USMA and Med School

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by laxfan, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. laxfan

    laxfan USMA 2015 Appointee 5-Year Member

    Dec 17, 2008
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    After a few months of compiling information, talking to Army doctors, and talking to USMA professors and administrators, I have decided to post this information for anyone interested in becoming an Army doctor through USMA.

    Disclaimer- I am not a USMA cadet or graduate, and therefore cannot speak as to the difficulty of USMA classes or curricula. The objective of this post is to provide prospective cadets with information regarding the process of becoming an Army doctor. Also, the requirements, number of applicants, quality of applicants, ect. Is constantly changing at USMA. The information I have posted is real data from previous years.

    Majors, Courses, the MCAT, and Opportunities:

    Getting into medical school generally requires three things: MCAT scores, a few prerequisite courses, and medical related extracurricular activities. That being said, USMA offers all of these. The science prerequisites are offered through the Department of Chemistry and Life Sciences and the Department of Physics. The other pre-reqs such as calculus and English are offered through their respective departments. Medical schools don’t require one to have a science related major, but they do require one to have completed these prerequisite courses. In terms of majors, the Life Sciences major is the most med-school friendly major at USMA. However, there is also a mechanical engineering degree with an emphasis on Biomechanical engineering that will satisfy the pre-reqs. Some students at civilian schools will major in history or philosophy, still take all the med-school pre-reqs, get into med-school, and do very well. I do not know if USMA curricula will allow a non STEM major to take the medical school pre-reqs. If you are interested in this I would suggest you contact someone from the department you are interested in.

    The Medical College Admissions Test or MCAT is offered yearly for cadets interested in going to medical school. I do not know if there is a MCAT study group at the academy, but I am sure you can start one. No other specifics about the MCAT offered through West Point are published, but it is a national computer based test so I assume it is offered right there on West Point.

    Extracurricular activities are usually required for getting into med school (note: I am sure there are the 4.0 GPA, 40+ MCAT score students who do get accepted,) but for most applicants the activities part of their application can help tremendously. Some examples of EC’s that civilian students do are: become an EMT, volunteer at a hospital, do physician shadowing, and do research with one of their professors. Again USMA has all of this and even more. I could write extensively on these opportunities but I’ll try to stick to the basics.

    MEDICAL EXPERIENCE- Firstly, all new cadets get medical training as part of CBT. This medical training actually offers more than the EMT-Basic 100 hour course, allowing the students to learn how to place Intravenous lines. Also, Cadets will be able to use these skills and gain experience by volunteering. One of the medics at SLS was a cadet who had volunteered.

    DOCTOR SHADOWING- Keller Army Community Hospital, the hospital on post at West Point, is full of physicians who are passionate about their job and love to share their passion with students. In fact, even as a high school student I have been able to do multiple doctor shadows at KACH. After receiving a HIPPA certification (basically it’s a 2-3 hour, online, patient privacy course,) the physicians are happy to show you what they do. I have seen 10+ surgeries with 3 different specialties, actually in the OR, with scrubs, mask, and so on. This is a dream for Pre-med students. When I contacted a civilian hospital to see if I could do the same there, I was promptly told no. The Department of Chemistry and Life Sciences also has several AIADS that would be of interest to the Premedical student.

    REASERCH- At USMA, there are endless opportunities for research. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are brought in every year for cadet projects. If you are interested in seeing the type of projects cadets do, go to the website for whatever USMA department you’re interested in. The website will usually have an example of the types of thing cadets are doing.

    Local Selection and The 2%:yikes:

    So before a USMA cadet may go to medical school, they must be selected by the Academy. Many of us whether at SLS, online, or from someone at admissions, have heard that only 2% of each graduating class can go to medical school. This at first is a VERY scary number for anyone thinking of going premedical at USMA. When I first heard this number, I immediately thought of the top two percent of the class which undoubtedly includes Rhodes, Marshall, and Truman scholars. However through some research, the number became a little less scary.

