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I don't want to go to Iraq, which I'm sure most army and marine docs are at risk for. I figured that the Air Force would be the least likely srevice to send me to Iraq as a doc.

What are Air Force scholarships like? Do you sign on the dotted line and they give you the cash (in short - I know there's more to it that this), or are these things ridiculously competitive? I'm hoping that with the war, there might be less people wanting to take advantage.

I would try for the navy, but I'm not big into boats and stuff like that.

Where do most air force docs work?
 

Pedsbro

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My brother did this program 10 years ago. First of all, if you go in with the attitude that you just want the money and don't care for the military service...they will see right through you and reject you. So think long and hard about that. The HPSP scholarships are extremely competitive...I believe each branch only gives 100 of them...but that might be an old number (might be more or less) You have to be tops in academics and ECs, and they probably prefer if you have ties to the military (family, ROTC, etc), but that is not a requirement.

The Air Force is probably the least likely to send you to a war zone, HOWEVER, it is still possible (depends on demand and what specialty you go into) and you would have absolutely no choice but to go! Most AF docs will work on base hospitals and clinics at home and abroad, but all are trained in combat triage and often they are sent on humanitarian missions to remote and rural areas around the world (for example, my brother's wing was sent to a rural village in Honduras for 2 weeks and a remote village in the arctic circle for a week to take care of eskimos).

They will pay for your tuition and living expenses during med school and you have to "pay them back" by working for them for the same number of years they paid for you...this "payback" does not start until after residency is over. For example, they pay for 4 years of med school. Then let's say you want to go into surgery...so you have 6 years of residency. After those 6 years, then you have to stay in the military for an additional 4 years and work for them as a surgeon. So you'll be in the military a minimum of 14 years total. (4 med school, 6 residency, 4 payback). You can stay in longer than your commitment if you'd like, like my brother has.
Like I said...tough decision, and it is very very competitive. I don't know if applications for the HPSP have gone down or up since the war began, but do not expect this to be just a free ride and if you're not 100% serious about being in the military for that long and being told what to do and where to live (they can literally send you anywhere at anytime), don't even apply.
 

endocardium

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Times have changed. It isn't that competitive any more, especially since the Iraqi conflict. Currently, not a single branch has been able to fill it's HPSP quota, so all the branches are now offering a $20K bonus to join. There's a shortage of military physicians and they are leaving in droves after they have served their AD payback requirement. Unless you are uncompetitive, if you apply, there is a good probability you'll get accepted.

The worst in terms of not being able to fill it's quota is the Navy; it doesn't have that many residency programs and there is a high degree of likelihood that if you join the Navy HPSP, you'll end up serving a GMO billet. Next, is the Army. It has a lot of residency programs and not a lot of GMO type stuff, but there is a high probability of deployment, which is currently 15 months long. In the past the Air Force has been the most attractive, in terms of lifestyle considerations and short deployments (4-6 months). They give out plenty of GMO/FS billets, too, but not as many as the Navy. I think in the recent past, it was something like 30% of people got assigned to become a GMO/FS. They have fewer residencies than the Army. In the past, the USAF has been able to fill all it's slots, so it was the more competitive of the branches. However, my understanding is that even they have not able to fill their slots as of recent.

I would think long and hard about joining... Take a look at all the negative comments in the milmed forum here on SDN. It's enough to scare you away.

Also, my understanding is that the amount of AD payback time is equal to the maximum amount of time you are receiving aid from them, that is, the length of your residency or medical school, whichever is longer. I could be wrong though, since I haven't researched this in a long time.
 
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Pedsbro

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Ok, I was unaware of the quotas and number of scholarships available these days, so I'm glad you knew that. But I'm almost 100% sure that the payback doesn't begin until after residency no matter what. I don't think that has nor would change (keeps you working for them longer). I'm actually surprised the Navy has had the most trouble filling their quota...it's usually been the Army...interesting.
 

endocardium

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Ok, I was unaware of the quotas and number of scholarships available these days, so I'm glad you knew that. But I'm almost 100% sure that the payback doesn't begin until after residency no matter what. I don't think that has nor would change (keeps you working for them longer). I'm actually surprised the Navy has had the most trouble filling their quota...it's usually been the Army...interesting.
If you made it into medical school, have a pulse, pass MEPS, and don't have any disqualifying points that can't be waivered, you can probably get any of the scholarships, particularly the Army and Navy ones. I don't remember the exact number, but the Navy is doing pretty abysmal right now in terms of filling it's quota. Next is the Army, followed by the Air Force. I think it was the Navy who first initiated the $20K bonus (minus taxes, of course), followed by the Army, then the Air Force.

Yeah, you don't begin to serve your AD payback time until after residency, but my understanding is that a military residency counts as time you have to pay back, if it exceeds the amount of time you received aid while you were in medical school. Whichever time is greater, will count towards AD payback. Not completely sure, though.
 

Pedsbro

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If you made it into medical school, have a pulse, and pass MEPS, you can probably get any of the scholarships, particularly the Army and Navy ones. I don't remember the exact number, but the Navy is doing pretty abysmal right now in terms of filling it's quota. Next is the Army, followed by the Air Force. I think it was the Navy who first initiated the $20K bonus (minus taxes, of course), followed by the Army, then the Air Force.

