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Army Scholarship--decisions, decisions, decisions...

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by DNALadder2002, Dec 6, 2001.

  1. DNALadder2002

    DNALadder2002 Senior Member

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    I am very serious in considering the HPSP with the ARMY. But I have read posts using the "search engine" within studentdoctor.net that there are many negatives that come with being a HPSP recipient. Any further thoughts? If there are any GWU students out there currently doing the HPSP, this helps more.
     
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  3. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    You can find a list of factors that influenced my decision at:
    <a href="http://www.studentdoctor.net/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=3&t=003005" target="_blank">http://www.studentdoctor.net/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=3&t=003005</a>

    I'm in HPSP and think that it is a great deal for me. I value the idea of service to my country greatly. I also value the financial independence that it will give me and my family. I will be out of the Army long before most of my classmates have paid off their student loans.

    The only big downside (one which was mentioned in that post) that I had to overcome was the possible impact on residency choices. I think that is huge. I'd be happy to answer an specific questions you might have as well.

    Ed
     
  4. Homunculus

    Homunculus SDN Caveman Administrator
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    i'm currently an MS2, and i'm on an Army HPSP scholarship as well. I already had a 4 year commitment from a 4 year ROTC scholarhip in undergrad, so my situation is a little different than most. i figured i owed them 4 years anyway, so why not add 4 more? :) I'm not as bad as some people i know, who went to west point then USUHS-- they owe 11. I took the scholarship for personal as well as financial reasons-- you can't do it for financial reasons alone.

    there is going to be a "restriction", if you want to call it that, on residency choices. there are a limited number of army residencies, so you can't apply to 30 and hope to get into one like in the civilian match. you must make 5 and exactly 5 choices on your dream sheet, and in some cases (like emergency medicine) there are only 3 programs to choose from. It forces you to make up your mind a little sooner as well, as the military match is finished by i think christmas of your 4th year. however, if you are NOT seelcted into a military residency, you will match in the normal civilian match. the catch, though, is that you will not get any of the military benefits/pay while you're in that civilian program. if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

    on another note, if you have even the slightest interest in doing an HPSP scholarship, start doing the paperwork now. you are not obligated to anything until after you are awarded the scholarship and "sign the dotted line". You can always apply now and withdraw your name later, but it will be very difficult to get the ball rolling if you wait and decide to apply just before the last selection board meets...

    take it easy

    homonculus
     
  5. HPSP

    HPSP Member

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    Ed, You will be glad to know that over the last three years that I have been a Health Care Recruiter(this is DocHunter9 by the way, I got a new computer and lost my old password)HPSP students have had first choice match rate that exceeds 80%. The chance of getting the residency you want is very likely assuming you are competitive for it.
     
  6. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    The percentage you site is an overall percentage. The statistics are no where near as good for surgical subspecialties which can be as low as 50%. However, for those who want to do primary care the numbers are very high!

    Ed
     
  7. HPSP

    HPSP Member

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    Ed, that may be true but the competive candidate who didnt get a slot because of availabilitiy of those surgical subspecialty slots is also the most likely candidiate for an educational delay to attend a civilian residency.
     
  8. tec

    tec Member

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    DocHunter9,

    Could you please explain more about how the Army residency match works (slots vs. availabilty in a chosen field, etc.)? Thanks!!
     
  9. DarePimpMe

    DarePimpMe New Member

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    See this website - multiple links that can answer many of your questions:

    <a href="http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/medcom/meded/" target="_blank">http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/medcom/meded/</a>
     
  10. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    <a href="http://lukeballard.tripod.com/HPSP.html" target="_blank">Here is an interesting and positive take on the Air Force HPSP.</a>
     
  11. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    Back to the Army Match issue for a minute. It is true that "competitive candidates" who doesn't match will likely get a deferral and a civilian residency. From what I understand, it is now SOP to grant those who don't match in the Army to have a educational delay (as opposed to forcing them to take a left over). The problem comes in if you want to do a specialty with less than five programs in the Army. You see, you are required to put down five program choices on your Army residency application -- no more, no less. If you want to do a specialty with fewer than five programs you must fill your application with something else. Herein lies the problem -- you may not match into your first choice and then get "stuck" into your second choice.

    This won't be a problem for most people because the Army has lots of programs, but there are some with less than five. Emergency Medicine comes to mind (It's very hot with people in HPSP now).

    Ed
     
  12. DNALadder2002

    DNALadder2002 Senior Member

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    What is the salary difference between "HPSP attending physician" versus "civilian attending physician?" Once you finish residency and fellowship, how much of a salary difference will you see?
     
