Navy Pharmacy Technician: NEC HM-8482 or Hospital Corpsman

The Rating that covers a Navy Pharmacy Technician is NEC HM-8482 or Hospital Corpsman with training in Pharmacy.

The Navy does not use the multitude of classifications that the other service branches do --- it only has a few general employment groupings known as the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) system.

The NEC system supplements the enlisted rating structure by identifying personnel on active or inactive duty and locations/situations where manpower is most needed.

The four digit codes appended to the NEC group designation codes quickly identify a non-rating wide skill, specialized occupational knowledge, an aptitude, or any specialized qualification that must be documented to identify both people and active duty billets for the sake of better manpower management.

It helps to think of an NEC as being a type of "advanced specialty" contained within the requirements needed to perform a specific job.

The other services also use a version of the "advanced specialty contained within a job" system, in some form or another, but not nearly to the extent that it is used by the Navy as a part of their NEC system.

For example, in the Army, an "Operating Room Specialist", and "Radiology Specialist" are listed as two separate jobs (MOS 68D and 68P, respectively).

The same thing is true of the Air Force classifications (AFSC codes 4N1X1 and 4R0X1).

In the Navy, however, an operating room specialist and a radiology specialist hold the same prefix rating (job) --- that of the HM (Hospital Corpsman).

The Navy knows which HMs to assign to Navy operating rooms and which HMs to assign to X-ray sections of the hospital because they are assigned an NEC four digit code to designate their "advanced specialty."

If an HM receives advanced training in the field of surgical technologist," he or she is then awarded the NEC of HM-8483, and can now be assigned to duty assisting Navy surgeons.

If there is a sailor with an HM rating and he or she receives advanced training as an x-ray technician, that sailor would then be awarded the NEC of HM-8451, or HM-8452 (being of a slightly higher grade with more experience/training), and subsequently be assigned to work with Navy radiologists.

Similar to the Coast Guard positions mentioned hereafter, the Hospital Corpsman starts out in a more generalized manner than the Army or Air Force positions.

Navy enlisted personnel get a far more basic knowledge of First Aid techniques to begin with as they are more likely to be expected to participate in rescue missions and evacuations in water-based environments as first responders.

Male sailors serving as a Navy HM traditionally work in a large variety of environments and could very well find themselves serving aboard a ship or submarine, or indoors in hospitals or clinics.

Other male sailors work aboard ships and submarines, as a part of air squadrons, special operational environments (e.g., the SEALs, with the Recon Forces, Seabee units and Deep-sea Diving), attached to a Marine battle unit in a ground-based battle front or on a tour of duty in an isolated location.

HMs may work alone or with the close supervision of other health professionals, depending on the assignment, especially if no other qualified medical personnel are available to treat soldiers, military family members or even other civilians in need of assistance.

More so than in other military specializations, duties tend to be highly service oriented, repetitive in nature, require especially good judgment, the ability to work well independently, and having keen mental alertness to deal in emergency situations.

In addition to meeting basic physical and ASVAB requirements, the Hospital Corpsman must be able to meet specific swimming requirements (especially for submarine and shipboard duty assignments), and be able to do moderate lifting.

Other job duties:

  • Prepares and dispenses prescribed medicines and pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Compounds preparations according to prescriptions issued by medical officers.
  • Procures, stores and issues pharmaceutical materials and supplies.
  • Maintains files and records and submits required pharmacy reports.

Duties regularly performed by NEC HM-8242 Pharmacy Technician include:

  • Filling prescriptions through the preparation and dispensation of prescribed medicines and pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Compounding those same preparations according to the prescriptions that are issued by duly authorized medical officers
  • Procurement, storage and issuance of needed pharmaceutical materials and supplies, especially when in deployed in the field or emergency situations.
  • Maintaining any necessary files and records.
  • Submitting any and all required pharmacy reports
  • Performing all necessary preventive maintenance and making minor repairs on biomedical equipment
  • Maintaining pharmacy stock

In addition to the above responsibilities, it would not be beyond the scope of reason to find the NEC HM-8242 to also be expected to participate in the following activities in the course of performing active duty:

  • assisting in the prevention and treatment of encountered disease and injuries
  • caring for the sick and injured in a hospital or clinical setting
  • administering any type of immunization programs
  • rendering any kind of emergency medical treatment possible
  • instructing sailors and Marines in basic first aid, self aid and personal hygiene procedure, both at home and in deployment abroad
  • transporting of the sick and injured, especially in emergency situations
  • conducting preliminary physical examinations where and whenever needed
  • performing triage evaluations in the absence of more highly skilled personnel like a doctor or nurse
  • performing medical administrative, supply and accounting procedures whenever and where ever needed
  • maintaining all necessary treatment records and reports
  • supervising shipboard and field environments to maintain sanitation and preventive medicine programs
  • supervising air, water, food and habitat sanitation and standards

Unlike other NECs, the HM group requires a minimum 60 months of service obligation.

Licensed physicians, dentists or other duly educated professionals, especially those licensed or graduated from medical or dental schools in any country outside the US are not eligible for this rating.

HM applicants must be of the highest standards as the stated requirements for this field are strictly adhered to before being allowed accession into the HM community.

For this position, knowledge is mandatory in the areas of: pharmaceutical calculations, pharmaceutical chemistry, ethics practiced in pharmacology and medical pharmacy management, quality assurance, medical administrative procedures, local and medical supply procedures, and management of various documentations.

To gain entry into this AFSC, the successful completion of one year of high school or one unit of college algebra is mandatory.

The completion of high school or college courses in physiology, anatomy, chemistry, biology, typing and automated data processing is highly recommended.

In order to be awarded the NEC HM-8482 classification, the completion of a basic A school course is mandatory.

A-School teaches the basic principles and techniques required for patient care and first aid procedures gained through group and modular instruction, usually obtained in 96 days at the Great Lakes Naval Academy in Illinois.

After the successful completion of the "A" school, HMs are usually assigned to various Navy medical treatment locations.

On the way to their first permanent duty stations, the majority of male HMs will be assigned to either the Field Medical Service School, located at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, or at Camp Pendleton in California, for their specialized training in the knowledge and skills required to perform medical services in the field with the Marine Corps and/or the Marine Construction Battalion, more commonly referred to as the "Seabees."

Female sailors in the HM field are regularly assigned to most ships and field medical support units of the Fleet Marine Force (FMF).

Women are never assigned to serve on submarines, with the SEALs, or with some units of the FMF, like the "Seabees."

There are several sub-specialties, like pharmacy, which personnel can request advanced "C" school training in.

All other levels must be based on these minimum requirements in order to progress.

To see how this experience translates to a civilian position, check with your local state's pharmacy board for more information.

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