At the end of World War II, the United States military demobilized from more than 12 million men and women in uniform to about 1.2 million. Among those who rapidly left service were thousands of physicians who returned to their civilian communities. Observing this exodus and recognizing the serious need for career military physicians, Louisiana Congressman F. Edward Hébert introduced legislation to establish a “West Point for doctors”—a university operated under the auspices of the Department of Defense (DoD) for the sole purpose of building a cadre of men and women to become military physicians.
In 1972, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) was established by Congress. President Gerald R. Ford turned the first spadeful of earth in 1975 at the ground-breaking ceremony for USU. Five years later, 29 physicians became the first graduates of the nation's only federal medical school.
Over the years, the University has expanded its programs to meet the evolving educational requirements of the military services. Today, it offers 18 graduate degrees in the biomedical sciences and public health. Doctor of Philosophy degrees are offered in nine areas that range from clinical psychology to emerging infectious diseases. The University also offers a Doctor of Public Heath degree, and has a new physician scientist (MD/PhD) program. Most of these programs are open to civilian as well as military students. In 1983, Congress honored Hébert by officially naming the University's School of Medicine after him.
A later and significant addition to the University was the Graduate School of Nursing, created in 1993 in response to a shortage of advanced practice nurses in DoD and the U.S. Public Health Service. Master's-level core curricula of theory, research, and basic science master's-level form the basis for the Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia, and Clinical Nurse Specialist Perioperative programs. In 2003, the school was expanded to include a PhD Program in Nursing Science.
The curriculum of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine focuses on primary care medicine, public health, preventive medicine, mental health, and wellness. The year-round, four-year school of medicine's curriculum is nearly 700 hours—or about 20 weeks—longer than those found at other U.S. medical schools. The additional time provides extensive preparation in epidemiology, health promotion, disease prevention, tropical medicine, combat casualty care, leadership training and field exercises, medical effects of weapons of mass destruction, and other subjects that relate to the unique requirements of career-oriented military physicians.
With its motto “Learning to Care for Those in Harm's Way,” the university—with the nation's only fully accredited federal school of medicine and graduate school of nursing—has a worldwide reputation as a center of excellence for military medical education and research.
For more information about the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, please go to 〈www.usuhs.mil〉.