Medical School Spots/ Advise on Decision

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by estherjp21, Apr 22, 2015.

  1. estherjp21

    estherjp21 New Member

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    I am a recent appointee to the Air Force Academy and must make a decision by May 1st (as many of you know). Here's my dilemma:

    I want to pursue medicine (perhaps aerospace medicine, which sparked my interest in the Academy in the first place). I know that medical school spots at the Academy are incredibly difficult to receive, and require a ton of work.

    I was accepted into a BS/MD accelerated medical school program at my Plan B school, where I also was given a scholarship covering full tuition, room and board, books and fees, a personal stipend, and a stipend for a study abroad experience. I currently work in a medical research lab at this University, and I was just offered a fellowship to get (substantially) paid to continue working there during the summer before I potentially begin as an undergrad.

    Medicine has been my dream forever, and I actually only began looking into the Academy in October (it came as a shock to me that I received an Appointment). However, I have quickly fallen in love, especially with the leadership and character training aspects. Although I view the Academy as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I know that serving through medicine in the military would help me become an incredible doctor, I'm afraid of not receiving a medical school spot. Any advise on which avenue I should pursue?
     
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  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Bottom line... If you don't get a medical spot are you okay with serving in the USAF in another capacity? If the answer is no, you know the right decision. There are tons of threads about this exact topic. Take a look and use the search function. These should help shed some light.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Sounds like you should skip the USAFA deal and head to this Plan B (thus making it your Plan A).
     
  4. NavyMom19

    NavyMom19 Member

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    I am sure that the AirForce has the same view that any of the other branches do that the needs of that branch sometimes superceed the wants and desires of the miltary member--even though medical personnel is needed in all branches of the military--the medical school spots are few and far between and like NavyHoops stated..if you don't get that medical school spot are you going to be okay with serving in a different capacity in the Air Force. If you can't not answer yes then maybe the AFA and the Air Force is not the route to medical school you need and your Plan B school now becomes your Plan A. Sounds like the Plan B school really wants you and you sound like you want it and it is a good fit. Go for it because in 4 yrs when you can't find yourself slotting into what you want at the end of your AFA days...you don't want to look back and say to yourself--IF ONLY....Good Luck and best wishes in your decision.
     
  5. CadCandMateus

    CadCandMateus Recent Grad

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    Completely agree with LITS on this one. Sounds like an offer that guarantees your dream whereas the other is a complete toss up.
     
  6. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    If being an officer in the AF isn't your dream, but medicine is - I don't see the dilemma. Sounds like your plan B is the right choice.
     
  7. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    You are always welcome back into the military medical corps after you finish your MD.
     
  8. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    DS is going down the medical doctor path. USAFA has about a 2% doctor cap. The great news is 50% of the student body wants to fly. So you (more or less) double your chances to become a doctor versus West Point or USMA. Towards the end of the Junior year, it becomes fairly clear what your chances are just as a civilian school. I would venture to guess that if you can get into med school at a civilian school, you will get into a med school through the academy route. Kind of... Read on.

    Like the civilian undergrad path, it's all about getting a decent MCAT score, shadowing hours, and a solid GPA. From what I understand, the traditional weeder course is what kills the dreams of most people JUST like your plan B school. It has little to do with the 2% cap.

    The the kicker is you have one bullet. Meaning it's all to common for traditional med school students to have to re-apply to med school in order to get in somewhere. If you are a academic stud, don't sweat that part of it. But remember, you better be a pro at time management. too. In the academies, you would be hosed if you missed getting in a med school immediately after graduation; no 2nd bullet to re-apply.

    But the 1st hurdle is applying to interview at USAFA to get blessed off for the med school slots. Even if they say yes, you still need to get into a MED School. If those two things happen, you are off to wherever you get in (your state school or ??). The path is HPSP just like if you went you your plan B school and wanted to be a military doctor. There is NO difference. My DD went to the UofMN route and still took the HPSP and going to be an Army dentist. You get about a $2200 month Stipend + medical and dental. Books, fees, and tuition is paid in full no matter what the costs. You owe 4 years from that HPSP portion PLUS 5 years of USAFA. Med school doesn't count for years of service on your payback.

