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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Women had served in the Hospital Corps since January, 1943, but all were members of the Waves, or Women’s Reserve, U. S. Naval Reserve. Most of these women had previous medical experience and were not sent to one of the Navy’s five Hospital Corps schools.

A sixth school specifically for women was then opened in Bethesda in January, 1944. The four-week course was followed by three weeks of practical ward duty at a Naval Hospital. Subsequent to their initial training, the women reservists were eligible for almost all of the advanced training and occupational specialties available to men.

It was not until the enactment of Public Law 625 that women were permitted to enlist in or convert to the regular Navy. Hospital Corpsman First Class Ruth Flora became the first female Hospital Corpsman to do so on July 12, 1948.


Press Release, “Hospital Corps,” BUMED, 12 JUL 48.
Press Release, “First Hospital Corps School for Women Opens at NNMC, Bethesda,” Navy Department, 12 JAN 44.

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