Originally Posted by a1qwerty55
I'm an active duty Army physician - 13 years of service, have deployed, currently run a department, and have seen the good and bad of medicine both military medicine and civilian medicine. I am not a recruiter, but obviously want good colleagues for the good of the nation, our soldiers and the system.
I can't comment on the Navy or AF Medicine
What follows is my unofficial take on some issues:
Training - military vs. civilian -
On average military residencies have higher board pass rates than their civilian counterparts. Military physicians are highly recruited by the civilian sector and in most cases have no difficulty with credentialling. Military residencies generally received longer periods of accredidation that civilian programs. Many residencies allow for rotations outside of the home institution (like to a big trauma center for surgeons)
- I know of no one who has left the military and struggled to find a attractive job.
Technology - No difference at least at medical centers - MRI, CT, US, ventilators, monitors, etc. all equal to or better than civilian counterparts.
The glaring exception is the military digital record system (CHCS II/AHLTA) which is truly abysmal and may or may not improve.
Colleagues - Most of my colleagues are idealistic - do what is right for the patient regardless of the fact there is no profit motive. Most are frustrated with the bureaucracy of the military and adminstrative burdens. Tempers are understandibly short as workload is spread accross a shinking pool of docs. Nearly all are highly competent, and collegial - those that are not usually quit or are forced out and find employment at your local civilian hospital. Take into account this fact when reviewing some of the venomous posts by "former military docs". Sour grapes anyone?
Pay - FP, IM, Pediatrics - comparable to better pay than civilian sector with generally better lifestyle
Surgeons, and the glamorous specialties - rads/ophtho/derm - pay doesn't come close but training is easier to get.
Bonuses - they are going up every year and as long as retention is a problem the expectation is for this trend to continue -
Benefits - NO ONE other than the military offers lifetime healthcare, inflation adjusted retirement income for life. At age 47 I will start drawing - for life - the equivalent of roughly a 1.8 million dollar annuity. This does not include my TSP, roth IRA, and other investments - not to mention no medical school debt. Also when comparing military and civilian pay - don't forget the fact that housing, food, and cost of living allowances are TAX FREE - so add an additional 28-30% to those dollars to come up with a taxable equivalent. Lack of medical malpractice, clinic overhead, health insurance and having to game Medicaide as reimbursement falls also have to be factored into the equation.
Job Satisfaction - Depends - if you focus on why you're a doc - the patients and the doctor-patient relationship - it is great - I have more time to diagnose, educate and treat patients than I would as a civilian provider.
I can order most any test or med I want without consulting an insurance company and I make decisions based on what is right and not on ability to pay. Clinic inefficiencies - lack of ancillary support, secretarial help is a major source of frustration, especially in the primary care arena.
That being said administrative burdens are excessive in my opinion. If you like to joust against windmills - you will hate the military - Survival depends on your ablity to fix that which you can, and accept that which is out of your control.
Military Specific Stuff - Ala deployments
Deployments suck but almost everyone looks back on one as a growth experience - This changes with successive deployments but the Army is trying to share the wealth between all providers and this seems to be working. Most specialties are following an "everyone goes once before anyone goes twice", this helps morale as well makes deployments more predictable.
I'm sure my post will be dissected in short order by some of the knuckleheads on this string, but I've tried to be even handed.
Basically - Do I get pissed off at the Army - Hell yes.... Is it necessarilly better in the civilian world (I've been there and it is not). Ultimately it comes down to what floats your boat?
Ever put in an iv with nods on (night viz googles)? I have. Ever parachute from 1800' at night, fast rope from a helicopter, go on a humanitarian mission to the third world, prepare a disaster plan for a city, qualify with a 9mm, and rifle, sit in on classified briefings on the "real" war on terror, etc. etc. etc. - I have and I'm a regular Joe - no special operator. The Army is what you make it, negative people have negative experiences - positive ones flourish - true in the Army and everywhere else.