    Now comes the benefit from USAFA. They know there is no grade inflation and your bandwidth is limited to study for the MCAT. Many med schools know that. Also be definition, you are someone who wants to serve as well as you are officially different (they don't want a bunch of biology "premed" clones).. So many times you will be rounded up (if you will) by attending USAFA in the eyes of admissions. BUT studying for the MCAT test is a major hurdle and handicap. Normally students take the summer to study fill time or at minimum 6 weeks. That isn't going to happen! DS had to cram in studying over Christmas break and after studying for normal school work. You may also of had a lot of military duties during weeder classes. At the end of the day, I suspect my DS paid a 2=3 point penalty on his MCAT but still got a solid score that didn't close any doors to any schools.

    Now for the bad news. The new MCAT test in 2015 will mean MUCH more studying time. So much more that my DS was deathly afraid to wait. There just isn't enough down time to study for the brand new MCAT test which added a lot more subjects and is a lot longer.

    With all that said and specifically because of the new MCAT test, TAKE PLAN B!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  9. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    If you want to be a doctor then take the nearly guaranteed medical school path you already have (I say nearly bc most of these have GPA maintenance requirements).

    I'm about the biggest military medicine cheerleader there is and in my opinion you'd be foolish to pass on that opportunity you already have. As others have noted you can always join the miltary later if you still desire. You can also do aerospace medicine in the civilian world at places like UTMB Galveston.
     
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  10. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I am the son and grandson of military physicians...I passed your question to my father and his answer was quick and immediate (funny, at 81 he's a very fast text user):
    "Take the plan you have!!! USAFA...unless you are willing to be an AF OFFICER FIRST and perhaps a physician second, go the route you have in-hand."

    FYI...my father retired as a major command surgeon general...he's pretty astute at this.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
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  11. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    I think you got solid advice. To the OP. If you still wavering and wondering, go to the Student Doctor forum and read threads that discuss the new MCAT test. Kaplan and other test prep programs also are discussing the need to study more than ever before. That will be the biggest hurdle for extremely busy cadets. For that reason alone, it's going to be interesting how the future cadets will find the time needed even more. My DS took the last older style MCAT test in January. He had to coast in his USAFA classes for weeks to gain study time for the MCAT. But all of the USAFA students who go on to MED school figure it out. The issue will be how to find much more free time to study on the new test. As I said, it's going to be interesting going forward. I suspect there will be some solid students that could have gotten in med school taking the old test via USAFA path and will now struggle. This might be the biggest problem in the future and it will have nothing to do with the 2% cap.

    But my DS's plan B career inside of USAFA was to fly. He was more than o.k. with that. In fact, he actually could see himself loving that career and knew that might be the case the day he started school.

    CURVE BALL: Remember, you do have 2 years to make that decision before you commit the whole way. So there are ways to mitigate your risks... 2 years of USAFA and gained leadership skills, "free" college, you can see how you do under the pressure cooker and find out how others did in the same situation on this new MCAT test. If it looks like it won't work for you, then you can exist, finish at a civilian school, then apply for the HPSP scholarship. Furthermore, if you do well at USAFA for year 1 and 2, there will be a lot of doors that would open to other top ranked UG colleges. But be careful, the bonds will be deep after 2 years. My DS would have never bailed as he loves it there.


    Re: HPSP path outside of USAFA. For Doc's and Dentists, it's MORE difficult to get into the AF than it is for the Army. The AF racks and stacks from high to low and there is a higher demand for the cushier bases. The Army uses FIFO. If you are in a med school and have your paperwork down, 1st done (no matter what your MCAT scores were and GPA's), you are more-or-less in. My DD (UofMN and average DAT) didn't have a shot in the AF and she is a pending Army dentist. USAFA path guarantees AFA HPSP. There is the 3 year versus 4 year HPSP where the Army DOES rack and stack (only the 3 year).

