Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Nurse Professional Advisory Committee

Training Opportunities

Definitions of Government-Sponsored Training
Terminology and definitions of government-sponsored training may differ from agency to agency within the PHS. Outlined below are training opportunities. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Individuals should consult their employer’s training office, personnel office and/or their supervisor for details on policies, approval process, and opportunities available through their agency.

Funding for training is set and awarded at the Operational Division (Op Div) level. The PHS, OASH or OCCO do not have specific funds targeted for PHS nurses’ training. For budget and staffing purposes, most supervisors require training requests be submitted in a specific length of time before the training is to begin, allowing time for processing the paperwork. Generally, most PHS Op Divs will approve government-funded, short-term training if:

  1. It can be budgeted.
  2. It is job related.
  3. It is part of your overall career plan.

Types of Career Development Training
Training supported through PHS must be of benefit to PHS.  Training consists of two categories: short-term training and long-term training. Training positions and funds must meet Agency and program goals. Training is an integral component of an officer’s career development. Although limited resources are an increasing peril to training, this should not discourage the officer from applying for training since budget conditions do change.

Applications for long-term training, including applications for scholarships, grants, and awards will be made on Form PHS-1122-1 entitled, “Application for Training for Commissioned Personnel” or for short-term training on Form HHS-350, Training Nomination and Authorization.

Early in an officer’s career, it is important to establish an individual career development plan. It should be more than a training plan that plots courses for one year. It deserves the officer’s commitment from three to five years of active career development. Both short- and long-term training will be goals considered in the officer’s plan during his/her career. All training must be documented in the officer’s electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF). More information related to career development is in the Commissioned Corps Personnel Manual Subchapter CC25.2 Career Development. Nursing Benchmarks for Promotion found on the “What’s new” section of the Professional Advisory Committee Website.

Short-term Training
Short-term training is not degree related and includes both full-time and part-time activities as follows:

  • Full-time training that does not exceed 30 consecutive days or a total of 90 calendar days in a fiscal year;
  • For civil service, it is also defined as part-time training (i.e., evening classes) during which an employee is assigned less than 8 hours a day with the employee reporting to the worksite either before or after the training to complete the balance of the work day); and
  • Part-time training that does not exceed 70 hours in attendance in a 30-day period or a total of 210 hours in attendance in a fiscal year.

This is probably the predominant type of training experienced in an officer’s career. Short-term training should include objectives that move you towards your long-term career goals. The objectives should be specific and measurable. Consult your administrative and/or personnel office for updated training brochures and training application procedures. 

Long-term Training
Long-term training can be very important to the career development of an officer. Long-term training is degree related and can be done on a full- or part-time basis. Most PHS long-term training is accomplished outside of a PHS facility and can be conducted part-time, continuously, or intermittently. The officer’s agency and OCCO must approve all long-term training if the agency funds a substantial amount of the cost of that training.

Payback obligations required upon completion of long-term training, are usually two for one, e.g., two years of duty for every year of training. However, the exception to payback is if the agency did not pay for the long-term training and that no time from work was required to complete the training.

Much advanced planning and discussion with the appropriate individuals is critical to a successful long-term training application. Become familiar with your Agency’s long-term training policy and procedures. An officer applying for training should consider that final approval depends upon meeting “criteria” at several interim administrative levels. Often the prospective trainee begins with an understanding of how they will benefit from the educational opportunity. However, they overlook the need to present a justification for why their supervisor and/or organization should commit resources to their particular request. Some management philosophies strongly recommend and encourage staff training, while others do not. Become aware of the management philosophy regarding training of your organization. With the limited resources (funds and FTE’s) available in many agencies, competition for training dollars is likely to accelerate. Therefore, the fundamental question that must be foremost in your thoughts as you prepare the application is: “How will this training benefit my organization?” and “What contribution to the organization will I be able to make when I return from long-term training that I am unable to make now?”

