By Kirk Frady, Army MedicineJuly 30, 2012
WASHINGTON (July 30, 2012) -- The Army Medical Corps and Army Medical Department celebrate 237 years of faithful service, July 27. Both the Army Medical Department and the Army Medical Corps trace their origins to July 27, 1775, when the Continental Congress established the first Army Hospital to be headed by a "Director General and Chief Physician."
The language of the Congressional resolution spoke of "an Hospital" which in those days meant a hospital system or medical department.
"Over the past 237 years, our Army physicians have been among the best leaders, innovators, administrators, scientists and clinicians whose contributions and achievements resulted in improved medical care to our Military and advancements across the entire field of medicine," said Col. (Dr.) Steven Braverman, deputy chief of the Army Medical Corps. "Army Medical Corps Officers have served as a foundation of Army Medicine since its inception in 1775."
Among the accomplishments of Army surgeons during the years of the Revolution was completion (in 1778, at Lititz, Pennsylvania) of the first pharmacopoeia printed in America. In 1789, the Department of the Hospital was disbanded and a system of "Regimental Surgeons" was established in its place.
Congress made official the designation "Medical Corps" in 1908, although the term had long been in use informally among the Medical Department's regular physicians.
Internationally recognized contributions of Medical Corps officers include: medical education, John Warren and Harvard Medical school, 1780's to 1813; clinical research, William Beaumont, 1820's to 1830's; Jonathan Letterman, ambulance evacuation system, echeloned surgical resuscitation and treatment system, a field medical supply system and preventive medicine inspection system -- Civil War era; John Shaw Billings, established Index Medicus to catalogue the medical literature, 1879; George Sternberg, America's first bacteriologist and founder of the Army Medical School (late 1800s); Walter Reed, control of Yellow Fever through the mosquito early 1900s; William Gorgas, Father of Modern Day Preventive Medicine, early 1900s; Albert Glass, Father of modern military Psychiatry (World War II to Viet Nam).
In 1946, Army residency programs for Medical Corps officers were introduced into the Army Medical Department, providing for the first time the full spectrum of graduate medical education to prospective Medical Corps officers. Today, these graduate medical education programs are among the best in the nation, exceeding national averages in accreditation length and board certification pass rates.
Currently, the Medical Corps consists of over 4,400 active duty physicians representing all the specialties and sub-specialties of civilian medicine. They may be assigned to fixed military medical facilities, to deployable combat units or to military medical research and development duties.
U.S. Army physicians serve in one of several general career fields:
• Operational Medicine -- provides medical support to the Soldier and his/her Chain of
Command in the field setting to include pre-and post-deployment readiness.
• Clinical Medicine -- is the field of Army Medicine that provides medical care in the garrison setting.
• Academic Medicine and Research Medicine -- focuses on education, training and research in Army Medical Centers and laboratories.
For more information on the Army Medical Corps and Army Medical Department, visit the following websites:
Builder of Trust book (Borden Institute)
The Office of Medical History
Army Medical Department Regiment:
Army Medical Department Museum: