Outlanding

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Why don't a lot of people talk about it? Is it because of the limited spots? The locations?
 
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Bis-GMA111

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i honestly feel like it's because people think of the military and they think of full metal jacket or something. beats me
 
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cmcner

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The positives of HSPS are well documented and my response is not trying to dispute those positives. Some of the down sides include uncertainty of the future. When you sign up for the 4 year program you are committing for at least 8 years most likely 9 with things that slow the clock down, plus reserve years which may or may not be used based on a decision that isn't yours to make. Think about how different you were 9 years ago compared to now. Do you really think you'll be the same in 9 years? will future you agree with the decision past you made? What if you find a spouse or potential spouse? Will you lose them because of where you are stationed if their life doesn't line up in a way they can see you often? I saw one couple get divorced while apart due to this program.

In 9 years time we will have 3 different presidential elections and the rest of the world has countless conflicts. 9 years ago was 2007 the economy was booming and so were housing prices. Russia wasn't in Ukraine. North Korea wasn't launching as many test missiles. Gadaffi ruled an oppressed but stable Libia. George W Bush was making US policy and Hillary Clinton was expected to be the next president based on polls (well not everything has changed). Basically a lot changes personally and in the world in 9 years that can't be predicted and the inability of that predictability is a downside.

Another thing is you are military property when you sign up. You aren't covered by the bill of rights or the us justice system any more but by a military system. If they tell you to do something and you don't you can get in big big trouble while an average citizen can't.

If you decide to specialize your military time starts after you finish that specialty so you might be committing yourself for 12 or 15 years into the future.

If you get a once in a lifetime job opportunity or chance to buy a practice this becomes almost impossible.

If you hate who you work for you can't quit.

You might be separated from any existing or surprise kids you may have in the future for months at a time or longer.

If you get disabled by war or just chance you may never get to see the big earning potential of a dentist. Not sure if there are limitations for on occupation disability insurance or not for armed forces but every dentist should get it if possible.

These are just some negative things. There are many positive things but that isn't what the op asked for.
 
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Aug 29, 2016
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My husband attended dental school on the Army HSPS (2001-2005, active duty 2005-2009). As we both frequently say, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Everyone will have their own unique experience. I will outline here the pros and cons for us personally. Please consider that this is just one family's experience, although I can say that many dentists we knew felt similarly about their time in the military.

PROS
*The money: The reason anyone signs up for a scholarship - the money. They paid every penny of his dental school education - tuition, fees, books, etc. plus a monthly stipend. For 45 days of the year he was supposed to be doing active duty. However his school, like many dental schools now, did not have a 45-day break in the summer. He submitted documentation of this and was exempted from doing the active duty, although they still paid him as active duty for 45 days of the year. Because I was working during his time in dental school we were able to put most of the money he earned into savings. And at this stage it is so very nice to not be paying on student loans when you also add in the costs of purchasing and running a dental practice. Most of his classmates are still paying on student loans 11 years later.

*Additional training: He applied for and was awarded a 1-year AGD program (in hindsight we now refer to this as "deployment prep"!). At the time, this year of additional training working alongside specialists of every field counted as one of his four years of payback. I've been told this is no longer the case. He received some wonderful training during this year. His first patients he was seeing out of dental school were Soldiers who didn't complain about how long it took and weren't paying out of pocket so no worries about how much it cost! He got much faster and also became very comfortable doing far more complicated procedures than dental school alone had prepared him for.

*Military Training: I think it would be difficult to replicate the physical and tactical training received in the military. I know many of the training exercises my husband participated in are not the type of thing he would have been out doing after work if he'd been a dentist working in a private or group practice.

*Adventure: After his residency we were sent to Germany. It was beautiful. We had a wonderful time traveling all over Europe. We flew Space A military flights to get back to the states on a few occasions (that's a whole separate discussion - it's always an adventure, but not always a good one!). When traveling in the US it was always so nice to drop in at the USO in the airports where we are always treated so kindly by the volunteers. Additionally, being in the military takes a lot of the headache out of living overseas. You can shop on base so you still have access to all of your American comforts. Military is exempt from paying the VAT (Value Added Tax) which is included in the prices you see in Europe. So when we went shopping we took a VAT form that gave us an automatic 17% (at the time) discount. We also had gas stations on post where we could fill up at the average US price per gallon, which is way cheaper than buying gas at a German gas station. When traveling inside of Germany we had special cards that still gave us the discounted gas rate. Outside of Germany we had to pay the going rate. Ouch. We spent multiple weekends at the military resort in Garmisch. If he was there for a training or conference expenses were covered. When we went on our own it was very reasonably priced. Here are the descriptions of the four full-service military resorts http://www.armymwr.com/travel/recreationcenters/.

*Medical benefits: All of our medical expenses were covered. I am not sure what the vision and dental coverage is in the US, but overseas we were seen on base at a clinic for almost all medical needs. The medical providers we saw were either active duty, reservists who had been called up, or civilian contractors. For medical services they didn't have on base we were sent to the local German hospital where we received excellent care, even though communication was rough at times. We did not pay one cent for any medical care during our time there. This included pre-natal care and an emergency c-section, stitches, a septoplasty, an emergency appendectomy, as well as routine visits and medical care for illnesses.

*Deployment: Most people would think I am crazy to list this. Five years ago I likely would have agreed. But now in hindsight, I can see how the deployment really helped shape and solidify many of my husband's dental skills. He was the only dentist on a base of 10,000 Soldiers and civilian contractors. If he could not fix the dental problem presented it likely meant the Soldier would be taking a helicopter to another base to see a specialist who may or may not be able to help. Additionally, we were paid extra during the deployment, exempt from taxes, and he accrued a crazy amount of leave.

*Friendships: We made strong friendships very quickly in the military environment. It is a very tight-nit group. I still consider many of our military friends to be our closest friends. There are lots of social events and ways to be involved, not to mention you will likely live in close proximity to other military.

If I thought harder and had more time I could probably come up with a half dozen other pros for our time in the Army, but I'll just leave it at that.

CONS
*Lack of control: This is prevalent in many aspects of military life. Just some examples from our experience: We were asked to rank our preferences for the AGD location. Out of 12 choices we were given our 10th (yes 10th!) choice, while a fellow classmate was given our 2nd choice even though he had ranked it 8 or 9. When we got to Germany the housing we were assigned was brand new and very nice, but was on a base that was 40 minutes from my husband's assigned base. They just hadn't planned well enough to have sufficient housing available and many of us had to suffer the consequences.

*The bureaucracy: This permeates every aspect of military life - filling out 20 pages of paperwork just to go away for the weekend (it was more when he was actually taking leave!), utilizing the medical system, trying to get a passport for my newborn son so we could fly home for a wedding, etc. It was exhausting. By the end we had become so acclimated to everything being so difficult and time-consuming that we were continually surprised by how NOT hard things are in the "real world".

*Deployment: I know the number and length of deployments is down significantly. However, during my husband's time on active duty he served a 15-month deployment to Iraq. I was in Germany with a 3-year-old and a 4-month old baby. The separation was excruciatingly difficult on everyone. And it's impossible to know when signing up for the HSPS what the global climate might look like during your active duty time. My husband commissioned in March 2001. At the time, the idea of deploying a dentist was unheard of. Fast forward six months and we have 9/11. By the time my husband graduated from dental school the military was heavily present in the middle east and dentist that didn't deploy were the exception, not the norm.

*The money: Once the active duty payback years are complete, the pay and benefits that the military can offer just can't compare to the income potential in civilian life. Even if there are some things a dentist LOVES about working for the military, you can separate from active duty and come back as a contractor and make a lot more than on active duty.

These are just a few. My husband actually has a 75 page document called "Reasons I Got Out of the Army". Seriously. If you want a fairly cynical view of the negatives of the HSPS there is a thread on here called "37 reasons not to be a military dentist", some but not all of which I agree with.