Yeah, you don't begin to serve your AD payback time until after residency, but my understanding is that a military residency counts as time you have to pay back, if it exceeds the amount of time you received aid while you were in medical school. Not completely sure, though.

HAHA...they're desperate enough for recruits to take you if you don't. But seriously, you do also have to pass their physical and medical standards...I have a condition that a recruiter told me wouldn't fly, so my chances went down the drain. Definitely check with recruiters
 

endocardium

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HAHA...they're desperate enough for recruits to take you if you don't. But seriously, you do also have to pass their physical and medical standards...I have a condition that a recruiter told me wouldn't fly, so my chances went down the drain. Definitely check with recruiters
Agreed. Certain conditions probably can't be easily waivered, if at all, such as Asthma.
 

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You are seriously mistaken if you think the Air Force won't send you to Iraq as a doctor. The largest military level 1 trauma hospital in Iraq is, in fact, the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad. It is staffed mainly by Air Force. The little clinics around the base are staffed by the Army. If you don't wish to serve overseas, then do not join the military.
 

endocardium

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You are seriously mistaken if you think the Air Force won't send you to Iraq as a doctor. The largest military level 1 trauma hospital in Iraq is, in fact, the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad. It is staffed mainly by Air Force. The little clinics around the base are staffed by the Army. If you don't wish to serve overseas, then do not join the military.
Agreed. If conditions continue the way they are now, or get worse, there is a high likelihood of getting deployed.

OP, don't do it just for the money. Take out loans, instead...you'll pay them off eventually. If you join, you will be an officer of the military and your personal desires will no longer matter.
 

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I talked to an Airforce recruiter and it's really not that competitive at all. I think the only requirements for scholarship were GPA (which was really low). I would thoroughly research the military before joining though. Good luck.
 

endocardium

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I talked to an Airforce recruiter and it's really not that competitive at all. I think the only requirements for scholarship were GPA (which was really low). I would thoroughly research the military before joining though. Good luck.
All beside the point, I'm afraid, especially if the OP is going after the money, but wants nothing to do with the military, or the military lifestyle, which includes the possibility of deployment. That's a set up for pain.

Anyway, it's not just the GPA. Academically, they usually look at your MCAT score and your GPA. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think automatic acceptance is somewhere around 3.6 (or thereabouts) and a composite MCAT score of 28. You will also need an acceptance to a US medical school (MD or DO). Essentially, if you can gain admission to medical school, you will meet the academic requirements.
 

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I just thought I'd chime in here since I'm in the running for an AF scholarship. I think that there are several important points for the OP to consider in making this decision.

1.) Which service is right for you? I wouldn't simply choose the Air Force because it sounds the "easiest." All services are deploying to Iraq, so there will be no escaping that. Also, the Air Force has been shutting down and downgrading some of their medical centers as of late, so they haven't even been filling all their scholarship spots as they did in the past. As of now, they have cut the scholarship numbers and are offering the 20k bonus to compete with Army and Navy. I personally like the Air Force. That's just me. I think planes are cool and would actually like to do a flight surgeon tour.

2.) Are you really into doing service? There are many negatives to this path and if you take the scholarship without having at least somewhat altruistic motives you will most likely come out hateful and jaded. See the military forums. This will definitely clue you in to what I'm talking about. You should be well informed before signing the contract. Do yourself a favor and peruse those threads. A recruiter can also put you in touch with people that have taken the HPSP. I've talked with several that were candid and not just military cheerleaders. Don't just take the recruiter's word at face value. They aren't physicians and don't have the same perspective.

3.) Can you pass MEPS? That's probably the biggest criterion if you're competitive in all other aspects. There are certain conditions that are unwaiverable. Beyond that, I don't really know specifics. I would talk to a recruiter. They would definitely know more about that, though I can tell you that asthma is a no go. They ask you like 50 million times if you have asthma.
 

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I'll throw in my musings as a former active duty Air Force officer (6 years).

The single best resource for someone considering military medical scholarships is current active duty physicians - and try to talk to several if possible. Just like any other professional groups out there, you will find a spectrum of personalities and opinions about life in the military and how "happy" they are.

My advice is - if a person was inclined to join the military outside of being a physician, they will probably find their decision to take a military scholarship a good one. If you are not inclined to do so... then it's more of a gray area.

Within the military, the medical/legal officers are in a slightly different category (line vs. non-line, if your recruiter hasn't explained this to you - ask them to do so... keep in mind if the recruiter is on the enlisted side, they might have a different perspective than an officer will on the matter). This is somewhat of a gross oversimplification of the situation, but the non-line side is somewhat less "militaristic" in nature. So if you are afraid that your life will look like Full Metal Jacket, you can rest easy that it won't really approach that.

Several of the active duty physicians I have talked with lament the difference in income between the military and what they could be earning (these were radiation oncologists). I would guess that GPs might not be so hung up on the delta, seeing as how it would be lower. But they were all proud to be service members and took pride in their role as a soldier.

The truth is - the experience one will have going into the military varies greatly depending on the branch of service, the circumstances you go in with, your attitude, and the random happenings that accompany everything in life. No one can really tell you what it will be like because it's impossible to really know without experiencing it yourself.

