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SCPO Shepardson: Marine Corps Medicine: The Journey, Challenges, and Training of Navy Corpsmen

In this episode of WarDocs, we are joined by Senior Chief David Shepardson, a Navy Corpsman currently serving as the senior enlisted leader for the Sixth Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Alongside guest host Chief Peter McGuyer, an active-duty Independent Duty Corpsman and Senior Enlisted Leader with the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, they delve into SCPO Shepardson's journey to joining the Navy, his deployments with Marine units and the unique role of a Hospital Corpsman in Marine units.

The Pathway to Joining the Military:

SCPO Shepardson's journey to joining the military was initially born out of a traumatic event as an EMT. After losing a patient, he felt the need to do something bigger than himself and walked into a Marine Corps recruiting office with the intention of joining the infantry. However, after learning that medics were part of the Navy, he pursued a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman contract, which led him to serve in Afghanistan just 13 months after joining the Navy.

Military Med Training for Corpsmen:

SCPO Shepardson shares his experiences of going through Corps School and Field Med training, which prepared him for Marine Corps culture and the expectations of being a Corpsman. He also provides insight into the role of a Corpsman in a Marine unit and how he was trained by his squad leaders, fire team leaders, and seniors to use his skills in combat.

Preparing Corpsmen for Field Care:

In this section, SCPO Shepardson discusses the challenges of being a Corpsman and the importance of medical knowledge. He emphasizes the need for Corpsmen to continually seek out knowledge and stay engaged in their roles. Furthermore, he shares his opinion on the most critical areas that need to be trained to prepare medics and Corpsmen for real-world prolonged field care scenarios, such as mastering the basics of tactical combat casualty care and maintaining humility and knowledge.

Training for a Warfighting Mindset:

A crucial aspect of being a Corpsman is developing a warfighting mindset. In this segment, SCPO Shepardson talks about the importance of creating buy-in and the physical and mental challenges of training Corpsmen. He also highlights the significance of mentorship in shaping mindsets and ensuring success.

Navy Chiefs' Role in Warfighting:

As a Navy Chief, leveraging knowledge and experience to support the warfighter and teach others is essential. In this part of the episode, SCPO Shepardson shares how he took what he learned in the infantry and adapted it to the clinic with the help of a mentor. He also discusses his leadership philosophy of situation-based servant leadership and the uniqueness of the Chief Petty Officer.

Leadership and Work-Life Synergy:

Balancing work and personal life can be challenging in the demanding world of military medicine. SCPO Shepardson shares the importance of work-life synergy and how leaders should prioritize their people over themselves and strive to provide them with whatever they need to be successful.


In this powerful conversation, Senior Chief David Shepardson offers invaluable insights into the world of Marine Corps medicine. From his journey to joining the military to the challenges and training involved in becoming a Navy Corpsman, his experiences serve as a valuable resource for those interested in the field. By emphasizing the importance of mentorship, mindset, and work-life balance, SCPO Shepardson highlights the essential aspects of success in military medicine.

The interview featuring SCPO Shepardson is available on all major podcast platforms. Here are some popular links that will bring you directly to the episode:

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