colors Purple, gold and white
Mascot Bald Eagle
Affiliations  United States Army
 United States Navy
 United States Air Force
U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
Website www.usuhs.edu

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) is a health science university run by the U.S. federal government. The primary mission of the school is to prepare graduates for service to the U.S. at home and abroad in the medical corps.

The university consists of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, a medical school, which includes a full health sciences graduate education program, the Graduate School of Nursing, a nursing school, and a postgraduate dental college. The university's campus is located in Bethesda, Maryland. USU was established in 1972 under legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Felix Edward Hébert of Louisiana. It graduated its first class in 1980.

USU falls under the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.[2] Formerly known by the acronym USUHS, it has officially adopted the abbreviated acronym USU.


The university is a federal service postgraduate academy. It is similar to the military federal service academies for undergraduates, such as the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, or the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, in that students are members of the uniformed services of the United States and are provided a free education by the federal government in exchange for a service commitment after graduation.

Unlike the undergraduate service academies whose students hold cadet or midshipman rank and a pay grade roughly equivalent to an Army sergeant (E-5) or petty officer, second class (E-5), all medical students enter the university as commissioned officers via direct commissions in the grade of second lieutenant (O-1) in the United States Army or United States Air Force, or ensign (O-1) in the United States Navy or the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. No prior military service is required for admission to USU's medical school. Students who already hold military commissions at higher rank in the Army, Air Force and Navy are required to accept temporary administrative demotion to O-1 for medical school; officers of the United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps must resign their existing commissions and accept commissions in as O-1s in one of the other three authorized services.

Prior military service students in the Graduate School of Nursing or Graduate Education programs may keep their officer rank, or will be commissioned as O-1 if previously enlisted.

Students pay no tuition or fees and receive the full salary and benefits of a uniformed military officer throughout their time at the university. In return, all military students incur an active duty commitment proportionate to their time at USU. Medical students have a minimum of a seven-year active duty service commitment and a six-year inactive ready reserve commitment following their internship and residency after graduation.

Students in the graduate programs are a mix of both civilians and uniformed officers of various ranks. They also pay no tuition or fees. Civilian students may receive stipends and uniformed graduate students continue to receive their active duty pay and benefits while attending school at USU. The Graduate School of Nursing students are all active duty uniformed military nurses or nurses in federal civilian service. Neither pay tuition or fees at USU and both uniformed graduate students and nursing students maintain their rank and continue to receive their regular salaries while students at the university.

The postgraduate dental college offers a Master of Science in Oral Biology degree to students enrolled in selected graduate dental education programs of the Air Force and Navy. USU is one of many federal service graduate and graduate-level professional schools; others include the Naval Postgraduate School which has several Master of Science and Ph.D. programs, the U.S. Army War College (master's degree), the U.S. Naval War College (master's degree), the U.S. Air Force's Air War College (master's degree), the Army's ABA-accredited Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School which awards Master of Laws degrees, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (master's degrees) and the National Defense University (master's degrees).

USU School of Medicine

With an average enrollment of approximately 170 students per class, the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine is located in Bethesda, Maryland on the campus of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (formerly the National Naval Medical Center Bethesda) and is located along Maryland Route 355, across from the National Institutes of Health. The school is named in honor of former U.S. Representative Felix Edward Hébert.

Typically, the first year class is composed of 63 Army students, 51 Air Force students, 51 Navy students, and two Public Health Service students. The Class of 2010 increased the Public Health Service student number to six. Students attending this institution receive free tuition, as well as reimbursement for all fees. They also receive salaries and benefits as junior officers. Textbooks are issued to the students at the beginning of each semester.

USU School of Medicine students are all active-duty uniformed officers during their schooling and receive pay and benefits at the grade of O-1 (second lieutenant for the Army and Air Force and ensign for the Navy and Public Health Service) - unless the student was prior service at a higher rank then that student will wear the O-1 rank but be paid at their previous pay grade (this is a relatively recent change which will greatly benefit seasoned officers). Upon graduation, medical students are promoted to the grade of O-3, (captain for the Army and Air Force, lieutenant for the Navy and Public Health Service), and are expected to serve at least seven years on active duty and six years in the inactive ready reserve. Currently, students graduating from the USU School of Medicine receive four years' credit toward military retirement, which is obtained after he or she reaches 20 years of military service credit.