Being a responsible and good soldier is like walking a fine line - you want to think critically and question authority when the situation is appropriate, but when the orders finally come down from above - most of the time it is your job to execute the order and do the best you can. People who tend to understand that the military is a very large machine of which they are a very small cog and that their first responsibility is to others tend to have the type of perspective needed to have a long term successful career.

Bottom line, if you are the type of person who is willing to fight for your country and its way of life, be she right or wrong - then go for it and let me be the first to thank you for your service to our country.

If you're just doing it for the money - I would keep that to yourself and try not to complain all the time. You will be surrounded by those who chose to enter the military for the right reason and as an officer - these people will look to you for leadership.

Either way - do your homework and talk to as many people as you can. I'm open to PMs if anyone has questions or rebuttals.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!
 
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DoctorDreamer

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I have talked A LOT with different military people about these scholarships, but have decided not to do them.

My reasoning: I don't know who I will be in 5 years, or what my goals will be, so how can I sign away the next ~20 years of my life for money?

If I still want to serve my country after residency, I can join a tuition payback plan that requires a lot less of a time committment.

Also, if you're doing it for financial reasons, it'a a bad idea. Say you go to an incredibly expensive school that costs $50K/year, then they pay that and give you $25K/year on top of that, you save $75K/year for a total of $300K in the long run.

Say you then do a 5 year residency, you will have to serve for an additional five years after your residency is over. Just an example, but the average dicrepancy in pay between a neurosurgeon in private practice and one in the military is $500,000/year. Multiply that by 5 years in the military, does it still look like a good financial idea to you? Even if you go for family practice, the discrepancy is too large to make it financially a good idea.

Also, most people who join end up staying 20 years to get the retirement bonuses. That's a long time to give up before you've even started school.

That's just my reasoning.
 

spicedmanna

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Also, most people who join end up staying 20 years to get the retirement bonuses. That's a long time to give up before you've even started school.
Actually this is not true, according to what I have read from the rather vocal attendings in the milmed forum. The retention rate is really bad. It's something like 6%. That is to say, from what I can gather, most will leave as soon as they can, which is usually the length of their pay back time.
 

DoctorDreamer

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Actually this is not true, according to what I have read from the rather vocal attendings in the milmed forum. The retention rate is really bad; it's something like 6%. That is to say, from what I can gather, most will leave as soon as they can.
Yeah, let me rephrase that to say that if you can tolerate the military, you're likely to stay for at leats 20 years. The people who don't and leave are further evidence of people who didn't like the lifestyle for whatever reason.

Either way, it's not an easy decision.
 

spicedmanna

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Either way, it's not an easy decision.
I agree with that.

Also, I want to point out that you used NS as your example, where the difference between civilian pay and military physician pay is very large. Those of us interested in primary care specialties, wouldn't experience such a large disparity in pay. Really, the difference in pay is not that large for specialities like FM.

However, I do concur that if you are just doing it for the money, it's not a wise decision, particularly if you intend on specializing in a high-pay specialty. I mean, that is, if you are indeed actually able to match into that specialty if you joined.
 

Pedsbro

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As I've said before, my brother did this program and has decided to stay in the military past his commitment. He's in primary care and while he makes slightly less than his counterparts in the civilian world, you should also consider that military docs have less expenses. For example, your staff is provided for you (NCOs and other enlisted) with no cost to you, some of your equipment/office space is provided, your malpractice insurance is paid for by us taxpayers, and if you live on base, many of your living expenses are paid for. Also, living on base, you have access to the BX and other on-base stores that don't charge taxes and are generally a little cheaper than retail and grocery stores off-base. Also, you have a guaranteed patient pool and don't have to advertise and go looking for new patients. So you may not make as much as a civilian doc, but you can make up for it with less expenses. This may not be universally true, but it certainly is in most cases, at least with primary care disparity
 

spicedmanna

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I think the one thing that people need to realize is that there is no truly free lunch. This isn't a "scholarship" in the truest sense of the word. You aren't getting a free ride. You are signing up to be a commissioned officer of the military with a special skill and the military will utilize you as a resource to that regard.

However, I find myself agreeing with Jolie South. I think it's a worthwhile venture for me and I don't mind serving a Flight Surgeon billet, if it came down to that. I've talked with actual military physicians and shadowed them, and while they acknowledge that there are significant issues with military medicine, they still love what they do and see themselves as making a difference in the lives of soldiers and their families.

Then again, in my life, I haven't really followed the crowd... I'm a non-trad student at an osteopathic medical school with desires to work in primary care. I think I'd like the military lifestyle and the chance to be of benefit to service members and their families, despite the significant challenges. I've never really been that into making a crap load of money, although, like most, I wouldn't mind having plenty of money to do everything I want to do. I wouldn't necessarily miss the difference in pay, as a military physician. If it's true that the majority of people who join the medical corps leave as soon as possible because of how intolerable they find it, I may be in that 6% that finds it a good and worthy challenge. Of course, that's something only time would tell.
 

MeGrimlock

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Looking at the 20 year retention rate is much more complex than "like the lifestyle / don't like the lifestyle."

