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Academies and medicine

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by DogFaceMedic, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member
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    Anyone out there a grad or attending the service academies -- especially Army? I have a high school junior asking me about them (primarily Army) who is possibly interested in medicine. But, I enlisted once upon a time, so I am not that helpful.
     
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  3. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member
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    THanks for the PM's I received.
    To share with others interested, the consensus seem to be: The Academies only allow a handful of people to go to Med school and defer their committment, and then they will have a longer commitment.

    Many people successfully finish their initial commitment and either go to med school as HPSP or strictly civilian, with GI Bill and loans.

    Regardless, having the Academy on a person's resume is a great plus and opens doors to a great good ol' boys network. Alas, I enlisted in a previous century - but I'm not telling you which one.
     
  4. IgD

    IgD The Lorax
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    5 years for a service academy + 7 additional years for USUHS = 12 total years for payback. That's a very long commitment.

    I don't think you are eligible for the GI bill if you went to a service academy. Check the fine print.
     
  5. BOHICA-FIGMO

    BOHICA-FIGMO Belt-fed Physician
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    you were right, service academy graduates used not to be eligible for the GI bill, BUT they ARE eligible for the new GI bill.

    And to the OP, it used to be the case that a MAXIMUM of 2.0% of any graduating class (~20 individuals) were allowed to attend medical school (either USUHS or HPSP). Often, it was much less than this. That is old info, so I have no idea if the same restriction still apply.
     
  6. virtu

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    i graduated 05. it was 2% of the graduating class could apply for consideration. USMA has its own board to select which candidates are then cleared to apply directly to medical schools.

    an even bigger obstacle is finding time to study for the MCAT (or premed subjects in general) while at the academy. want to major in something other than premed but still want to go medicine? forget it. my class was also the first year that had the "chemistry life science" major. before then it was straight chem or chem engineering. (no bio department). also, research opportunities are virtually impossible (no time!). nowadays everyone pretty much has to have some research experience when applying for med school.

    during the process, my classmates and i were HIGHLY encouraged to apply to USUHS in addition to whatever civilian schools (HPSP) we were applying. HPSP has an additional commitment of 4 years on top of the Academy 5. (more if you do a residency > 4 years). oh, and none of the active duty service obligation begins until after residency is over.

    if serving and being in the army is important to this high school student, it'd be possible to do it this way. painful but possible. if this person is more interested in medicine than the military, than it's probably advisable NOT to go to the academy. many of my classmates at WP were exceptionally bright and talented but buried in all the BS that goes on at the academy.

    does make you build pretty thick skin, though. :confused:

    to be fair, WP is a different environment. have experiences you will never get anywhere else. learn and grow as a person and all that. and apparently civilians are impressed by it. some of my interviewers were more interested in what the academy is like as opposed to why i wanted to go into medicine. (one interview was entirely about rumsfield and how i thought he was culpable for a lot of the problems we were/are in at the time).

    can PM me for more details/q's.

    bottom line: not the easiest or best way but high level of motivation and an open mind can still make it work.
     
  7. haujun

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    Lots of great facts here. I did hear about very low percentage of people allowed to apply medical school and this served as deterrent for me applying to academy. However from talking to numerous Academy graduates not many graduates apply medical school as top graduates go to non-medicine routes (trend that is similar in civilian world as well) and generally you have to be about top 25% of graduating class to safely become that about 2% people applying medical school.

    No matter where you go for undergrad education it is going to be challenging finding time to study for MCATs. "BS" that you may enounter in Academy may help you get the top rated education without worrying about tuition, monetary compensation and develop the focus, discipline you need to do well in life including the fileld of medicine. Not a bad deal...

    Also if you are person is more interested in medicine than the military you should not even apply HPSP as well.
     
    #6 haujun, Dec 20, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  8. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member
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    The junior in question wants to play a little GI Joe. He may serve (USMA or ROTC) then go to med school later. I think he has the right mind set and knows what he is getting into -- as much as a 16 yr old can. Most of what has been added here is on par with what I've heard and read.

    As for needing research for med school: it is always helpful, but only necessary if going for MD/PhD or research oriented med school. Most applicants have no or only minor research at best.
     
  9. grotto

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    I attended and now and teach at a Service Academy and am currently in the process of finishing up my pre-reqs and applying. 90% of students at the academy who are planning on going right into medical school are Chemistry majors because this is just about the only way you can get your pre-reqs done without having to overload on classes (the MINIMUM credits you can take per semester at an Academy is 15 and most carry about 18-20 per semester - if you overload you are going to be taking about 25 credits per semester at times which is rough). They take 15 students a year into med corps, which works out to about 1.25%. This being said, med corps is a highly competitive service selection.

    Having served as a line officer, I am skeptical about a 10-12 year commitment to the military for anything and this is exactly what you are signing up for if you go directly from the academy into either USUHS or HPSP. But whatever, this thought process is probably over the heads of a lot of high school kids - I know it was for me at that age. Most people are making this decision when they are 18-20 years old, when they don't know exactly what they want to do with their lives. On the other hand, research is plentiful at my school and many students take advantage of it - I just wouldn't expect it to be specifically in medicine, it will more likely be in Organic chemistry or biochemistry. My service academy has all of the chemistry toys you could want - NMR, about 10 HPLC's, 2 or 3 GC's per lab, DOD supercomputers, electron microscopes - all for use of the 100 total chem majors, all undergrads.

