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Ask a USPHS Physician

Discussion in 'NHSC | PHS | IHS' started by USPHS Physician, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. USPHS Physician

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    I am part of a group of USPHS physicians who are trying to extend our outreach to interested students, residents, and physicians such as yourselves. So, SDN's "USPHS Physician" is born!...and he's most honored and pleased to represent and assist USPHS Dentist in answering your questions.

    USPHS physician opportunities:
    There really are enough different opportunities within the USPHS to suit almost any specialty and inclination - primary care or specialty, research or clinical, domestic or abroad. In addition to our very fulfilling day-to-day work, we are proud to have also quietly but effectively served on the front lines through our emergency response force in the major public health emergencies of modern times, such as hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, tsunamis, and the Ebola crisis.

    Check out http://usphs.gov/aboutus/agencies/dutystationmap.aspx , select "Physician" for Discipline, and then click Submit Selection. Then zoom out to see not only U.S. sites, but duty stations all over the world.

    Medical students can actually participate in a sort of internship program within USPHS through Jr. or Sr. COSTEP, see http://www.usphs.gov/student/jrcostep.aspx

    Training requirements:
    Any licensed physician is qualified to join the USPHS. Technically, those with only one year of internship training are qualified to join. However, the medical appointment board is generally very tough on those without residency training as few agencies are able to employ these candidates. Residency training of any specialty is a must, practically speaking.

    Allow me to go on . . .
    Loan Repayment:
    I'd also like to highlight that there is actually a very good potential for loan repayment in many of our higher need clinical sites with higher Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores in several of our agencies, including the Indian Heath Service (IHS), Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Immigration Health Services Corps (IHSC) and National Health Service Corps (NHSC). Additionally, the IHS has it's own loan repayment program for it's site, state programs may apply (for example, California's State Loan Repayment Program), and USPHS physicians are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

    Pay/benefits:
    So, while we believe the desire to join the USPHS (or one of our sister services) needs to come from deep within, our Service strives to keep overall pay and benefits on par with our military and civilian counterparts. Some of the major financial benefits include potentially taking advantage of such loan repayment programs; a large chunk of one's pay is tax free (housing allowance, etc.); the GI bill can cover most/all of a child's college; health care & dental for you and your family has minimal expense; retirement benefits are very hard to beat; and malpractice insurance is essentially a non-issue with FTCA coverage.

    Looking forward to answering more questions.
    Thank you.
     
    jpetro likes this.
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  3. Cooperd0g

    Cooperd0g Something witty goes here.
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    Didn't know your service also got the GI Bill.
     
  4. Red Lobster Actual

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    Sir, if you want more outreach to medical students it might be better to do a "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) on the allopathic and osteopathic medical student's forum. I think the only people that come around here are attendings and veterans.
     
    seanm028 likes this.
  5. abn632

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    How do assignments work? Is it like the military where you move every 3-4 years? If you start out in the BOP, will you be stuck in BOP for the rest of your career? Or would you have the opportunity to work for, say, the Coast Guard? How often do you deploy? For example, since 2001, have USPHS officers deployed at the same/higher/lower rate as military physicians?
     
  6. CajunMedic

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    I'm fixing to start my OMS-3 year. I've been interested for a while, especially an assignment with the USCG. Do you know if there are any plans to reopen the SRCOSTEP program for medical students? How far in advance would I need to apply for a physician position during residency?
     
  7. taco152

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    Where can I start to get info on opportunities USPHS? Starting from the ground up. I only recently learned about the branch.
     
  8. usrmebe

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    Do USPHS physicians have to do a yearly weigh-in or APFT or is it just a one time induction weight check? How does all that work?


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
     
  9. thebiggerfish012

    thebiggerfish012 SDN Bronze Donor
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    How much choice do you have in selecting a duty station, especially after finishing med school at USUHS?
     
  10. ελπίδα

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    It would be wonderful to have USPHS come back and answer some of these questions! I understand the service is in need of physicans. It's been like pulling teeth just trying to get in touch with the recruiting office. It should not be this hard to contact the service.
     
  11. USPHS Physician

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    Indeed we do. Saving mine for my kids as it’s transferrable. The equivalent monetary value of this benefit can easily be over $100,000 depending on the school tuition, location, degree, whether they participate in the yellow ribbon program, and other factors.
     
