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May 19, 1989

Physician Must Rely on Remote-Duty Corpsman When Patient Is Deep in, or Far Across, Sea

JAMA. 1989;261(19):2793. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420190063011

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EVEN IF a shore-based physician wanted to make one, house calls to a submarine are not permitted during its tour of duty. And even on surface ships, "although we're not hidden from anybody, we may not want to advertise our exact position [by calling on a physician]," says CDR Steve Warlick of the Naval Undersea Medical Institute (NUMI), Groton, Conn.

Nonetheless, even the hardiest sailor can fall ill or be injured. Enter the independent duty corpsman. He tackles one of the most demanding medical assignments in the military, steering a course between the unrelenting medical and health care responsibilities to fellow crew members aboard ship and the dictates of a consulting physician based on land.

Independent Duty Corpsmen  The Groton institute is the training site for independent duty corpsmen. About 75 men receive instruction each year to assume duties on ballistic missile and attack submarines.The exacting training includes qualifying