If we had known at the time what we were getting ourselves into would he have applied for and accepted the HSPS? It's possible he wouldn't have. But he did, and we try to see the many positives, including invaluable personal and professional experiences, that came from the experience.

If you have any other specific questions we try to be as open and honest about our experiences with people who really want to know. We went into it kind of blind, and hope that sharing our experiences can at least help others make an informed decision and have a clearer idea what they are getting into if they accept the HSPS.

Hope this helps!
 

ysrebob

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Re: "My husband actually has a 75 page document called "Reasons I Got Out of the Army". Seriously."
Wow! I thought I didn't like the military. Great post, btw.

Everybody knows from movies and TV kind of what "boot camp" is like. There is a common misconception that day-to-day life in the military has something in common with the "boot camp" experience as well. Camos, guns, dirt, humvees, macho guys, etc. Life as a military dentist is not like this. You aren't going to get yelled at or do much if any marching. It's office work. You will probably spend most of your time wearing scrubs, not camo. It is true that the officer training programs you go through as a new military dentist have a good bit of "boot camp" to them. These training programs (while they are a very artificial environment and not a microcosm of normal military life at all), do serve as a good test of anyone's ability to acclimate to a different way of life. If you can envision yourself maintaining a positive frame of mind while being yelled at and marched around by sergeants for a few weeks in the knowledge that it's a temporary situation and a means to an end, then you'll probably adapt to the actual challenges of day-to-day military life just fine.

The downsides of actual military life are well-enumerated in replies above. They have nothing in common with the war movie stereotypes nor with boot camp. The important thing to grasp is that most of the actual frustrations of military life come from being government property, in the service of a huge, inflexible, and inefficient federal bureaucracy. You need to have a high tolerance for being jerked around -- not in the literal sense that you might experience in boot camp, but figuratively: told where you'll be living, told how to dress, told when to stand in line and piss in a bottle to prove you're not on drugs, told whether and when you can leave the area for a vacation and for how long. For me, the critical element of that was being told who you will work under. Regardless of branch and regardless of location, your commander can MAKE OR BREAK your experience of military dentistry. Some commanders are good and some are not. Regardless, make no mistake -- your commander does own you, and can control every aspect of your working life. I served under a very difficult personality for a couple years and those were the longest and the most miserable couple years of my life. In civilian life if you have a toxic boss, you give notice and change jobs. In the military, you just have to suck it up.

Despite that, I am very grateful to have gone through school on the HPSP program and consider taking the military "scholarship" to have been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Terrific way to get through school without debt, terrific AEGD training, terrific patients and coworkers. Easier to say that now that I'm done and happily civilian again.
 
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Incis0r

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You aren't going to get yelled at
Except at MEPS. They had it out for me.

"IF YOU STOP AFTER THE SECURITY SCREENING TO PUT YOUR BELT AND SHOES BACK ON, YOU WILL NOT PROCESS TODAY. AM I UNDERSTOOD?"

"SIT UP STRAIGHT. DON'T MAKE ME ASK YOU AGAIN"- said by a receptionist to all 45 of us sitting in the lounge waiting for our turn to go and process.


Man...the chills.

These are just a few. My husband actually has a 75 page document called "Reasons I Got Out of the Army". Seriously. If you want a fairly cynical view of the negatives of the HSPS there is a thread on here called "37 reasons not to be a military dentist", some but not all of which I agree with.
May I please have a copy of this? xD
 

distressstudent

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Except at MEPS. They had it out for me.

"IF YOU STOP AFTER THE SECURITY SCREENING TO PUT YOUR BELT AND SHOES BACK ON, YOU WILL NOT PROCESS TODAY. AM I UNDERSTOOD?"

"SIT UP STRAIGHT. DON'T MAKE ME ASK YOU AGAIN"- said by a receptionist to all 45 of us sitting in the lounge waiting for our turn to go and process.


Man...the chills.



