Tough Choices

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by gmkho30, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. gmkho30

    gmkho30 New Member

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    I recently got my BFE from USAFA and learned that I have until the 15th to make a decision on my offer, but I also have appointments to USNA and USMA and I'm having a tough time deciding. I plan on being a Chemistry or Biology major and pursuing an occupation in the medical field, eventually I want to become a surgeon. Each academy can lead me down this path and I will be happy as long as I can serve my country so I'm a bit impartial to the branch, but whatever way I choose I'm looking at 10 years of service and so I'm thinking much more long term.
    Can anyone give me advice based on medical standings or personal experience? I have 13 days to decide the next 15 years of my life :confused: and I appreciate the input, thanks!
     
  2. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I graduated USAFA in 2010 with a major in Biochemistry (the degree is a BS in Chemistry with a biochemistry track [other two are materials science and chemistry only)]) I applied to both Med schools and grad schools. Was able to get an interview at Harvard for medicine shockingly. After that interview, I decided I no longer was seeking to go into medicine and drops my other med school apps in lieu of attending grad school. Currently in my 2nd of three years pursuing a PhD at RAND.

    For USAFA, we rarely fill our medical school slots. This is due to the number of people actually qualified. The year I took organic chemistry (2007-2008), we had something like a 100 people taking that course. The failure rate was 1/3, the D or worse rate was 50%. Lots of people from other majors taking Orgo attempting to go to medical school. It was the weed-out course for both chemistry and medical school wanna-be people. Personally, I think I peaked in my chemistry career in Orgo as PChem and my other courses were dull to me.

    Regardless....for those that are qualified, most will get into a MD or DO program. I have several friends at UofVirginia (UVA), NOVA, Baylor, UofTexas, etc. I stayed with two grads at Harvard med when I went to interview. I think the typical spread in MCAT scores for us was 27-35. In my year the highest score (UVA person) got a 37 and the lower scores people usually went into DO programs.

    In my year we had 14 Chemistry majors of which 9 were biochemistry. I think only three of us biochem majors didn't go to med school (I went to RAND, one went to missiles, one went to AFIT for a masters to become an AF scientist). Biochem majors are the largest represented group among our med school people.

    Keep in mind that your medical specialty will also be limited by the needs of the service you are in. They need to have an opening in that specialty as well as a residency for you to go through.

    As far as schools, if you do well, high quality schools are more than happy to take our grads. Most are very successful in med school as well.

    Ten years is quite the underestimate.
    Breakdown at the MINIMUM:
    4 years USAFA (for instance)
    4 years med school (HPSP for the lower commitment)
    1-2 years internships
    3+ years for residency
    ~4+ years commitment

    I'm using what I remember and someone like kp2001 can give a more accurate description, but that's 15+ years easy right there. That's looking at the minimum you could probably do.
     
  3. USAF463

    USAF463 Member

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    I think I know what this forum would suggest if you also have an appointment to USNA and USMA.:rolleyes:
     
  4. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Or just give info on the USAFA program and let someone familiar with the others cover them. Most of us want people to choose the service right for them.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    What do you want in life?

    Seriously, if all 3 guaranteed the same result, you would be in the same position.

    Don't look to us to guide you, this is your life and your desire, follow your heart.

    Afterall, none of us will be living out that commitment!

    Listen to Hornet, because he had that reality check. Again, what do YOU want in life?
     
  6. otter10

    otter10 New Member

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    From a physician's prospective (was a doc in the Army for 12+ years....left Army in 2009) the services are very similar in regards to medicine. Now matter what service you choose you WILL be working with the other services frequently. There is some consolidation in the medical field (i.e.. Walter Reed exists no longer but is now combined in one multi-service medical center in Bethesda, MD). Biggest differences occur when your assigned to field units, as opposed to a hospital; Army with a ground unit; Air Force with a flight squadron; Navy on a boat or sub (there is no such thing as a Marine doc...medical assets are taken from the Navy...thus as a Navy doc you could be assigned to a Marine ground unit). The Army has more residency programs, unlike AF/Navy (who are more likely to send you to a civilian hospital to do your residency training...depending on your chosen speciality). In the MEDICAL field there is far less of a "cultural" difference between the services.
     
  7. billyb

    billyb Member

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    Pick the academy that provides opportunities for what career options you might like in the event you change your mind and don't want to go to med school or if you don't get chosen to go. I knew multiple people that wanted to be doctors from USMA and were super smart, but couldn't keep the grades quite high enough.

    The only thing that is for certain if you graduate.... you will be in the military.
     
  8. greentrees

    greentrees Member

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    agree with billyb -- you need to figure out which branch of service you want to be in if you DON'T go to med school.
    Air - Land - Sea -- which appeals to you?
    DS has a classmate that said his plan was to go to med school; struggled a bit in organic chem and isn't so sure med school is for him right now. But he loves flying gliders -- and now hopes to get a pilot slot in the fall. Talks about doing med school later (which has been done - DH knows someone - also knows someone who was a doc and then went to UPT).

    Have you visited each academy? Did one feel "right" to you?
    If you didn't visit them -- suggest you get moving and go visit them.

    Best of luck
     
  9. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    My decision above to remove myself from the med school process is that I could always go back to med school later, but I couldn't go back to pilot training! Being a pilot was a childhood dream, figured I should fulfill that. :)
     

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