Please give me some advice about ROTC and Medical route...

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Listem, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. Listem

    Listem New Member

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    Hello, I am posting because I am trying to figure out what would be a viable plan at this point for what I want to do with my life. I understand it may be early to be worrying too much, but I always like to have a general idea of things. Here's my situation:

    I am a senior in college with decent grades (3.5 GPA, 1650 SAT, etc). I will be attending UCflorida next year. I also plan to pursue my two great loves as an undergraduate, Biology/medicine and military science/lifestyle. I come from a military family, and therefore, would not be turned off to an option because I have to either serve for a long amount of time in active duty, or because I have to both study and serve at the same time.

    I will be participating in AROTC as soon as I start my freshman year. I will also be majoring in some type of a biology OR pre-med course. My questions are the following (All supposing I complete ROTC and commission, or get a scholarship):

    1) In order to enter civ med school, undergradutes have to perform research and internship while they are in college. I am prepared to complete this requirements. Here's the kicker though, would I even HAVE TIME to do so if I am taking ROTC (and studying)? I feel capable of doing so, but will it be physically possible with only 24 hrs in a day?

    2) Providing the previous question is a yes; I understand HPSP and ED is at the discretion of Army. Supposing the Army doesn't accept HPSP for me, can I still go to med school and pay for it myself if I get an ED?

    3) If I DON'T get an ED or am not accepted into med school (meaning I would have to begin my service), would my major somehow affect the job I am assigned to, especially if I choose Medical corps as my branch?

    4) I would be MORE THAN WILLING to serve in active duty (provided my assigned job isn't scrubbing toilets or combat- I would not perform combat unless it's a very specific circumstance (U.S. is invaded) that would make me WANT to do so. If combat would be a possibility, then I'd prefer to go civvie instead of comissioning). Again, I would have no problem working after commissioning, but would I ever be able to apply for ED, and possibly HPSP after a couple of years, or would my possibility of med school be gone forever?

    I would love nothing more than becoming an Army surgeon; it would make me the happiest person in teh world. But I would also hate to be in a situation in which I feel as if going into the institution was a bad choice, or that I am wasting the ARMY'S time by performing an unwanted assignment without motivation.

    I understand it's also probably good to talk to my ROTC director once I'm in there, but I'd like to get feedback from other students/officers as well. If something happens which would make me think doing everything civvie would be better, I'd make sure to drop out the program before the second year. So as to not waste anyone's time or money.
    The good thing is that if something happens and I cannot get into med school, I'd have a guaranteed career with Army ahead of me. I would KILL myself if I didn't attain med school status, but it's my ideal at the moment.

    I also realize this is a humongous post, and I'm very sorry about it. It's just this is all churning in my head and I need someone to help me out or give me advice. I appreciate any help you can give me.
     
  2. Listem

    Listem New Member

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    Oh shoot. I wrote that VERY wrong. My meaning was I WOULD NOT kill myself (meant rhetorically) if I didn't go to med school. Please nobody think I'm suicidal. :biggrin:
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Did you mean to say you are a senior in college? From the rest of your post I assume you meant high school.
     
  4. Listem

    Listem New Member

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    Dang it yes. Now I regret not proofreading my post. I am a senior in high school, not college.
     
  5. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    Every Army officer is a soldier - even surgeons. All of our sons and daughters enter the service/ROTC willing to "perform combat" if required. I believe you should look elsewhere for your career. Possibly our nation's Publics Health Service would better suit your needs.
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    It appears you are placing limitations on why, how or if you serve at all.

    All military members serve at the luxury of the branch. The branch's needs come 1st, and sometimes your desires are not even placed into the equation.

    If you are not accepted for med school as an ED, you will still owe them a commitment period for your ROTC scholarship. They own you. You may or may not get your 2nd choice, but that will be dependent upon the manpower needs of the Army, again their needs/wants/desires are the key words here. Not necessarily yours.

    I agree with Jcc123, for you it may be a better plan to look elsewhere.
     