May I please have a copy of this? xD
Totally not my experience.

They were really respectful to us. To the officer candidates, they even let us cut in line lol


Why don't a lot of people talk about it? Is it because of the limited spots? The locations?
I feel like all I ever read now when the $ tag comes up is HPSP

From speaking with my classmates, the reason they didn't pursue it were mainly due to
1. qualification (medical problem, grades, citizenship, etc)
2. personal reason - obviously can go on and on

As far as dollar to the dime goes it's pretttty good.

IMO, you should make this a personal decision before you make this a financial situation
 
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Incis0r

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Totally not my experience.

They were really respectful to us. To the officer candidates, they even let us cut in line lol
I'm glad you were treated with the dignity and respect that you deserved- I wish my local MEPS did the same.

That said, the Chief Medical Officer and the Liaison for my service were both extremely respectful....calling me "Sir" and congratulating me. It's the other folks- the people working the main Check-in desk, the medical techs who conducted all the hearing/blood/eye tests, etc.- who were quite....unwelcoming.

Maybe a difference is that you had multiple Officer Candidates together? See- I was the only Officer Candidate during my processing. Everyone else was enlisting.
 

schmoob

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I'm glad you were treated with the dignity and respect that you deserved- I wish my local MEPS did the same.

That said, the Chief Medical Officer and the Liaison for my service were both extremely respectful....calling me "Sir" and congratulating me. It's the other folks- the people working the main Check-in desk, the medical techs who conducted all the hearing/blood/eye tests, etc.- who were quite....unwelcoming.

Maybe a difference is that you had multiple Officer Candidates together? See- I was the only Officer Candidate during my processing. Everyone else was enlisting.
Lol MEPS was awful.
 
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Incis0r

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Lol MEPS was awful.
I didn't mind the waiting/medical tests/physical exam.
What bothered me was how disrespectful some of the staff members were towards the enlisted and myself.

Nobody smiled. Nobody greeted you when you said Hello- they flat out ignored you. Nobody said "thank you for waking up at 4am and volunteering to join the military."

It was very impersonal. Maybe my expectations are just high, but I go out of my way to look out for others (even strangers) and make them feel welcome.

Except for the Chief Medical Officer & my sponsoring service's Liaison. Those 2 people....I respect them a lot. They were kind, helpful, and supportive.
 
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ysrebob

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This thread should probably be moved to the Military Dentistry subforum. A lot of people look there when they're considering signing on with HPSP.

Re: MEPS -- MEPS stations are staffed by bitter retired-military contract workers who are tired of going through the same motions with a new crowd of scared people each day, and some of them get off on hazing people. Most people you interact with in the operational military will be more considerate. I will say that there's a little taste of reality contained in the MEPS experience, though, in that during MEPS you may get your initial first-hand glimpse of the fact that the military is a huge and impersonal organization, too big for any one person to matter. I.e., baldly stated, you don't matter and nobody cares what your opinion of the process is or how you feel about it -- no exceptions are going to be made, so stay in line and do what you're told. If this truly offends you, you may find that the military is a poor fit for your needs, or at least difficult to adapt to.
 

BYU4you

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I chose dentistry for the autonomy


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
 

JakeSill

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How many vacations days do you get? You just can't leave on the weekend, when you want to? When you ask to leave, can you be denied?
 
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How many vacations days do you get? You just can't leave on the weekend, when you want to? When you ask to leave, can you be denied?
This page breaks it down pretty well: http://www.goarmy.com/soldier-life/army-family-strong/health-care/vacation-army-leave.html


Here is what the website doesn't tell you:

No leave is charged for "training holidays" or if you are given a "pass". Training holidays are nice. They are usually attached to a regular holiday to give a nice, long 4-day weekend. There are also opportunities at times to ask for or earn a 3-day or 4-day pass (over a weekend) that doesn't require the Soldier to take leave (i.e. my husband got a 4-day pass because my son won the Troop Halloween costume contest. For real. Best costume contest prize ever!).

