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NAVY PA Deployment - What is it like?

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I am currently in the process of applying for both the NAVY HSPS-PA Scholarship and for the Collegiate Program, I will start my PA program in the fall of 2011 and won't be going to the NAVY OCS until Summer of 2014. I would like to know what is deployment like for NAVY PAs? Are they more likely to be assigned to the MARINES vs. NAVY Carriers, if so what are the major differences? What is a typical day like for a NAVY PA? I have been searching the web and posting messages at the US Healthcare NAVY group on Facebook, without any luck. Any Information regarding any of these questions would be greatly appreciated.


P.S. If possible I would like to maintain this treat open for discussion, but I will appreciate any PM that would shed some light to any of my questions.

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Are you male or female? You won't be going to a Marine battalion if you're a female. I'm not sure how many billets there are with Marine battalions - it's only fairly recently that PAs are being assigned to them, and my understanding is that the billets are expanding little by little.


There are only 11 carriers in service, each with one PA billet. There are something like ~185 PAs in the Navy, so you do the math. There are no other shipboard billets for PAs.


The vast majority of PA billets are at shore facilities, but that doesn't mean that you won't get deployed as an "Individual Augmentee" to go support a unit in Afghanistan or somewhere (in fact this is very common for Navy PAs).


One small thing - you said you'd be attending OCS (Officer Candidate School) in 2014. You'll actually be attending ODS (Officer Development School) which is only 5 weeks compared to 9 or 12 or whatever for OCS. ODS is basically a modified version of OCS for staff corps officers, which is what you'll be. I should be attending myself in 2014, but probably a bit earlier in the year (I start IPAP this August).


Anyway, good luck to you. I can't tell you anything too specific because I haven't deployed with PAs before, but I've done a couple of deployments as a corpsman with a USMC infantry battalion, and I've worked with PAs at a shore hospital, so I can sort of extrapolate.

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I was assigned to the USS George Washington (an aircraft carrier) in 1996-1998 as a Corpsman and we had a PA working with us. He was assigned as ship's company which meant that even in port at our home base, he was part of the ship's crew. This is different than Air Wing augmentee which only comes on board when we are underway with the airwing supplement. Without airwing, ship's crew was around 2000 people, give or take, when airwing comes on, we gained 4000 more give or take. Airwing brought their own physicians who just assimilated with us down in the medical spaces.


There were around 45 corpsman that included preventative medicine, optometry, xray, pharmacy, lab, OR, and flight deck, and general duty. Around five of us worked Sick Call, or the primary care clinic, where the PA and a couple of general duty docs worked. The ship's surgeon also did some sick call if they were not trying to find someone to cut on. Each day a different doc took the "duty" to be the "go to" person for the corpsmen when they needed a narcotic or antibiotic script, then that duty doc also reviewed all the corpsmen charts at the end of the day regardless of what was prescribed or performed. The PA fell into that doc rotation.


So on an average day for work, sick bay opens at 6 a.m., all the people wanting to be seen for whatever reason shows up for 1.5 hours to get their appointment for the day. They write down their chief complaint or reason for appointment, their record was pulled, and then they were assigned an appointment time and triaged to a provider. Return visits for similar sx went to docs/pa, new chief complaints of the non complicated sort went to the corpsmen. All of the active duty folks got a yearly health screen and the average age was 22. Not many really "sick" people to be seen but plenty of URI, UTI, abdominal pain, back pain, muscle/skeletal issues, just your normal low key stuff.


We did get our fair bit of trauma here and there but typically the ship's surgeon took the reins at that point. We had one MI while underway which again the surgeon ran (successfully) and we had a Elavil overdose for a suicide attempt which made for a sporting little seizure and some time on one of our two ventilators.


For the most part the life for a PA on a carrier was pretty easy gig. Our PA was rather aloof and distant, gave the impression that he believed his crap had no odor. He was prior enlisted but had clearly forgotten where he came from. But that is more of a personality disorder on his part rather than a byproduct of his job. He was treated as an officer and received the benefits of one..officer's dining, special events, due respect, so on and so forth.


Working on an aircraft carrier I seriously doubt you will be heavily challenged medically, and if you are, there are four or five other docs to run things past. Ours spent a lot of his time studying for his PANCE as he got deployed before he took the test.


Hope that helps a little

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