  13. praha12

    praha12 Junior Member

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    Edmadison, thanks for all the great info. I have another question: How much time must you devote to officer's training during your four years of medical school (that is, before residency)? It looks to me HPSP students are expected to give up all their vacation time, and that doesn't sound too attractive to me.
     
  14. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    Good question.

    You really only have to give up six weeks. Either before first year (uncommon) or between first and second (more common). That is for the officer basic course. I thought it was great. As long as you are in decent physical shape and don't screw around (too much) you will do fine. San Antonio is a fantastic city and you will have a ton of free time. You will also have lots of fun people to hang out with. Only real drag was being separated from my wife. We stayed at the visiting officers quarters which was like a hotel, only cheaper. One bad thing -- only three HBO channels!

    After your core rotations and if your school permits it, you do two externships at army hospitals. This is not during vacation time -- schools count it as a normal elective rotation.

    The only other obligation may be a meeting or two during the year at your school when they come to talk to you about the match and stuff.

    I have not found any of this bad.

    Hope this helps,

    Ed
     
  15. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    I have no idea what the difference between civilian and military attendings is, but givin the governments tight pay scale, I imagine civilian attendings at military hospitals make much less than their non-government employed colleagues.

    I think its a good question, but you are comparing apples and oranges. The scholarship is what makes it worthwhile to be a military doc (mostly). There is no similar benifit for civilian attendings that I know of!

    If someone knows differently, I'd certainly love to know.

    Ed
     
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  17. OT_Still

    OT_Still Junior Member

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    Just a quick quote from my good friend who is going through the military match:

    "Uncle Sam's got my testicles in a vice grip and keeps tightening them....I wish I never did this"

    He's been given multiple interviews at top notch programs, outside of the military base programs - he was investigating the possibility of deferrment. Deferrment is a relative impossibility, most positions in the military match are never filled to the point of granting a deferrment. He has told me many horror stories regarding residency limitations. This is not to say that there are not fine residency options available at base hospitals either.

    Although "service to our country" is a worthwhile and exceptional reason to enter the military training program, this is usually not the primary reason for it. It comes down to lessening the debt load incurred by medical school - even the military recruiters use this as their main argument when speaking to prospectives.

    There are both pros and cons for entering the military training programs, however one should be *well informed* as to the possible limitations and pitfalls prior to signing the dotted line.

    Best of luck
     
  18. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member

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    Regarding deferrment, at least in the army they will generally not be givin out for those who match in the army. For those who do not match, however, it is not policy to grant a deferrment for civilian residency. The army has more scholarship recipients than residency slots so they must do this.

    Ed
     
  19. jephyboy

    jephyboy Senior Member

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    Can some tell me the pros/cons, strengths/weaknesses of the different medical centers for the Army. Things like "Madigan has a very good ----- program", "------ is a bit too big of a program/hospital to really get to learn anything", would be useful. Also, any other information pertaining to anything remotely related to this topic is greatly appreciated.

    Finally, does anyone know of the number of positions available for each of the specialties, or where I could find them? The Army site tell of how many years the training is, but doesn't elude to the number of positions each year. Thank you.
     
  20. Rhys

    Rhys Member

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    Okay...I may sound like an idiot, but what exactly comprises 'officer training'? That's not just a fancy term for boot camp, is it?

    Thanks for any info.
     
  21. Homunculus

    Homunculus SDN Caveman Administrator
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    here's a link to find the number of slots in each program-- just scroll down and click on the FYGME link under the medical education directorate section to see the stats for the past few years. <a href="http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/medcom/meded/" target="_blank">army medicine homepage</a>

    as for OBC-- it's FAR from boot camp. No one gets dropped for pushups, and no one is yelled at. we're officers, and are treated accordingly. unfortunately, i think some people are not deserving of this instant respect. the majority of the people at OBC are great, but there are a few dirtbags here and there who have no respect for their uniforms, their military bearing, or how they are percieved by other officers/enlisted soldiers. it's a lot like ROTC, coondensed down into about 6 weeks, with a little medical corps stuff thrown in :) anyone with prior active/reserve/ROTC/military academy experience will think it's ridiculously easy.

    if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

    take it easy

    homonculus
     
  22. Lt. Ub

    Lt. Ub Senior Member

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    As a former ROTC battalion cmdr, nothing distresses me more than lack of respect for the institution of the Army - uniforms, military bearing, history, parade, etc.