However, when leave is taken, every day the Soldier is gone is deducted as leave. So, if a Soldier leaves on a Friday and doesn't get back until Sunday the following week they would be charged for 9 days of leave, even though they only missed 5 days of work. You learn to think about it differently than taking days off work in the civilian world, and adjust your vacation accordingly!

Many units also have what they call "block leave" before and after a deployment and often during the holidays. The entire unit is usually encouraged to take leave during this specific time.

A Soldier can only retain 60 days of leave. If he/she has more than that at the end of the fiscal year anything over 60 days is forfeited.

....unless they have earned SLA (Special Leave Accrual). These are days of leave a Soldier accrues when they are in a combat zone or serving somewhere they cannot take leave (like a ship or a mobile unit) for more than 120 days. In that case the Soldier can accrue 60 days of regular leave + up to 60 days of SLA.

I'm not sure if there is a hard and fast military-wide rule about how far you can travel (like on the weekend, for example) without having a pass. Even on the 4-day holiday/training weekends if we were going to be going more than 150 miles (I think) and definitely if we were leaving the country my husband was supposed to fill out the travel pass paperwork (which was pages upon pages upon pages). The idea is they want to know where you are at all times. We were only two hours from Prague, which made it a quick and easy day trip, and admittedly we didn't always fill out the paperwork. However, if a Soldier doesn't fill out the paperwork he/she is basically forfeiting any military benefits during that time - they can get in a lot of trouble if something happens to prevent them from getting back in time for work, or if something happens that requires medical attention TriCare can refuse to pay.

There are often places that have Travel Restrictions - not only are Soldiers not allowed to travel there, but neither are civilian contractors or military-sponsored dependents (the spouse and kids).

And as with anything in the Army, they can always tell you no. Always.

Hope that helps!
 
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schmoob

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This page breaks it down pretty well: http://www.goarmy.com/soldier-life/army-family-strong/health-care/vacation-army-leave.html


Here is what the website doesn't tell you:

No leave is charged for "training holidays" or if you are given a "pass". Training holidays are nice. They are usually attached to a regular holiday to give a nice, long 4-day weekend. There are also opportunities at times to ask for or earn a 3-day or 4-day pass (over a weekend) that doesn't require the Soldier to take leave (i.e. my husband got a 4-day pass because my son won the Troop Halloween costume contest. For real. Best costume contest prize ever!).

However, when leave is taken, every day the Soldier is gone is deducted as leave. So, if a Soldier leaves on a Friday and doesn't get back until Sunday the following week they would be charged for 9 days of leave, even though they only missed 5 days of work. You learn to think about it differently than taking days off work in the civilian world, and adjust your vacation accordingly!

Many units also have what they call "block leave" before and after a deployment and often during the holidays. The entire unit is usually encouraged to take leave during this specific time.

A Soldier can only retain 60 days of leave. If he/she has more than that at the end of the fiscal year anything over 60 days is forfeited.

....unless they have earned SLA (Special Leave Accrual). These are days of leave a Soldier accrues when they are in a combat zone or serving somewhere they cannot take leave (like a ship or a mobile unit) for more than 120 days. In that case the Soldier can accrue 60 days of regular leave + up to 60 days of SLA.

I'm not sure if there is a hard and fast military-wide rule about how far you can travel (like on the weekend, for example) without having a pass. Even on the 4-day holiday/training weekends if we were going to be going more than 150 miles (I think) and definitely if we were leaving the country my husband was supposed to fill out the travel pass paperwork (which was pages upon pages upon pages). The idea is they want to know where you are at all times. We were only two hours from Prague, which made it a quick and easy day trip, and admittedly we didn't always fill out the paperwork. However, if a Soldier doesn't fill out the paperwork he/she is basically forfeiting any military benefits during that time - they can get in a lot of trouble if something happens to prevent them from getting back in time for work, or if something happens that requires medical attention TriCare can refuse to pay.

