Essentially, there are three types of routine physical examinations; the entrance, the retention or periodic, and the examination incident to separation. Chapter 15 of the Manual of the Medical Department provides explicit instructions on when and how a physical examination is to be conducted.
Enlistment, Appointment, and Commissioning
In addition to the tests required for all physical examinations, the first examination upon entering naval service must also include an audiogram; a chest x-ray; and tests for color vision, blood type and Rh factor, G6PD deficiency, and sickle cell hemoglobin trait. Officer candidates must also have a baseline EKG performed, and all females must have a pregnancy test before entrance into naval service. Most of these physical examinations are performed at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS).
Because of the demanding nature of, or the inherent risk associated with some occupational fields, personnel in these fields require a physical examination at set intervals. Also, because of the increased incidence of certain disease processes in older age groups, the frequency of examination should increase in relation to the age of the individual.
Routine/periodic physical examinations are performed as per articles 15-52 and 15-53 for officer and enlisted members, respectively. Routine/periodic physical examinations for officers are performed every 4 years within 30 days of the officers date of birth at ages 24, 28, 32, 36, and then annually. All officers assigned to duty requiring frequent aerial flights require an annual flight physical examination within 30 days of the anniversary of the officers birth. Flag and general officers are to receive an annual physical examination within 30 days of the anniversary of the officers birth, regardless of age. Enlisted members are to receive a physical examination at the time of reenlistment and annually, beginning at age 36, within 30 days of the anniversary of the members birth date. Aviation personnel and others directed by appropriate authority are to receive a physical examination annually. Enlisted divers require a physical examination at ages 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 32, 34, and then annually beginning at age 36; saturation and experimental divers and divers with a sickle cell hemoglobin trait require an annual physical. Members undergoing occupational exposure to ionizing radiation require triennial physical examinations as outlined in NAVMED P-5055. Submariners may receive their physical examinations in conjunction with any other routine or periodic physical examination. Encourage females under the age of 36 to request annual physical examinations as outlined in the Manual of the Medical Department, articles 15-52(9) and 15-84.
Before release from active duty, every member must receive a thorough physical examination. If the separation is incident to an evaluation by a medical board, the medical board report serves as the document for the physical examination. The physical examination for release from active duty shall include the following: audiogram, serologic test for syphilis, urinalysis, chest x-ray, visual acuity and color vision, dental examination, and tuberculin skin test, unless otherwise contraindicated. A pelvic examination for females shall also be included.
Each member is required to read the following statement at the time of examination for release from active duty:
You are being examined incident to your separation from active duty. If you feel you have a serious defect or condition that interferes with the performance of your military duties, advise the examining physician. If you are considered by the physician to be not physically qualified for separation, you will be referred for further evaluation, and if indicated, appearance before a medical board. If, however, you are found physically qualified for separation, any defects will be recorded in item 74 of the Report of Medical Examination, SF 88. Such defects, while not considered disqualifying for military service, may entitle you to certain benefits from the Veterans Administration. If you desire further information in this regard, contact the VA office nearest your home after your separation. The member shall also sign the following entry in item 73 of the SF 88: I have been informed of and understand the provisions of article 15-56(3) of the Manual of the Medical Department.