Sunday, September 02, 2007

What About a Military Scholarship to Medical School?

I was inspired by Panda Bear's most recent post to start a thread here to answer any questions from aspiring or current medical students who are considering the military's Health Professions Scholarship as a means to finance medical school. I had a great experience in this program and in the service, I would gladly do it again, and will answer any and all questions with complete honesty. The wikipedia blurb on this program is here. Ask away.

70 comments:

  1. I'm listening attentively.....

    Specifically, when in your scholastic career did you apply for the program? how competitive was it? could you go to med school year round? how far did that stipend go? Any thoughts about going through it with a family? Any thoughts for us prior enlisted folk?

    thanks...

    Doc H USN

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  2. doc h,

    i applied the winter before i started school.

    in terms of its competitiveness i think that it is NOT tremendously competitive, especially during wartime, and especially since the large majority of most medical school classes are comprised of folks straight out of undergraduate school. they have no idea what the military is, nor do they have any desire to be part of it.

    remember that on most college campuses the American military is feared and hated by the faculty and much of this irrationality is absorbed.

    i was a full-time student and had a month a year to serve while in school and these months were all medical and counted for both my service obligation AND for medical school credit.

    the stipend got me about 75% of the way through each month and it would certainly NOT be adequate to support a family.

    i did go into a bit of debt in school but this was merely because the stipend was not quite adequate. the scholarship fully covered my books and tuition.

    doc, you are in a better position to answer the 'family' question than i. i was single at the time. since you are active now you know how it is being in with a family. if you are asking about what it's like to go through medical school and residency with a family i think panda bear has covered the topic in great detail.

    bottom line. it will be hard but you have a leg up with your experience and service.

    fair winds.

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  3. 911Doc,

    I saw your comments on Panda's Blog and came over here. I am applying for med school this season, and hope to be in somewhere next fall. I have been heavily researching the military route on SDN and army, navy, and AF sites and I have a couple questions for you.
    1. Can you list some pros and cons?
    2. If you are signed-up before residency, how exactly does that work? (Do you have to do a military residency?)
    3. I have heard some people love the travel, experiences, and duty of being a physican in the military, but I've also heard that the practice is slow, you don't do what you were trained to do, the military cannot support more technical specialities (such as gen surg), and there is too much paper work... What are your thoughts on this?

    If you could email me at svuong@usd.edu that would be great!

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  4. 911 Doc....

    Thanks for your answers!

    Im actually in the reserves now, after 4+ years active. Greenside tour. :)

    Thanks for the clarification.. Im hoping to go year round through medschool so my service obligation is as low as possible. Always nicer to not have OBLISERV time when negotiating duty stations or residency opportunities :)

    how long after your OBLISERV did you stay in?

    svuong@usd.edu... about that travel... He he he!! guess where ive gone!!!! Join the Air force!

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  5. happy to answer...

    PROS

    1. minimal debt out of medical
    2. school maximizes your freedom to choose any specialty you like... ie you will not 'have to choose' a money specialty if you don't like it to pay down debt
    3. service to your country
    4. opportunities to work with military pilots, special forces soldiers, military divers, even the USAF thunderbirds or USN Blue Angels, that you would NEVER have outside the military
    5. pay during internship and residency in the military is significantly higher than in the civilian world.
    6. benefits provided for you and your family.
    7. i was able to fully use my GI bill benefits in residency training and it supplied $650 cash every month for three years which made my residents salary much more tolerable.

    CONS

    1. while you may choose to do whatever specialty you like you may not match into it in the military OR if you are deferred for a civilian training program you will owe your time after your residency to the miltary. generally this is a year for year obligation but it gets complicated and changes frequently. DO NOT BELIEVE YOUR RECRUITER without doing the research yourself to back it up.

    i owed 4 years of active service for 4 years of funded medical school. you CAN get scholarships for 3 years or 2, at least you could when i did it.

    here's where it gets tricky. i owed four years to the service after medical school, i did my internship in the military. my internship year did not count for payback of my obligation as it was training they were giving me.

    after internship i became a medical officer and took care of active service members. this DID count for payback and i got out after four years of general medical officer duties.

    2. you belong to uncle sam. make no mistake, if you think you won't be deployed or have to spend time away from family you are mistaken. if you are a guy then there is not much you can do to avoid this. if you are a woman you can get pregnant and many choose this. even though the military tries to appear to treat the sexes equally they actually treat the women more equally. women are given preferential assignments and if pregnant are not deployable. unfortunately, many take advantage of this. not that it's any different in civilian life, i'm just telling you that's the way it is in the service.

    3. the major military hospitals provide great training and have great physicians. in spite of what you have heard about walter reid, the physisicans are excellent. however, once you leave the major centers the quality of physician and facility can drop precipitously once you get to the smaller hospitals and clinics. some docs 'hide' in the military because of failure on the civilian side, but they generally do poorly in the military too.

    4. the military, in its infinite pursuit of politically correct appearances, has allowed nurses to be in charge of hospitals now. the 'hospital commander' now can be from the medical service corps (administrators), the physician ranks, or the nursing ranks. i think this is insane. nurses and doctors cultures are so different. i do not think that nurses should be given this position and get mad with me if you want but i didn't go the extra three miles to end up working for a nurse.

    5. BEWARE! if you do, say, two years of time as a general medical officer and you owe two more you are in a bit of a quandry. let's say you want to do ortho and you want out of the military. if you sign on for two more years as a general medical officer you will fulfill your obligation and be released but you may not be so attractive to ortho programs. they may want you to repeat your internship or they may tell you that they like you but can't afford you because the government has already payed for one year of your training and since their funding comes from the same place that you will not be considered for a position.

    i personally ran into this problem but was able to get around it fairly easily.

    also, lets say you do your ortho residency in the service, guess what, your training for ortho was four years after your two years of GMO duties, now you owe uncle sam 6 years. 2 in the bank, and four for your ortho training. so now you work ortho for uncle sam for eight years and you have, total, eleven years of active service. are you really going to leave now? you are nine years away from retirement! that's how they get you!

    RESIDENCY ETC...

    you will either do a military or civilian residency. this is very service specific and when i was in med school the air force was very free and easy in releasing it's med school grads to full civilian residency training to come back to them afterwards for their payback. the army pretty much made you do a military internship and then sent you out to do medical officer duties all around the planet. this changes frequently based on the 'needs of the service', again, you belong to uncle sam.

    in terms of the practice 'being slow' that's hogwash. for me it was the best of all possible worlds. motivated patients who wanted to be well and lots of cool stuff going on.

    the best place to be on the planet right now if you crash your car or get shot or stabbed is in iraq. no shit, the best trauma care on the planet is in iraq in the army CASHs or Navy field hospitals or Air Force hospitals. the best place to do complicated surgical procedures in plastics, ENT, ortho, g surg, urology, ob-gyn etc.. right now is in the military .

    the paradox here is that their facilities stateside are suffering and there's many reasons for that that have nothing to do with the quality of their physicians.

    paperwork. i do more now than i did in the service.

    and lastly, the question about 'not doing what you are trained to do' is a bit of an urban myth. it IS true that many of the services will pull you after your internship to go be a doctor for the Marines or the sailors on a ship or the airmen in a squadron. this is your general medical officer tour. many docs get upset because they want to do ortho or g surg and they see this as two years wasted.

    i see it as two years where i learned to stand on my own two feet as a physician in a safe and supportive environement taking care of people whom i still admire and respect. it's when i gained a lot of clinical experience and learned what 'not sick' is.

    a friend of mine was a doc with the SEALs, i did some high speed stuff too and got training i would never get as a civilian, another friend deployed with the Marines to Kosovo. the units generally love their docs and treat them great.

    if you see it solely as a cash cow for medical school don't do it.