I did my MBA in finance and chasing that 20 year retirement is fool's gold for three reasons:

1. It's subject to change at any point in time depending on the whims of congress
2. If one is inclined to do the TVM calcs - you'll usually find that if you can project some sort of opportunity costs into the mix, the value of the retirement is often potentially lower than an alternative path
3. A large part of the value of the 20 year benefit is VA healthcare - which unfortunately is not always the best available

Usually the 10-12 year point of being in the military is where the "break-even" point of staying occurs. This depends on what rank you come in with and what you project your earning potential to be outside of the military. I think most MDs will come in as O-3s - someone else may be able to verify that, and my calcs are based on coming in as an O-1 and I'm not inclined to redo the math at this point.

But the simple answer is if you love it - stay and the retirement is just gravy. If you loathe it - then go because the retirement is not going to make it worth it for you.

With respect to the 20 year data, people get out for various reasons and many times it is not directly related to dislike of the military setting. Often people can leave a situation by "running towards" something as opposed to "running away" from something. Sometimes it's family, sometimes they happen to find a location where they really want to live for the rest of their lives, sometimes it's just time to go and do something different.

Non military physisicans may swich cities, or practices, or even specialties in their career. Military physicians too will go through some sort of career progression and often that will involve separating from the service. That's not always indicative of not being able to tolerate life in uniform.

Spiced - I think your outlook is a good one. No one can predict the future and you don't know what you don't know because you haven't done it yet. But I'm sure once you get there, your ability to follow your conviction will serve you well.

Pedsbro brings up many good points about the built in advantages of being a military physician and there's a trade-off there, for less hassle in some areas, there will be more hassle in others (if you've ever tried to book travel using the DoD system, you will know this all too well).

If the OP is still reading this - of course, no one "wants" to go to Iraq. That is, unless you have that odd special forces gene in you... But for most people, no one wants to go there, no one wants to fight, no one wants war. But are you the type of person who is willing to answer the call if your country needs you and willing to fight for those around you? I use the word "fight" not in the literal sense but that's the type of mentality you need to have.

Don't drink all the Kool-Aid a recruiter gives you. Their job is to fill a quota. They have an agenda, just like you do. The bulk of it being the right thing to do is not based on money, probability of getting sent to a warzone, or any of those things.

Quite simply, there are two types of people, those who will answer the call and those who won't. Neither type is good nor bad and America thrives because we have both types. I personally think the important part is to recognize what type of person you are and then the decision becomes easy.

For those who choose to go - we are thankful.
 

Perrotfish

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All doctors, in all branches, deploy. AF docs get the special pleasure of not only deploying with the AF, but occasionally also getting ordered to attach to the Army or Navy to help fill empty solts. Don´t join if you´re not willing to deploy. You´ll be in for a nasty surprise.
 

elderjack21

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Yeah, let me rephrase that to say that if you can tolerate the military, you're likely to stay for at leats 20 years. The people who don't and leave are further evidence of people who didn't like the lifestyle for whatever reason.

Either way, it's not an easy decision.
I don't think that it would be accurate to say that if you can tolerate the military, you're likely to stay for at least 20 years. That would be like saying that you can tolerate a certain hospital you work in, so you are going to stick around for 20 years.

Even before the current "wars" physicians would get out of the military in droves. The reasons are many, financial, family, more latitude in location as a civilian, etc etc. Some people who joined years ago, joined under the false assumption that they would not deploy because the US hadn't really been involved in any drawn out conflicts for years...if you join today, you will likely deploy at least once during your payback time.

Jolie south, megrimlock and spicedmanna give some solid and accurate advice in their previous posts in this thread.

If you never would consider serving in the military, don't even consider taking one of their scholarships.

It isn't for everyone. As a matter of fact, not every one can cut it in the military anyway, even if they can "qualify" on paper for the scholarship. That said, as a medical officer, your quality of life will be extremely for the most part when compared with anyone else in the service.

There are plenty of trade offs associated with the scholarship and these are things that each person needs to weigh based on their own situation.

I served for 4 years as an officer in the army, separated to attend medical school, and was very cautious in signing up for the scholarship (even though I knew I could already hack it in the military and knew full well what I was getting myself into).

I weighed all my options, looked at pros and cons of taking loans vs military scholarship (and of course compared the various branches). In the end, I decided the scholarship was the best route for me.

I enjoyed serving, I enjoyed being apart of a group of people committed to each other, and I enjoyed traveling around the world. It wasn't all great, but no job is, but it was interesting, exciting and something I am proud of. It sounds corny, because you never really feel special about your service when you are surounded by other military folks, but when you step outside that bubble, and people find out that you served in the military deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan/etc, they treat you like a hero.

But, like I said, it isn't for everyone and the military med threads on SDN will give you a good feel for what it is like to join (not knowing what you were getting into) and being really bitter about your time in the service, but there is truth to most of the posts there and tons of good information as well.
 

elderjack21

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If the OP is still reading this - of course, no one "wants" to go to Iraq. That is, unless you have that odd special forces gene in you... But for most people, no one wants to go there, no one wants to fight, no one wants war. But are you the type of person who is willing to answer the call if your country needs you and willing to fight for those around you? I use the word "fight" not in the literal sense but that's the type of mentality you need to have.

