Leading medical centers and state-of-the-art hospital ships Medical Centers

Medicine. Dentistry. Nursing. Medical services. The cornerstones of Navy Health Care are administered from clinics, hospitals, ships, training centers and mobile humanitarian relief stations across the U.S. and throughout the world. So whether you want to stay close to home to practice your profession or go beyond the traditional boundaries, Navy Health Care has an ideal setting for you.

National Naval Medical Centers

Some call it world-class health care. We call it an unprecedented opportunity. And nowhere does it come together more impressively than in the highly acclaimed National Naval Medical Centers in Bethesda, Md., Portsmouth, Va., and San Diego, Calif.

Located on both the East and West Coasts, Naval Medical Centers have earned an enviable reputation over the years for quality medicine and exceptional capabilities. Unrivaled teamwork and state-of-the-art facilities. And revolutionary technology and cutting-edge research.

Known as the Flagship of Navy Medicine, the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., is one of the nation’s largest and most renowned military medical centers. It has cared for war heroes and presidents for nearly 70 years. Simply put, the term Bethesda is synonymous with quality health care.

Recognized for a tradition of excellence, the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., is the oldest hospital in the U.S. Navy and the most modern. It has a reputation for quality and is also known for embracing new technology without forsaking the human touch. No wonder it was named a “Center of Excellence” by a joint commission that applied the highest standards of performance.

Renowned as a thriving hub of military health care, the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Calif. has evolved from its humble origins as a tent dispensary in 1917 to the current technologically advanced facility. Through it all, its mission has remained constant: to provide the finest medical care available.

Hospital Ships

Whether providing medical support to deployed troops or offering critical care and humanitarian assistance in the wake of tragedy, serving aboard a Navy hospital ship is one of the most unique experiences anyone in health care could hope to have.

Today, the Navy operates two dedicated hospital ships:

USNS Comfort

From her station in Baltimore, Md., the USNS Comfort stands as a hallmark of Navy Medicine. When she deploys in the aftermath of disaster, she serves as a 70,000-metric-ton symbol of how much America cares – as a nation and a people.

Equivalent to the height of a 10-story building and the length of three football fields, the USNS Comfort is used for medical and surgical care in support of:

  • Amphibious task forces
  • Marine Corps
  • Army
  • Air Force elements
  • And humanitarian outreach

Care That Knows No Boundaries

The USNS Comfort is routinely deployed following disasters at home and around the world. On January 20, 2010, USNS Comfort arrived off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and began receiving injured patients from local hospitals and international medical facilities based there.

On board:

  • A crew of 1,200 Navy Physicians, Nurses, Corpsmen, Technicians and support staff with the skills to handle primary, trauma, pediatric and orthopedic care
  • Nearly 1,000 beds, including 880 ward, 80 intensive-care-unit and 20 post-anesthesia-care-unit beds
  • 12 operating rooms, including one specifically designed to support advanced interventional radiology procedures

Medical teams also moved ashore to assist in casualty evaluation and to triage crush wounds, burn injuries and other health issues.

Sailing Under the Flag of Hope

When activated, Comfort can be a 250-, 500- or 1,000-bed mobile hospital. She was built as a San Clemente class tanker in 1976 and then converted to a hospital ship and delivered to the Navy on December 1, 1987. Her official maximum speed is 17 knots, and she has tanks that hold 300,000 gallons of safe drinking water.

Imagine this: If a tanker can be transformed into a symbol of hope, consider how the USNS Comfort transforms the health-care professionals aboard.

USNS Mercy

Named for the virtue of compassion, the USNS Mercy and its familiar white hull and red crosses are an answer to the prayers of patients across the globe.

Mercy’s mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile medical and surgical services for the United States military in peacetime and during military operations. She is also a fully functional floating hospital, providing state-of-the-art facilities and care for military personnel and civilians alike.

The Ship for Those in Need

After a tsunami struck Southeast Asia in late 2004, the USNS Mercy was there, providing critical medical care to more than 200,000 victims.

Over the years, Mercy has served on a number of other charitable missions, including a 2008 cruise to Micronesia, where Mercy and other Pacific Partnership personnel treated 3,000 dental patients and 15,000 medical patients and performed more than 200 surgeries in just 10 days.

An Investment in Tomorrow

Based out of San Diego, Calif., Mercy was built as an oil tanker in 1976. In 1984, work began to convert her to a hospital ship. She was renamed and commissioned two years later.

With a total patient capacity of 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms, Mercy has all the features of a major medical facility, including:

  • Casualty reception
  • Radiological services
  • Main laboratory plus satellite lab
  • Central sterile receiving
  • Medical supply/pharmacy
  • Physical therapy and burn care
  • Dental services
  • Optometry/lens lab
  • Morgue, laundry and oxygen-producing plants

Mercy’s crew is part of the staff of Naval Medical Center San Diego. From doctors, nurses and dentists to a highly skilled support staff, Mercy’s mission is to provide quality care for our fighting men and women and those most in need around the globe.

Learn more about Navy Hospital Ships

Other Environments

Still more health-care facilities are available stateside and abroad in a variety of settings:

Leading-edge hospitals are standard working environments for all health-care personnel. But in the Navy, you may work at a hospital in Okinawa, Japan; Naples, Italy; Rota, Spain; or in any of dozens of other global locations.

Navy medical clinics are as versatile as they are widespread. Much like a doctor’s office, clinics serve as small, primary care facilities for active servicemembers, their families and retirees. Medical personnel handle general/internal medicine or pediatrics, and may even perform outpatient procedures that don’t require an overnight stay. In addition, there may be a specialty clinic facility.

Medical clinics are based on or near Navy bases/ports, so you may work anywhere from London, England, to Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Surface Ships
Most ships have some type of medical facility and support professionals on board. That means you could be practicing anywhere the Navy Fleet goes.

Fleet Marine Force
Here’s your chance to work side by side with the Marines in support of Marine Corps missions and assignments – doing what you do best on the go and in the field.

Aircraft Squadrons
Each squadron typically has a Navy Medical Officer, known as a Flight Surgeon, and several enlisted Hospital Corpsmen (HM). When not deployed with the squadron, medical personnel usually work at clinics or hospitals near their assigned duty station.

Regional Medical Commands

National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.
Naval Medical Center (NMC), Portsmouth, Va.
NMC, San Diego

Other Facilities
Nine Continental United States (CONUS) Naval Hospitals
Seven Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) Naval Hospitals
Eight CONUS Naval Health Clinics
Two OCONUS Naval Health Clinics
119 Branch Medical Clinics
Six CONUS Dental Clinics
Two OCONUS Dental Clinics
Six CONUS Research Commands
Three OCONUS Research Commands
Five DoD Health Care Schools

Military Sealift Command Hospital Ships
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19); homeport: San Diego
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20); homeport: Baltimore