    As you see, there are some strategies and knowledge to be gained. If you need more info, PM me and I can put you in touch with my son. Best of luck with your decision!
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  12. AdamKokes

    AdamKokes Banned

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    This is a complete no-brainer. Take the guaranteed med school spot or you're a fool, simply put.
     
  13. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    As most have already said, the answer is quite obvious. Take your Plan "B" school and make THAT your Plan "A". You want medicine, and you have the opportunity to have a full ride getting there. It's a much more guaranteed path than the air force academy or military. Also, as mentioned, once you become a doctor, you can always join the military if you want to serve.

    While it's true that at the academy you have the first 2 years to bail out without any type of commitment; your chances increase greatly that the medical and educational opportunity that you have now with pretty much a free ride, might not be there again in 2 years if you try the academy first. I have seen this MANY TIMES. Not necessarily with medical school. I've had some who received an appointment to the academy and they also received a full ride based on private scholarships and opportunities offered by the school. Such schools as Stanford and Cornell. They thought they'd try the academy and see how that would work. 2 individuals I know left the academy before the 2 year mark. (2 different kids almost 5 years apart from each other). They both thought they could go back and take the offer to prestigious school they were offered. Well...... the offer was no longer available. Both said they'd have to apply again completely over again. Just like they were doing it for the first time. Reapply for admission. Reapply for the private scholarships and the school offers. Basically, they got out of the academy after about 1-2 years and they wound up paying to go to their state university. Nothing wrong with that, just that they believed that any offers they had prior to accepting the academy would still be there for them if they changed their mind later. Most times, they aren't.

    You want medicine. You have an opportunity to attend school on a 110% scholarship. (Extra 10% is the stipend). This is a No-Brainer. Take the opportunity. The academy, air force, and military IS NOT AN EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY!!! It's a WAY OF LIFE for a MINIMUM of 9 years. They just happen to have a really great school that they'll educate you at. If medical school is what you want, and you've got a pretty much guaranteed path to get you to medical school without student loans getting to medical school, then TAKE IT. Best of luck.
     
  14. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    A few points to add. There is no such things as a "free ride" to Cornell or Stanford. If it is "free" (and it happens fairly often), it is always about financial aid (FAFSA plus need based aid school aid). This is the case with all Ivy colleges as well as Stanford. O.K. Maybe there has been 1 in a million situation where it happens every 10 years. But this is a common misnomer about a "free ride". This term gets used by a B student who go to an average state college for "free" and the parents mention that between the $2K scholarship for playing soccer, the son or daughter got a "free" ride (as if their soccer skills paid the bill). Maybe a school will pay 100% for that skill but more often than not, it is only free because of FAFSA. So with the Ivy's or Stanford, it's a combo of FAFSA AND the endowment and always needs based.

    To expand. If your family makes $90K+ (I no longer have the exact threshold) there simply is no such thing as a free ride at the Ivy colleges. Hence, if you qualified for zero tuition in your Junior and Senior year because your family income was below a certain level, FAFSA and the VERY generous donations kick into full swing. There will be no difference as a freshman or junior.

    Now, that is NOT the case for a State school. Our DS had pretty much everything paid for in his UG at the UOFMN college of biological sciences though various UofMN scholarships based off of merit. Those opportunities 100% would have dried up.

    Next up. I am pretty sure the OP is talking about UG tuition credits for summer research as well as scholarships. Because Med and Dental schools don't have "free rides".

