Any person who enters into the uniformed services must meet certain minimum physical requirements. The Department of Defense has established uniform standards for enlistment, induction, and commissioning. These standards are to assure the physical ability of each member entering the service to perform normally assigned duties. Normally, these physical examinations are done at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Although standards are set, some physical defects may be waived. The degree of defect determines how the waiver is granted; whether by the examining physician, or referral to higher authority. In some cases, referral for additional studies or a consultation may be indicated.
In addition, a physical examination is conducted periodically during a members career to verify his or her health readiness for continued active duty. Note that retention standards are not the same as entrance standards; the prime consideration for retention is the ability to continue active service. The periodic physical examination evaluates the members current state of health. This includes any history of chronic or unresolved medical complaints from injuries or illness incurred during military service or which existed prior to entrance, that may interfere with the members ability to reasonably fulfill his or her military function. If the examining medical officer determines a defect exists that he or she cannot adequately evaluate, a consultation or referral for further evaluation may be initiated. If the defect is severe enough, referral to a medical board may be appropriate.
A physical examination is required for application to special programs that include duties that have special physical requirements. The scope and direction of these physical examinations is determined by the special program to which the individual is applying. A physical examination is also required at separation from active duty.
The Navy emphasis on wellness and health promotion is one of the principle elements of the Chief of Naval Operations initiatives on personal excellence and maximum security. The periodic 9-1 physical examination provides the opportunity to carry out the Navys program on wellness through health promotion by (1) evaluating conditions that may affect physical fitness, (2) observing for problems and providing medical guidance regarding weight control and nutrition education, and (3) evaluating any developing high blood pressure. It also provides referral for counseling regarding (1) smoking education, (2) lifestyle habits or other habits or activities exposing the member to risk of injury or illness, (3) management of stress, and (4) a general health risk assessment.
In your capacity as a hospital corpsman, in addition to your technical duties, you will function as the clerical assistant to the medical examiner. To do this, you must be familiar with the administrative regulations that apply to the various physical examinations. You must also ensure the medical records are correct and complete, all tests and laboratory results are recorded, and the completed report of medical examination is properly filed or forwarded according to the various regulations and directives. The purpose of this chapter is to review the required forms and reports, and to provide you with information to ensure the forms are correct and complete. Additionally, this chapter explains some of the tests that you may perform.
Several different forms may be required for recording a physical, but the scope and purpose of the physical dictates which form or forms to use. For example, the preplacement and annual physical evaluation of food service personnel or personnel exposed to hazardous materials can, in most cases, be adequately documented on an SF 600. For personnel routinely exposed to high noise levels, the evaluation is recorded on a DD 2216 (with a DD 2215 as a baseline) and filed in the health record, with a copy to the Navy Environmental Health Center. This section discusses some of the forms that may be required to complete and adequately document a physical examination.