Don't drink all the Kool-Aid a recruiter gives you. Their job is to fill a quota. They have an agenda, just like you do. The bulk of it being the right thing to do is not based on money, probability of getting sent to a warzone, or any of those things.

Quite simply, there are two types of people, those who will answer the call and those who won't. Neither type is good nor bad and America thrives because we have both types. I personally think the important part is to recognize what type of person you are and then the decision becomes easy.

For those who choose to go - we are thankful.
All these points are right on the money.
 
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elderjack21

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All doctors, in all branches, deploy. AF docs get the special pleasure of not only deploying with the AF, but occasionally also getting ordered to attach to the Army or Navy to help fill empty solts. Don´t join if you´re not willing to deploy. You´ll be in for a nasty surprise.
And, it should be mentioned that anyone signing up should also be looking past Iraq (which is impossible to do without a crystal ball). By the time the OP finishes school and residency (or internship, if you go GMO), we may have mostly withdrawn from Iraq, be involved somewhere else, or any number of other things could be or could not be going on in the world.

If you sign up, you just have to accept that you may be called upon to do your job (medicine) where ever you are needed and that young men and women in harms way will be depending on your skills to take care of them.

Just accepting an unknown future is hard to do...especially since most of us like to control the outcome (or at least influence it) of many aspects of our lives.
 

Pedsbro

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Just curious, for those who know...what is the reason given for automatically disqualifying asthmatics (even if their asthma is easily controlled with daily and/or fast-acting meds)?? Asthma is pretty much an automatic DQ for every branch and I was wondering what rationale they give for that
 

MeGrimlock

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This is just a guess and partially based on my experience with military medical rules and my own experience of "nope - can't admit you to pilot training even though lasik corrected your vision."

I'm sure the serverity of asthma runs a wide enough gambit that less serious cases are capable of serving while severe cases would potentially find themselves in dangerous situations. The military is not inclined to stratify these types of things and for policy sake - go to the simple black/white answer, yes or no. Otherwise there would be extra work involved to determine the "level" of asthma an individual has - and then you might turn it into a he said/she said game.

The other reason is that from a medical standpoint, the military is just slow to adopt new medical conventions and apply those to acceptance for incoming members, training courses, career paths... etc. They are overly cautious in this and while it does preclude some qualified applicants - it is the right thing to do.

From a liability standpoint, it's just in their nature to be super-overly cautious because we're talking about a profession where people's lives are sometimes at stake.
 

elderjack21

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Just curious, for those who know...what is the reason given for automatically disqualifying asthmatics (even if their asthma is easily controlled with daily and/or fast-acting meds)?? Asthma is pretty much an automatic DQ for every branch and I was wondering what rationale they give for that
I don't think that it is automatically disqualifying. If you had it as a child and outgrew it, then there isn't a problem at all from the people I have met who are in the service. If you fall into that category, it would probably be better to just chaulk it up to not having had asthma in the first place, if it is something that is no longer a health concern for you.

If you are currently on meds to control your asthma, I think it would be tough to get in to any branch.

The rationale is likely something along these lines 1) you still have to meet minimum requirements for physical fitness just like everyone else in the service (likely the same thing goes for fire fighters, police officers, etc) 2) we are sometimes sent to austire conditions where the medical care is limited...and if you are the one providing that care, but you can't for some reason, then there are huge problems 3) those same places have horrible dust/air polution/etc and cause big problems for asthmatics. My friend showed up to Afghanistan, and within a week was in respiratory distress and was air lifted out to Germany for treatment, turns out he couldn't handle the dust/dirt/sand storms etc.
 

elderjack21

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I am really surprised that this thread hasn't been cast out into the dark abyss that is the military medicine thread...where the same 5 people will attack anyone considering joining the military...
 

spicedmanna

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I am really surprised that this thread hasn't been cast out into the dark abyss that is the military medicine thread...where the same 5 people will attack anyone considering joining the military...
Shhhh... Don't jinx it. :D
 

Perrotfish

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Anyway, it's not just the GPA. Academically, they usually look at your MCAT score and your GPA. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think automatic acceptance is somewhere around 3.6 (or thereabouts) and a composite MCAT score of 28. You will also need an acceptance to a US medical school (MD or DO). Essentially, if you can gain admission to medical school, you will meet the academic requirements.
My impression was that the "automatic acceptance" was only at all relevant if you want to get accepted to HPSP before your offically accepted to medical school (which makes it a little easier to get your orders for ODS the summer before medical school, if you want that). For anyone with an acceptance, my impression was that the scholarship is pretty much automatic if MEPS judges you fit to join.