    Christcorp. I'm not sure what you meant by "military IS NOT AN EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY!!!" But people take the scholarships (unfortunately) only for the $$'s. The HPSP is an incredibly generous deal. My DS took the 3 year plan. Meaning I paid year one of dental school to the tune of $75K + 4% inflation per year (that does NOT include room and board). Yea, dental school is more than med school. She tried for the 4 year HPSP scholarship but the paperwork was messed up by the medical recruiter so she reapplied and got the three year. That means she dodges $75K x 3 years of tuition and gets paid around $29K including total for medical, dental, and Stipend pay per year. The total is $321K after tax. As odd as it seems, it can take that kind of $$ to sign-up doc's and dentists.

    Her commitment: 3 years as a Army dentist @ decent pay, and yes FANTASTIC educational opportunities that may not be possible outside of the services. I can expand on that if you like but rest assured she in fact did sign-up for the educational opportunites that were not available to her outside of the military. If she likes it, she will stay in more and specialize which was my last point. It's the best deal in the world if you ask me. It's incredibly generous because too many doc and dentists are scared to serve (or financial dimwits especially the dentists).

    I also mention this because it's a MUCH better deal to immediately become a 2nd lieutenant and take the HPSP deal while in med school versus waiting till you pile on debt at 6.8%. Going in after you become a doctor isn't as good of a deal; not even close. So to the OP, keep that all in mind. :)
     
  15. LindsA10

    LindsA10 Member

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    estherjp21, as soon as you get more posts, pm me, as my counselor provided me with some info regarding different medical-related career pursuits at USAFA.
     
  16. Midwest

    Midwest Member

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    Hi Estherjp21,

    You mentioned you work in a medical research lab at the University and was wondering if you are still in high school. Is your job a work study type of program that offers employees education benefits? Sounds like whatever study paths you have taken have been successful for guiding you into your future career paths. Can you tell us a little more about how you ended up doing research.

    Congrats on all the choices and may you choose your career path wisely!

    :)
     
  17. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Mn-Dad. If you Re-Read my post, you'll see where I mentioned "PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS". You are correct. Most of the Ivy League type of schools don't offer "Merit" type scholarships by the schools. But there are a lot of scholarships to go to just about ANY school if you know where to look. Many/Most are "Private" in nature. There are also "Need Based" types of scholarships also. But there are lots of private scholarships out there that you can use the money to attend schools like Stanford, Harvard, Georgetown, Cornell, etc.

    But this is going sideways on the topic. The point I was making is; just because you have scholarships, acceptance, offers, etc. today for a specific school and possibly leading to going to medical school. That doesn't mean that option will be available to you if you WAIT 2 years to see if the academy will work out for you.

    As for the academy not being "AN EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY"; I stand by the statement. Can you join the military; via one of the academies; and receive a top level education pretty much for free? Yes, no one is arguing that. But unlike a traditional school, (At any level), you don't finish the academy and then go off and find a job. You have a job. In the military. From the time you graduate high school, or receive your appointment, you have a 9 year commitment at minimum. This is what I mean by it's not an Educational Opportunity. That isn't the primary goal of the military and the academies. Their primary goal is to turn you into a commissioned officer and military leader. Can this benefit you in the private sector 10 years down the road? Most definitely. But it's not the same as choosing between universities. "Hmmm, I have a lot of choices..... Should I choose Purdue, Georgetown, University of Texas, Michigan State, or the US Air Force Academy"? There is a totally different OUTCOME to graduating these different universities. The goal of all those other schools is to educate you and in the process, MAKE MONEY. That's it. There is no other goal of the school. They may have other motivations such as R&D or curriculum prep paid for by certain industries and companies, but that's as far as it goes. The academies have a totally different objective, different goal, and different motivation. Yes, there are definitely options for getting to medical school via the military. Just that it's not guaranteed.

    Anyway; if the OP's main purpose for an "Occupation" is to go to medical school; and they have the opportunity to get through their undergrad basically on a free ride; with no other commitments; then that's what they should do. The military and academy can't guarantee them even the OPPORTUNITY of going to medical school. All they can guarantee is if they maintain their academics and military bearing for 4 years, they'll get a very good degree and a job for 5 years. What that job will be, isn't guaranteed. It's whatever the air force needs are. And for what it's worth, there have even been years where they didn't need or want pilots. So you never know what could happen.
     
