Because of its origins within the United States Army, first as the Army Air Corps and then as the Army Air Forces, many segments of the United States Air Force share strong structural similarities to the Army. The Biomedical Sciences Corps (BSC) is no exception.

One of five Corps within the United States Air Force Medical Service, The United States Air Force’s Biomedical Sciences Corps can trace its roots back to the creation of the Army’s Sanitary Corps, established by Congress in 1917 with a primary mission of battle infectious diseases. It was eliminated few years later with the creation of the Army’s Pharmacy and Administrative Corps.

All of these were eliminated with the 1947 establishment of the Army’s Medical Service Corps. At the same time, the Army created both a Nurse Corps and a Women’s Medical Specialist Corps, with the later consisting of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and dietitians. Both Corps would comprise only officers.

When the United States Air Force was created in 1947, several of its services were handled by the United States Army, including the Chaplaincy and Medical Corps. It wasn’t until 1949 that the Air Force’s Medical Service was established with a structure mirroring that of the U.S. Army: six Corps, including a Women’s Medical Specialist Corps. As this corps grew in scope and size, it eventually became expedient to retitle it to more accurately reflect its mission, and in 1965 it became the Biomedical Sciences Corps.

Today, the Corps comprises 16 specialty codes included in two Utilization Fields, Biomedical Specialists and Biomedical Clinicians, covering a huge breadth of disciplines ranging from optometry, podiatry, physical and occupational therapy, and speech pathology to operational and aerospace physiology, bioenvironmental engineering, public health, clinical social work, and even healthcare facilities architecture, design, and engineering.

The design of the BSC Corps insignia is based on the rod of Asclepius, a staff with a single snake entwined around it. This is in contrast to the two snakes found on the Army’s caduceus.
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