I am really surprised that this thread hasn't been cast out into the dark abyss that is the military medicine thread...where the same 5 people will attack anyone considering joining the military...
Especially consdiering what a sterotypical example this is of someone who should not join the military. "hi, I like free things. Is there any way the military will give me free money? I´m scared of guns and voluneer with Code Pink on the weekends, if that helps."
 

spicedmanna

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My impression was that the "automatic acceptance" was only at all relevant if you want to get accepted to HPSP before your offically accepted to medical school (which makes it a little easier to get your orders for ODS the summer before medical school, if you want that). For anyone with an acceptance, my impression was that the scholarship is pretty much automatic if MEPS judges you fit to join.
I'm not that knowledgeable about the process, but as a current HPSP applicant (1st year medical student), it was explained to me this way: if you meet the academic requirements for automatic acceptance and pass MEPS, you do not have to go before the board. However, if you do not meet the automatic acceptance criteria, your package will go before the selection board and they then decide on your application. I think I missed the GPA automatic acceptance requirement, so I had to go before the board. I am currently a medical student, so acceptance into medical school is a non-issue. I'm not sure about all that, but that's what I remember being told.
 

Jolie South

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I'm not that knowledgeable about the process, but as a current HPSP applicant (1st year medical student), it was explained to me this way: if you meet the academic requirements for automatic acceptance and pass MEPS, you do not have to go before the board. However, if you do not meet the automatic acceptance criteria, your package will go before the selection board and they then decide on your application. I think I missed the GPA automatic acceptance requirement, so I had to go before the board. I am currently a medical student, so acceptance into medical school is a non-issue. I'm not sure about all that, but that's what I remember being told.
I think that's the deal. I met their "matrix" guidelines, so I got my acceptance letter back pretty quick after my waiver for LASIK went through.
 

elderjack21

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I think that's the deal. I met their "matrix" guidelines, so I got my acceptance letter back pretty quick after my waiver for LASIK went through.
Have you decided whether or not you are going to take the scholarship?
 
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Jolie South

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Have you decided whether or not you are going to take the scholarship?
i'm going to take it. i signed my letter and sent in all the background check paperwork, so all i'm waiting on is commissioning and getting scheduled for COT.
 

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i'm going to take it. i signed my letter and sent in all the background check paperwork, so all i'm waiting on is commissioning and getting scheduled for COT.
From the Peace Corps to the "War Corps" ... I like it.

Thanks to you and ElderJack.
 

notdeadyet

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If you never would consider serving in the military, don't even consider taking one of their scholarships.
Truer words never said. Most of the folks I know happy with HPSP are prior service. Most folks I know who aren't, are not happy.

Most folks wouldn't dream of ever joining the military were it not for the free money. You are setting yourself up for a a whole lot of misery if you're thinking of this as a "scholarship". It's service. If you aren't willing to serve, dear god, pay off your loans. Unless you're going into peds or primary care, HPSP is largely a money losing situation long term. Only do it if you want to be in the military. Otherwise, your math is faulty.
 

elderjack21

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Truer words never said. Most of the folks I know happy with HPSP are prior service. Most folks I know who aren't, are not happy.

Most folks wouldn't dream of ever joining the military were it not for the free money. You are setting yourself up for a a whole lot of misery if you're thinking of this as a "scholarship". It's service. If you aren't willing to serve, dear god, pay off your loans. Unless you're going into peds or primary care, HPSP is largely a money losing situation long term. Only do it if you want to be in the military. Otherwise, your math is faulty.
I don't think being prior service is a pre-req for being happy with HPSP, just having some sort of interest in serving in the military. Obviously, people that are prior service made a very concious choice to go back in, so they knew they would be "happy" to serve again, so that is a clearly biased sample.

I think the same can be said with people that choose to go into the national health service corps or anything else just for the money. Heck, if you chose medicine just for the money, you would be sorely disappointed at the end of the day as well. The military isn't any different.

As far as a money losing situation long term, depends. Private or public school? 3 or 4 year residency? and many other factors. HPSP has become much more financially sound in the last 2 years. Still, never a reason to sign up...money is not a good motivator for career choices in my opinion.
 

elderjack21

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i'm going to take it. i signed my letter and sent in all the background check paperwork, so all i'm waiting on is commissioning and getting scheduled for COT.
Congrats and Best of Luck! Like everything in life, it is what you make of it. Enjoy.
 

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Congrats and Best of Luck! Like everything in life, it is what you make of it. Enjoy.
Thanks! I'm well aware of what's going on, but I agree life is what you make of it. If I'd only considered the negatives, I wouldn't have gone to Africa with Peace Corps. That turned out to be one of the most awesome experiences of my life. I'm hoping for the same with AF.
 

AmoryBlaine

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I have talked A LOT with different military people about these scholarships, but have decided not to do them.

My reasoning: I don't know who I will be in 5 years, or what my goals will be, so how can I sign away the next ~20 years of my life for money?

If I still want to serve my country after residency, I can join a tuition payback plan that requires a lot less of a time committment.

Also, if you're doing it for financial reasons, it'a a bad idea. Say you go to an incredibly expensive school that costs $50K/year, then they pay that and give you $25K/year on top of that, you save $75K/year for a total of $300K in the long run.
Say you then do a 5 year residency, you will have to serve for an additional five years after your residency is over. Just an example, but the average dicrepancy in pay between a neurosurgeon in private practice and one in the military is $500,000/year. Multiply that by 5 years in the military, does it still look like a good financial idea to you? Even if you go for family practice, the discrepancy is too large to make it financially a good idea.

Also, most people who join end up staying 20 years to get the retirement bonuses. That's a long time to give up before you've even started school.

That's just my reasoning.

