Medical Career

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by iLikeToFly, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. iLikeToFly

    iLikeToFly Member

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    Hi everyone. This is going to be a slightly lengthy post, but I hope you guys can help!

    I'm young, but I'm someone who likes to plan and so I've been looking into possible career paths for me. The two things that excite me the most right now are a medical career and a military career. So...I'm thinking a military doctor may be the right path for me - which branch, I have no idea yet. I have some questions for anyone who has gone down this path, knows someone who has, or just someone who has some knowledge about it. :)

    First of all, where do I start? Would an Academy be the right choice? What about ROTC? Or does the undergrad school really matter? I've heard (but I am not sure how accurate this is) that if you go ROTC and they don't select you for medical school, you don't get in. Hmmm...

    Second, after undergrad, what happens? Say I go to a civilian college and then go to medical school; would I enlist and let them know that I am in medical school? I know KP2001 went to an Academy and then went to USUHS. How does that work? Am I correct in saying that the service pays for medical school?

    Third, after medical school, what happens? I really have no idea about this part. Hahaha. What is the whole military doctor career like? How is the pay/time commitment? Do you have any regrets about choosing this path? How different is it from a civilian medical career?

    *whew* My fingers are starting to cramp. :) Thanks for all the help, you guys. I have learned so much from just exploring these forums from time to time.

    Ciao,
    iLikeToFly
     
  2. Kero

    Kero Member

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    I know for USNA they have about 20 spots that get medical, they pay for your schooling, not sure what it does commitment wise, and they primarly pick chemistry majors, however I knew a english major that got it several years back but it is very competative.
     
  3. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    If you want to become a doctor in the military, take the necessary steps to become a doctor first, then join the military. Look into joining while you are in school to take advantage of HUGE bonus dollars, tuition asisstance, loan-repayment programs, and other monetary incentives.

    Navy

    http://www.navy.com/careers/healthcare/physicians/

    Air Force

    http://www.airforce.com/opportunities/healthcare/careers/physician/

    Army

    http://www.goarmy.com/JobDetail.do?id=312

    Coast Guard

    http://www.gocoastguard.com/find-your-fit/officer-opportunities/programs/direct-commission-programs
     
  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Well as you already know I'm a USMMA grad and current Navy physician so I'll try to answer as best I can. Obviously I could write pages and pages, but I'll try to keep it a bit shorter

    School matters to the point that if you take two people with the same GPA but one's from Harvard and one is from no name state school the one from Harvard has a slightly better chance. The most important part is to simply do well wherever you go. I know plenty of people from 'unknown state school' who are physicians, they simply did well, did extracurriculars, and did well on entrance exams. It's really not that huge of a deal.

    The question as to service academy/rotc is a bit more difficult. If you get in to a SA/ROTC and do well it will be a plus on your medical school application. The only issue is that the number of people allowed to select medical is limited each year. With that being said I've never heard of someone who wanted to go medical and was good enough to get into medical school not being one of the people who was in the position to be selected for the medical corps.

    True. "Needs of the Service" drive how many are allowed to go to medical school; however, if you are a strong applicant for medical school you will be a strong applicant for one of those slots.


    If you go to a civilian college and are applying for medical school you simply apply for the medical school scholarship (HPSP) at the same time. For the past several years if you were accepted to medical school you would qualify for the scholarship. They are hurting for numbers; however, this gap is closing now. If accepted for the scholarship you will be commissioned into the Reserves for your time in medical school. (There is also USUHS, where you are on active duty....the application process is nearly identical to civilian schools)

    If you go to a service academy it's basically the same deal, except you also need to apply for medical corps during service selection (not available at USCGA, and not necessary at USMMA)

    If accepted for the scholarship the school is paid for and you are given a monthly stipend. If you attend USUHS you get paid as an active duty officer.