  12. USPHS Physician

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    Hi abn632,
    C’mon BOP isn’t so bad! You may end up emjoying it if you have it a try. But definitely one can move on to other agencies like USCG. The time commitment at a given duty station depends on some individual factors but often 2 years is a common minimum if an agency absorbs the cost of moving you for a “Permanent Change of Station” (PCS). Many officers desire the other side of the coin — to stay in one geographic location for many years due to family or other issues. An important performance benchmark for officers is to show some “mobility” - but this can be met by changing assignments or agencies in the same geographic location and frequently deploying with our Readiness & Deployment Operations Group (RDOG). Some PHS physician colleagues have even stayed in the same location for 20+ years and done well with advancement. I personally have PCS’d twice since my first assignment out of Family Medicine residency (early 2000’s) and deployed ~15 times (usually 1-4 weeks at a time) and have been able to advance in rank at a reasonable rate. In summary, barring national emergencies, our officers tend to have significant choice over how frequently and where they PCS (within the PHS) and participate in deployments. However, as an active duty Corps charged with the mission to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our Nation, flexibility and service to one’s agency and the PHS mission are expected and required for advancement in the Corps.
     
  13. USPHS Physician

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    Hi Cajun,
    I’m not as familiar with the status of Sr COSTEP but will try to get some input and get back to you soon.
     
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  14. USPHS Physician

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    Www.USPHS.gov is a great place to start. We’re also here for you :)
     
  15. USPHS Physician

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  16. USPHS Physician

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    I’m a USUHS grad and felt I had the lion’s share of the choice...within the confines of available vacancies/needs in my sponsoring agency at the time, of course....not sure if this may have changed since then. Generally a new grad/new officer tends to have less choice in my experience than later in their career. Maintaining a high level of performance tends to also help expand one’s opportunities/options within the various PHS agencies. At USUHS you’re sponsored by a particular PHS agency so to switch agencies before serving them for the expected # years may not be approved though that’s not unheard of.
     
  17. USPHS Physician

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    Hi, Elpida,
    Sorry for the difficulties connecting. We on the Physician Professional Advisory Committee (PPAC) are trying to improve this. I’ll try to get you in contact with our recruitment subcommittee asap.
     
  18. USPHS Physician

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    Hi, again, Cajun,
    This is probably your best source of COSTEP information to start: https://www.usphs.gov/student/ .
    As you may have already seen, Senior COSTEP only lists opportunities for nursing and veterinary at this time, and Junior COSTEP does not list any medical officer opportunities either.
    Still, many physicians do join USPHS after residency. There are ample loan repayment programs which our active duty Commissioned Corps medical officers are eligible for, particularly if one is willing to work in a high need area. While there are no guarantees, we're eligible for NHSC loan repayment at some higher need (higher HPSA score) Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and Indian Health Service (IHS) sites, as well as IHS' own loan repayment program. Other agencies may also offer loan repayment opportunities. It also appears that our officers are eligible to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program after 10 years of service, though I wasn't personally eligible as I unfortunately consolidated my student loans several years ago (which disqualified me).
     
  19. CajunMedic

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    Thanks for the info. I graduate in May and most likely headed for an Emergency Medicine residency. Primarily interested in a USCG assignment. I'll definitely keep y'all in consideration.
     
  20. JasSedai

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    Hello! I am currently enlisted AD in the air force. Once my enlistment is up and I have my bachelors and MCAT finished I plan on applying to USUHS. I am somewhat confused about the process, I'm only interested in joining the USPHS after med school. Will I know if I can join them prior to actually beginning school or would that come later? Would I have a better chance of getting into the USPHS if I go to a civilian medical school and then apply?
     
  21. USPHS Physician

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    JasSedai,
    If you are accepted at USUHS as your medical school, you will be commissioned as an officer in one of the services before you start school. If you are interested in a break from the military, the HPSP program might be what you are looking for followed by applying to USPHS after residency training. USUHS website has a nice student info PDF at https://www.usuhs.edu/sites/default/files/media/medschool/pdf/whatyouneedtoknow.pdf that is a great overview. Page 24 is a comparion of HPSP vs USUHS.
     