There are often places that have Travel Restrictions - not only are Soldiers not allowed to travel there, but neither are civilian contractors or military-sponsored dependents (the spouse and kids).

And as with anything in the Army, they can always tell you no. Always.

Hope that helps!
The only thing about that is, if I took leave but came back before work (like came back on a Friday, but no work until Monday, I would finish my leave on Friday so I don't get charged more. This way if they decided to be jerks and say that I need to come in on the weekend, i can do so without the risk of getting in trouble because I'm not on duty.
Or if I just wanted a week to lounge at home, I would take the 5 days, not the 9. They can't make you take the weekend if you're in the area and available to be recalled (which never happened to me).
 

MatthewLeeDDS

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I'm an Air Force dentist and I love it. I would do it again without hesitation. Forget the financial benefits for a minute... I'm enjoying my day-to-day life and have very little stress. No prior military experience, no dentists in my family.

I've been blogging about the Air Force dental experience since before I started dental school several years ago so this website is loaded with information. If you're thinking HPSP, check it out:

usafdds.blogspot.com
 

Bis-GMA111

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I chose dentistry for the autonomy


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unless you're going through dental school debt free...what autonomy do you really have at the end of the day?
 
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ncide

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unless you're going through dental school debt free...what autonomy do you really have at the end of the day?
Your assistants, front desk, which labs you work with, which supplies you get to use... when you want to take vacation, where you want to live.
 
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gatorfan99

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Your assistants, front desk, which labs you work with, which supplies you get to use... when you want to take vacation, where you want to live.
Those (exception for the lab) are not completely our of your control in the military either - you need to learn the system, understand the proper channels and you can change them as well.. Supplies? We (within reason) can order whatever we want
 

ncide

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How you want to design your office, where you want your office located, your work schedule...
 

ncide

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I believe those luxuries would fall under the category of "things limited by debt"
You can easily get a practice loan from a bank as a dentist, and you have the freedom to work as much as you want to tackle on that debt.

Military has its perks but so does private practice.
 

Incis0r

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Didnt work, also Im underweight. Im 5'8 120 lbs. Recruiter said it was going to be too difficult.

And I think its too late to apply for this years cycle.
It's not too late. All the Air Force scholarships are gone, yes, but Navy and Army are still available.

If your recruiter said "it was going to be too difficult," then it sounds like s/he didn't send your packet up to the waiver authority and isn't doing his/her job.
 

Likkriue

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It's not too late. All the Air Force scholarships are gone, yes, but Navy and Army are still available.

If your recruiter said "it was going to be too difficult," then it sounds like s/he didn't send your packet up to the waiver authority and isn't doing his/her job.
Isnt it due in a few weeks? I dont think I could send everything in time.
 

Bis-GMA111

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You can easily get a practice loan from a bank as a dentist, and you have the freedom to work as much as you want to tackle on that debt.

Military has its perks but so does private practice.
you're missing the point. you either are indebted to banks or you are indebted to the military. one causes you to pay an immense amount of interest
 

Incis0r

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You say that like the other doesn't demand significant things in return as well.
Depends on an individual's goals and desires.

For a young, single guy like me.....man, oh man, it'd be AWESOME to serve our troops overseas (I'm smiling just thinking about it right now- I'll get to treat the people who are risking their lives for us everyday), practice dentistry using some of the best tech. out there (I think every Air Force and Army clinic now has a CEREC machine....many private practices do not) , attend some amazing residencies, be debt-free, and never worry about the headaches of practice management (and believe me, I've seen some extremely stressed out dentists who own practices...rising overhead, increased competition, etc is making them very unhappy).

The camaraderie and opportunity to deploy are really attractive to me.

But different people have different situations. And I recognize that for someone who is in a committed relationship and plans to/already has kids, the military is a tougher sell: stable childhood, school districts, etc. But even then, people with families make it work and have a great time. Check out KRmower's blog on Armystrongstories.
 
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Cello

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Depends on an individual's goals and desires.

