Diversity is Biomedical Sciences Corps strength

  • Published
  • By Capt. Breanne Kormendy
  • 99th Medical Group
The Biomedical Sciences Corps will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Special Order CA-5, which established the Air Force Medical Services Biomedical Sciences Corps, here Jan. 28.

Many Airmen, new and seasoned, are unfamiliar with the five distinct branches of the U.S. Air Force Medical Service corps, which includes the Nurse Corps, Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, and Biomedical Sciences Corps.

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

Unlike the other corps, where their members all have a very similar job, the BSC is a very diverse group of 15 different Air Force Specialty Codes covering 18 distinct career fields leading and supporting the AFMS mission.

The BSCs are divided in half. One half of the corps is clinical while the other half is considered non-clinical specialists. There are roughly 2,387 members, which constitutes four percent of all Air Force officers, 37 percent of whom have doctoral degrees, 29 percent with prior service experience, and all with varied backgrounds.

Most BSCs are found in the hospitals or clinics, but are also found in key positions as squadron or hospital commanders, at major command and air staff positions, training, medical intelligence, research and development and health promotions.

The conception of the BS C evolved from multiple transitions during the early years of the Air Force. However, the roots of the corps started long before the Air Force was established.

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

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

The Air Force Medical Service was later established on July 1, 1949, with six major corps: 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. to have a scientific and engineering corps was established as the Biomedical Sciences Corps.

On March 15, 1965, the corps was officially created, appointing Meyer as the first BSC chief. This new corps combined all the scientific and technical personnel from the Medical Service Corps with personnel from the Medical Specialist Corps -- previously the Women's Specialist Corps.

There has been some reorganization over the last 20 years, but overall the specialties have remained the same. Below are the 15 AFSCs that make up the Biomedical Sciences Corps with the motto: United in the mission

· Aerospace Operational Physiology: Non-clinical scientific specialists whoplan, 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/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 who identify and evaluate occupational and environmental hazards, recommend controls for risk management decisions, and ensure force health protection through industrial hygiene, health and medical physics, and architecture and medical construction.
· Clinical Psychology: Clinicians who enhance the resiliency and psychological health of Airmen, promote the wellbeing and functioning of the Air Force at large with balanced individual treatment, commander and unit consultation, and program development.
· Dietetics: Clinicians who 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 who 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 who manage and perform analyses of biologic and related materials in various areas, perform research and development, and at Nellis AFB, oversee eight clinical laboratory sections.
· Occupational Therapy: Clinicians who restore independent function required for the daily activities necessary for living through physical, cognitive and mental health functional independence.
· Optometry: Clinicians who evaluate and treat diseases and disorders that affect the visual system, the eye and associated structures.
· Pharmacy: Non-clinical specialists who develop and coordinate pharmaceutical care activities and ensure prescription dispensing, patient medication counseling, drug regimen reviews and other related activities to be carried out at professional standards.
· Physical Therapy: Clinicians who evaluate, diagnose, and treat disabilities, impairments or limitations to restore physical function, mobility and to decrease pain.
· Physician Assistants: Clinicians who provide the entire spectrum of health care -- 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 who evaluate and treat diseases and disorders of the foot and its related structures.
· Public Health: Non-clinical specialists who 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 who provide mental health diagnoses and establish treatment; and provide research, consultation and preventive programs for military individuals, families, groups, and organizations.

Please join all AFMS BSCs January 26 through 30 in celebration of the BSCs 50th year as an AFMS corps.