After thoroughly assessing your need for long-term training, you should meet with your immediate supervisor to discuss the proposed training and how it will permit you to fill an expanded or more productive role in the organization. Securing the support of the supervisor is critical since this individual will serve as your advocate for this training experience to higher levels of management. It is helpful if the supervisor is familiar with the requirements of the training to assist, the candidate. Notwithstanding, the officer requesting training has the ultimate responsibility to ensure the process is initiated and completed in an accurate and timely manner.

In addition to determining the requisite components of the training application, deadlines of the application are important to review with the supervisor. Also, be sure to consider upcoming calendar of events (e.g., vacations, travel, project/budget planning, etc.). The reality is that most supervisors will set aside the training application temporarily while they handle issues with more pressing deadlines. To assure timely completion, the candidate should be prepared to do most of the application processes. In addition, it is important to note that the successful candidate for long-term training is sometimes the one who can respond quickly to requests for changes in the application as it continues through the approval process.

Other considerations that may influence success in securing approval for long-term training are the following:

  • Develop relationships throughout your organization
  • Take every opportunity to avail yourself to new initiatives
  • Do your part to ensure that you are in the best position to get promoted “on time”
  • Begin taking classes on your own. This demonstrates motivation and will limit the amount of time you have to be in long-term training

Before going on long-term training, officers should consider establishing a timetable (possibly with their supervisor) for periodic reporting to the agency supervisor and for providing any documentation required by the Agency. It may be extremely beneficial to discuss reassignment after completion of long-term training long before training is completed.

Training and continuing education play a role in career development. Unfortunately, many programs do not have funding for continuing education or training. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the officer to arrange (and pay) for this. There are many continuing education opportunities available free or at a nominal cost. 

Intramural, Internal or On-site Training
These terms cover training provided under the primary auspices of PHS training facilities or by an affiliated institution in which a PHS Operating Division has some administrative control.  Support of intramural training is generally more cost effective and therefore preferred over extramural training. The following pages identify some sources of PHS training centers by Operating Divisions.

Extramural, External, or Off-site Training
These terms cover all training provided under the sole auspices of non-PHS training facilities. Nursing or other professional organizations, local universities, or non-PHS health care facilities may be sources of extramural training.

Government Training Programs
The following is a partial list of government training programs available to PHS nurses. Contact the program directly to gain information on course offerings and requirements. If your Op Div of interest is not listed below, contact your agency human resources/training center or personnel office for assistance in exploring opportunities in other Op Divs.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
The Federal Executive Institute and the Management Development Centers dedicated to developing career leaders for the federal government and is comprised of three centers:

  • Federal Executive Institute (FEI) located in Charlottesville, VA
  • Eastern Management Development Center (EMDC) located in Shepherdstown, WV.
  • Western Management Development Center (WMDC) located in Aurora, CO.

We offer exceptional residential learning environments and are staffed with program directors, seminar leaders, and facilitators drawn from America’s elite corps of training professionals.  For more information contact:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Customer Service Office
239 Lowe Drive
Shepherdstown, WV 25443

Phone: (304) 870-8008
Toll-Free: (888) 676-9632
Fax: (304) 870-8078

The Graduate School

  • Short term Training

The Graduate School is a continuing education institution offering career-related courses to all adults regardless of education or place of employment. We annually provide more than 1,500 different courses for career development and personal enrichment. Classes are designed to help individuals realize their career potential, improve their job performance and enrich their lives. More than 1,200 instructors are from government, business and academia. As experts in their fields, Graduate School instructors bring a practical focus to the classroom. Topics include Information Technology, Management Support, Personnel Management, Supervision, Management, Communication and Financial Management.

  • Long term Training

Focused on developing current and future federal executives, managers and leaders, the Center for Leadership and Management strengthens both individual and organizational performance. We offer long-term (six months to one year) career development programs for individuals at various government levels. Our programs provide a broad range of executive, managerial and leadership training, plus continuing opportunities for professional development. We are committed to helping you become a better leader.

Contact Information:

Graduate School USA
Customer Support Center
600 Maryland Ave., SW,
Washington, DC 20024-2520

Phone:  (202) 314-3300
Toll Free:  (888) 744-GRAD (888-744-4723)
Toll Free Fax:  (866) FAX-GRAD (866-329-4723)

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Page Last Modified on 3/23/2021

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