Navy Officer and Civilian Doctor

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by SArhino21, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. SArhino21

    SArhino21 5-Year Member

    Apr 5, 2011
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    I just began my Senior year in high school, and have begun the application process for the Naval Academy, Navy ROTC, and civilian colleges. My plan is to serve in the Navy, preferably as a Special Operations Medic, and after my time in the service, to become a civilian doctor.
    I was interested if there are any opinions of what order to go about, whether I do my time in the Navy before or after medical school, etc.
    Thank you all so much
  2. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

    Jan 14, 2011
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    Not a thing.

    To be more specific: medics in the SEAL community are enlisted SEALs who attend the Army Special Forces' 18D (Special Forces Medical) course. There's also Hospital Corpsmen (HMs) from the fleet or A-school that attend BUD/S and become SEALs.
    Neither is a route available through the Academy, which commissions officers. I'd imagine that at some level there are Navy doctors assigned to SEAL units, but those doctors are not kicking in doors.

    The closest thing to what you'd be interested in on the officer (and doctor) side could be trying to be attached to the FMF (Fleet Marine Force). Most battalions, to include MARSOC and Recon, have a Navy doctor attached who deploys with them, etc.

    Without trying to completely kill your dream here:
    Going Med Corps from USNA is very tough. There were 10 medical students selected from my class, which graduated 1,099. Obviously not every person was competing for one of those spots, but it's a very hard track. All of them, without exception (to my knowledge), were ranked very firmly in the top 100. One of the top '14ers from my old company didn't sign her 2/7 last week at least in part because she intended to go Med Corps and honestly assessed her chances.

    I've met several people who went to USNA, did their five and got out, and then went to medical school. It's a doable route, though some of them had to either retake or take for the first time a number of premed courses. I'm not sure about whether they could use their GI Bill to help defray the costs or not.

    What I'm getting at is if you're dead set on being a doctor as priority number one (especially in the Navy), USNA may not be the route you want to take. Something worth looking into would be the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). Your med school tuition gets paid, you get a monthly stipend, and you owe the military X number of years on the other side.
  3. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

    Jun 9, 2006
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    ^^^Excellent counsel.

    One additional issue to consider about the med school "when."

    While you cannot answer the question, you still should ask youself about the reality of commencing med school in late 20s or early 30s when it is quite possible, if not likely, you will have a totally different family situation calling for very different kinds of demands. Med school is tough on the best day. It is grueling with a wife, 2.3 kids, and a broken down old Volt whose batteries are shot.

    One other consideration is cash flow. This is an extraordinarily expensive venture. One of the optimal ways to address is the 10 slot med school at USNA, med school, then practice. No monetary costs beyond 20 years of service.

    Another option is to go your own way as an undergrad then have the Navy pay your med school tuition with less time due.

    So you need to map this out on monetary cost, life-stage, Navy/civilian issue, even medical specialties. This one is a complex picture, and I'm inclined to especially "ditto" Hurricane's point that USNA may be the least appropriate routes for you for any number of these issues.

    And to simplify, the primary issue appears to be just this ... you have NO interest in being a career officer in the Navy or Marine Corps. And while there are many who later choose not to pursue a military career or fail in that path, that is the primary purpose of USNA. You'd have plenty of company were you to enter knowing full well your plan was to either go to med school and exit ASAP or be a 5 and dive officer if you failed to get into med school, but it strikes me as violating the intent and spirit of this option.

    And all of this gets even more muddled when you return to your first love, realizing that absent of forgoing commissioning, you cannot achieve your stated objective thru ANY of the routes you're pursuing. When one has multiple options as you do, sorting thru them to come to Jesus about it all can be challenging for a young person.
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    If you become an MD through USNA, you will spend a LOT of time in the USN before you can even think about becoming a civilian MD. You have 4 yrs at USNA. You then have 4 yrs in med school. You then have "payback" for both.

    You pay back 5 yrs for USNA. If you attend USUHS (military med school), you owe another 7. If you go to a civilian med school, it's another 4. And, your time in training (e.g., residency) doesn't count toward payback.

    So, figure you're 26 when you finish med school. And a MINIMUM of 3 yrs in residency. Depending on your speciality, it could be 7+. Plus 8-12 yrs of payback. Do the math. By the time you finish your payback, you'll be close to 20 yrs in the USN. Bottom line: your civilian career won't start until you're into your mid-40s.

    If your goal is to be a civilian MD, I agree w/Hurricane that you should try the program where you only have to pay back 4 yrs or so. It's a perfectly fine program, pays your tuition, and lets you experience military medicine w/o the huge commitment.
  5. acadadad

    acadadad Member

    Jun 14, 2012
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    I am Med school faculty who has dealt with admsissions/promotions - I have no academy knowledge other than trying to help my son navigate the process - so take the advice below with that in mind.

    Much of the above advice seems to be right on.
    In my opinion there are several additional downsides with the USNA-med school plan:

    1) USNA has pretty limited Biology offerings to prep well for the first two years - making Med school much more difficult for you, even if you are sucessful getting in.
    2) Admissions to med school are increasingly competitive - even at pretty low ranked schools like my own, GPAs of 3.8+ are required with excellent board scores to get noticed/interviewed etc.. This seems like a pretty tough expectation coming out of USNA based on what I have read on these boards (though I have no idea how tough the grading really is).
    3) Opportunities to have access to pre-professional advising/ test prep etc would probably be limited. Many of the students you will be competing against will have this at their undergraduate schools.