  7. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    See my post earlier today on this subject. As for the time factor, you will have plenty of time to get good grades in ROTC. In fact, ROTC will demand it and kick you in the butt if that isn't happening. Having your cadre "motivate" you is truly a benefit. Also, you will learn about discipline, etc. in ROTC, which you can leverage to make yourself a better candidate for med. school (so, in short, ROTC can actually benefit you).

    As for the issue about not entering a "Combat Arms" branch after college and then going on to med school, just know that the non-"Combat Arms" branches are just as much a part of the military as any other branch. There is no "dishonor" in serving in, say, the Finance Corps versus the Infantry. None. Our nation appreciates everyone who serves, regardless of branch.

    I don't agree with the advice that Jcc123 and Pima have provided urging you to stay away from the military. Looking back at my own experience, I have some very good friends who didn't want ANYTHING to do with the military in college (although we were at a Senior Military College, which always puzzled me). They were always cutting corners, never following military protocol, looking for ways to escape from mandatory football game formation, etc. These are the same folks who later commissioned Infantry and are now happily serving as senior officers in the Green Berets, and one is even a Delta Force officer doing things he won't tell me about!

    One of my college's greatest graduates (ultimately became Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army) is notorius for having been . . . er . . . "non-military" during college.

    My advice is to give ROTC a try and see if you like it (even if you think you don't like it at first, don't make the decision to drop it until you REALLY know it isn't for you). If it becomes a drain on your academics (which it likely won't), you can always drop it. Just know that there are enormous benefits to following this path that you likely won't fully appreciate until AFTER you are on active duty.

    Finally, don't feel that you will be wasting anyone's time by pursuing the career path of becoming an Army surgeon and later deciding to go civilian when your commitment is up. An overwhelming majority of ROTC and Service Academy graduates make that decision, and the Army is doing just fine.

    My father was a career Army surgeon, and he always used to tell me that the very best way to learn surgery is in a combat environment. Being a good surgeon first was the "motivator" for him than wearing Army greens. Being a "civvie" didn't advance that goal. But I am confident that when he first joined the Army as a Captain after med school (he was a direct commission like so many are, not ROTC or any other commissioning path), he had no idea whether he would be spending the next 35 years of his life in the Army.

    If you have ever watched the TV show M*A*S*H*, those doctors were not really into the military lifestyle. But they sure did some really great things to help out our troops and truly improved their surgical skills to boot.

    In short, participating in ROTC does NOT mean that you are locked into a career in the Army or other service. It simply means that you want to serve your country.
     
  8. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    Patentesq - actually, I agree with you wholeheartedly - there are some who come to the table later than others, so to speak. I think trying out ROTC to see if it suits you is an excellent idea.

    However, I do not think you should contract as an MSIII if you are unwilling to accept the fact that you may one day be in a combat situation - regardless of branch. It is naive and disingenuous to do otherwise.

    In this case, the OP stated that if there was a chance he'd have to be in combat, he might just prefer to stay civilian. I was simply agreeing with his assessment, and providing an alternative suggestion - the Public Health Service is a non-military, uniformed branch with commissioned officers that would provide with a means to serve his country in a non-combat setting.

    I never even hinted that I feel non-combat branches are not honorable, but I'm not sure you were directing that statement at me.

    Just wanted to clear that up.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    One thing I agree with patentesq about is this statement:
    Many people do leave when the commitment is over. There is nothing wrong or dishonest about doing so, you pledged X amount of yrs of your life in return for the scholarship, nothing more and nothing less. In fact, one reason the military is having manpower issues (over manned) currently is because they expect a certain percentage to leave after their commitment, and due to the economy many are not leaving. This creates an issue for the military in being over budget for personnel.

    Patentesq,

    My issue about maybe this is not the right path for him was based on the statement I will not go combat. Yes, there is A & F, support, personnel, etc that are not in battle.

    However, when somebody places that line in the sand, it makes me question if they will deploy to a combat zone even in those positions. We have seen officers in the media who state it is against my belief and now want out.

    If he is fine going in a support position that is one thing, but if he says I only will do any position that is a combat zone if the US is invaded than that is another.

    My bad for taking a leap and assuming it was the latter.
     