  22. ShortDoctor

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    My process applying as a civilian board certified physician has been nothing short of frustrating. The government goes on and on about how badly they need qualified docs in the rural area and yet it has taken me close to two years with little to show in having my application go through. Lost paperwork, unnecessary delays, it's ridiculous
     
  23. Mt Kilimanjaro

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    I’m considering transitioning to USPHS from the military. I saw on the USPHS website that you can’t have more than eight years in another service, which works for HPSP folks who don’t extend their initial obligation. Would like to practice full scope family medicine at IHS site.

    What’s the transition process like from other branches of the uniform service? More streamlined then a civilian coming in?

    Do you keep your rank and time and service for retirement/pay purposes?

    How much control would you have over your initial assignment location?

    Thanks!
     
  24. USPHS Physician

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    I'm taking over the mailbox - Sorry to hear about your troubles applying. It is my impression that headquarters has at times been very short staffed. My own accession years ago took nearly 9 months. I believe things have improved considerably, if you are still interested. I have heard processing times are much faster and the process is being partially integrated with sister services to get new officers to duty more quickly.
     
  25. USPHS Physician

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    I'm not sure if you have received a reply... The 8 year rule is in no way absolute. Above 8 years, a waiver is required, but historically, it has not been hard to obtain if your are not that far beyond 8. I transferred from the Navy at just under 8 years and a colleague of mine received a waiver for just over 8. You do have to request interservice transfer or release from your current service and re-commission with PHS. Either way time in service for retirement counts. Time in rank may not be entirely honored, as I think you need to be on active duty with PHS for something around 2 years to be elegible for any promotion. (That was my situation, but regs may have changed.) You can find your own position withing IHS and interview there, letting them know you are applying as a PHS officer. When you commission, the site will request you by name. (This is what I did.) You can also contact an IHS Area recruiter who will find you a job in that area. Let me know if you have more questions. Good luck.
     
  26. Mt Kilimanjaro

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    Thanks for your response!

    What's your experience been like in IHS compared to the Navy?
     
  27. ελπίδα

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    Hi USPHS! How difficult would it be for a husband and wife who are both physicians to find jobs in the USPHS to practice together at the same duty station? This is something my wife and I are very interested in looking into
     
  28. USPHS Physician

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    Mt K,

    Apologies for my slow response-somehow missed the update. Re Navy vs IHS - like most life decisions pros and cons both ways. I loved the camaraderie in the Navy, especially when I was with USMC. You do not necessarily get that in the PHS, though I gotta say it has improved a lot in the last several years. I am on a PHS disaster response team, and similar to Navy/USMC deployments, you get close with those you serve in time of need. I like the focus on health care as our primary mission, when there were times in the Navy where I felt like the medical care was not always given the highest priority. I am at a small site with only 1 other PHS officer, so we do not have the admin assistance you might have at a larger site or like I was used to in the Navy. Not that big a deal, but it means you have to file paperwork to HQ on your own. WIth PHS, I am home a lot more than my Navy time, which has been awesome as my kids are growing up. Our deployemnts are short and not that often.
     
  29. USPHS Physician

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    Hi USPHS! How difficult would it be for a husband and wife who are both physicians to find jobs in the USPHS to practice together at the same duty station? This is something my wife and I are very interested in looking into[/QUOTE]

    Again apologies for my slow response. I'll get my alerts set a bit better. Re spouse co-location - I would think it would not be difficult. Much easier at clinical sites - IHS and BOP especially need physicians and would be likely able to locate you together. Other agencies like NIH, CDC, or FDA, I am not as sure. In those agencies it might depend more on what areas you each are researching etc. I would encourage you inquire at any site you are intereted in. One thing about PHS is that it is a relatively small community and people are usualy willing to work with you.
     
  30. MilitaryMed

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    Do you know if there is a medical waiver for allergy to tree nuts, peanuts or history of anaphylaxis? Thanks!
     
  31. Oreo#1

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    Again apologies for my slow response. I'll get my alerts set a bit better. Re spouse co-location - I would think it would not be difficult. Much easier at clinical sites - IHS and BOP especially need physicians and would be likely able to locate you together. Other agencies like NIH, CDC, or FDA, I am not as sure. In those agencies it might depend more on what areas you each are researching etc. I would encourage you inquire at any site you are intereted in. One thing about PHS is that it is a relatively small community and people are usualy willing to work with you.[/QUOTE]

    Thank you for answering this question. Another quick question .... does your time in USPHSC count towards public health Lon forgiveness 10 year service requirements ?
     

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