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From ‘Doc’ to Doctor: Pax River Corpsman Earns PhD

09 April 2024

From Patrick Gordon, NAS Patuxent River Public Affairs Officer

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Quinton Dotson is a very busy man at NAS Patuxent River. He also just earned his PhD in Research Psychology.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Quinton Dotson is a very busy man at NAS Patuxent River. Most days you can find him in Building 409, though he’s rarely alone.

In his position as Command Climate Specialist, Dotson is sought out by NAS PAX River commanding officer, senior enlisted leaders, and even junior Sailors for guidance on all aspects of equal opportunity policy and execution. He provides analysis and recommendations regarding all informal, formal, and anonymous harassment and prohibited discrimination complaints to the command while adhering to, and informing of, all changes in the OPNAVINST 5354.1H. In addition, he provides CMEO program oversight, assist visits and training to the command and subordinate commands across the region as requested or required. He also interprets the unit’s climate status through the Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Survey using statistical quantitative data to detect, identify, and understand risks/strengths within command. And he helps improve the organization’s health and performance, evaluates the effectiveness of initiatives and programs, predicts and drives organizational outcomes.
He also just earned his PhD in Research Psychology.

“I have always been that person to ask the ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ questions,” said Dotson on what drove him to earn his advanced degree. “I started my academic journey with a simple goal – understanding how to be good at being human. This led me to pursue an Associate degree in Human Biology. Intrigued by the impact of society on behavior, I furthered my exploration with a Bachelor's in Sociology. As my curiosity about the mind deepened, I felt called to obtain my Master's in Psychology. During these years, I realized that my commitment to the field was rooted in a genuine curiosity about the human mind and a belief in the transformative power of research, so I made the deliberate choice to pursue a Ph.D. in Research Psychology.”

Dotson began the arduous task of earning his doctorate through undergrad studies in the field of psychology, gaining Associate of Science in Human Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master of Science in Psychology degrees along the way.

“My Research interest are General Psychology, Positive Psychology, Transpersonal Psychology, Intervention Therapeutic Potential, Serotonergic Research, Generic Qualitative Inquiry, Qualitative Studies, Quantitative Studies, PTSD, and Emotional Wellbeing,” added Dotson, whose dissertation explored emotional wellbeing of study participants who had previously used the psychoactive Ayahuasca. “Framed within the theoretical underpinnings of Maslow’s Extended Hierarchy of Needs Theory, my dissertation considered the spiritual dimensions of participants’ experiences, thereby offering a comprehensive understanding of their overall wellbeing.”

While earning a degree of any kind, let alone a PhD, can be difficult, it can be doubly so when you have a full time commitment as an active duty Sailor in the U.S. Navy. But for those in similar positions, Dotson says that making the time to earn an education pays dividends.

“I have been a Hospital Corpsman for 17 years and have been lucky enough to experience shipboard operations, Afghanistan deployments, program management, and have led anywhere from 2- 200 Sailors at one time,” said Dotson. “During my time as an enlisted Sailor, I have earned three warfare devices from three different communities – Seabee Combat Warfare, Surface Warfare, and Air Warfare. An just like earning a qualification on top of your regular duties, one of the biggest challenges is just finding the time to dedicate to it. However, you will find that it is possible to make time for what is a priority to you. If you make school a priority then you will find time to chip away at it and eventually, over time, be able to obtain an advanced degree. It goes by so quick and the only really hard part is getting started. Make no mistake, of all the benefits that are available to you this is one that is so underutilized, but you deserve it nonetheless. My advice is to just do it, put yourself first, give yourself permission to be successful, and grab what you deserve.”

He already has plans for his new credentials. He intends to commission as a naval research psychologist, and bring his skills back to the Sailors.

“My journey from human biology to sociology and psychology reflects a continuous quest to understand the intricate layers of human behavior,” said Dotson. “As I have dedicated myself to this pursuit, I am eager to contribute my skills and passion to further the mission of the Navy and its unique research initiatives. I am particularly intrigued by the prospect of exploring the psychological dynamics within naval environments, addressing challenges specific to this context, and developing strategies to optimize the mental and emotional readiness of personnel.” 

Dotson added that he credits his nearly two decades in the Navy and his exposure to a range of different personnel and communities at sea and ashore with his ability to collaborate and with and strengthen teams, which he hopes to continue as an officer.

“I am genuinely excited about the possibility of contributing to the resilience, performance, and well-being of naval personnel through cutting-edge psychological research,” said Dotson. “The prospect of being part of the Navy's commitment to excellence is both an honor and a challenge that I am ready to embrace wholeheartedly. I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to bring my skills, dedication, and passion to the esteemed team of professionals we call Naval Research Psychologists.”

To learn more about academic programs in the U.S. Navy, visit the Navy College website at

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