Managing and supervising the work of 60,000 medical and medical-support professionals who’ve been tasked with providing comprehensive health-care services for every single person in a city the size of Chicago is no small thing. But imagine how much more complex it becomes if th 2.5-million-plus men, women, and children whose care is your responsibility live not in a single municipality, but instead are spread across nearly 40 locations in 19 countries, some of them lacking reliable infrastructure or threatened by civil unrest.

That’s the situation faced by the United States Air Force Medical Service Corps (MSC), which was established in 1949 to manage the five other operational Corps—Air Force Nurse Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Corps, Women’s Medical Specialists Corps (now the Biomedical Sciences Corps), and the now-defunct Veterinary Corps—established by Air Force General Order No. 35.

The MSC draws its member from a single Air Force Specialty Code, 41AX Health Services Administrator. Serving as healthcare executives, administrators, managers, and technicians, members of the MSC are all commissioned officers who have earned either a graduate or bachelor’s degree in field related to healthcare delivery and administration. These include Health Administration, Business Administration, Accounting, Marketing, Economics, and Biomedical Engineering, to name a few.

The roughly 1,000 MSC officers all began their Air Force careers by first attending the five-week Commissioned Officer Training course at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. This is followed by the eleven-week Health Services Administrators (HSA) course, which provides these officers with the basic skills and knowledge needed to implement effective healthcare management processes; topics included managed, medical logistics, equipment acquisition, medical IT systems, and more.

A staff of Aesculapius with an entwined snake is the basis of the design of the occupational badge for members of the MSC and the other corps that comprised USAF Medical Service. The MSC’s is distinguished the "MS" intials emblazoned midway up the staff.

The Medical Service badge is awarded in three degrees—Basic, Senior, and Master—as specified in Air Force Instruction 36-2903, with the exception that Medical Service's officers may accrue constructive credit to be awarded at time of appointment that will count toward their time in specialty.
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