Although I'm too lazy to crunch the numbers this seems accurate. The money saved will probably be "up front" rather than long-term.

Joining the military can also severely limit residency options coming out of med school. I know 3 people who wanted to do emergency medicine (I know 1 was army, I think the other 2 were AF but one may have been Navy). All were middle-of-the-road candidates but definitely would have matched if they had been civilians. One scrambled in a prelim IM spot. The others were so sure they had no chance that they just took IM spots and hoped that they could get into EM in the future.

These students say that EM PDs will love to see their "military experience" and this may very well be true. I have heard the converse of the argument though, which is that PDs find it more difficult to train folks that have been in different specialties for awhile.

Ortho is similarly next to impossible. I think Surg is pretty brutal but I'm not positive on that.

Which leads me to echo the general theme of this thread: only do it if you want to serve.
 

elderjack21

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Although I'm too lazy to crunch the numbers this seems accurate. The money saved will probably be "up front" rather than long-term.

Joining the military can also severely limit residency options coming out of med school. I know 3 people who wanted to do emergency medicine (I know 1 was army, I think the other 2 were AF but one may have been Navy). All were middle-of-the-road candidates but definitely would have matched if they had been civilians. One scrambled in a prelim IM spot. The others were so sure they had no chance that they just took IM spots and hoped that they could get into EM in the future.

These students say that EM PDs will love to see their "military experience" and this may very well be true. I have heard the converse of the argument though, which is that PDs find it more difficult to train folks that have been in different specialties for awhile.

Ortho is similarly next to impossible. I think Surg is pretty brutal but I'm not positive on that.

Which leads me to echo the general theme of this thread: only do it if you want to serve.
The residency issue is a complicated one for sure as it changes from year to year and changes depending on what branch you go into (army is easier to get what you want because there are more slots, more selections to choose from, air force less so).

There are people each year in the civilian match who don't match where they want to go also (6% didn't match into any program they chose, while 84% got one of their top 3 choices). Although it seems that once they scramble they at least get the specialty that they want...or at least I assume this is the case, it just may not be in a great location or in a great program. The limited slots in the military match will be a huge motivator for me to be a competitive applicant.

No doubt though, you are trading for some extra flexibillity up front while in medical school (able to avoid debt, start saving for retirement early, afford some trips while in school, not burdened by debt in your choice of specialties), for less flexibility on the back end (less residency selection, less choice in where you will be first assigned, possibly deploy to places you don't want to go, etc).
 

notdeadyet

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I don't think being prior service is a pre-req for being happy with HPSP, just having some sort of interest in serving in the military.
No, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that prior service is a requirement for happiness. Just noting a trend I've seen. Folks who are prior service are going in with both eyes open. Lots of folks who enter the military later in life with the influence of a scholarship sometimes go in with a distorted view of what daily military service would be like.
As far as a money losing situation long term, depends. Private or public school? 3 or 4 year residency? and many other factors. HPSP has become much more financially sound in the last 2 years.
I crunched numbers for a $50k/yr tuition school (one of the highest in the country, but my only acceptance at that point) for a four year scholarship. The only way it was financially better than taking out loans and paying them off was for entering low paying specialties like family practice and pediatrics. I think the cut-off was a salary of about $140K.

That said, I was assuming that the civilian was going to be aggressive about paying off his loans. I'm sure lots of folks get lazy about that, which would skew things to the military favor. Also, despite some folks neurosurgery/cardio dreams, the fact of the matter is that most folks are more likely to end up in med, fp, or psych.

For folks that want to serve but are uncomfortable with the military residency situation (not necessarily being able to do the residency straight through after med school, not liking the quality of training in your particular field, or whatever), you should strongly consider FAP. It doesn't offer as much money as HPSP, but you will have the ability to go through the residency of your choice in your field when you want and serve after. It also has the benefit of being a program you can sign up for as you finish medical school. By that time you'll have a more realistic view of your life in terms of what you want to do, where you want to be, family plans, spouse preferences, etc.).
 

Jolie South

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Just thought I'd throw out something that an AD doctor on the selection board told me.

if you stay in long enough and are not a horrible applicant, you can get the specialty you want. say you go in the military match for ophtho and don't get selected the first go round. you would do internship and start a GMO/FS tour directly after. then, when you apply for the military match again (after 2 years or whatever), you'll have extra "points" because you have done more years as active duty than the 4th year med student. apparently, that's a huge bonus on your app and will give you an edge over seemingly competitive applicants straight out of school. you have the chance to get something that you never would in the civilian world because rank is on the list of criteria for selection.

sorry if i mixed up some terms in there, but that's the gist of what this guy told me.
 

notdeadyet

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if you stay in long enough and are not a horrible applicant, you can get the specialty you want. say you go in the military match for ophtho and don't get selected the first go round. you would do internship and start a GMO/FS tour directly after. then, when you apply for the military match again (after 2 years or whatever), you'll have extra "points" because you have done more years as active duty than the 4th year med student.
This is apparently true, though for the competitive specialties, you might have to be better than just "not a horrible applicant".