    DOC H

    to clarify. if you do to a civilian school on the government dime you will not be pulled out except for your one month a year and this will not interfere with your graduation or progress in medical school. with your prior service you may have benefits and good deals that i do not know about. you would probably have to do 'knife and fork school' where they train civies on how to salute, who to salute, and how to be in the military as an officer without being a doofus, but it would be a nice, well-payed vacation for you.

    there is also the option of applying to USUHS med school, which is excellent, but would, essentially, make you a 'lifer'. i am not as up to speed on the benefits and downside of this option but could answer most questions you might have.

    i got out of active service right at the end of my OBLISERV and stayed two years in the reserves in residency.

    finally, until hillary gets elected, and hopfully afterwards as well, the purpose of the military is to KILL PEOPLE AND BREAK THINGS. if you have a fundamental problem with this then don't do it.

    keep the questions coming. happy to answer. loved it. would do it again.

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  6. Thank you very much 911Doc, I really appreciate it.

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  7. http://www.nomi.med.navy.mil/pages/nmetc/Medliaison.htm


    Doc H USN

    "When in doubt, RTFM"

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  8. 911Doc,

    How hard is it to find yourself in a Combat Support Hospital?

    I'm just starting college, but I know I want to go into emergency medicine and I'm considering taking a military scholarship for med school, but I want to know if I'd be able to choose to go into a CSH, or would I be subject to the whims of the military as far as assignments?

    Thanks for posting this thread, it's been very informative so far. :-)

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  9. alex,
    you are always subject to the 'whims of the military' or as they officially say, 'the needs of the service'. this is not peculiar to the medical corps but is seen throughout. for instance, you may be a shit-hot pilot and want to fly F16s and when you finish at the top of your flight school class you get C141s instead because that particular week, that's what the Air Force has available.

    that being said, there will not be a line of docs wanting to go to a CASH or a navy field hospital. you WILL almost certainly get this assignment if you want it.

    having been in the mix for a few years and having spoken with docs from all branches, if you want to get near the 'action' i would recommend going Navy and doing undersea medicine or deploying with the Marine Corps. you can certainly go Army but you might get a CASH in Bosnia. with the Marines you will definitely do a lot of travel and meet some nasty characters downrange.

    cheers.

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  10. USUHS Grad here that did Emergency Medicine in the Navy. EXCELLENT training that I didn't appreciate until I got out. On my 5th day after finishing residency, I was on my way overseas to become head of the department. Gained good leadership skills, and learned how to take care of really sick folks without much technology or backup. It was me 24 hours a day! I ended up doing 12 years in the Navy and then got out. Why you ask? B/c they wouldn't promote me unless I gave up clinical medicine and became an administrative type. I loved being a bedside doc, teaching and resuscitating. Told the navy to stick up their ass and moved on. Happily so! But I miss the comradeship very much. I too did my GMO years on the Green-side (USMC) and hold those memories in a special place near my heart. To this day, I've never felt more like a "doc" and certainly would never have any of my current colleagues "take one" for me.

    MDfor911

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  11. Hi 911DOC!

    Thanks so much for answering questions about HPSP. I was reading thru them and they are really helpful. But I hope I'm not too late in asking questions as I only saw your comment on Panda Bear MD's weblog today. I had two questions if that's ok?

    1. Do you know if any of the US military branches (Army, Navy, AF) will accept a US citizen who is studying at a foreign med school for the HPSP? I'd love to do AF but am open.

    2. If not, can I still try and join the HPSP after I graduate and (hopefully) come back to the US for residency? If it's possible, what do you think about doing it, good idea or bad idea?

    Thanks again!

    CBH

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  12. great question. i do not know the answer. what i would do is pick up the phone and call the Air Force recruiting office and ask your question there. just remember, as we say in the service, if a recruiter's lips are moving, he's lying. best of luck, and yes, there is a program to pay off your loans if you join after you graduate. again, aske the recruiter.
    cheers.

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  13. grunt doc has posted on this subject too at ....

    http://gruntdoc.com/2004/04/so-you-want-the-navy-to-pay-for-your-med-school.html

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  14. Quick random question: After you serve your 4 (HPSP) or 7 (USUHS) years back to the military you can become a civilian physician whose on the reserve for an x number of years, right?

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  15. yes. then there is a distinction between active reserve (small paycheck, drill once a month, deploy once a year for a month but risk, especially now, for mobilization to active duty at any moment) or inactive reserve which is almost never 'called up'.
    cheers and good luck.

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  16. Quick question. Can you drill at a reserve unit for extra cash while in med school with the HPSP?

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  17. i do not know. i think you probably COULD but it would be hard to do it with regularity based on your medical school schedule. your drill in med school is done in the summer and you are waived from monthly drill. you will receive a monthly stipend for this and will accrue drill time for the reserves. i do not know if you can double dip here if you are already active and have a non medical MOS. i recommend asking the recruiter, always keeping in mind that they might not give you the correct information. good luck.

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  18. Hi,

    I am currently thinking about applying to HPSP for financial reasons. I have been accepted to a medical school that will cost about $39,000 in tuition and my sister will also be attending a different medical school whose tuition is about $18,000. My parents also recently bought an apartment in NYC and borrowed about $350,000. Which in my mind will equal to the cost of medical school. Furthermore to add about the debt, both my sister and I attended expensive undergrad ivy league schools.

    I have read up on some of the information for HPSP, and I think I understand the commitment - of how the military can dictate your actions/life. I come from a non-military background, so I do not know how well I will fare in a military environment.

    I've read that there are many unhappy military docs who went into HPSP for the money, but I also understand that no matter what you do or where you are in life - there will always be unhappy people. Thus I was wondering if you could also give me some advice into it? I feel like HPSP is a great program that will offer opportunities. But I am slightly hesitant about HPSP.

    If you could respond to me, that would be great! my e-mail is dshum113@gmail.com

    Thanks!

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  19. Hi 911DOC...I read the last post by dshum113 and basically felt like I was telling my own story. Would you be able to forward me their response at fatima.garuba@osumc.edu?

    I'm already in med school and have been seriously thinking about taking the HPSP, but am really scared about the military owning me...do you know of others (esp females) who would be willing to speak on their experiences?

