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Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

In the service of health

The USPHS Commissioned Corps is one of the nation’s uniformed services — a branch committed to the service of health. Officers advance our nation’s public health, serving in agencies across the government, as physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, scientists, engineers and other professionals.


The USPHS Commissioned Corps is a complex organization.

"The PHS is an enormously exciting place to work but it is barely possible to comprehend - let alone know -  the varied programs and people of the modern Public Health Service".

-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

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The USPHS Commissioned Corps has not just one organizational structure but has an intertwined network including over 23 separate agencies.  Each agency has a unique structure, focus, and area of responsibilities.  Each agency has its' own chain of command, funding and resources.  And yet, the Commissioned Corps has personnel supporting and working in all of these agencies. 


 In 2020, Public Health Service officers were assigned to nine U.S. Departments and over twenty federal government agencies, resulting in a broad and diverse public health network reaching across government to more than 800 duty stations worldwide. Officers are also assigned to state, other public health entities [42 USC § 215] and international organizations. 

Officers are deployed under the HHS Secretary’s DOCTRINE FOR THE U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS 5 authority, and any officer may be mobilized in support of agency requirements, regardless of their current position, at the discretion of agency leadership. 

Click photo for further details and information

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The USPHS Commissioned Corps recruits, assigns, deploys, and trains officers with the ultimate aim of maximizing their utilization in support of mission priorities. Strategic workforce planning, which includes force management, allows the Office of the Surgeon General to better utilize officers in support of mission-priorities, and fundamentally impacts the relationship between the Office of the Surgeon General and agencies that officers support.

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1. US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Doctrine 2021 
2. Plagues and Politics, Fitzhugh Mullan, MD

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