But if you're a strong candidate, you've got a good shot. Eventually. I know a guy who did four years of GMO'ing before getting into a Rads program. Mind you, he's now committed to serve in the military for 11 years, which is probably a lot more than he'd envisioned when he signed. But he'll be a radiologist.
 

elderjack21

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I crunched numbers for a $50k/yr tuition school (one of the highest in the country, but my only acceptance at that point) for a four year scholarship. The only way it was financially better than taking out loans and paying them off was for entering low paying specialties like family practice and pediatrics. I think the cut-off was a salary of about $140K.

That said, I was assuming that the civilian was going to be aggressive about paying off his loans. I'm sure lots of folks get lazy about that, which would skew things to the military favor. Also, despite some folks neurosurgery/cardio dreams, the fact of the matter is that most folks are more likely to end up in med, fp, or psych.
I agree with you. You would have to be going to a very expensive school and not planning on making more than $200k or so right out of residency for it to make sense/cents financially. And you are right, most people probably don't make it a top priority to get things paid off after residency, on that same note, I will probably be spending more money earlier on as well since I took HPSP, just because the money is there.

It is unfortunate that student loan rates are so expensive now, and you may have read that last week Bank of America is not going to offer private student loans anymore (I believe they are the nations 2nd biggest lender...which doesn't bode well for graduate students anywhere).

Anyway, I have posted this in several threads, it is kind of an "HPSP" vs loans calculator, you can see just how much HPSP is really worth for you in your situation at your school. I found it to be worth quite a bit at my private school, if I went to a state school...not so much.

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=504710
 

Former Corpsman

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I don't want to go to Iraq, which I'm sure most army and marine docs are at risk for. I figured that the Air Force would be the least likely srevice to send me to Iraq as a doc.

What are Air Force scholarships like? Do you sign on the dotted line and they give you the cash (in short - I know there's more to it that this), or are these things ridiculously competitive? I'm hoping that with the war, there might be less people wanting to take advantage.

I would try for the navy, but I'm not big into boats and stuff like that.

Where do most air force docs work?
I got one thing to tell you, when I signed the dotted line I took and oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, meaning when Uncle Sam needed me to do a job, guess what, I PACKED MY BAGS. Just because you are doctor should not exempt you from serving in Iraq. The military does not need a leach who is unwilling to answer the call of duty. However, I realize you just want something for nothing, a Scholarship so you don't have to pay for it. I suggest you stay home. Oh and by the way when I was in Fallujah, Iraq there were plenty of Air Force Docs there.
 

Pedsbro

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I got one thing to tell you, when I signed the dotted line I took and oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, meaning when Uncle Sam needed me to do a job, guess what, I PACKED MY BAGS. Just because you are doctor should not exempt you from serving in Iraq. The military does not need a leach who is unwilling to answer the call of duty. However, I realize you just want something for nothing, a Scholarship so you don't have to pay for it. I suggest you stay home. Oh and by the way when I was in Fallujah, Iraq there were plenty of Air Force Docs there.

I appreciate your service
 
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I got one thing to tell you, when I signed the dotted line I took and oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, meaning when Uncle Sam needed me to do a job, guess what, I PACKED MY BAGS. Just because you are doctor should not exempt you from serving in Iraq. The military does not need a leach who is unwilling to answer the call of duty. However, I realize you just want something for nothing, a Scholarship so you don't have to pay for it. I suggest you stay home. Oh and by the way when I was in Fallujah, Iraq there were plenty of Air Force Docs there.
Thanks for the lecture. You sure sound real brave and patriotic and I'm sure it helps you pick up chicks in bars. I take it you're also turning down all of your post-military tuition money that the government wants to dump into your education seeing as such programs are for leaches. If you're not, I suggest you spend a little of it on Not Jumping to Macho Chest-Thumping Conclusions 101, followed by Veterans Aren't Always Right Simply Because They Toss Their Prior Service Into A Discussion 200.

I never stated that I was not willing to serve. In fact, the mere act of signing up tends to indicate a willingness to serve. All I stated is that I don't particularly want to end up in the enormous f-up that Iraq has turned into. Nothing more, nothing less. It's not particularly patriotic to blindly support Bush's actions over there (although the soldiers have my utmost admiration) - it's kind of dumb, and I'd rather have no part of his ridiculous effort to trash our country. I would still like to serve, however.

Surely as an ex-servicemember, you've learned that you shouldn't question a guy's motive for joining up. You have no idea what my background is, and my reasons for wanting to join are more than simply to grab at tuition money.
 

Former Corpsman

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Why not question your motive. All the benefits I get are after the term of service. Therefore, I am not a leach. I payed the price. With some disabilities to boot. When you sign up do not look at Iraq in the illusion you have already formulated. Iraq is a good cause. I say this from my experience with the people in Iraq. They need us and they will be the first to tell you that.
 

lisichka

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Why not question your motive. All the benefits I get are after the term of service. Therefore, I am not a leach. I payed the price. With some disabilities to boot. When you sign up do not look at Iraq in the illusion you have already formulated. Iraq is a good cause. I say this from my experience with the people in Iraq. They need us and they will be the first to tell you that.
with all due respect, i am sorry, but i don't think it is right/ethical to speak for all Iraqies. Many people in Iraq are indeed miserable and unhappy with our presense. However i have great respect for soldiers who risk their lives there. very admirable indeed.
 
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