When the school was first formed, the United States Congress weighed whether to make each student a cadet or midshipman (like the military service academies) or to give students full active-duty officer status and promotion benefits. A compromise was reached whereby medical students were commissioned as O-1 grade officers, were not promoted while enrolled in the School of Medicine, and do not receive time in grade or time in service while enrolled in USU. However, this status puts USU Medical Students in a unique position; unlike the Graduate School of Nursing and other programs, USU School of Medicine students are barred from promotion. Additionally, prior-service commissioned officers must accept a demotion to O-1 in order to matriculate. Upon graduation, when these officers are promoted to O-3, half of the time spent in prior active duty service is then added to their time-in-service (TIS)/time-in-grade (TIG) and used toward promotion to the rank of major or lieutenant commander (O-4). However, as of FY 2008, prior service officers will be paid their former base pay while attending USU School of Medicine.

The curriculum at the School of Medicine includes 1.5 years of basic sciences, organized in organ-system based modules. Additional courses include Parasitology, Combat Medical Skills, Military Medical History, Officer Professional Development, Military Applied Physiology, Epidemiology, and several other courses. The clerkship year begins in January of the second year, and is followed by the USMLE Step 1. After Step 1, students participate in an integrated advanced didactic module, "Bench to Bedside and Beyond", and then begin fourth year clerkships/subinternships. These clerkships are done at various military hospitals across the country.

Approximately 80 percent of military physicians reaching 20 or more years of military service are graduates of USU. A majority of medical corps leadership positions are occupied by graduates of USU. Graduates of USU also make up a majority of Army Special Forces physicians.

USU is featured in the documentary Fighting for Life.

Affiliated military and civilian teaching hospitals are:

Combined MD/PhD Program

Students can indicate their intent to apply for the MD/PhD program on the USU secondary application and complete the graduate school application. Applicants not selected for the graduate school are still eligible for acceptance into the medical school. The combined MD/PHD program requires the same military commitment as the school of medicine. Three MD/PhD degrees are currently offered; neuroscience (NES), molecular and cell biology (MCB), and emerging infectious diseases (EID). Students remain civilian until graduate school requirements are completed. Degrees are not granted until completion of both graduate and medical requirements.Facts about the MD/PhD Program at USUHS

USU Graduate School of Nursing

The Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) is the nursing graduate school at USU. Students enrolled in the GSN program who were previously in the military maintain active duty rank and privileges, to include time in service, time in grade, and promotions. Graduate nursing students at USU generally have already completed undergraduate nursing degrees and come from within the ranks of the uniformed services.

The Graduate School of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree programs in nurse anesthesia, family nurse practitioner, perioperative clinical nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and full- and part-time programs for a Ph.D. in nursing sciences.

USU Graduate School

Schistosoma mansoni at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Tropical rattlesnake at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

The graduate programs in biomedical sciences and public health in the USU School of Medicine are open to civilian and military applicants. Civilian students may apply to most of these programs. The faculty is composed of a mix of military and civilian professors. There is no tuition, stipends are guaranteed for three years, and no military service is required after graduation for civilian students. There also is no undergraduate teaching.

The graduate program at USU currently has approximately 170 full-time graduate students.

USU currently offers the Ph.D. in emerging infectious diseases, medical and clinical psychology, molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, pathology, Environmental Health Sciences and Medical Zoology.

USU also offers the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). Master's degree programs are offered in comparative medicine, military medical history, healthcare administration and policy, public health and tropical medicine and hygiene.

There are military students in the graduate programs, most notably the public health and tropical medicine programs and clinical psychology program. Generally, military students were in the military before beginning their graduate training, but some commission as they enter their programs.

USU Affiliated Programs and Centers

Notable people

  • Jay P. Sanford – founding Dean of the medical school in 1975, resigned in 1990; original author of Sanford's Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy


  1. Branding Guide
  2. "Jonathan Woodson: Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs)". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 24 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Blackledge, Brett J. (November 6, 2009). "Details emerge about Fort Hood suspect's history". Associated Press. Retrieved November 6, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links