In the Boy Scouts of America, the term “merit badge” is synonymous with fun, hobbies, future careers, and new adventures. BSA’s merit badge program was initiated at the very beginning of American Scouting in 1911 with 11 original merit badges, and has continuously grown until today there are 138 merit badge subjects offered in the MB library.
Over the years new subjects have been added while others have been retired, depending on societal changes, technology, and the interests of our Scouts. The Medicine merit badge is a good example of the upgrading and modernization of the merit badge library. When the Medicine MB was first introduced in 1991, it was primarily developed to focus on the “doctor” side of human health care delivery. At that time, it was considered that the merit badge would be companion to the already existing Dentistry MB  and the Veterinary Science MB (originally First Aid to Animals MB , later changed to Veterinary Science , and now Veterinary Medicine MB ).
As the fields of human medicine expanded through specialization, support services, and technology, it became apparent through direction from the field that Scouts were interested in learning about other areas of human health care and medical support. However, because it would have been impossible to develop an individual merit badge for each field of interest in the health care domain, it has been decided to create a single merit badge that will encompass a wide variety of health care careers: the Health Care Professions MB .
Scouts working on the new merit badge will have the opportunity to learn about dozens of health care professions/vocations, including: Allopathic and Osteopathic physicians; Podiatrists; Chiropractors; Nurse Practitioners; Psychologists; Optometrists; Audiologists; Physician Assistants; Registered Nurses (and other nurses); Pharmacists; EMTs; Physical Therapists; Dietitians; Speech-Language Pathologists; Medical Technologists; Phlebotomists; as well as many others.
As with all merit badges, there will be a merit badge pamphlet containing support text that describes the roles these individuals play in the delivery of health care, the settings where they may work, and any educational and licensing requirements that may be necessary.
The Health Care Professions MB is available now and the requirements are at: http://scouting.org/advancement , the previous Medicine MB is being retired. Scouts currently working on the Medicine MB will be allowed to continue working on it until completed, but now Scouts may not begin working on the superseded Medicine MB. Hard copy editions of the Health Care Professions merit badge pamphlet should also be available in the fall of 2021. The style and design of the merit badge patch has not changed between the new Health Care Professions MB and the former Medicine MB.
Heath Care Professions MB will be supported in Scoutbook, Internet Advancement, my.Scouting and ScoutNET this week.