    Please, do NOT sign up if you plan on being an MD before an Officer. The medical officer's purpose is service to the military, it is not for those looking to get out of debt. There are plenty of jobs out there where you can be MD first and concurrently pay off your student loans. I do not wish to be associated with a Corps that lacks less respect for the Army and our Country than the Infantry itself. Remember the Medical Corps is a Service Support branch - in service and support of what? The Combart Arms branches themselves.

    I'm not trying to be patronizing, but I want to shed a little light of reality on the subject. I understand that we all want the best residencies and training possible. But you should not base your decision to enter the military on what residencies it has to offer. If you do, you may find yourself frustrated and disappointed - like someone has your "testicles" in their grip. The Army offers great training, but it does not, and will not ever be, on the level of Mass Gen. You must also realize that your education and training are mostly what you make of them - how many hours are you willing to spend working, studying, preparing, etc? Some can come out of a military residency on the level of a Mass Gen trained physician if they put their heart and soul into it.

    Becoming an Army physician is not about what kind of training you receive (or don't receive). It must come from a heart to serve this nation and those that serve in the Combat Arms. That's the final goal. In a sense it is almost antithetical to academic medicine where the focus is self - publishings, promotions, positions. Army medicince more parallels medical missions in that service to others or another entity is first. Of course I do not wish to foolishly generalize, but that's the best analogy I could come up with.

    Dig deep inside yourself, it's not for everyone. If service to the Army and Country is not your primary desire, please rethink your decision. Money should not be an issue (I stress should not, though it usually is). I don't want to stand next to you in the ranks if your boots aren't as polished, your uniform as pressed, your salute as crisp, or your bearing as at least as refined as mine (for these are evidences of your desire to serve).

    As an officer, you exist for the mission. It is no less real in the Medical Corps than any other branch.

    The questions of the particulars of Army medical training are good and necessary, but all discussion should be understood with the purpose of the Military in mind - again, or you will only be frustrated down the road. I hope this helps.

    LT
     
  23. radspouse

    radspouse Saint

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    Sorry, Lt. Ub, but the people who go into medicine and take a military scholarship are doctors first - and always will be. They will be doctors loooonnnng after their military commitment has expired. Here's how it works: The military needs doctors. Many, many bright minds enter medical school and need money. The end result is a scholarship which is give and take: you do this for me and I'll do this for you. The military establishment cannot recruit the specialists they need any other way: what finished cardiologist is going to take a paycut of a half to a third of their income in order to go into the military? Answer: very, very few if any. So, the military has learned that the way to get these specialists is by picking them up while they're docs in embryo. It is a good strategy and works. There are no fantasies about most of these medical students putting military above medicine - if that was the case you'd see less HPSP docs and many, many more people clamoring to enlist and then work their way into the military med school.

    Going back to what I said at the top: doctors that take HPSP scholarships are doctors first - thank goodness!!! If you have spent any time in a military hospital you will recognize that the traditional "rank" system is very much downplayed in the hospital. That type of system simply is not productive for care of the patient. If two doctors are working on a case - doctor A has higher"rank" but less experience with that type of medical case, doctor B has lower "rank" but extensive (or even simply more) experience on that type of case - guess which doctor is going to be deferred to? Labels such as captain, etc. have no place in that type of situation. In the end, a doctor is answerable under the law regarding what he/she does as a DOCTOR. From what I've seen, the Air Force, at least, recognizes this. Bottom line, you might want to spend some actual time in a military hospital and also re-assess the reasons YOU are in medical school if being a doctor is going to be second fiddle to being some rank of officer in the military.

    Jennifer
     
  24. radspouse

    radspouse Saint

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    Let me add to my above post by restating that my husband took the Air Force HPSP scholarship and it was a difficult decision - but we both feel it was the right one. If you want to go into the military as a doctor because of your dreams of being GIJoe's doctor, then by all means, do it. The reality is that 99% of the time this is not the case. It is a scholarship - ie money (and many of the other substantial scholarships out there for medical school also require a time commitment of service post-residency as well as impose limitations on what specialty you can go into). You do give up a certain level of freedom regarding your career decisions in the short term, but when my husband and I weighed the pros and cons of the Air Force HPSP, for us the pros far outweighed the cons. In the end, that is exactly what you are going to need to do and you are doing the right thing by asking people who have actually been in that program how it affected them and what were their experiences. Military recruiters are valuable for making sure you properly apply for the HPSP and for producing the fine print for you to read before you make any commitments. But, as far as any other aspects (ie pros and cons) of the medical military scholarships, they are NOT going to be very helpful for two reasons: 1)they have never actually been through these programs themselves (no first hand experience as medical students, residents, doctors in the military) and 2)they are salesmen/women for the military - period.