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  20. let me see if i can get some female HPSP docs to comment for you.

    cheers

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  21. Hi, I just had a question about the HPSP. I'm not sure if you already answered this question or not, but I want to become a heart surgeon and have been thinking about taking the Army up on its HPSP. The thing I am not sure about is if I will be able to use the scholarship to complete my specialty or if I will be able to do my specialty at all while still in the Army. My plan is to stay in and retire, so the amount of time I owe is not a big deal. Thanks

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  22. deat tashia,

    if you are correct... that you are going to do CT surg come hell or high water then you must only ask if you want to be a highly regarded academician, or a highly regarded clinician. you can be both, but it is easier to be both outside the military.

    if, assuming 'tashia' is a woman's name, you have to realize that with rare exception all of us as first year medical students were WRONG about what we ended up chosing.

    if you desire a family then CT surgery will kill either your family or it will kill your career.

    The HPSP worked out great for me. The Army and Navy and Air Force all have good surgery and CT surgery training programs. If you actualy go through with it and do a CT surgery fellowship then you will make up your debt in no time. If you choose pediatrics then you might do better with the HPSP.

    In all seriousness, unless your father or mother are heart surgeons or a brother or sister, you know not what you wish for. Best of luck.

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  23. Ok just to clarify. So your saying that if I truly want to become a CT surgeon, the best way to go is to not do the HPSP? I really want to go into the Army just as much as I want to become a CT surgeon. I know that there is always the possibility of me changing what type of doctor I want to become, but nothing has fascinated me more than surgery, so if anything I might become a different surgeon, but then again you never know. I want to come out of medical school with no debt but I also want to go into the Army because my mom was in the Army for 20 years and that is the life I know and miss. I'm not interested in pediatrics and yes I do want a family someday but I also want to make my dreams comes true. I am a very stubbron person, lol, and will do anything within my power to fulfill my dream of becoming a CT surgeon as well as trying to have a family. I beleive anything is possible if you put your mind to it and really want it and are willing to put work into it. I just wanted to be clear on what your saying about going with the HPSP or not, because I am beginning to apply now and want to figure out my options. Thank you very much for your advice it helps a lot to be able to talk to someone who has actually used the HPSP and can give feedback about their experiences with it.

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  24. tashia,
    if you also really want to be in the army then don't just do the HPSP, go to the Uniformed Services Medical School. if you are career, then not only will you not have debt then you will make money from day one.

    here's a challenge. find a CT surgeon in the USA who is a successful surgeon and mother and wife and then come back here and tell us about her.

    best of luck.

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  25. Ill definetly check into the USU school of medicine. Thanks. I'm not saying its not going to be hard to be a surgeon, a mother and a wife succesfully, because it is. But raising a family takes two, it is not just the responsibilty of the woman. SO if there aren't very many succuesful women/mother/wife CT surgeons, than there aren't very many CT surgeons/husband/father ethier. Like I said anything is possible.And Im sure there are some succesful ones out there on both sides, just because you or I don't know any doesn't mean there aren't any. But when I succeed, I ll be sure to stop back in.

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  26. true true. consider this though, the male ego is such that there's not too many of us who would not walk around with bruised pride if we were 'just a lawyer' or 'just a teacher' when our wife was a kick ass chest cutter! if you marry another surgeon you might never have the opportunity to have sex together! one thing is also true though, if you have it in your blood then you are exactly the kind of person who will be able to hang through the years of misery and sleep deprivation. good luck to you.

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  27. Your right, I can defintely see your point as well. I do have it in my blood and hope that I will not be just another statistic. Once I have it in my head to shot for what I want it is very hard for me to give it up. Hopefully though I do find one of the few men that are secure in themselves and what they do and secure in what I do that we can make things work. Thank you for the luck and for the information. Also thank you because you have given me one more thing to drive me to what I want to do and the life I want to live. THanks

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  28. Hey, this has been a really interesting thread to read. I am about to begin M2 and am considering the 2 year army HPSP mostly for financial reasons. My situation is that I am a husband and parent, and I want to spend time with my family. I am pretty set on EM as a specialty both because it interests me and because it is family friendly. However, if I did the HPSP I would be amenable to doing my service requirement in between school and residency. I'm eager to be practicing medicine, whether it's as a specialist in training or a military generalist. My questions are, what sort of a life can I expect in those two years, and how many months of it would I be away from my family? What sort of risks to my life are assumed during active duty. And, after I finish my service requirement what is my status in the military? Am I really done, or do I have ongoing military responsibilities? Can email me at disposabledisposable@yahoo.com, or post the answer to this list. Thanks for taking the time.

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  29. dear isaac,

    if all you need is two years on scholarship you are ideally suited to take advantage of the hpsp.

    the reason i'm saying this is that a four year scholarship can lock you in to the military as follows.

    let's say you want to do an ER residency and you owe the army four years on scholarship payback.

    you go do your internship in a military facility like me... this does not count towards your two years. if you are allowed to go through residency right away then you may add years to your obligation based on the latest iteration of the rules.

    if you get 'deferred' out to civilian land then you owe four years active duty after your training. this is an acceptable result as, if you end up not liking the army you are done in four years.

    if, however, you owe four years and you pay it back as a GMO you will find it very difficult to get a civilian residency spot. part of this is due to the HCFA rules which would not pay your program for a 'repeated internship' year. i know it sounds crazy and this may not be the case anymore, but it was a few years ago.

    also, if you pay back your four and then do a military residency you have just incurred more obligation. be very careful you get the down low before signing on the dotted line. do not ask the recruiter, ask the officer in charge of whichever service program you are applying to. get it down on paper, make it clear, and then go for it.

    if the army still uses internship-only physicians as general medical officers (i don't think they do) then this could be ideal as you get to take care of the best patients on the planet for two years, only one in a thousand of whom will be sicker than 80% of the VA patient population.

    however, the possiblity of being deployed with a combat unit right now is pretty high. this is not a bad thing in terms of your personal safety but it does play hell with family.

    if i were you i would do the following...

    before signing up for hpsp ask any of the services about loan repayment. you might be able to do all of medical school, keep your debt as low as possible, and then sign up for a couple of years payback for them paying off most or all of your loans and after doing the civilian residency of your choice.

    if loan repayment is not up your alley and you definitely want to do hpsp (the monthly stipend helps buut is not enough to take care the whole month) then talk to the air force first. they have the nicest bases, the nicest facilities, and they treat their physicians the best of all the services. also, at least when i did hpsp they had the highest deferral rate to civilian residency.

    if you got a 'full deferral' to do a civilian program then you are golden. two years serving uncle sam and then done if you want to be.

    if you want to play with the warriors however, i would recommend the following.

    if flying is a love, then do the navy and be a flight surgeon. their program is the best and there is no better job than being a flight surgeon. all services have flight surgeons but the navy's training is the best and you fly the most in the navy.

    if you love scuba diving and hyperbarics then the navy dive medical officer program is outstanding, but it is very physically demanding.

