Birthday Ball held for Medical Service Corps

17 Aug 2011 | Cpl. Jonathan Wright

The advances in naval medicine can be among the most important factors in a Marine’s career both garrison and abroad in a combat zone. Of Navy medicine, there are dozens of internal sections that ensure the level of health care delivered to Marines as well as their families is the best in the Department of Defense, with each of those sections supporting the other.

One of these sections of the entire breadth of Navy medicine is the Medical Service Corps, which is a staff consisting of officers engaged in medical support functions. This corps comprises the blunt of the administrative force in many hospital sections, such as optometry and the oversight of pharmacies, as well as scientists and researchers.

The creation of the MSC was founded by act of the United States Congress Aug. 4, 1947. Sailors from Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune celebrated the anniversary of the MSC’s birth during the MSC Birthday Ball held at the Paradise Point Officers’ Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Aug. 12.

“The Medical Service Corps is the bridge between nurses and doctors, running the gamut of duties and ensuring hospitals keep up with the progress of modern medicine,” said Navy Capt. Debra Soyk, director of Clinical Support Services with NHCL. “With medicine advancing so fast, you need these specialists to effectively deliver health care to either the service member or civilian.”

The Navy Nurse Corps officially began in 1947 with four specialties: supply and administration, optometry, pharmacy and allied sciences. The need for MSC began in World War I, when doctors who were experienced with the required medicine were needed on the front lines. Then, enlisted personnel were temporarily commissioned and given authority to oversee the treatment being given. Enlisted naval personnel were again called upon to temporarily be commissioned in 1942, after which five years later President Harry Truman officially authorized the creation of the existent MSC.

“Nothing happens in Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune that is not touched by MSC personnel,” said Navy Capt. Daniel Zinder, commanding officer of NHCL. “They have engaged in the same role throughout history and do outstanding work on a daily basis.”

Due to the knowledge and experience in the medicine field they oversee, much of the MSC is comprised of “mustangs,” or enlisted personnel being commissioned, as their original brethren had done. Fulfilling either an administration or health care scientist role, it is preferred that those being placed in authority know what they are taking charge of.

“You can’t run a hospital without MSCs,” said Soyk. “Each section of the hospital is interwoven with the others, where no one group can exist without another. MSCs play a vital role in many parts of this hospital, and because more and more technology is playing a part in modern-day health care and the advance of medicine, that is where our knowledge and experience comes in.”

Whether deployed or at home, seeing dozens of patients per day or working in a strictly oversight capacity, the Medical Service Corps, like all other branches of Navy medicine, is essential in providing top-of-the-line care to anyone who steps through their doors.