    Service academies are highly selective - if you do the math, about 1200 students are taken a year out of about 17000 applicants (applications are at a record high right now) - 7% admission rate. The secret about the academies is that they really select people as the "whole person," they don't just give it lip service - so a 4.7 AP inflated GPA is not a guarentee. Given the fact that only about 1% of those people are selected for med corps (or about 30% of chem majors) it is probably not a good idea to enter a service academy wanting to be a doctor. In fact, service academies mission by U.S. Code are to graduate line officers (pilots, ship drivers, submariners, marines, etc) and it is only through a loop hole that med corps is available at all. The fact that services currently allow 15 med corps selectees a year doesn't mean that it is going to be that way 5 or 6 years from now - the military changes on a whim and to expect otherwise is living with your head in the clouds.
     
  10. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member
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    Thanks, Grotto. I'll pass it along. Since a 16yr old makes decisions based on dreams and mythology, listening to us old guys has limited utility.

    Good luck with your application; I also took an extended tour in life before going back to school.
     
  11. IgD

    IgD The Lorax
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    Where does the poltical appointment part fit into the service academy application? I thought there was a rule that each congressman could appoint two students per year to the academies? Is there another step in the process?
     
  12. grotto

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    There are more ways to get an appointment than just House of Reps - Senators, Secretary of the Navy, SecDef, Vice President, and President all have a quota among others and it depends on how many the member actually has in a certain academy at a certain time. I played varsity sports, so I got a relatively painless SecNav appointment, and one of my buddies from inner city Chicago actually answered an ad in the Chicago Tribune from the local congressman who couldn't fill his spots - he struggled through the Academy but is now a Navy Seal. I think it turns out to be something like 5000 appointments available per year, but don't quote me on that. It is tough to get an appointment for some regions, not so tough in others, but many people who have appointments are turned down.
     
  13. backrow

    backrow 60% of the time it works everytime
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    I wouldn't lump the Secretary appointments in for most people. Those are reserved for enlisted who are applying to the Academies. The usualy path for high school kids is to apply to their congressman and both state senators. For those who have special circumstances, eg: enlisted, child of career military, child of Medal of Honor recipient, etc there are other paths for nomination.
     
  14. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member
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    What is the path for children of career military, other than congressman?
     
  15. backrow

    backrow 60% of the time it works everytime
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    Children of career military may apply for a Presidential nomination as well as to their congressman and senators. There are unlimited nominations available from the President; however, I believe only 100 appointments are available for each year through this nomination source.
     
  16. FNU LNU

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    The congressional appointment is little more than a formality for most applicants. The only exceptions are a few locations where there is an unusually high level of intrest in an academy (San Diego or Annapolis area for USNA for example).

    There is a lot of good info on this thread so I don't have too much else to add. The one thing I will say though, is that the academies exist to develope combat leaders for a career of military service (not that everyone stays in for a career). They don't exist to educate future doctors that simply don't want to pay for their undergrad education. There was a tendency when I was at USNA to view the med school applicants as dirt bags who were welshing on their service obligation. Unfair and inaccurate to be sure, but your friend may not want to anounce on day one of Beast Barracks that he came to USMA to become a doctor.

    Good luck in any case. I found my time as a line officer to be deeply challenging and rewarding and I hope to find something similar in military medicine.
     
  17. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member
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    Thanks for the input.
    I think one reason I was asked for advice was because of my experience outside of medicine. I loved my time in command. I was briefly an infantry commander in a training unit, as well as other rear echelon commands. Nonetheless, being a line commander and an NCO before that has made me appreciate the American soldier more than I can say.
    I admire this young man's ambitions and want to give him as accurate portrayal as one can for a 16 yr old.
     
  18. grotto

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    USNA actually has a format letter they send to applicants who write in their essay that they want to become a military doc. Its called the "Dear Doctor" letter and basically states that USNA is required by law and its mission to produce line officers and that there is no guarantee that medical corps will even be available. The decision to allow 15 applicants a year is basically incumbant upon the Superintendant of the Naval Academy thinking its a good idea - Superintendants rotate on a 4 year basis. In fact, if it wasn't such a PR boon, I doubt they would let people do it considering the hard time we are having getting people to go into nuclear power programs and submarines (disciplines which are lusting after pure science and engineering majors with high GPA's). But, the PR of 3 recent Rhodes Scholars and 2 or 3 Marshall scholars going into medicine is too much to pass up right now. Its pretty cool to tell applicants that yes, you too could graduate with a 4.0 and go to Oxford while deferring your spot at Harvard or Johns Hopkins Medical school.

    I still remember one of my company mates telling the assembled detailers that he wanted to be a "peacemaker" and would prefer not to handle any weapons during plebe summer (USNA equiv to Beast Barracks). This kid was a Ba'hai, supersmart, and true to his ideals. He got destroyed on a daily, perhaps even hourly basis by a bunch of sadistic upperclass - but never quit. Need to keep your head down Full Metal Jacket style during those kinds of evolutions.
     
  19. afdoc77

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    Grotto,
    Very interesting stuff. Thanks for posting. Myself not being an academy guy, I see a lot mystique in it. It's a difficult road though, especially to be a doc. I'm glad with the path I took through my little private school in the Midwest where everyone is what I call "Pre-Professional" med, dental, law... And of my close group of 15 or so buddies, 13 went to med school and 2 went law.
    To each their own....
     

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