    "DMO"s are deployed with SEALS and their colleagues and manage their hyperbarics and dive med related programs. it too, is a job that is fantastic and you can't get it anywhere else.

    i would avoid being a ship's doctor in the navy as there is no telling what kind of ship you will get and if you get a sub-tender or a resupply vessel you will have to take care of, generally, folks who are just marking time till they get out. how many low back pain twenty year-old patients can you see before you scream?

    if you are in love with the ground warriors, 'ground pounders' as they are called, then being a navy doc on the 'green side' (marine corps) or an army doc with an infantry unit would be great. with this job, however, you WILL deploy to far away places and sleep in tents.

    i believe the services have all gone away from the internship only trained GMO concept, which is silly, and if this is the case then doing your residency comes first.

    if you do it in the service you will make more money than you will in civilian land and have better benefits. the training you get is good everywhere, but not great.

    military programs prepare you for the boards better than most civilian programs, the better civilian programs prepare you for taking care of sick patients better than the military.

    your military obligation after repaying your time active is some years in the 'irr' or 'independent ready reserve'. there is no training... you are 'in' on paper only. these folks are rarely called up and when they are it is generally to 'backfill' active duty physicians at hospitals in the states. rarely called up.

    hope this helps. if you have any more questions please feel free to ask here.

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  30. This information is very helpful, but I am unclear on the some of the details. Can you explain again how you can accrue more than four years of duty after residency?

    Also, I am planning my wedding for Summer of 2010 and was wondering if you can clue me in on when officer training takes place (ie. which months I would be away) before I book a venue for a certain day.

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  31. dear angela,
    i'm afraid my info is a bit out of date and would not be surprised if, given the war, things were currently more favorable for docs.

    the way it used to work was that you would do a GMO tour (general medical officer) after internship. this, i think, is no longer the case.

    when it was the case, it was possible to pay off three of your four year committment on a GMO tour, sign on for a five year residency in the service, and then end up with six years total to pay back after residency .

    don't ask me why, that's just the way it was. make sure you get answers to these questions and the worst place to get answers is from your recruiter. he or she may be a nice guy or gal but ask career military docs. they know or can tell you who does know.

    cheers...

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  32. Hi!

    My fiance and I are both entering medical school as OOS students and were therefore interested in minimizing our combined debt. If both of us were accepted and married, would we inevitably be separated by the program? This is my fiance's primary concern. Further, what does the one month a year during medical school consist of? I hope this made sense... Thanks for the helpful info!

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  33. dear ashley,
    what is OOS? one thing i can tell you without doubt is that if you are MARRIED then the whole process is easy. if you are merely engaged then the military doesn't care. also, it's very important for you to sign up for the same service. though i was not in the air force i recommend the air force over the others UNLESS either of you want to do flight surgery or undersea medicine in which case the navy is the way to go. the month in the summers is great. you can go do cool military stuff or work in one of their hospitals as a med. student... i got a good jump on my colleagues doing this.
    best,
    me

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  34. Dear 911DOC,

    I'm a junior in high school and I want to become a doctor, however I feel that I lack self discipline and wouldn't make it through med. school on my own. Would joining the Navy, Army, or any of the others help instill in me the self-discipline i need in school and life? Also my parents are concerned with me "belonging to the military" so would i be required to serve in combat or just as a doctor? I myself have no problem with that, however my parents are very religious and over-protective. Thanks for the help.
    - Branden
    ps
    I dont know how this site works so if you cant just post an answer you can email me at brandensgames@yahoo.com

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  35. Dear Branden,
    Thank you for your question, but, by asking it and giving me the rest of the question I find it hard to believe that you lack discipline and vision. There are many ways to learn self-discipline outside the military but they do tend to have it down to a science.

    Since the services have caved, in large part, to the rule of 'diversity' however, much of the famed discipline and regimentation has been watered down. The Marines are the exception.

    I would do it again, no doubt.

    To answer you other questions no, physicians are not combatants. In fact, the Geneva convention, followed by the US, England, Australia, and a few others, classifies physicians as non combatants.

    The result of this is that if you are a physician in the US military and you happen to be in a combat zone, everyone, including the enemmy physician, will have a gun, but you will not.

    Physicians are very valuable to the military and there are many benefits. A few follow...

    1 Even though the govt. Is all about protecting a patient's right to sue for malpractice, it severely limits its own physician's liability.
    2. As a physician in the military you will have, with some exception, the best patients you will ever have.
    3. Chicks dig the uniform.

    Best of luck in your studies.

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  36. 911Doc,

    Thanks for the answer, also if I want to join the navy as a doctor and stay a doctor in the military as a career, which program do I sign up for and would it be possible to have any affiliation with the seals, because my friend's only purpose in life is basically to join them and I think it would be awesome to be able to work with him at least as a doctor. Also thanks alot for the help, having someone who has already been through what I want to do is really helping to convince my parents and I'm really thankful for your insights.

    - Branden

    ReplyDelete
  37. branden,
    if you want a career as a military physician then you should look into both a service academy for college (Annapolis in your case) and then the Uniformed Services Health Science University... i think i got it right). i would only recommend this if you are absolutely sure about a military career as your 'payback' to the military will be well over ten years. the upside is that you will get college paid for AND medical school AND you will make a decent living even while your colleagus on the civilian side go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt.

    yes, you can be a doctor for the SEALS. the Navy has an 'undersea medicine' course for a special brand of physician called a 'dive medical officer' or DMO. of course the competition is stiff for these positions but since you are getting a nine year start on it you are on the right track.

    goole will probably direct you helpful sites for all of the above. of course, you could consider going to a traditional university and THEN go to the military medical school, and you could even go through college on an ROTC scholarship.

    this latter route is what i, persoanally, would recommend, as, if it turns out that you do not want to do twenty years in the military then this will allow you an out after ten or so.

    best of luck.

    ReplyDelete
  38. What a wonderful thread!!!

    My question relates to quality of life. Specifically, for females. Is it difficult in a male-dominated environment? During active service duty, can you bring a spouse and/or children along? I don't have any prior military experience and am not sure how this would work. What are some places that you have been stationed during your active service and what did you and your family do? What would my spoue do in a foreign city?! Could I simply be stationed at someplace like Walter Reed during my active service years?

    Thank you for all the help!

    ReplyDelete
  39. dear lily,
    women are integral to the modern military medical system. it is entirely possible to serve 20 years without deploying, especially as a woman, in fact, some that i know personally simply get pregnant when their time to deploy arrives, but these women give their sisters a bad name and are not too numerous in the officer ranks. i never deployed OCUNUS (outside the continental united states) but my friends who did are none the worse for wear, even after being in the middle of a hail of bullets and schrapnel.

    if you have more specific questions please ask. i'm not sure what you have in mind but anything the civilian world does the military does too. of course, the military's bureaucracy can be maddening, but the people are the best.

    my best job ever was in the service taking care of warriors and i would do it again in a heartbeat.