  10. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Listem, I pressed the "Submit Reply" button too soon and didn't answer all of your points.

    In any event, you can't choose Medical Corps as your branch out of college. You have to be an M.D. for that branch. You can choose Medical Service Corps, which I understand is mostly hospital administration and things like R&D (e.g., malaria researchers, etc.).

    Your major won't be the decider. I was a biology major and ultimately decided to branch Infantry. A lot will be based on your grades in both regular academics and ROTC (those with the highest point get to choose the elite branch of INFANTRY!!:thumb:).

    As for the "scrubbing toilets" comment, perhaps the biggest benefit to you as a person will be to learn what leadership really means. Leadership is something that is as vital in the civilian sector as it is in the military. In essence, leadership means you don't ask others to do something you aren't prepared to do yourself. That includes cleaning toilets if need be. I expect that after four years of ROTC, you will come to re-evaluate this comment and revel in how military training and education has truly made you a better person for whatever career path you ultimately pursue.

    Don't worry, though, you are not prepared to lead others at this point in your life, in either the military or civilian worlds. You will benefit greatly by letting the ROTC cadre transform you into a leader.

    Pima and Jcc123: You guys are terrific and have provided sound advice (coming from a different angle from me, though). You are also on target about the "not wanting to serve" issue if Listem were faced with the decision of whether to make a commitment to the military after having been exposed to it (i.e., contract during his junior year). I likely responded a bit too forcefully (apologize for doing so), but I was simply coming from the angle that Listem is a high school student without a clue in the world about what it really means to serve and lead. I also agree, if come his junior year, he doesn't want to serve and lead -- even clean toilets if that what is required to secure the trust, faith and motivation of his troops -- then he may want to reconsider things, including whether he wants to become a surgeon.

    He likely doesn't know at this point that being a surgeon is not just about fancy cars and fancy club memberships, etc. In fact, things can become MUCH MUCH MUCH messier and nasty than simply cleaning a toilet. I recall my father telling me that one of his patients had a cardiac arrest on the operating table. He then had to immediately slice open the patient's diaphragm so he could get his hands up into the patient's rib cage and around the patient's heart to get the blood flowing again. That is NOT the time for someone to say, "Ewww, that's icky! I don't wanna do that."

    But I expect that Listem doesn't have these life experiences yet to really formulate an opinion about what he wants (sorry, Listem for expressing my belief in this regard). Listem is essentially saying this: "I hate broccolli. I've never tried it, but I think I hate it. Please confirm for me that I will hate it, so I can avoid the displeasure of having to eat something I hate." Maybe I mis-interpreted his post, though.

    From my own experience, I started college with the idea that I would be a surgeon. By the time I graduated, I wanted nothing more than to be an Infantry officer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011
  11. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    First off...let's not use a TV show to set expectations for Army service. I get the point, but MASH was a tv show set in Korea, about Vietnam (one of my favorite shows, by the way).

    As far as having room for your ambitious plan, people have done it before. It can be done.

    During your freshman year in ROTC you will learn about the Soldier's Creed and the Warrior Ethos. These are two things that all soldiers in the Army today, as opposed to what some of the old soldiers on this discussion board were taught, are expected to internalize. One line from the Soldier's Creed states:

    "I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States in close combat"

    If you are OK with that then full speed ahead. Not sure, take the class and see. Not cool with you, perhaps the Air Force is more your speed, or check back with us after you receive your MD.

    Hope that helps.
     
  12. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Ouch.
     
  13. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Patentesq. This simple statement could not be more meaningful. All leaders and aspiring leaders military or civilian need to read this and assess themselves. Great comment.:thumb:

    I shut the OP off at the cleaning toilets comment. I am glad you didn't.
     
  14. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Thanks, Packer. That tenet of leadership didn't originate with me, as you know. I thank my ROTC instructors for teaching me that.