    On the positive side you will have a unique story - we see hardly any applications from service academy applicants.

    If you have the scholastic grades and extrcurriculars etc to get into academies there likely is a pretty good scholarship out there somewhere for you too. I would focus on finding an undergraduate insitution that fits your likes and budget to the best degree possible - possibly participate in ROTC if you want to retain possibility of officer corps w/o medicine if your interests change (non-scholarship - at some point you will have to decide if it is medicine or AD). Get the best grades possible and try to use the health professions scholarship program to acheive you ultimate goal. This is a very popular route and we graduate 4-6 med grads a year through this program (several typically from the Navy).

    Sorry for the long post.
  6. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 5-Year Member

    Oct 27, 2008
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    I have two sons who got selected for the Medical Corps and I think I can address some of these issues.

    What you said above used to be true. In fact, in the old days, midshipmen seeking the Medical Corps actually had to go off campus to take the necessary courses. That is no longer the case. The Bio-Science courses are very robust and provide everything a midshipman would need to prepare them for the MCAT. One of the professors is actually a doctor who attended Johns Hopkins and advises them.

    The first hurdle confronting a midshipman is getting the Naval Academy to select them for entry into the Medical Corps. That is very competitive. But, once they are selected, acceptance into a medical school is all but a certainty. I don't think there has ever been a midshipman who has survived the academy's selection process who was unable to gain admission into a medical school.

    Most of these medical schools are very aware of the added burdens on a service academy student compared to one at a civilian institution.

    For instance:

    At a civilian school, the student can take things at a much slower pace and go through their undergraduate requirements in 5 years. That is not a luxury afforded a service academy student.

    At a civilian school, the student can isolate the difficult courses and take only that course during the summer where they can devote all their efforts and time to that one subject. That is also not a luxury afforded to a service academy student since they have so many summer training requirements.

    At a civilian school, the student can immediately drop a course if he gets off to a bad start and take it later. That is difficult to do as an academy student.

    At a civilian school, the grades are often inflated. What do you think an academy student with a 3.5 would get at the University of Whatever? They're aware of that.

    At a civilian school, you often have much more time to prepare for your MCAT. In fact, many of them take a whole year off just to prepare. That would be very difficult for a midshipman to do.

    There is a graduate from the class of 2012 just beginning Harvard Med. He had a 3.7 and a 31 on his MCAT. That would not be good enough for a "regular" student. But, apparently, Harvard did not feel that way. Many of the Med Corps selectees go to some very big-time medical schools with a relatively modest resume. There is definitely a "bump" given for their attendance at a very challenging school.

    This is partly true. Part of the selection process at the Naval Academy is that they leave it to the students to "figure it out". You have to research what it takes to be selected. They do not hold your hand and walk you through the process. This is particularly true for the first two years.

    However, once you convince the academy you are a viable Medical Corps competitor, they start setting you up for success. This past summer, in addition to their required 1/C cruise, both my sons spent a month at Walter Reed shadowing doctors. Then they were sent for another month to Wright Patterson Medical Center to assist in medical research. The academy paid for their lodging and expenses. During their 2/C year they were working at Baltimore hospitals on the weekends.

    One thing the Naval Academy does not want is for their graduates to embarrass them. The academy makes sure they are ready once they are selected.

    I'm sure you know this but one of the qualities medical schools look for is if the applicant has been challenged, is up for the rigors of medical school, and is dedicated to serve. Attending an academy practically answers those type of questions by default.

    The Medical Corps selectees all get scholarships. Some get the USUHS scholarship and some get the HPSP scholarship.

    Students with NROTC scholarships carry the same post-commissioning obligations as the USNA graduates. So, when an NROTC grad gets a USUHS or HPSP scholarship, he won't be able to get out of the Navy any sooner.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
  7. acadadad

    acadadad Member

    Jun 14, 2012
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    Thanks for the great info.

    I guess the perspective my comments were addressing is that the poster seems as or more committed to medicine than a military career and in that case USNA might not be the path of least resistance to get to a medical career. That said the path of least resistance is rarely worth taking:wink:. It was a % of achieving goal of MD response.

    I have struggled with many of these issues in the discussions with my own son as he goes through this process (he has long-term career/academic interests that cross over engineering and medicine) but also is very interested in service to country as well as the personal growth and leadership opportunities and challenges that service academies and active duty provide. It is inspiring to hear of the midshipmen achieving this opportunity to do both, not just once but twice. It is also great to hear of the opportunities such as advising/shadowing etc that are provided, as these are rarely highlighted by either the academy or on these forums.

    I would concur that if you can convince USNA to branch medical you are probably in a great place scholastically and very competitive for all of the reasons you stated. I certainly would recommend admission to our committee. In fact, that competitive nature of these applicants is likely why we don't see these applicants as we are not a top tier Med School:redface:.

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