For a young, single guy like me.....man, oh man, it'd be AWESOME to serve our troops overseas (I'm smiling just thinking about it right now- I'll get to treat the people who are risking their lives for us everyday), practice dentistry using some of the best tech. out there (I think every Air Force and Army clinic now has a CEREC machine....many private practices do not) , attend some amazing residencies, be debt-free, and never worry about the headaches of practice management (and believe me, I've seen some extremely stressed out dentists who own practices...rising overhead, increased competition, etc is making them very unhappy).

The camaraderie and opportunity to deploy are really attractive to me.

But different people have different situations. And I recognize that for someone who is in a committed relationship and plans to/already has kids, the military is a tougher sell: stable childhood, school districts, etc. But even then, people with families make it work and have a great time. Check out KRmower's blog on Armystrongstories.
I think that the military is a great option for a person in your situation. If I was single, I would absolutely be doing HPSP, but deployment and relocation would be highly disruptive to my fiancee's career and I have to consider her as well.

There are many things to consider on both sides. I like the idea of serving my country, being part of something greater than myself, caring for our troops, and the opportunities which are available for military dentists. But not everyone is cut out for life in the military and the incredibly inefficient bureaucracy that comes with it.

Without having been in the military, but coming from a military family, I think that some things seem more attractive from the outside than they are once you are in. But, that is all very subjective.

At the end of the day some people stay in the military because they love it, most do not. If you don't sign up then you never have the option.
 
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Jul 28, 2017
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My husband attended dental school on the Army HSPS (2001-2005, active duty 2005-2009). As we both frequently say, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Everyone will have their own unique experience. I will outline here the pros and cons for us personally. Please consider that this is just one family's experience, although I can say that many dentists we knew felt similarly about their time in the military.

PROS
*The money: The reason anyone signs up for a scholarship - the money. They paid every penny of his dental school education - tuition, fees, books, etc. plus a monthly stipend. For 45 days of the year he was supposed to be doing active duty. However his school, like many dental schools now, did not have a 45-day break in the summer. He submitted documentation of this and was exempted from doing the active duty, although they still paid him as active duty for 45 days of the year. Because I was working during his time in dental school we were able to put most of the money he earned into savings. And at this stage it is so very nice to not be paying on student loans when you also add in the costs of purchasing and running a dental practice. Most of his classmates are still paying on student loans 11 years later.

*Additional training: He applied for and was awarded a 1-year AGD program (in hindsight we now refer to this as "deployment prep"!). At the time, this year of additional training working alongside specialists of every field counted as one of his four years of payback. I've been told this is no longer the case. He received some wonderful training during this year. His first patients he was seeing out of dental school were Soldiers who didn't complain about how long it took and weren't paying out of pocket so no worries about how much it cost! He got much faster and also became very comfortable doing far more complicated procedures than dental school alone had prepared him for.

*Military Training: I think it would be difficult to replicate the physical and tactical training received in the military. I know many of the training exercises my husband participated in are not the type of thing he would have been out doing after work if he'd been a dentist working in a private or group practice.

*Adventure: After his residency we were sent to Germany. It was beautiful. We had a wonderful time traveling all over Europe. We flew Space A military flights to get back to the states on a few occasions (that's a whole separate discussion - it's always an adventure, but not always a good one!). When traveling in the US it was always so nice to drop in at the USO in the airports where we are always treated so kindly by the volunteers. Additionally, being in the military takes a lot of the headache out of living overseas. You can shop on base so you still have access to all of your American comforts. Military is exempt from paying the VAT (Value Added Tax) which is included in the prices you see in Europe. So when we went shopping we took a VAT form that gave us an automatic 17% (at the time) discount. We also had gas stations on post where we could fill up at the average US price per gallon, which is way cheaper than buying gas at a German gas station. When traveling inside of Germany we had special cards that still gave us the discounted gas rate. Outside of Germany we had to pay the going rate. Ouch. We spent multiple weekends at the military resort in Garmisch. If he was there for a training or conference expenses were covered. When we went on our own it was very reasonably priced. Here are the descriptions of the four full-service military resorts Armed Forces Resorts :: ArmyMWR.

