FAQ by Lt. Ellenbecker
1. What are the benefits?
Monthly Stipend of roughly $600 every 2 weeks for 21 pay periods + 3 pay periods at rank pay (2nd Lt) for completion of yearly ADT training
Total Yearly Pay in School (approximate): $12,600 + $3,800 = $16,400 after taxes
All Books, Fees, and Tuition to the medical school of your choice paid
Adventure, jazz, props from the public, a nifty uniform, and the sense of pride
Rank of 2Lt while in school and promotion to Captain upon graduation. Almost all military physicians make Major before their commitment is up.
2. What are the requirements?
Pass Physical Fitness standards
Enroll in an accredited US medical school
apply and be selected (automatic acceptance is 3.5 GPA and 29 MCAT)
3. What is the payback?
One year of service per year of scholarship received. Military residencies do count as payback HOWEVER, you also accrue one year of payback for each year of residency after your FYGME year. In other words you can complete one extra year of residency past your level of commitment without incurring more time. (4 year scholarship recipients can do 5 years of post grad training without accruing more time)
In most cases one must complete their internship (FYGME in military lingo) year with the military
One must apply to military residencies and if selected must take that residency. If one is not available in your field or you are not selected you will be deferred to a civilian residency.
4. What will I make as a physician in the military?
These are new figures calculated as of 2005 for a 4 year scholarship. I have factored in the cost of medical school education, stipend amount, and interest avoided to come up with a true scholarship value. This will then be calculated into what you receive in pay over the lifetime of your commitment. Pay is fairly comparable for the fields of FP, PEDS, and IM. ER is not far behind.
Medical School Education Loans Saved * 4 years: $154,000
Interest Saved: $25,000
Stipend Pay * 4 years: $65,000
Total Scholarship Value (4 years): $244,000 (61K per year of commitment)
Pay: 46K (Captain)
BAH: 10k (housing allowance)
BAS: 2K (food allowance)
VSP: 5K (specialty pay based on years)
BCP: 2.5K (board certification pay)
MASP: 15K (flat pay given to all doctors)
ISP: 13.5K (independent specialty pay based on specialty (FP or IM))
Total Military Pay yearly: $94,000
Avg. Malpractice Saving (FP & IM): $12,000
Yearly Compensation for 4 year commitment: $167,000
(Military Pay + Malpractice Savings + Scholarship Value)
(I did not take into account that a portion is not taxed)
Average starting salary for IM – Malpractice: $155,000 (after 3 years 172K)
Average Starting salary for FP – Malpractice: $135,000 (after 3 years 151K)
Military Pay Post-Commitment
After commitment is up, one looses the loan advantage and equivalent pay drops to about $106,000 per year.
Military retirement is 0% vested until 20 years, after which it becomes fully vested at ½ base salary (add 2.5% for each additional year up to mandatory retirement at 30 years). Most physicians that choose to stay till retirement will be Lt. Colonels. This means a yearly retirement pay of about $30-$35,000 plus lifetime healthcare benefits.
Time in school is considered IRR butt does NOT count toward retirement.
5. What will I make as a resident?
A lot more....the average civilian resident makes 35-40K
1st year (FYGME): Base Pay + BAH + BAS + 100 monthly for VSP = 59K
Residents: Base Pay + BAH + BAS + full VSP = 63K
6. Physical Standards
You must meet officer height and weight requirements for all 3 branches to get the scholarship and periodically while in the military. The air force also has a PT test as part of the selection process. Each service does height/weight different.
The Army gives you two chances. First is height/weight. If you don't meet requirements then they measure hip and neck circumference and use some quirky formula.
As best I can tell the height/weight requirements for an army officer is 18 lbs above ideal body weight for those under 27 years of age.
Women, Ideal Body Weight is = 105 + (5 * the # of inches above 5 feet tall)
Men, Ideal Body Weight is = 106 + (6 * the # of inches above 5 feet tall)
Example: 5’10” Male = 106+60+18 = 184.
7. Where will I do residencies/rotations?
8. Where can I get more info about HPSP and applying?
The Best Site for unbiased HPSP info is http://lukeballard.tripod.com/HPSP.html
9. Why the Army? Or why not?
Why did I select the Army? Several reasons actually. I have family history in the Army which made me lean one way, but the Army has a lot more scholarships and residencies then the other branches. I applied later in the year so my best shot was in the Army. I have found the Air Force to be equally appealing if you can apply early enough. I felt that if I did a civilian residency it would be harder to re-enter the military world and work off my commitment. The Navy had some drawbacks for me personally, mainly in the form of the required GMO tour and the extended deployments, but a few actually like this. Not to mention the Navy has great base locations. I think branch of service is more a personal choice than anything else.
10. Is the four year obligation really only four years, or can a "stop-loss" order keep you in much longer? When does my commitment really end?
A stop-loss order in a time of war could keep you in, however it is unlikely and they tend not to keep you in for to long under those circumstances.
All current military contracts are 8 years in length. In the case of a 4 years scholarship, ones contract would be for 4 years active duty and 4 years inactive ready reserve (IRR). While HPSP students are IRR, their time does NOT count. If a student did a military residency in FP (3 years) and then paid back his/her commitment (4 years), they would still have one year of IRR.
11. Assuming a four year obligation after residency, how many times can they make you move (not counting a deployment, of course)?
At most I would think 3 or 4. A necessary move for residency, maybe a couple during your commitment time and possibly a different site for you internship year.
12. If HPSP students are in the reserves during medical school, can they be called up (in the event of a conflict, for instance) even though they have not completed their medical education for regular reserve duty?
NO. Under no way can you be pulled out of school or your 1st year of residency (the internship), if we were at war and it was a big one, you could be pulled out after that and before you finish residency. This WAS NOT done during the war in Iraq. HSPS students are IRR not active reserves.
13. State School, private school, or daddy's pocket?
You should not take the scholarship for just the money. You will regret it. You must have a desire to serve or a curiosity to serve in the military. The military is not for everyone. That being said, you will regret taking this scholarship if you are going to a state school (or any medical school costing under 15K a year). The money you will make early in your career would easily offset such a cheap education loan. You will feel like you are being ripped off royally.
14. What about after graduation?
The military requires that you apply for a military internship year (FYGME). If you are selected for FYGME you must do it. Also most people ARE selected. Your FYGME will either be in your field of choice (possibly fast tracked into a residency) or done as a traditional rotating intership year.
The military requires that you apply to 3-5 military residencies during your 4th year of medical school, if you don't match in your field you can defer out and do a civilian residency after your FYGME year. If you do match you must accept.
Many military residencies are a little bit less intense (more book time, but you see a little less). You also get paid about 20K more per year in the military.
If you don't match after your FYGME year you are automatically deffered, the military will not make you train in a field you don't want to.
Some people choose to get out as quickly as possible by delaying their residency and completing the rest of their commitment as a GMO. This of course delays your training quite a bit and pays more than a resident, but not a bunch. It does get you out quicker though. Be advised that if you take this option it may be difficult to land a civilian residency in a specialty field.