  18. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    Christcorp. We agree on nearly all of your points. But we can remove the words "most" and insert ALL Ivy League schools don't offer "Merit" type scholarships by the schools. Add in Stanford. You mentioned Cornell and Stanford in your example ^^ hence I wanted to mention that was not the case. But as you say, if you get gobs of private scholarship funds those will dissolve. But if you meet the financial needs, it won't matter. The Ivy's want other peoples $$'s 1st before they kick in. So it depends. It might be my hot button as I have heard people toss around "full ride" followed by an Ivy school. No way was it a free ride. Free ride means merit while free means.. Well.. FREE! So when you pointed to an example of a person in the past who got a "free ride" to an Ivy, I say that could not have happened and therefore that person would get the same exact deal (a.k.a FREE) as a junior or a senior even if those other scholarships dissolved to zero. But you are right, a typical local private deal will be long gone the second you say no.

    Re: "AN EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY". I wasn't so much addressing USAFA but rather you added in a comma to also include the military as a whole. Allow me to explain with just one example. If you want to be a dental specialist, you better be in the top 5-10% in your class surrounded by a bunch of smart people. Putting in another way, statistically you have a 90% chance of NOT specializing and merely a good old fashion dentist. There is a free pass to that hard rule and it's the military! To get experts, they release the constraint of only taking THE brightest (as artificially defined as GPA and test scores). Hence, you can be in otho, 100% paid buy our Uncle AND later make 2.5X more than a typical dentist AND follow your dreams of becoming a specialists. And yes, a WHOLE lot of HPSP scholarship winners go into the military to payback 3 or 4 years total which is a terrible deal for the taxpayers. But they do it for one and only one reason: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ (dodging debt).

    So depending on his situation (family income and pending USAFA rank), he could absolutely go to USAFA for 2 years and xfer to an Ivy for "free". There is risk and I would not be advising just anyone to roll that dice. That all said, I did recommend my son go to USAFA and bank on going to becoming a doctor. But warned him that nothing is for sure. It really depends on the person and we don't know how much of an academic stud the OP is or his time management skills. So if he is STILL wavering, I can put him in touch with some of the probable med school students if there is still a burning itch or curiosity. Taking with the students in the trenches as well as past grads is the very best way to know. I'd be happy to put them him in touch with my DS. He just needs to ask.

    Furthermore, we don't know the level of importance on his current low cost of tuition. If my DS dropped out of USAFA and wanted to go to UofMN (#16 biology department in the nation) I'd shell out the remaining 2 years. From a strict cost-benefit analysis and DEPENDING on the MD discipline, it would make more sense to dodge USAFA and go HPSP only (and serve 5 years less and make more $$'s as a civilian). But that isn't how my DS rolls. He doesn't really care about ROI. He wants to serve and have a different lifestyle including travel and yes, risk. I'm sure you see my point. We DO agree on the rest which is over 90% of your post. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  19. estherjp21

    estherjp21 New Member

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    I am part of a University Research program at my high school (we have a pre-engineering program and they allow 6-8 people to take part in this program), and I applied to be an unpaid intern at a lab with the University nearby (which is my Plan B school.) Luckily, a lab was willing to take me in and invest in my research education. I leave half way through school three times a week to work in this lab, where I study Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Although I do not get paid nor do I recieve "employee benefits" (except for a pretty killer parking space downtown :) ) I get many educational opportunities. They allow me to operate solo now that I have been trained, I present my research at Symposiums and conventions, and I am currently co-author on a paper that is about to be published. It's truly and incredible opportunity, and I'm very thankful for the connections I have made at this lab and this school.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  20. estherjp21

    estherjp21 New Member

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    I can't seem to figure out how to PM on here? I went to the private conversations tab but I couldn't figure out how to start one. Haha I'm terribly sorry
     

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