    ReplyDelete
  40. 911Doc,

    All of the information you have provided has been very useful, I still have some specific questions that may be similar to others but are very specific to my situation:

    For the Air Force specifically...
    1. Deployment during Active Duty:

    - During "active duty" what are the odds of being deployed outside the continental US?
    - How long does deployment last (in other words, when would you be able to go back to see family, etc. at home)?
    - If you have a family at home, are there better chances that you could choose to stay in the US and work at hospitals in the continental US instead of being deployed overseas?
    - I know you said that you were not deployed outside the continental US, but did you get to choose that or were you just one of the "lucky" ones?

    2. Active vs. Inactive Reserve

    - When you have "repayed" your debt through X years of active duty, do you have a choice of whether you do 4 more years of active or inactive reserve?
    - If you don't have a choice, how is that usually decided? For example, does it relate to specific specialties such as general practice doctors usually serve inactive reserve or orthopedic surgeons usually serve active reserve, etc.

    In addition, do you have any advice for people that have families that don't really want to be parted from them for a long period of time (more than 1-2 months at a time)? Is this not a suitable route for them because it's too unpredictable or can you somewhat determine what path you go down through this program?

    Your advice is very much appreciated!

    -Robert

    ReplyDelete
  41. Robert,

    Caveat... i am long removed from active service and these are mostly guesses.

    the odds of being deployed OCONUS can change in a day. the only thing that has ME worried if i rejoin the guard is what this fool in washington will do.

    also, the likelihood of deploying during wartime is, of course, high. if you are in an underserved specialty then you are likely to deploy. it is also possible to be used to 'backfill' other deployed physicians at military hospitals stateside.
    the length of deployment will depend on the unit you are with. if you are with special forces then you may be on a 'quick in' and 'quick out' schedule but have to deploy more frequently.

    since you are a man your chances of getting home to visit are good and will depend on leave policy. if you were a woman it would be much easier.

    i did 'get lucky' with no deployment but deploying can be a great thing, especially if you are with a good unit. let's face it, when else are you going to go see the world? i was attached to a training squadron so the squadron itself never deployed OCONUS and other friends of mine hit it just right, joining their units upon return from deployment.

    re active v inactive reserve i do not know. i think your inactive reserve time runs regardless of whether you stay in a paid status with a reserve unit. i, in fact, did this for a short while.

    the downside of staying in a 'paid' reserve status is that you can easily be deployed as the units are called up.

    if you can not do the 9months to a year apart from your family then do not do the HPSP, it's that simple. if you are looking to go to medical school and are trying to pay for it you can always do it on loans and, if you feel differently after you finish school, the services often will pay off your medical school loans if you commit to "X" years for them.

    best

    ReplyDelete
  42. 911 doc,

    I spent 9 years as an enlisted navy nuke and am applying to medical school next year when I finish my BA. I have a 4.0 and am taking my MCAT in April. I miss the navy alot, but I have a husband and child now. My question is- with a family in tow which of the programs do you think would be a better fit? Money is not a factor as my husband was a nuke as well and making well over 100K. I'm trying to find both a program and a service (I'm not tied to just the Navy) that will fit our family best. Any advice will be helpful. I have read your blog and found the discussions very helpful and value any opinion you might have.

    Thanks,
    Squid-girl

    ReplyDelete
  43. 911doc,

    First of all let me thank you for responding to earlier questions with a lot of useful information and having a great sense of humor.

    I've been accepted to medical school and I'm strongly considering signing up for the HPSP. Right now I'm corresponding with a Navy Lt Cmdr. I'm wondering if you can answer two questions of mine. First, are there any major areas involving the scholarship where I can negotiate the terms? Also, can you offer any input on the advantages and disadvantages of accepting the HPSP for the Air Force, Army, and Navy?

    Thanks,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  44. Dear Anonymous,

    congratulations! you have chosen a tough road but i'm sure you will do well. some pressure off if the money part is taken care of too.

    as to negotiating terms I don't think this is possible but you might try it. the way to do it is to play one service off against the other as the recruiters would then really do anything they could to get you signed up on their service. the recruiters are bonused or promoted on their recruiting numbers so this could be a nice little arrow in your quiver.

    As to the differrent services there is less and less difference BUT it depends still on what you wish to do as a physician. if you want to be a flight surgeon in the military the navy has the best program. if you want to do dive medicine the navy has the only program and you will also get certified in hyperbaric medicine. as to quality of life i think the air force trumps the others and they also have the best golf courses. the air force is the least 'military' of the services.

    finally, if you happen to be someone who wants to be deployed in harms way the best way to do this is to join the army or the navy and go 'green' meaning be a doc for the marines. my friends who did a stint with the USMC uniformly loved it. pun intended.

    best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  45. hey squid-girl,
    sorry i missed your question. here's the deal. you may want to fund school yourself and then see what deal you can cut for loan repayment if you don't want to obligate yourself. otherwise i think the air force is the most family friendly and has the best program. not by much, but if i had to do it again and didn't care about flight surgery i would do air force.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I was just wanting to give some updates that found in regards to internship and gmo. for the hpsp, ushsu, and rotc deferrment the gmo is not mandatory and actually is being phased out for interns. it is now a practicing physician that has completed residency position. although, the navy has the largest number intern gmo's, but is still optional. also, the internship is a one year obligation that is not counted toward your obliserv. your residency starts in what they call PGY-2. usually though, one can do their internship in conjunction with their residency or what they call preliminary residency. This is a mandatory PGY-1, for all. the entire training period is called GME, which is simply graduate medical education. and if done in the military, MGME. the military has just about every specialty available, along with many fellowships. also, they do allow for persons wanting a fellowship outside the military's many options to defer for the X number of years with pay assistance for as long as the fellowship lasts.

    From what i was able to research, the military's residency and fellowship has caught up and paralleled civilian equivalents. though some residencies are competitive or difficult to get matched for, all branches seem to favor allowing civilian residency deferments, since the positions available are very limited. some specialties with all branches included only have as few as 6 or so positions available, and im guessing, in the interest of attracting and retaining good physicians, allow for civilian deferment. although, the pay and the training received, especially in certain specialties, is far superior to the civilian counterparts.

    i want to thank doc for pointing me in the right direction and all the others who put in useful websites. i am married with prior service in the army, and this research and Q&A stuff solidified my decision to apply for the hpsp, following that route. im sure the military is a daunting and seemingly perilous avenue for medicine. but like the doc had said, dr's are extremely valuable to the military, and will not be put in harms way. im excited about becoming a dr, with the experience of being a joe snuffy for several years, i know that being a medical officer will be bliss.

    here is a website which shows the residencies, locations, number of positions, the general process, years, and fellowships available. hopefully i clarified some issues. take care all and good luck on the road that follows.

    http://www.militarygme.org/index.html

    ReplyDelete
  47. hey DOC 911,

    i have a question regarding the start of your obligation of service. if i were to use the hpsp for 4 years, i would owe 4 years starting after internship and residency? if i did my residency in a military facility, would that time count as my obliserv? also, i was reading a portion of the hpsp fact sheet and it had a portion that was confusing to me, maybe you could help clarify it for me:

    (For each additional period up to a half year of your scholarship, you’ll serve an additional half year. If you’re among the best qualified who are selected to perform residency training in a military facility, you will also have a period of service of six months for each six months of training after internship completion. However, this period of service may be paid back at the same time as the period of service required for your scholarship. Unless the length of the training program exceeds the length of the scholarship, your total period of required active duty service will not increase. Your payback period begins when you are no longer in training.)

    i would really appreciate any insight to this statement and my previous questions.

    jesse

    ReplyDelete
  48. jesse,
    sorry this took so long. the way it USED to be was this. internship and residency do not count towards payback. they are training you and paying you so this makes sense. however, if you work as a general medical officer or a flight surgeon like i did, this active service DOES count. however, the services have gone to a board-eligible docs only model in these positions so here's what would likely happen.

    you would do internship and residency and then pay back your time in your specialty. if your residency is longer than your obligation, iow if you do surgery, five years, then you would likely owe 5 years active service.

    otherwise the best way to answer this question is to find an active duty doc in the service you are applying to and ask them. you will get the 'real scoop' a lot better from the active docs than from the recruiter or the person who answers the phone in DC.

    best,
    me

    ReplyDelete
  49. Doc911,

    I am currently going into my 3rd year of college and really want to be a doctor. I barely have a 3.0 and am afraid I won't get accepted into med school. I love the military and really want to go to USUHS. I'm just concerned about how competitive it is. I'm planning on going for a 5th year to hopefully boost up my GPA but was wondering if you had any other suggestions as to how i could make myself more competitive other than grades and MCAT. I am in one medical organization and a sorority and work so it is very difficult to add more to my plate. How worried should I be and should quit some of these other things i have going on?

    ReplyDelete
  50. krystal,
    first of all let me ask you the following... why do you want to be a doctor? if you have a logical and not an emotional answer for this then i'm with you i think, but let's be sure here. i'm going to ask you some questions and you don't need to write back unless you want to but do think about them.

    do you want to get married and have a family? if so, do you want to raise your kids by being around for their important stuff or are you okay with a nanny or a stay at home husband? they are hard to find and as a rule men with their titanic egos might be a bit unlikely to play second fiddle to a doc. not trying to be mean but most 'real men' get their ego strokes from their careers. so let's assume this is not an issue, or, if it is, please do be sure that you are ready for four more years of school, and, at a minimum, three more years after that of sleep deprivation and debt accumulation (unless you let the military pick up the tab).

    still in? okay. you may actually benefit from Obama care if it passes because medicine will be less attractive to many and it may become easier in terms of GPA requirements to get into a good school.

    consider also, the PA route (physician assitant) if any of the above give you pause. saw a PA down here in the doctor's area the other day who had just been first assist in a four vessel coronary artery bypass graft surgery. PAs have a neat deal going and they are going to get more and more latitude to practice as the physician community shrinks. PA school is two years and you can actually switch between specialties unlike the docs.

    still in for med school? okay, you have two X chromosomes going for you which is good. it may not still be the case but ten years ago women were given preferential admission to medical school based on their gender. this MIGHT be especially true of USUHS right now as not too many women are enamored of the idea of going to war but it sounds like you are their gal so there's hope there.

    if you do not get your GPA up and i am wrong about the declining standards of admission to medical school then you can still get a fine medical education at a DO school, i'm not being facetious, the American DO schools are very good and you then do a residency just like an MD graduate and there's no diffence at that point.

    if you want to be more competitive for a traditional MD school or USUHS in particular i would recommend the following, and this will also be a good test of whether you really want the MD...

    1. drop the sorority and get your grades up. take some classes that you know you can ace and ace them.
    2. become a basic paramedic, or
    3. volunteer in your local ER. the best way to do this is to be a 'scribe' for an ER physician and you would tag along with them for their shifts and document for them and help them out. many of these positions pay and i love having a scribe. it looks great on your CV and you will learn a lot.
    4. do some post grad work or maybe get a masters and ace it.
    5. call USUHS admissions and ask to speak with the dean of admissions and find out what they are looking for. it might help a lot if you went ahead and joined ROTC now, it would be a bit different than the sorority but that would definitely impress the USUHS folks.

    now, i'm afraid that came off as mean but it was not meant that way. if i could get paid for going to college i would have never left. it sounds like you really want to do medicine and i just want you to be sure you know what you are signing up for and what it will cost you in terms of other life events and time.

    in terms of goals i think your GPA needs to be in the 3.5 or higher range to get your first or second choice of schools with good extra-curriculars and a good MCAT. best of luck to you and let me know if you have any more questions or if you want to yell at me.

    ReplyDelete
  51. 911Doc,

    To answer your first question, I want to be a doctor because I honestly don't see myself doing anything else in life. I know it sounds cliché but I really do want to help people. The reason why I want to go the military route was reinforced when I joined a Hispanic health organization here and was exposed to several minority medical students that described their experiences in their med school as "cut-throat" competitive". These students had to constantly deal with peers that claimed they were only accepted to fill a quota. I had the opportunity to speak with two students from USUHS at a medical school fair where they described an environment where there is camaraderie and more focus to gaining the necessary skills to become a great doctor without the concern of not getting residency. Also I was in JROTC in high school and absolutely loved it! I became the Corps commander of almost 250 cadets. I loved it so much but still wasn't 100% sure if the military was the life for me, I felt I still needed to grow and explore my options. But now that I have joined different organizations and worked at two research labs, I miss that bond I had with my cadets every time I see ROTC students in their uniforms. I have talked to my adviser about joining ROTC but she says it would put me too behind. I guess I've always wanted to grow up and make a big difference in this world like many other aspiring doctors and I feel that my love for the military and medicine will allow me to accomplish a greater change in the lives of those soldiers fighting for this country.

    So yes I do want to get married some day and have a family but I also want to accomplish my dream. I understand that with my career goal I will have to sacrifice some things and if that means waiting longer to have kids then I am willing to do it.

    As far as the PA route...I haven't really looked into it. Don't know much about it but will definitely do some research on it. I can't drop my sorority but don't worry its not the typical one, its community service based and we have received many awards for serving our community. But thank you for your suggestions!