    FACT: last year if you had a 3.2 GPA, a 24 on the MCAT, and the proper EC’s, you were selected to be part of the 2%

    Yes, I know it is more difficult to get a 3.2 GPA at USMA than at a regular college, but at a regular college a 3.2 GPA and 24 on the MCAT USSUALLY is not good enough to get into a medical school. Many people will tell you how hard it is to go to medical school from USMA, but the fact is that it is hard to go to medical school from any college.

    Just something to think about:
    Last year everyone who was qualified to get in to medical school, and who wanted to go, was selected locally. In fact only 16 slots out of 20 were actually filled!

    So in conclusion, it is not easy to get in to medical school from West Point, but it is not easy to get into medical school from any college. If you work hard, and do the right things you will get into med school and be part of the two percent.

    Going Later On

    According to USMA, half of all USMA grads who are now doctors went to medical school after serving active duty for a few years. Again, you still have to have a good enough GPA, but you don’t have to worry about being part of the 2%. The Army needs doctors, and if you get into medical school at some point during your career, the Army will try to let you go. In fact, an officer I know personally got an undergrad and masters degree in engineering (through ROTC and USMA respectively) and is a professor at USMA. He recently got the green light to attend USUHS and become an Army doctor, after serving almost 10 years in the Army!

    Very simply put, why even worry about the 2%? Serving in other parts of the Army first gives you valuable experience.

    A PMS at a local college told me “you should do something fun and crazy when you’re young, you can go to med school later”

    USU and HPSP:

    Once selected at the Academy to go to medical school, there are two routes one may take. The HPSP (Health Professionals Scholarship Program) will allow you to go to any civilian Medical school you get in to. USUHS (Uniformed Services University of health sciences) is the Military run medical school.

    The additional service obligations incurred are quite different between the two routes. The HPSP scholarship will add 4 years on top of your West Point obligation, while attending USUHS will add an additional 10 year obligation. These additional years will not start accruing until your internship and residency are over. This means that your total service obligation is dependent on which specialty you decide to train in. For example, doing a residency in orthopedic surgery will take 5 years, these five years DO NOT count as part of your service obligation.

    A paper I received at SLS says it best…”If you come to West Point to be an Army doctor, understand that you will be an Army doctor for a long time”

    In Conclusion

    The main objective of this post is to provide prospective cadets with information about becoming an Army doctor through USMA. I am in no way, shape, or form trying to suggest that going this route is easy; only that it is obtainable through hard work.

    There are others on this forum that are very knowledgeable about Army/military medicine, USMA, and USUHS/HPSP and I would encourage them to add information:thumb:

    Also, if no one on this forum can answer your question, look up the email of someone at USMA who knows the answer, and email him/her! Like I said before, the people that work at USMA are excited about what they do and will usually be glad to answer your question.
  2. jake s

    jake s USMA Cadet 5-Year Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    Excellent post laxfan. Posts like this one make this forum the gold mine of information that it is for prospective applicants. Thanks for setting the record straight on this subject.
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    Just a slight correction, everything else seems pretty kosher:

    The service commitment out of USUHS is 7 years, not 10.

    Coming out of USMA your service commitment (not counting time in training) would be 9 years for HPSP and 12 years for USUHS.

    So take your orthopedic surgery mention above(oh yeah, don't forget, the Army program at WRAMC is 6yrs not 5): Coming out of USMA and going to USUHS, you would have 22 years of service (26 yrs in uniform counting time at USMA) before even being allowed to get out, 18 years would be towards pay and retirement.
  4. laxfan

    laxfan USMA 2015 Appointee 5-Year Member

    Dec 17, 2008
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    The paper I received at SLS states “West Point graduates incur an additional 10 year service obligation or seven years of obligated service with a six year reserve obligation, which starts following residency” sorry for leaving out the second part

    You’re right about the WRAMC ortho program. It’s interesting that you pointed that out because I only looked at the MAMC website which states it is only a 5 year Ortho program, I thought they would be homogeneous throughout the Army.

    I know you are a USU grad, so can you give us some information about USU? Why go to USU? What is the acceptance rate like compared to other medical colleges? What is the experience like?

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