    Of course, I can't speak about whether those "newbie/rookie" ROTC instructors (who, by the way, were still in diapers while the rest of us were out defending our country and freezing our tails off in the woods), are still teaching the kiddos these tenets of leadership nowadays. :eek:
     
  15. clarksonarmy

    clarksonarmy Recruiting Operations Officer at Clarkson Army

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    Ran in boots, wore a pickle suit, studied soviet doctrine, and operated a P38 to open a C ration can. I also remember when "sense of humor" was a leadership attribute. Taught the freshmen about the current LDP program and leadership attributes today in class. It's a different world these days.:)
     
  16. Listem

    Listem New Member

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    Yes I understand that, and i believe I expressed myself wrong. I understand that by becoming an officer I will be a warrior before anything else. I wouldn't swear an oath of duty if I weren't willing to perform my duty. What I meant was that if it were sure-set that I wouldn't be able to continue education (not a possibility of it happening, but a CERTAINTY), I would maybe consider not joining. I can see how you would think this with the way I wrote my post though.
     
  17. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Thank you for your service, clarkson! Us DPs are proud as heck that folks like you are training our kiddos to become exemplary men and women of character!

    P.S. What's a C-Ration? Pickle suit? Sounds like I'm the greenhorn around here!
     
  18. Listem

    Listem New Member

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    Thank you very much for taking your time to write all this for me. All three of you. Please understand I wrote my OP at a time when I was tired, stressed, and without rereading my writing. I am actually regretful of my "scrubbing toilets" comment. I am a veteran member of JROTC and have had to learn leadership the hard way (don't get me wrong, I still have MUCH to learn); i was very arrogant and ignorant my freshman year, even coming form a military family. Thankfully now I am more professional and mature than before. The only thing i would have to disagree from your point is

    I can see how you would assume this, ad I will agree there are many kids who want ot become a doctor for the money. I have to say I'm different though. All my life I've never had too much money, and in fact when my parents moved to the U.S., my father lost all the perks that came with his LTC position in Colombia. They are my main motivation to achieve as much I can, because they gave up a good retirement life they could had had in Colombia so that I may have a better future here in the U.S.A. Luckily, I recieved kidcare from the government whenever I got sick as a kid, but as adults, my parents always had to go to charity clinics. I befriended one of the doctors there as a child and it is because of them that i most want to be an MD. I want to help people, I want to save lives. Eventually of people like me, who may be disadvantaged, both immigrants and U.S. families. But first I wish to help those who are giving their all for this country. Our soldiers and officers throughout the military. I am motivationally prepared to see whatever gruesome things i may see in a combat environment (and surgery/the body in general doesn't seem "icky" to me, in fact, I actually enjoy studying and seeing it. :p).

    I also wish to repeat what I said in my previous post. I am not against being in combat, I would give my life for my country even today were it necessary. What I meant when I wrote what i did, and in a rushed manner too, was at the moment, I would not join with my objective being Infantry. As you said, it may come to that, who knows? It wouldn't be my prime goal though. But if, as some of my peers vulgarly say, "the **** gets real", and the U.S. is in danger, I would not think twice about fighting for my country. It's the least i can do after it provided me with a second home when narcoterrorists chased me out of my place of birth, then giving me healthcare, education, and even food stamps in bad times.

    Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help. Believe it or not, help and words of motivation like that go to the heart. It's just the stress of college and such got to me and made me doubt where I was going; but now I am more motivated and convinced than ever that I want to become an officer, it would be an honor to someday be prized with the knowledge and experience that you great men use to help others in this board. I will fight and work for what I want with all the strenght and abilitiy I have in me, and I am sure that if I do my things right and stay focused, I will be able to have the honor of becoming both an officer and a MD. And if the time comes when God has something else planned for me, it will be at that time that I will look at my options and decide what would be the best route to take.

    :thumb:
     
  19. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    ^^^ Thanks for the clarifications. It's an honor to have you in this great country and that you are considering serving her. :thumb:
     
  20. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Totally agree, kinnem! I like this guy. He's gonna do just fine.

    Listem, take a hard look at Clarkson University. They've got very strong ROTC instructors over there. And stick around SAF; it's a weath of information because of contributors like Pima, kinnem, packer, Jcc123, clarksonarmy, etc.
     

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