    I have one more question though; you said take classes that I can ace…so right now my major is neurobiology. I have tried looking into other majors that might be easier but none seem to win me over. My adviser tells me it's one of the hardest majors here and that's why I'm getting low grades, she too suggests changing but I'm just too stubborn. Do you also think that changing my major would increase my chances into USUHS?
    If you could email me at krystal042807@gmail.com that would be great!

    thanks,

    -Krystal

    ReplyDelete
  52. krystal,
    then you and i choose medicine for the same reasons.

    too bad your hispanic friends are dealing with the dirty little secret of affirmative action... the 'diversity admit' label, sometimes deserved, sometimes not, but it's interesting that they complain of the competition, that is what they should want, competition absent skin color.

    usuhs would be a great place to go. have lots of friends who went there and i do believe that it would be more convivial, but, also, since competition is taken out a little bit the next world beater neurosurgeon is unlikely to come from USUHS.

    you are absolutely correct about being a military doc. it was the best job i ever had. i admired my patients and they did me the favor of admiring me and they didn't want to be sick. everyone in the ER wants to be sick. everyone here wants someone else to fix their problems.

    as long as you understand the sacrifices of medicine then do it. look at the PA and then ask yourself if you would be satisfied with a PA degree and more time with family or if you have to be an MD.

    if you are a neurobio major at a good school i would stick with the advice you are getting from your advisor. your major is very difficult and will set you up well for medical school. your GPA can be a bit lower i'm sure than 3.5 but me being a history and biol. major (BA) that's about where i needed to be.

    neurobiol. is a bit different. i think you are right where you want to be Krystal. a few tags on your CV would be good but you will get into school and if you want to go to USUHS i WOULD call them and let them know and ask them what would make you more competitive. and when you go, unless you like living in the woods or out at sea, go with the air force.

    best,
    911doc

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi,

    I'm applying for a 3 year hsps through the Air Force. I was wondering how difficult it is / possible to do a residency through another branch. for instance an army ortho or EM residency
    Thanks,
    Aaron

    ReplyDelete
  54. dear aaron,
    i am a long way out from my military days but i believe you will not have a problem doing a residency in another branch. they are combining residencies all over the place. the best place to ask would be bumed for the navy, your air force recruiter, or an army recruiter. best of luck to you with your career.

    ReplyDelete
  55. 911Doc,

    Thank you for all the valuable information you and your readers have posted here. I am currently looking to change careers and go to school to be a MD. I worked in EMS as a firefighter/EMT for about 6 years while I was going to school to get my B.S. After spending a few years in the financial industry I have decided that I want to go back to school to pursue my first love of medicine. I have done well in business but am extremely unhappy. I'm looking to start my pre-reqs for medical school in January so I'm somewhat premature in my inquiries but I like to be well informed and well prepared for decisions I make.

    My questions mostly pertain to specializing:

    1) Due to my time in Emergeny Medical Services I am certain that I want to go into EM. After 4 years of medical school is the military able to push you into a specialty that you may not want to go into or do you have the choice?

    2) If I took the HPSP for my 4 years of medical school my obligation would be 4 years, correct?

    3) Is the time of residency added to your obligation? (i.e. if I were to do my 4 years of HPSP then 3 years for an EM residency would I be obligated to 4 or 7 years?) And, does the obligation change based on where you complete your residency? (Meaning if I do my residency in the military or through a residency not in the military)

    I know that going the HPSP route does not make sense monetarily if I have to do 7 years of time in the service but doing 4 years its about a wash. I currently am married and would love to start a family sooner rather than later. If I go the HPSP route this is much more feasible than if I self-finance my education. My wife is a Critical Care Nurse so she would be able to get a job anywhere in the US if duty stations change so this makes things much easier. Also, her current salary is about $70K/yr so we can go the military or non-military route for medical school and be okay either way.

    I spent 6 years helping people stateside and really do want the opportunity to serve my country here and abroad. This is my main motivation for using the HPSP to finance my medical degree. Of course coming out of school with no debt would be a nice plus as well. I have read from many sources that if you go into the HPSP simply for the financial motives then you will more than likely not enjoy your time.

    Thank you in advance for your advice and assistance.

    Eric

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  56. Dear Eric,

    If it's in your heart, then nothing else will do!

    As it stands now and as I think it will remain in the MILITARY, you choose your specialty. The only thing is that there is a little clause... 'the needs of the military'... that clause may interrupt your training (to go on deployment as a flight doc or battalion doc), but it will not push you into a specialty you are not interested in.

    Again, answering based on my remote experience and not on current knowledge a 4 year HPSP scholarship obligates you to four years of active service OUTSIDE OF INTERNSHIP AND RESIDENCY. IOW, the military feels that if they are giving you training in EM that those years neither count towards more obligation NOR do they count towards you payback. they will get their investment back.

    question 3 partially answered above. if you get a civilian deferment for residency it's the same as if you trained in the military. a 4 year HPSP with a three year residency = four years of active payback. HOWEVER, when i was in, if you owed four years from medical school and choose to do a seven year neurosurgery residency then you would owe, as i remember it, seven years as a neurosurgeon on active duty.

    i disagree with the conventional wisdom that HPSP is not a bit better financially. i happened to owe some money from undergrad.. about 35k, i paid it of in my INTERNSHIP YEAR. if you account for appreciation of your assets (which is far from certain these days) you will NOT dig a big debt hole in med school and residency, and you will, typically, make more as an intern and resident. that's my take.

    you will do well in the service. if you don't care about doing something inbetween internship and residency like flight surgery or dive medicine (these are called General Medical Officer tours, and, when I was in, were done by doctors with INTERNSHIP ONLY training. i paid back my commitment and then went to a civilian residency free and clear), then conventional wisdom says the AIR FORCE tends to treat their people the best (and they have the best golf courses).

    good luck Eric!

    me

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  57. Air Force has the best golf courses, huh? I'm sold. Air Force it is.

    Thanks 911Doc

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hi,
    I am The assistant editor with medicalschool.org. I really liked your site and I am interested in building a relationship with your site. We want to spread public awareness. I hope you can help me out. Your site is a very useful resource.

    Please email me back with your URl in subject line to take a step ahead an to avoid spam.

    Thank you,
    Sofia
    sofia.medicalschool.org@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. I'm a dad whose 17 year old son has expressed great interest in being a doctor along with joining ROTC. My feeling after reading these posts and others is that it would be better if we pay for pre-med school and then if he desires to, enter the med school through one of the programs. If I am reading this right, his oblijation would be 4 years or more depending on residency, etc. But if he enters the ROTC as a freshman, then goes on to med school, his obligation would be at least eight years plus more depending on medical field and residency. Am I reading this right?
    Mike the Dad

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  60. dear Mike the Dad,

    i agree with your take. i think the question your son needs to answer first is if he wants to be in the military or not. he can make the decision if he wants to be a doctor in the military three or four years from now, but for now, does he want to be in the service?

    also understand this... at least when i went to school something like 60% or freshman were 'premed' and at the end about 6% of us were.

    in terms of your math regarding your son's obligation to service it is more complicated than you guess, but you are basically correct. suffice it to say that between his undergraduate and medical school obligation he will owe the military AT LEAST 8 years.

    one final thing... if, two years into udergrad, he decides that yes, he's going to medical school and yes, he wants to do it in the military, he can sign up for ROTC then. the services will compete for him.

    hope it works out well for you and for your son. i notice you did not ask another important question and perhaps your son has not asked, but i don't thing there's a doc here on the blog who would tell your son, 'go into medicine, you won't regret it.' in fact, if you look at the post entitled 'my favorite year', which went up a few days ago you will get a sense of the frustrations involved in today's practice.

    best.