    Unfortunately when you graduate medical school you are in for at least 3-7 more years of medical training. During fourth year of medical school you will apply for your residency of choice (Family Practice, Surgery, Psychiatry, etc etc). This is called "the match" and for some specialties (ophthalmology, orthopedics, dermatology, radiology, etc) is highly, highly competitive. Residency is the time you hear about incredible working hours: the current limits are 80hrs a week, 30hrs in a "day", and one day off in seven. For the most part expect to be in the hospital around 100hrs a week with about two weeks of vacation a year until residency is over. The 30hr days (come in at around 0600 and leave at noon the next day)will be approximately every 3 to 4 nights for the great majority of that time.

    A large percentage of military doctors will do one year of training after medical school and then be sent out to the fleet to be "General Medical Officers (GMO's)" where you are basically the primary care doctor for the soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines. You are assigned to an operational unit and deploy with them. After 1-3 years of that you will return back to the residency you were accepted in.


    Fairly similar to that of a civilian physician, except for the whole deployment thing. You will get some opportunities that civilians never get (fly in jets, land on carriers, go to Haiti on a hospital ship, etc) and they will get opportunities you never get (work for Operation Smile, Doctors without borders, etc).

    Career progression is usually: 4yrs medical school, 1yr residency, 2-3yrs GMO, 2-6yrs residency, 3yr post-residency utilization tour (usually overseas/shipboard/less desirable US locations), then Medical Center staff physician (can vary between small hospitals to positions at the major medical centers). You can move anywhere between every 2-3 years to where I've seen people at the same hospital for over 10 years. For the most part once you are beyond your 'post-residency tour' you will be assigned to a hospital and additional duty to some sort of operational platform/field hospital. You will also be randomly assigned to fill billets on 6mos-1yr deployments a few times throughout your career.


    Pay for most specialties is around 1/3rd of what a civilian of similar specialty and years would make. A military physician will max out in pay in the low $100,000 region give or take.

    Time commitment is four years for HPSP and seven years for USUHS. This is in addition to any undergrad commitment you may have. This time is not paid back during any residency time so truly the minimum commitment is more like 5yrs for HPSP and 10yrs for USUHS.

    None, yet. I'm currently a GMO/flight surgeon and enjoy my job. I get to support the troops on the ground and when deployed feel like I'm really giving something back. I also seem to find a great sense of pride in those physicians who are working at the hospitals that are getting the majority of the OIF/OEF injuries. It is an absolute honor to take care of the wounded. They impress me on a daily basis.

    There are obviously trade-offs in becoming a military physician. The most glaring is pay. Many in mil-med have a huge issue with using people with one year of training to take care of our active duty population, some also feel this delay in training is a big negative. Some also feel that the current patient population does not allow them to keep their skills as sharp as someone in the civilian world. In particular ER docs don't see enough true emergencies when in the US if they only work in a military hospital so most will moonlight at civilian ER's to keep their skills sharp.

    Overall it is a choice that one needs to go into with a lot of information. Be wary of most recruiters trying to tell you information about the medical corps as most have no clue even if they are the medical corps recruiter.

    Your goal right now should be to get into the college of your choosing and do well there. Choose a major that you like, not necessarily the one you think will get you to medical school. (you don't need to be a science major, that's a huge myth, you simply need the pre-requisite courses). Some people will try to steer you clear of service academies; however, if you feel that is the best school for you it is a valid path to medical school.

    Okay, I've written too much
     
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  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    No KP...

    You wrote VERY well. Not too long at all.

    FYI...my dad...retired from USAF after 30 years, Flight Surgeon, Cardiologist & Internal Medicine, flag officer, etc.

    And EVERYTHING you just described brought back memory after memory as it's pretty much precisely how his career went.

    VERY well said!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  6. iLikeToFly

    iLikeToFly Member

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    Kp,
    Thank you so much! I am really grateful for all the info you put in your answer. You have been a great help. And like Flieger83 said, you wrote very well. You answered all my questions in detail and in just the right amount. It was exactly what I needed. Thanks again! Hopefully someday I'll be doing what you are doing. Thanks for serving. :)

    Luigi,
    Thanks for the links - I'll be sure to check them all out.