    Like I said, the HPSP has been a good choice to date for my husband and we have met a number of people who took the military medical scholarship and are quite happy they did. Ignore the bs about putting military career above medicine - that falsehood scares away more medical students from the HPSP than any other myth I've heard (because most people, well heck, ALL people I've met who went to medical school did it because they wanted to be DOCTORS first - for the rest of their lives).

    Jennifer
     
  25. Homunculus

    Homunculus SDN Caveman Administrator
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    I have to agree with Radspouse on this one. From the exposure I've had, I have also seen the almost complete avoidance of the officer/enlisted hierarchy in the Medical Centers. When it comes to patient care, I think this is fine. I think what LT has issues with are the occasional docs who have no respect for the military side of thier career. They have long hair, no military bearing, poor physical standards, and show little respect for those people above them in rank. It's these doctors that give the medical corps a bad reputation in the military. For this reason, the medical corps is unfortunately seen as a bunch of clowns by almost every branch of the Army-- at least until they see firsthand that those clowns are NOT an accurate representation of the average doc.

    Even with the percieved "cons" of the HPSP program, the majority of those in it did it for the right reasons and are great people who will make great physicians and officers. Being a physician does not have to conflict with being an officer, and it sometimes takes people a while to realize that the archetype of an infantry or any other combat arms officer does not fit well in the medical corps. I think just as many people are annoyed at the lack of "military"ness to the system as those who think it is too "military". You just gotta find that happy place in the middle :) Not all military physicians need to be airborne rangers and be perfect soldiers-- they need to be great physicians who can take excellent care of the soldiers and soldiers' families to conserve fighting strength, and in addition be a respectable officer.

    take it easy

    homonculus
     
  26. JANPLME

    JANPLME Member

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    I won't comment either way about the above posts, I'll just tell you about my experience. I'm an MS-2 who signed up for an Army HPSP scholarship mainly for the money (which is not a good idea!). I have no prior military experience or exposure, but I attended officer basic course this past summer, and hated almost every minute of it. My classroom instructor picked on me at every opportunity, it was hot, I'm an OK weight but badly out of shape, and did I mention it was EXTREMELY hot in Texas while we were doing some very physically demanding things. Not to mention having to do pushups in full gear and write a paper for dropping my unloaded rifle. While there, though, I somehow learned how to salute properly and remembered to say "sir" when I was supposed to, and could do the necessary pushups (although I didn't pass the 2 mile run). At the end of the day I was an officer and had great respect not only for what I had personally learned to do (ie. put together a rifle in 2.5 minutes,and a 9mm in 1.5 minutes, deal with a bioterrorist attack, etc), but also for the privilege of serving people who went through real boot camp where they got mentally abused, and paid less than I did, and were going out there and putting their lives on the line for our country. Throughout OBC people giving lectures to us would always say "Take care of my soldiers" and that's what our job is for 4 years (or 7-9 if you do a military residency). I think especially with the recent world events I have a greater than ever respect for what I signed up for.
    Believe me though, when I was walking for miles and miles out in the field and sweating like a pig, I very clearly remember thinking that this is not worth any amount of money, but there certainly are other benefits if you're interested in them.

    As a side note, it also occurred to me that people in the military (even doctors) who are out of shape, are probably more likely to get shot or captured if they're ever in a war situation.
     
  27. tec

    tec Member

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    I agree with the sentiment of Lt. Ub. As a West Point grad and a former Army Captain, I am going back into the military because I miss working with soldiers as well as the service to both my future patients and my country. This may sound cheesy, but it's an ingrained feeling that you gain. I miss doing the ordinary in extraordinary conditions. I miss pushing myself, both physically and mentally.

    Yet, I did not go originally go to West Point to become a "lifer," but rather as a means to an end. I have always been amazed that while I was at West Point, cadets were looked at as "America's Finest," etc. But after I graduated and donned the Army green, as opposed to my cadet grey, when I would tell people that I was in the Army, the would look at me like I couldn't do anything better with myself.

    Why am I telling you all this? I get the feeling that some of the people who are taking the scholarship just for the money are looking this way at the soldiers, sailors and airmen that they will serve. While each service has its share of dirt bags (what large organization doesn't?), the servicemen and women are some of the best, most talented people I have ever met, who manage to stay motivated, doing more with less everyday, while deployed thousands of miles from their families.

    On that note, deployments are a reality of today's military&#8230;no unit goes anywhere without medical support. I loved my deployments to Kuwait and Bosnia- they were some of the best times of my life. But as I type this I remember that my husband is currently stationed on a short tour in Korea&#8230;I'll see him next April for the first time since this past September. The separations are something we've gotten accustomed to&#8230;we've been apart half of the time since our wedding. Thus, these are not "myths" but rather the realities that come with military service and must be considered by anyone considering an HPSP scholarship.

