Peace Corps Medical Clearance

I made it folks. I just received Final Medical Clearance. Because of my remote location in Alaska, I was initially overwhelmed by the medical requirements. I decided to try to squeeze everything into my Christmas trip to Minnesota. It made for a very busy vacation, but I am happy to say that it all got done and things came back with good results! For those of you applying to the Peace Corps, here is the complete list of requirements:

Some of the tasks in my Medical Portal. Seeing all of those thumbs-up symbols is a great feeling.
Some of the tasks in my Medical Portal. Seeing all of those thumbs-up symbols is a great feeling.

Dental Exam
– A four page form must be completed by your dentist
– Any dental work recommended by your dentist must also be completed before you will be granted clearance. For me this meant one small filling.

Dental X-Rays
– Full mouth series or a Panorex with four bitewings (less than a year old)

Physical Exam
– A five page form must be filled out by your physician
– PAP Smear with cytology report (only for women obviously)
– HHF (Health History Form) must be reviewed and signed by physician

Polio- one dose after the age of 18
Tetanus & Diptheria- within five years
MMR- two doses in lifetime
Varicella (Chickenpox)- two doses or blood work indicating immunity

Blood Work/Labs
Varicella titer (To demonstrate immunity if you have had chickenpox)
Hepatitis B surface antigen
Hepatitis C antibody
HIV (blood work or rapid oral test)
TB test or T SPOT TB or QuantiFERON
G6PD titer
Basic Metabolic Panel

– Because I have a mild heart condition (Mitral Valve Prolapse + PFO), I also had to have a thorough evaluation done at the Mayo Clinic. This included more blood work, chest x-rays, an EKG, an Echo-cardiogram, and more paperwork for the cardiologist to fill out.

If you have any health conditions at all, expect that the Peace Corps will want it checked out. This is where the costs will add up, especially if you are uninsured. Even though I have good insurance, my medical expenses totaled about $1700. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section! Click here to read my detailed application timeline.

Peace Corps Medical Portal main page.
Peace Corps Medical Portal main page.

Detailed Peace Corps Timeline

peace corps application timeline
This is an overview of the current application process. My application was submitted under the old system, which was a bit more complicated.

Here is a detailed timeline of my application and invitation to Peace Corps service. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section.

  • February   I begin daydreaming about joining the Peace Corps and do some internet research.
  • April   I begin seriously considering the Peace Corps and set up an account on their Applicant Portal. Toward the end of April I stumble upon an article about a new program in Kosovo and I instantly decide to apply. I also decide to continue working in Alaska for the 2014-2015 school year, making my earliest availability June 2015.
  • May 12   Application submitted. (I applied under the old system, so my online application took ages to complete.)
  • May 13   I receive an email confirming that my application has been received. 
  • May 19   The Office of Medical Services emails me with registration information for the Medical Applicant Portal and asks me to complete the lengthy Health History Form. I submit it two days later.
  • May 28    I fly out of Alaska for the summer, to go on a vacation and then work at a camp in Minnesota. In the process I switch from my “village phone” to a regular cell phone. I also fly out of the country for a week with no cell service or internet.
  • June 3     A regional representative contacts me via phone and email. She tells me that my references are being contacted and must submit their recommendations within ten days. After they are received she will set up an interview with me in Seattle. 
  • June 7   I return from a vacation out of the country and find the above message. I reply and explain that I will be working at a camp in the woods in Northern Minnesota for seven weeks and then fly immediately back to a remote Alaskan village. I ask about interview options given my remote context. 
  • June 8   I receive an automated response explaining that all Peace Corps offices are shut down for one week. I find out later that the Peace Corps is radically changing their application process to make it more efficient. 
  • June 16   I receive a call from Erin. She decides that an in-person interview is practically impossible, so we schedule a phone interview for June 18th at 11:00 AM. 
  • June 18   Interview. It lasts a total of one hour and 40 minutes. After the interview she tells me that she would like to nominate me for an Education assignment leaving in June 2015 (my earliest availability). I ask what countries she is considering me for and she lists Moldova, Mongolia, Micronesia, and Kosovo. She asks if I have a preference and I state that Kosovo is my #1 choice.          Nomination. Erin reminds me that the Placement Office will review my application, references, and her interview notes in order to decide if I match up with their country’s needs. Because June 2015 is almost a year away, she says that I should not expect an invitation until after October, as late as January.Torturous Waiting Period…   During this time I work at Camp Cherith in Minnesota for seven weeks, directing the high school division of the camp and teaching archery. I then fly back to Alaska on August 4th, spending some time in Anchorage and Seward, and finally I return to Galena to begin the school year. Students arrive at the end of August and life returns to normal.
  • September 22   I receive an email from a Placement Specialist stating that I am under consideration for the Kosovo program. He asks me to complete an attached education questionnaire within one week. I submit the questionnaire two days later. 
  • September 26   Invitation. I receive an email saying, “Congratulations! You have been officially invited to serve as a Secondary School English Language Teacher in Kosovo, departing June 5th, 2015.” There are several attachments with information about the assignment, as well as a decision form. I read through everything immediately and decide to wait before accepting the invitation. I also prance around my little apartment and call my family.
  • September 27    I can’t wait any longer. I accept and receive an overwhelming amount of information about medical/dental clearance and passport/visa application and legal clearance, etc. 
  • November 19     My legal kit/fingerprinting is finally submitted. (Normally this step is done within ten days of your invitation, but my remote living situation made that tricky.)
  • November 20     My Peace Corps Passport application is submitted.
  • December 22     I begin my Christmas “vacation,” which is my only time outside of the remote Alaskan village of Galena. Therefore all of my medical clearance appointments must be squeezed into about a week. Yikes.
  • December 23     Dental exam, x-rays, cleaning, and a filling.
  • December 24     Physical exam, PAP smear, all immunizations, and all blood work. Happy Christmas Eve!
  • December 30     Full day at the Mayo Clinic for a cardiology evaluation. (Aka more blood tests, EKG, chest-x-rays, and an Echo.)


  • January 12     All of my medical documents have been uploaded and approved, with the exception of the cardiology stuff… The Peace Corps  medical staff keep requesting additional documentation from the Mayo Clinic about my heart, even though the cardiologist clearly stated that he has no concerns. It has been a frustrating week.
  • January 23     FINAL MEDICAL CLEARANCE! Hallelujah!
  • January 30     I receive a “Welcome to Peace Corps Kosovo” email from my Country Desk Officer, welcoming me to the program and reminding me about paperwork due dates and staging.
  • February 25     LearningSpace sends me an email with login information. I register and complete the two online courses within a week. The courses are on the Core Expectations and Safety/Security. Each course takes about an hour and includes a quiz that you must score at least 80% on.
  • March 3        The Kosovo Training Manager emails me with pictures of the Kosovo staff and a Pre-Training Questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about language learning preferences and asks us to write a paragraph to our future host family. They also request a picture to help them learn our names.
  • April 6        Staging sends out a reminder about deadlines and completing the activities in our Volunteer Portal
  • April 20      Our Country Desk Officer sends us a Welcome Letter and a list of reminders.
  • May 5         At the 1 month countdown mark, we receive information about Staging in Washington D.C.! This includes a schedule, baggage info, our international flight itinerary, and instructions to contact SATO Travel to coordinate our flights to staging. Registration starts at noon on Friday, June 5th. 

    Coming soon…          
    Staging in Washington D.C.