Medical School after USNA

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by InYourHead, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. InYourHead

    InYourHead New Member

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    If one wanted to attend medical school after going to the Naval Academy, how would that work? Would you do your 5 years of service and then enroll when you return (are you still in the reserves at that time)? Or would you go straight through and then do your active duty as a physician?

    Any information would be helpful. Thanks!
     
  2. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    There's been a good number of posts about this, especially from Memphis, who seems to have the best gouge.

    The short answer is that a limited (very small) number of graduates each year are allowed to attend med school and fulfill their commitment as Navy doctors. After graduation they are on active duty and their "job" is to be medical students: to be selected for this is extremely difficult and competitive. There are also graduates who attend graduate school after their initial commitment in other warfare specialities.

    The caution I'll add is that when I say "limited/very small" I mean that you need to prepare yourself for the very real possibility that being a Navy doctor may not be in the cards if you attend USNA. The Brigade Commander my firstie year--who was very smart and talented--didn't make the cut likely because he had a couple mediocre (not bad) grades in key courses.
    It's a great goal, and doable, but if your sole interest in the Navy is in medicine USNA may not be the best route to get there.
     
  3. InYourHead

    InYourHead New Member

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    Interesting- thanks for the response. So does that mean they still owe a commitment after medical school or does it expire?
     
  4. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    There's no such thing as a free lunch...they owe time to the Navy after medical school.
     
  5. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Re-read the portion in bold below.

    They means they still owe their AD commitment and probably + some years that they fill out as Navy doctors. The Navy certainly isn't going to pay you while you attend medical school and not expect something from you in return. Plus you really still owe them for the USNA education.
     
  6. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Although the academy is permitted to send more than 10, it seems in the past few years they have limited the number of Medical Corps selectees to 10. (One year it was 9 and another it was 11). West Point and USAFA send many more into the Medical Corps than USNA.

    There is no point in applying to any medical school until you are selected for Medical Corps. Those who are selected are usually the first to know of their service selection because of their need to get going with the medical school application process. It is quite involved. Usually the selectees find out shortly after they return in the Fall for their 1/C year. For example, for the class of 2014, those selected for Medical Corps already know.

    Once selected, they apply for both military medical scholarships, USUHS (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences) and HPSP (Health Professions Scholarship Program). Acceptance is pretty much automatic for a service academy student.

    USUHS is the military's medical school located in Bethesda. While attending, they will receive the pay and benefits of an Ensign for the entire 4 years. They skip LTJG and are promoted to Lieutenant upon graduation.

    HPSP is at a civilian medical school. While attending, they are in the Individual Ready Reserves. Basically, they're civilians. They are released from all military obligations upon graduation from USNA. They get no pay or benefits although they receive a $20,000 bonus (USUHS does not get the bonus). Their tuition, books and equipment are 100% covered by the military (as it is at USUHS). In addition, they get a $2200/month stipend. Upon medical school graduation, like their USUHS peers, they are automatically promoted to Lieutenant.

    The service obligations differ, however.

    Whether they go USUHS or HPSP, they will owe the Navy 5 yrs for their Naval Academy education.

    However, the USUHS (military) medical students accrue an additional seven years of service whereas the HPSP (civilian) medical students only accrue an additional four years.

    So, the total commitment is 12 yrs for USUHS and 9 yrs for HPSP. The clock does not start ticking until after after they've finished their residency, however. It does not begin after medical school graduation.

    Also, the HPSP (civilian) students do 6 weeks of active duty each year. During that brief period, they have the same pay and benefits as the USUHS students.

    * * *

    The USNA Medical Corps selectees can have their service selection revoked if they fail to get accepted into any medical school. I do not think that has ever happened, however.

    The selectees are on their own as far as getting accepted into medical school is concerned. They have to compete for a spot just like all the others throughout the nation trying to get into a medical school. My sons missed a lot of classes, flying around the nation, interviewing. The academy was very accommodating about that, by the way. My sons would simply put in a chit (request) to miss classes for medical school interview and it was always immediately approved. Typically, they would miss 3 days of class since medical school interviews are never conducted on weekends.

    To get accepted into the Medical Corps, I would say the following items are the most important:

    In order ...
    1) MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) score.
    2) GPA in technical courses (Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology, etc.)
    3) USNA Medical Selection Board interview (can be confrontational!)
    4) Professor recommendations.
    5) Medical resume (research, shadowing doctors, community service, etc)
    6) Overall class standing

    And, of course, you can't have any "black marks" on your record like major conduct offenses, poor military aptitude rankings, or honor violations.

    It was stressful because you have to really want it. And, the more you want it, the less you want anything else. It's difficult to be ambivalent about wanting to be a Navy doctor or a pilot ... or SWO ... or Marine ... or just about anything else.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  7. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    SIDENOTE: The additional obligation may seem extreme but, if you think about it, the total obligation for an HPSP medical student is 9 years (5 for USNA + 4 for medical school) whereas the obligation for a pilot is 8 years - only one year less than a doctor.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  8. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    ^^^

    However, as you noted above, your commitment doesn't start until you complete residency, which is typically 3-7 years after medical school. So, your commitment doesn't start to run until 7-11 years after you graduate USNA, whereas a pilot's time starts once he/she pins on his wings (typically ~2 yrs after graduation depending on time to start flight school and platform chosen). It is my understanding that time in residency counts toward retirement (although not payback), such that there is an incentive to stay for 20, especially out of UHUHS.

    If you think about time on AD counting for retirement, you have (for USUHS grads):

    5 (USNA paybck) + 7 (USUHS payback) + 3-7 (residency) = 15-19 years on AD.

