A Coast Guard Health Services Technician (HS) provides health care to Coast Guard members and their families. As an HS, no two days are alike. A “typical” day, which includes assisting medical and dental officers, laboratory work, diagnostics, x-rays, prescribing medication, administering immunizations and performing minor surgeries, is often interrupted with emergencies. Due to this position’s inherent breadth of work, an HS has to be extremely knowledgeable in many areas. Emergency situations, in particular, require HS’s to act quickly and stay calm in stressful environments.
A first-time HS is typically stationed at a large medical clinic where they hone their skills under the close supervision of experienced, highly qualified Coast Guard medical personnel. Later on, an HS can be assigned to independent duty, either aboard cutters or at a small, land-based unit clinic where he or she will be responsible for crew members’ medical needs. An HS can also be assigned to temporary duty, serving in medical-evaluation missions, search and rescue, and disaster response.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary of a Coast Guard HS is approximately $27,000. As an HS, you’re a government employee, and working full-time qualifies you for exceptional health insurance coverage, life insurance, and long-term care insurance, as well as educational advancement programs and the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement savings program similar to a 401(k).
You will earn 13 days of annual leave each year after your first three years of service; 20 days of leave after three to 14 years of service; and 26 days of leave after more than 15 years of service.
- Interest in and desire to assist those needing medical and dental attention
- Strong attention to detail
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to work closely with others and be a team player
- School courses in math, biology, physiology, chemistry, and hygiene are helpful
- Prior medical or dental experience is a plus
Taking the ASVAB
The ASVAB Score requirement to be an HS is VE + MK + GS + AR = 207, with a minimum AR of 50. The ASVAB is a computer-administered test, and you use only a few keys to answer the questions. If you accidentally press an invalid key, you might have to retake the test on a different day, so take your time, listen and read directions carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Before anything, HS’s are required to take an online prep course. Upon successful completion of the course, HS’s will spend 23 weeks (approximately five months) at “A” School in Petaluma, CA, where they will participate in intensive, hands-on, performance-based training that combines lectures, laboratory demonstrations, practical applications, and clinical experiences. Areas of study covered include anatomy, physiology, medical administration, patient examination, evaluation and treatment, clinical lab procedures and techniques, nursing skills, wound repair and pharmacology. The program also includes a three-week course in Coast Guard Emergency Medical Technician training.
“A” School also provides training in medical management information systems, including Composite Health Care System, Provider Graphical User Interface and Medical Readiness and Reporting System. HS “A” School is challenging and fast-paced, but it will fully prepare you for a rewarding career. Upon graduation, an HS is required to serve 35 months on active duty.