    ReplyDelete
  61. thanks for the reply 911Doc! you raised a very interest point about "IF" he wants to go into the service. The two-ROTC and being a doctor have always gone together-I never thought of them being two seperate questions-I will have to have him ponder that. your advice him waiting two years was perfect and one I had not thought of-thank you for that! I will tell him-"wait two years into undergrad-then decide". As far as frustrations go-in todays world, all jobs have frustrations and this is what he wants-ten years from now.....who knows. thanks again. Mike the dad

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hi,

    I am currently and premed tract student who is almost 99% sure I want to go to medical school and become a doctor. I have been thinking ahead about my future and am considering to become an Army doctor. I heard about the HPSP program and I'm considering this as an option so I can serve my country, get financial help for medical school, and earn great experience. I have several questions about the HPSP tract.

    1) How long I will need to serve in Active Duty if I choose to do get the HPSP scholarship for two years?

    2) What are the chances of deployment if I choose to be an Emergency Doctor or Pediatric doctor?

    3) Is it worth taking the scholarship for 2 years?

    4) As a woman, how hard is it to be an Army doctor while you have a family? (I would like a woman Army doctor to answer this so I can get a female's perspective.)

    ReplyDelete
  63. hey michelle,

    first of all good luck in your path.

    secondly, let me try to answer some of your questions.

    i was hpsp and i did it for three years. i didn't pick the three year time frame... i was late in applying after getting into medical school. as it turns out, this worked out just fine.

    as to how long you will have to serve active duty it is based on both how many years they paid for and whether you did residency training in the military or not. if you read through the comment section above you will get an idea of this, but the regulations change quite frequently and you might get a much better deal now during wartime than i did during the peace dividend.

    as to you chances of deployment as a pediatrician or emergency i would say they are inversely proportional to your desire to deploy. i actually don't know the answer so i'm making a bit of a joke but pediatricians are currently deployed AS are ER docs, and lots of 'em.

    as to if it's 'worth it' to do the scholarship for two years, only you can answer that. again, if you read the comment section i believe there is a discussion about numbers and whether it is 'worth it' based on what you could make as a civilian in the same time frame. all i can say is that for me there was a lot of comfort in being debt free soon after medical school and this allowed me to have a bit more freedom when choosing a specialty.

    your last question about how hard it is to be a woman and an Army doc and a mom i think it's a great question and i'm glad you are asking...

    i'll be straight with you... i know many women in the military medical corps who have taken advantage of their ability to get pregnant to avoid deployments. you to could do this if you chose. the thing is, this will eventually either prevent the military from offering the scholarship to women OR it will change the rules about pregnancy and deployment. it's a very sticky issue.

    and if you think you would not do this when it came your turn to rotate over to the scenic khabul hospital you may be right, but you WOULD HAVE TO CONSIDER IT.

    here's my two cents... first, decide if being a doctor is as important to you as having a family. if it is, then do it and make your best deal with the military (or not). if, however, family is more important than being a doctor consider getting your PA degree.

    whatever you decide, best of luck.

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  64. I am considering the air force scholarship to pay for medical school. I am currently in medical school and this is my first year. If i sign up for the scholarship now, then I will only sign up for a 2 or 3 year commitment. I want to do internal medicine and specialize eventually, but I want a family as well.

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  65. Hello,
    My fiance and I wish to get medical degrees. We are currently working on our Bachelors'. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Is there a way to complete our B.S. degrees while in the service? Is there a program that will help with that and then allolw you to move into the M.D. program?
    2. Will we be allowed to be in the same area? We are getting married next summer and would like to be stationed in the same location.
    Thanks. Allie

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  66. Hi 911 Doc!
    My husband is in the middle of his first semester in med school. Medicine is a second career situation for him (we were both teachers), so we left a pretty sweet little life to come to the Bahamas for him to attend school. We had our home in a short sale situation which the bank did not follow through on and we lost the sale, thus leaving us in an impending foreclosure at this point and there's nothing we can do about it. We are basically living on student loans and savings now (which is not too bad), but we are getting concerned we may not be approved for the next semester worth of student loans when time comes to apply. We have had several people suggest the military route to fund med school. For me, one of the perks is the sign on bonus. But what exactly can we expect there? Also, we are planning on kids soon. If we sign up for this, what will that entail as far as a family is concerned? Will I (and kids) be able to travel with him? He is interested in neurosurgery (and I have heard exactly what you said above about that almost always changing during med school), so what kind of a commitment are we talking about time-wise if he completes a neuro residency which is on average an additional 4-6 years on top of a 4 year residency? We've heard the earnings potential as a military doc is drastically lower than a civilian doc. Is this true? If so, do the benefits and perks outweigh the low income (or at least balance it out)? We're a little in the dark here on lots of things and just want to make an educated decision about where to go from here... Thanks! Rachel

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  67. I am currently studying for the MCAT and i have not yet applied for medical school. I want to serve in Marines but i want to become a doctor first and i was hoping the military would cover this. My question is 1.What steps do i need to take of now to gain acceptance into marines and medical school because app for medschool is due May 1 2. Does the military offer scholarships that cover 100% of medical school and if so what are requiremnts to attain this? 3. if not how much does the military really offer including stipend? 4. if enrolled in marines now what would I have to do?

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  68. Dear s4c,
    The Marines do not have doctors, they borrow them from the Navy. That being said, a Navy doc with the Marines is allowed to wear the Marine uniform and is treated very well indeed. I would speak with a Navy recruiter about the HPSP scholarship. This covers all of medical school though some minor expenses may not be covered. If you became a Marine Officer you would have a hard time getting to medicine, Marine Officers are warriors first. The specifics of the current HPSP can probably be found by searching for 'Navy HPSP'. It's been a while. But talking to a recruiter will get you the info you need, just be sure to get it in writing. Good luck!

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  69. Dear 911Doc,

    I would truly appreciate an outsider’s insight to my situation. I am currently at the end of my undergraduate career. I am in an accelerated med program where I am guaranteed a seat in medical school. My long-term boyfriend is currently an officer in the army. When he returns from deployment he will be going to the captains intelligence career course. He is most likely a career guy. I have been thinking long and hard for a couple years about military medicine. I have really done my research, and believe that even if I wasn't dating my boyfriend I would still highly consider military medicine. However, I have to admit he is factoring into my decisions. I have talked to him about this previously and we are planning about talking in depth when he redeploys. So far he is skeptical and cautious. My boyfriend and I have been talking about marriage. However, I am in no rush (mostly due to my age). I know that I want a family in the future. If we were married how likely would we be stationed at the same post, keeping in mind he will be in intelligence? Also, a fear of mine would be that him and I could be put into units with different deployment cycles. That would result in one being deployed, while the other wasn't. Then shortly following vice versa. How likely is this at happening? I would just like a realistic opinion. I have been trying to weigh if being a civilian doctor would be easier or more difficult on our relationship. I feel no matter what I could be happy practicing medicine. However, I wondering which choice would be better for the sake of a future marriage and family.
    Thanks in advance!

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