    So, you can see that you're almost there. Even with the civilian program, you're in for at least 11. At that point, you may well be offered additional incentives to stay in, depending on your area of specialization.

    Also, I believe that at least for USUHS grads, once you retire (after 20+), your years of medical school are added to your total years served to determine your retirement pay. Thus, if you retired with 20 years actual active duty service, you're retirement pay would be based on 24 yrs (time in med school). Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this.

    As noted above, it is definitely possible to be an MD out of USNA but absolutely no guarantee. As Hurricane says, if your goal is to be a Navy doctor, there are other routes that give you a much better chance than USNA of achieving this goal. And if you go the USNA route, you will more than likely be in the USN for at least 20 years.
     
  9. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    That's true, but the time you spend in medical school and residency is time you would have to spend anyway, whether you were in the military or not.

    It's not too uncommon for the Navy to assign a medical school graduate immediately to a GMO (General Medical Officer) tour. It's anywhere from 18mos to 2 years - usually deployed. This is a sneaky way to get a little more doctoring out of the graduates since the clock doesn't start running until after residency is completed. GMO tours are before residency.

    However, for an NROTC or Naval Academy graduate who brought undergraduate service obligation with them, they can count the time as a GMO as "time served" for their undergraduate obligation. So, by assigning them to a GMO tour, the Navy does not get any extra doctoring out of them.
     
  10. InYourHead

    InYourHead New Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the replies. Great information here. Good luck to your sons, Memphis. Thank you all for your service.
     
  11. MIHOSER

    MIHOSER Member

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    You experienced hands might advise the OP how to go about getting the required amount of biology credits.
     
  12. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    There are actually surprisingly few courses that are absolutely required by medical schools. You have to take Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology and Physics as far as technical courses are concerned. All these topics are on the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).

    Majoring in Chemistry is the easiest way to take these courses and, at the same time, fulfill the requirements of your major. If you validated several key courses, you can major in something other than Chemistry and still get it done. It's not particularly uncommon for a non-Chemistry major to get selected for Medical Corps.

    The Naval Academy does not guide any midshipmen seeking the Medical Corps through the process. This is particularly true in the first couple years. There is not much information about the requirements. They leave it up to the midshipmen to "figure it out". It cannot be a last minute decision. The midshipman has to map it out well in advance and hit the ground running starting with Plebe Chemistry.

    There was a time when many of the necessary courses were not available at the Naval Academy and those seeking to get into the Medical Corps had to go outside the walls of the Yard to find those courses. That is no longer true. One can easily piece together a very good "Pre-Med" program that rivals almost any other university.

    Ultimately, the midshipman will have to take the MCAT and that will tell the medical schools if they have the requisite knowledge. That will play the biggest role in getting selected for the Medical Corps. For the most part, the academy selects those whom they think the medical schools will select.
     
  13. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    To piggyback on Memphis' sage advice, the reason one must plan is that Organic Chem is (or at least was) a 3-6-5 course, meaning 3 class hours + 6 lab hours for a total of 5 credit hours. That's 9 hours each week you must fit into your schedule.

    The Chem major (and maybe Oceanography) require the course, which makes it easy. If you major in something else, you have to validate, take summer school, etc. in order to find the "extra" time b/c you won't o/w have it in your week.
     
  14. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    A midshipman's first indication that the academy considers them a viable candidate for the Medical Corps is when the midshipman requests and is granted a summer training block at Walter Reed during his 1/C summer. That is no guarantee, however. Some will do that training block and not get selected for some other reason(s) - usually an unimpressive MCAT score or simply a victim of the quota.
     
  15. MIHOSER

    MIHOSER Member

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    I thought USNA did not offer biology classes, thus the original question. If I am wrong or that has changed, sorry for wasting time.
     
  16. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I believe they do; you can check on-line at usna.edu. It's either under "Academics" or in the on-line catalog which I think is available under "Admissions."
     
  17. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    They definitely offer biology classes.
     
  18. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    A minor, but important correction. There is no "before residency"/"after residency" distinction when it comes to the obligation. During GMO time one would be paying back part of their obligation no matter their commissioning source.

    I'll just take a say Family practice/internal medicine physician who came from USNA and went USUHS for example and then HPSP:

    Typical progression:
    USNA-->USUHS: commitment =12 years
    USUHS-->Internship, 1yr: zero change in commitment
    Internship-->GMO tour, 2yrs: paid back 2, now owe 10.
    GMO-->Residency, 3 years: zero change in commitment
    Residency-->Staff physician: pay back all 10 years.
    You now have 16 years of service. Are you going to get out before 20? (and yes, as mentioned before you do get the 4 from USUHS once you hit 20)

    USNA-->Medical school: commitment =9 years
    USUHS-->Internship, 1yr: zero change in commitment
    Internship-->GMO tour, 2yrs: paid back 2, now owe 7.
    GMO-->Residency, 3 years: zero change in commitment
    Residency-->Staff physician: pay back all 7 years.
    You now have 13 years of service. Could you get out? Yes, but the current financial break even point for getting out and making more money vs the military retirement is about at the 11-12 year mark...so for now you are better staying to 20.

    These two examples take into account the shortest residencies possible. Any surgical specialty is going to be at least 1-3 years longer meaning you have even more years in before you can get out.

    The medical education obligations are very convuluted and have many iterations based on how one's career pans out. In general USNA + any medical school in general equals a 20 year career for the vast majority.
     
  19. MIHOSER

    MIHOSER Member

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    Just checked - they do offer biology classes, but not a biology major. My bad!
     

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