Although the requirements for the Surface Warfare Medical Department Officer (SWMDO) qualification and the right to wear the Surface Warfare Dental Corps breast insignia are not as extensive as the Surface Warfare equalization for Unrestricted Line Officers, achieving it is nevertheless a significant career milestone that represents an extraordinary investment of time, effort, and learning.

The first requirement for earning the qualification—to be assigned to a commissioned U.S. Navy or Military Sealift Command surface for at least six months as a commissioned officer—is generally not in the hands of Dental Corps staff. (This time requirement is cumulative, and need not be served continuously). Typically, the first step the vast majority of Dental Corps officers take on their own initiative toward earning the SWMDO is to attend one of five courses approved by the Chief of Naval Operations designed to prepare them for shipboard service. For Dental Corps officers, this would be the Dental Operational Forces Management Training course hosted by the Surface Warfare Medical Institute (SWMI), a detachment of the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center. (OPNAVINST 1412.8B, the instructions on the SWMDO qualification, do allow attendance at an equivalent course on operational medical training that has been certified as acceptable by the applicant’s Type Commander.)

Additional mandated training is completion of the Shipboard Fire Fighting and Basic Damage Control courses, offered at various learning sites of the Surface Warfare Officers School command. But the meat of the qualification is the Surface Warfare Officer Division Course (SWOSDOC) At-Sea Curriculum.

Unlike the requirements of the Surface Warfare qualification for URL Officers, this program does not include qualifying for Officer of the Deck (OOD) Underway or attending the full SWOSDOC course held in Newport, Rhode Island, due in large part to the fact that Dental Corps officers are not allowed to stand watches outside medical. However, SWOSDOC does include qualifications for Combat Information Center Watch Officer and OOD (inport) in order to ensure that the officers have acquired a level of shipboard knowledge and experience far above that their non-qualified Medical Department peers.

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