West Point vs. Annapolis

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by John D, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. John D

    John D New Member

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    Hello,

    (Sorry if this is a dumb question or a repeated question. I am a newbie here and not familiar with the military system.)

    My DS has received appointments from two SAs he applied to - West Point and Annapolis. We are very excited to have this great privilege from these highly regarded schools.
    (His brief stats: A varsity captain, club president, several awards, weighted gpa 4.5, sat 2300+, sat2 math 800, bio 780, several APs all 5s.)

    He plans on visiting both SAs (Overnight Visit in West Point and Candidate Visit Weekend in Annapolis) to decide where to attend eventually.
    I am sure that my DS will get a taste of what the life at each SA will be like through the visits and that the visits will help him get more info on each SA for his decision.

    As a parent, there's one thing I would like to help my DS take into account for his decision - his career goal inside and outside(i.e. after) the military system.
    At the moment, he is interested in pre-med track to become a doctor inside/outside the military
    and hopes to be able to work/volunteer in underprivileged areas/countries later.

    (I think I have seen some conflicting/negative/discouraging comments in the forums(SDN) saying that going through SAs is one of difficult paths to become a doctor though, maybe due to extended service commitments?)

    Assuming that my DS sticks to this goal of becoming a doctor through SAs:
    Q1) Can you please share your experiences or ideas of what career paths and options can be there and how rewarding that can be?
    Q2) What SA would be a better choice in this case?

    Thanks a lot for your help,
    John D.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    John D, congrats to your DS on two appointments. There are tons of threads on this forum about SA X vs. SA Y. Recommend you use the search function and cruise around. Also, in the USNA forum and USAF there is one going on right now about USNA vs. USAFA. Although USMA is the other option for your DS, the info to consider is definitely still valid. There are also lots of threads regarding pursuing the medical options on these forum, search function is definitely a great place to start.

    Just a few thoughts. As pretty much everyone will recommend on this forum, really evaluate which service your DS wants to serve in. A SA is only 4 years and service will be 5-30 years. The Army and Navy are very different from one another. They each have their own personalities. Also when thinking about services, take medical off the table and what does your DS see himself doing if he isn't a doctor? Does he like being in the field, dirt, rucking, living in tents, shooting weapons? Or do ships, subs, water appeal to him? If he is interested in aviation, Army is almost exclusively helicopters, Navy has a variety of aircraft. How does he feel about possibly landing a plane on a ship? If he hates the prospect of being on water then maybe Navy is the greatest place. At USNA he can also select Marine Corps, which is much more tied to Army like activities like dirt, hikes, living in the elements.

    For medical school, there is the possibility. 10-20 Mids or Cadets go to medical school each year for each SA. It is very hard to get, but not impossible. Each SA has their own prep courses for those interested in this track. I knew most of the guys who got medical school in my class. They all worked very hard and did medical internships in the summer. Really the limiting factor tends to be who actually gets into medical school. We actually had more people who service selected medical corps than were accepted to medical school. Those who did not get into medical school eventually end up being reassigned to another warfare if they don't get in. The service commitment for medical corps is pretty long and will depend on his specialty. Once you count medical school and everything else you are looking at around a 10-12 year commitment at a minimum. Also realize your DS will have little control over what specialty he ends up with. It is based upon the needs of the Navy. If he wants to be cardiologist, there might not be any spots for that open. So he needs to be prepared to end up with whatever the Navy or Armygives him. Alot of doctors in the military will go to medical school after they do other things in the military. My room mate is married to a West Point grad who was an Army Ranger and now Pediatrician in the Army. I think either service is about the same in regards to chances, its a matter of looking long term and thinking of being a doctor to support the Army and their missions or possibly being on ships and supporting their missions. The Navy also have flight surgeons which is its own unique path and allows docs to go to flight school and then support flying squadrons.

    Also, being happy with a SA is important too, so definitely look at that factor such as majors, location of schools, personalities. Just my opinion, but I think West Point takes training the most seriously. Based upon feedback from exchange cadets, they all seemed to think Navy was the hardest academically.
     
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  3. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    As recommended by the (then) Medical Officer at USNA -- "Go do something fun with your life for 5+ years and THEN go to medical school." It's not so far-fetched. More than a few SA grads commission as line officers, do their 5 or more years, then either go to med school within the context of the military or get out and do it on their own. They either get their pre-med courses at the SA, such as by majoring in chemistry, or get enough at the SA that they can finish up the one or two they need later on their own.

    As noted, it is VERY difficult to go to med school directly out of USNA (and, I assume, USMA). Not impossible but very difficult -- right now, they are permitting 10-12 a year to attend. Then, if your DS becomes an MD through the military, he should expect to spend 20 years on AD -- given commitment (SA+med school), time in residency (which doesn't count toward payback, etc.). So the bulk of his career will be in the military and helping underprivileged folks outside the context of the military won't happen until he's (probably) too old to enjoy it. :)

    In any event, if your DS's PRIMARY goal is to become a doctor right away -- and especially to serve the underprivileged, he really should reconsider whether a SA is the right path. He might be better off attending a civilian school and then entering a med school program (often involving financial subsidies) for those who want to work in underprivileged areas. If he wants to be a military officer first -- and a doctor IF it works out right away or o/w later on in life -- then a SA could be a good fit.

    As to which one . . . I suggest he focus on whether he wants to serve in the Army (a ground-based service) or the USN (a ship-based service). They truly are worlds apart in culture, mission, lifestyle, etc.
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I'm always a bit annoyed when I hear about a kid who wants to go to a SA to become a doctor. It often says two things about the candidate:

    1. They haven't done much research on the subject
    2. They're only interested in serving if they can get the most dollar-intensive, cushiest job possible out of the academy.

    If you want to become a doctor, in our out of the military, don't go to a SA. It minimizes the odds of you achieving your goal and isn't aligned with the mission of the academy. If you'll only be happy as a doctor in the military, be a doctor first and then get into the military. It's much easier and wiser than being in the military and trying to become a doctor.
     
  5. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Final note as to career paths . . . can only speak to the USN generally. IF you are selected for the med school program out of USNA (and you'd better stand REALLY high in your class) and get accepted to medical school, you go right after graduation. After med school, you typically do a year of internship and then are assigned as a GMO (general medical officer) for 3 years, usually on a really big boat. :) During that time you apply for residency. As noted, what you end up with is a combination of your desires, how well you did in med school and needs of the Navy.

    Your career path after that depends largely on your specialty. Certain specialties (e.g., surgery, internal medicine) are more likely to be deployed on ships than others (e.g., radiology, allergy/asthma). Your career will be a series of Naval hospitals and/or clinics stateside and overseas plus being deployed on ships.

    For more details, you should search in the USNA forum -- there has been a fair amount of discussion on this subject. The same may be true of the USMA forum -- worth checking.
     

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