    I'm sorry this is so long, but I felt it necessary to share my feelings.
     
  28. Lt. Ub

    Lt. Ub Senior Member

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    JANPLME-

    Welcome to the military. Medical Corps OBC is the most basic camp in the Army. It should gender a well-deserved respect for those who enlist and endure Basic Training, Airborne, Rangers, Special Forces... Our soldiers are amazing people. You just got a glimpse of what they go through.

    Officer First,
    LT
     
  29. radspouse

    radspouse Saint

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    tman, my husband and I (an active duty Captain in the Air Force) spend much of our time on the internet TOGETHER. He is looking over my shoulder right now! :D So, I get my information pretty much first person. :D I stick by everything I said - including a military physician being accountable as a doctor - it may be traffiked in a different matter, legally, but they are completely accountable for what they do as doctors first and foremost. You can be offended or upset all you want, but the fact remains that if you want to be an officer above a doctor (which as a sideline let me add, by the way, in all of his time spent in various military hospitals he hasn't once heard doctors referring to each other by rank), don't go into medicine! :D That's not disrespect of the military - my husband grew up in a military family and loves the Air Force, it's simply reality as he's experienced it (and as I, a lowly spouse lol have also experienced). By the way, if you were married you would see how bizarre it is for you to imply that by being married to a doctor who is in the military I somehow don't know what has gone one where he has worked! I am thoroughly amused! :D

    Jennifer
     
  30. jen628

    jen628 Member

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    Does anyone know about medical ethics in the military? For example, is a member of the military allowed to refuse medical treatment? Are they required to participate in clinical trials or other clinical research?
     
  31. rdennisjr

    rdennisjr SDN Super Moderator
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    Just a quick clarification to tman's diatribe....

    the UCMJ is law - just not civilian law - although it is written by the civilians - not the military. The final court of appeal for UCMJ actions is (in most cases) the US supreme court.
     
  32. doc

    doc New Member

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    As a current military physician who entered through the HPSP program I feel you should be very cautious about joining. The benefits you should already know by now. Now here is the downside.

    Military medicine is run pretty much by administrators who know nothing about medicine and nothing about patient care. With the exception of the major hospitals the clinics are run by medical service corps (equiv to admin people). Their main goal is to keep their senior people happy, which ends up being at the providers expense. During your short or long career you will constantly be battling with senior officers about everything. I mean everything. You will have to fight over control of what patients you see and when you see them, how you treat them, what ancillary staff is available to you, if and when you can take vacation time, etc. etc. If you thought the civilian sector was bad with HMO's, try dealing with egos of senior military officers who are always trying to challenge providers.

    By the way these are the same people who approve your yearly contract (medical bonus pay). I have seen on multiple occasions that providers who don't play by the rules somehow don't end up getting there medical pay for months.

    Other problems are that as an HPSP you will probably get a pretty bad billet (medical assignment). The detailers who assign these have no concept of what different providers medical goals are, you will be placed wherever you are needed. That could be in a remote area where you see no one or in a remote area where you have to do everything. It is amazing how students from USUHS end up getting better billets and pickup residencies quicker.

    Further,the professionalism of your colleagues is vastly different in the military. In the civilian sector things tend to be a turf war, In the military it is a dumping war. Bottom line, physicians who are salary based who can't get fired end up being very lazy. The young physicians with a conscious, end up doing 10 times the work in order to provide adequate care for their patients.

    Finally the military in general is having a difficult time staffing most areas. In particular surgical subspecialties, ortho, radiology. etc. That will probably not change for years, especially since the medical bonus pays have not changes for years. That will mean much more work for you.

    Think hard and long, you can do alot better if you are a dedicated physician in the civilian sector. The military is not for everyone, I have seen too many lives, families disrupted by the military and military medicine which is perhaps the biggest reason of all not to join. Good Luck
     
  33. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Banned
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    I think that last post (certainly with the help of some others) basically nixed the idea of me signing my name on the dotted line.

    Although I have the greatest respect for the men and women of the Armed Forces, I don't think I could deal with such a large amount of uncertainty.

    It seems from what I have read that this whole deal has a "you do what you're told, when you're told, and if you complain you will suffer the consequences" attitude.

    Again, those of you who choose this path, good luck and congratulations.

    As for me, I think I would rather owe a ton of money in the end and live the life I want, where I want, in the area of medicine that I want.
     

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