*Medical benefits: All of our medical expenses were covered. I am not sure what the vision and dental coverage is in the US, but overseas we were seen on base at a clinic for almost all medical needs. The medical providers we saw were either active duty, reservists who had been called up, or civilian contractors. For medical services they didn't have on base we were sent to the local German hospital where we received excellent care, even though communication was rough at times. We did not pay one cent for any medical care during our time there. This included pre-natal care and an emergency c-section, stitches, a septoplasty, an emergency appendectomy, as well as routine visits and medical care for illnesses.

*Deployment: Most people would think I am crazy to list this. Five years ago I likely would have agreed. But now in hindsight, I can see how the deployment really helped shape and solidify many of my husband's dental skills. He was the only dentist on a base of 10,000 Soldiers and civilian contractors. If he could not fix the dental problem presented it likely meant the Soldier would be taking a helicopter to another base to see a specialist who may or may not be able to help. Additionally, we were paid extra during the deployment, exempt from taxes, and he accrued a crazy amount of leave.

*Friendships: We made strong friendships very quickly in the military environment. It is a very tight-nit group. I still consider many of our military friends to be our closest friends. There are lots of social events and ways to be involved, not to mention you will likely live in close proximity to other military.

If I thought harder and had more time I could probably come up with a half dozen other pros for our time in the Army, but I'll just leave it at that.

CONS
*Lack of control: This is prevalent in many aspects of military life. Just some examples from our experience: We were asked to rank our preferences for the AGD location. Out of 12 choices we were given our 10th (yes 10th!) choice, while a fellow classmate was given our 2nd choice even though he had ranked it 8 or 9. When we got to Germany the housing we were assigned was brand new and very nice, but was on a base that was 40 minutes from my husband's assigned base. They just hadn't planned well enough to have sufficient housing available and many of us had to suffer the consequences.

*The bureaucracy: This permeates every aspect of military life - filling out 20 pages of paperwork just to go away for the weekend (it was more when he was actually taking leave!), utilizing the medical system, trying to get a passport for my newborn son so we could fly home for a wedding, etc. It was exhausting. By the end we had become so acclimated to everything being so difficult and time-consuming that we were continually surprised by how NOT hard things are in the "real world".

*Deployment: I know the number and length of deployments is down significantly. However, during my husband's time on active duty he served a 15-month deployment to Iraq. I was in Germany with a 3-year-old and a 4-month old baby. The separation was excruciatingly difficult on everyone. And it's impossible to know when signing up for the HSPS what the global climate might look like during your active duty time. My husband commissioned in March 2001. At the time, the idea of deploying a dentist was unheard of. Fast forward six months and we have 9/11. By the time my husband graduated from dental school the military was heavily present in the middle east and dentist that didn't deploy were the exception, not the norm.

*The money: Once the active duty payback years are complete, the pay and benefits that the military can offer just can't compare to the income potential in civilian life. Even if there are some things a dentist LOVES about working for the military, you can separate from active duty and come back as a contractor and make a lot more than on active duty.

These are just a few. My husband actually has a 75 page document called "Reasons I Got Out of the Army". Seriously. If you want a fairly cynical view of the negatives of the HSPS there is a thread on here called "37 reasons not to be a military dentist", some but not all of which I agree with.

If we had known at the time what we were getting ourselves into would he have applied for and accepted the HSPS? It's possible he wouldn't have. But he did, and we try to see the many positives, including invaluable personal and professional experiences, that came from the experience.

If you have any other specific questions we try to be as open and honest about our experiences with people who really want to know. We went into it kind of blind, and hope that sharing our experiences can at least help others make an informed decision and have a clearer idea what they are getting into if they accept the HSPS.

Hope this helps!
Your post is absolutely amazing! I am wondering how long did it take your husband to find a job outside of army medicine after he completed the active duty? Would the situation be different for the medical field?