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BSC week: specialties set them apart

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Two 21st Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technicians work together to get prescriptions ready for patients at the pharmacy on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 25, 2017. The pharmacy is just one of the 17 specialty careers in the Biomedical Sciences Corps being recognized during BSC Appreciation Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Two 21st Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technicians work together to get prescriptions ready for patients at the pharmacy on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 25, 2017. The pharmacy is just one of the 17 specialty careers in the Biomedical Sciences Corps being recognized during BSC Appreciation Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Mark Paule, 21st Medical Support Squadron medical laboratory technician, examines a blood sample under a microscope in the lab at the clinic on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 25, 2017. Medical laboratories are part of the Biomedical Sciences Corps, which celebrated Jan. 23-27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Mark Paule, 21st Medical Support Squadron medical laboratory technician, examines a blood sample under a microscope in the lab at the clinic on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 25, 2017. Medical laboratories are part of the Biomedical Sciences Corps, which celebrated Jan. 23-27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Capt. Jeff Turner, 21st Medical Operations Squadron physical therapist, works through an exercise with Capt. Matt Williams, also a 21st MDOS physical therapist, at the clinic on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 25, 2017. The clinic is part of the Biomedical Sciences Corps and recognized as one of 17 specialty careers during BSC Appreciation Week, Jan. 23-27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Capt. Jeff Turner, 21st Medical Operations Squadron physical therapist, works through an exercise with Capt. Matt Williams, also a 21st MDOS physical therapist, at the clinic on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 25, 2017. The clinic is part of the Biomedical Sciences Corps and recognized as one of 17 specialty careers during BSC Appreciation Week, Jan. 23-27. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force recognizes the dedication of the men and women who make up the Biomedical Sciences Corps and designated Jan. 23-27 as BSC Appreciation Week for 2017.

The BSC roots date back to 1917 with the formation of the Sanitary Corps, but the corps as it is known today was formed in 1965, just 16 years after the Air Force Medical Service was established. Following more change and evolution, BSC is comprised of 17 primary specialty codes and is the most diverse corps in AFMS.

The purpose of the BSC is to provide a broad base of clinical and scientific expertise to help with productivity, quality healthcare and force performance with those served. The corps is made up of a team of about 2,400 officers leading the way, and is supported by 5,800 enlisted members in parallel career fields.

“We are made up of a variety of clinical, scientific and technical specialties,” said Lt. Col. Stephanie Forsythe, 21st Medical Group Biomedical Sciences Corps executive. “Our role is to round out those additional support functions and clinical services that are needed to be able to provide all-encompassing patient care for a population.”

The BSC encompasses physical therapy, optometry, podiatry, aerospace and operational physiology, and medical entomology to name a few.

With many of the offices collocated in one clinic on Peterson Air Force Base, Forsythe said it helps round out the support services provided. There is no need to go to several different locations for appointments, a pharmacy, therapy or whatever patients require.

“I also think it benefits everyone because we have a way to monitor everything on base from the environmental stuff to public health,” she said. “For example, as things happen on the outside, like disease outbreaks and pandemics, we have our folks here in public health make sure we’re gathering the information and distributing it to meet our population’s needs and look out for them.”

The importance of the BSC cannot be overstated because it is paramount to personal and environmental health and safety, she said. Facilitating continuity of care is the biggest benefit to having a diverse corps located at the same clinic or nearby on the same installation.

“When people think of medical, they think they’re going to go see their (primary care provider), but there is a lot more than that available,” Forsythe said. “You don’t have to go through your PCM to get to those resources. If you don’t recognize we have these all-encompassing medical services available, you might miss out on something beneficial.”

Forsythe said she doesn’t know of another medical corps that has the same mix of specialties all under one umbrella. Not only does that make BSC unique within the military, but it sets the corps apart from civilian counterparts by offering services so conveniently located.

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