    Thanks again all of you! :biggrin:
     
  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    FWIW: My son is currently at the Air Force Academy. He is in his 2nd year there. He wants greatly to go to med-school. The advisors know this and they work with you to take all the required classes. e.g. org-chem. The rest is pretty much up to him. If he continues with the GPA that he currently has; kicks butt in the MCAT; and is accepted to medical school; then maybe the Air Force will say yes, and he'll be a very happy LT. He understands the difficulty and the competitiveness of it. If it doesn't come to pass, he will also be applying for graduate school as well as a pilot slot.

    But one thing is for sure; in order to go to medical school, you have to have an undergraduate degree. So might as well apply to the academy and get your undergraduate degree there if you're fortunate. If you aren't accepted for med-school, you can serve your country for 5 years and then get out and go to medical school on your own. best of luck to you. mike....
     
  8. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    FYI...

    The academy will tell you there is a "limit" to the number of cadets that the AF will send to medical school.

    In my ALO career...to the best of my knowledge, that number has either NEVER been met or enforced.

    If you are good enough to be accepted to medical school, the AF will send you! And for further training...

    And then welcome to a 20 year career!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  9. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    So very true...Academy graduates that go to USUHS have a 12 year commitment, not including time in training. This means at a minimum a 15 year commitment.....ouch!

    Academy grads who do HPSP have a 9 year commitment with the same caveat, meaning at a minimum a 12 year commitment.
     
  10. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Ah yes, but to remember a GREAT "all encompassing" statement from the academy that fits most any situation of trial, adversity, or "the suck factor"...

    "But it's GOOD for you: builds Character and Discipline!" :thumb:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
    (27 years so far this summer)
     
  11. kwill958

    kwill958 Member

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    Thanks for the great information kp, I'm considering the same mil-med path too, and this was all the stuff I had questions about :thumb:
     
  12. kwill958

    kwill958 Member

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    What are the major stations for military physicians? I'm big on traveling, which is another reason I would want to join the military...
     
  13. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    ANY locale that has military folks.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  14. kwill958

    kwill958 Member

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    To those of you who did medicine in the military, will you talk a little bit about the types of jobs and experiences you've had in doing so?
     
  15. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Yep, pretty much. For the most part you will be stationed at bases for your respective service. There are some combined locations for medical personnel such as DC and San Antonio. There are locations all over the world for pretty much all the services including places in Europe, Africa, Asia, etc; however, if it's a pretty decent place you likely won't end up there until you are a more senior physician.

    Types of jobs and experiences:

    Well your job is to work as a physician. There are some admin type jobs for more senior physicians. There are also some research positions. You will transition from being in training to working with the line units (squadron, army battalion, fleet marine force, etc) to working in larger hospitals. As you progress your admin responsibilities will increase as well (for the most part)

    Experiences: pretty much do what a civilian doctor does, except I put on a flight suit everyday instead of a shirt & tie. Oh, and I get to take care of one of the greatest patient populations around. To offset that I get to spend 6 mos to a year away from my family every couple years as a junior physician.
     
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  16. Mtusafa'19

    Mtusafa'19 New Member

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    Is it possible to go to medical school under hpsp after serving 3-5 years as a commissioned officer after the academy?
     
  17. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Yes. You will almost certainly have to finish your initial obligation first.
     
  18. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    This thread is so old it can collect social security.
     
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  19. majstlo

    majstlo Member

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    As a retired ARRES/ARNG Nurse Corps Officer let me butt in to the doc talk and remind folks that nursing is a good option to consider, the military services have ROTC scholarships just for Nurses and the military has very generous recruiting bonuses and stipends for RNs. And of course there is the fact that its considerably less expensive to get a nursing degree than to go to medical school, without some type of scholarship or financial assistance good luck find $100K a year to attend med school.
     

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