Biomedical Science Corps celebrates 55 years advancing health care

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Stephen Simpson
  • 6th Medical Group

Many Team MacDill members may not know what the Biomedical Sciences Corps is, but thousands of them have personally benefited from what the BSC does.

MacDill hosts one of the largest and most important BSC teams in the Air Force, with more than 100 BSC Airmen assigned, including officers, enlisted, civilians and contractors. The 6th Medical Group is celebrating BSC appreciation week Jan. 27-31 and its 55 years of service since 1965.

“We like to think we’re the most important corps because we’re everywhere,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Simpson, optometry flight commander and BSC mentor. “Our folks have an impact not only on the flying and medical missions here, but also the public health and safety mission, the food we eat, the water that we drink, the hazardous waste that’s generated and the facilities that we work in – all of those things. That’s who and what we take care of.”

The BSC is one of the five officer corps in the Air Force Medical Service. The other corps focus more specifically on medical doctors, dentists, nurses and administrators. The BSC, however, is a broader and more diverse cadre of health care providers and professionals, ranging from optometrists to bioenvironmental engineers, and just about everything in between.

In all, the AFMS BSC encompasses physical therapy, optometry, podiatry, physician assistants, audiology, speech pathology, clinical psychology, clinical social work, occupational therapy, aerospace and operational physiology, dietetics, bioenvironmental engineers, public health, medical entomology, pharmacy, biomedical laboratory and health care facilities architects/engineers.

BSC medical professionals on base primarily work at the 6th Medical Group Clinic and take care of all of MacDill’s beneficiaries and patients, but can be found all over the base. The BSCs are responsible for filling thousands of prescription medicines every day, along with keeping an eye on blood borne pathogen threats, entomology, occupational health matters and more. BSC officers and their teams review plans to make sure that safety features, such as ventilation systems, are up to the task of protecting people working on and maintaining our KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft here at MacDill. 

Mental health professionals provide care and counseling to our beneficiaries, helping them through the challenges of parenthood or through the difficulties of drug or alcohol problems. And if a disaster hits, BSC teams provide contingency response, standing ready to respond and offer services to the affected units, helping them find a path forward.

To show support for BSC week, MacDill received a visit from retired Air Force Brig. Gen. James McClain, who served as chief of the BSC from 2013 until his retirement on Nov. 1, 2016. During his visit, McClain mentored members of the BSC team during a meeting Jan. 27.

McClain talked with the BSC team members about workplace and personal goals, including tips regarding good traits of a leader, the importance of proper communication, the meaning of success and sharing quotes from his books he has read.

“You are one of the only corps that can say there is not a single Airman that isn’t impacted by the BSC every single day,” said McClain.

The BSC team members bring to the fight the ability to care for our patients, to increase their quality of life and ensure the ability to do their jobs. Whether it’s helping airplanes take off and land safely, to protecting our workers from breathing hazardous air, or taking care of our members and our families when there’s a deployment, our teams reach out and touch all of the missions here at MacDill, and that’s something to be proud of.

The roots of the BSC date to 1917 with the Army Sanitary Corps. The BSC was established within the AFMS in 1965 to help provide oversight of the scientific and engineering elements of medical care.