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Being a Doctor in the Military...

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quideam

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Hey guys,

I'm strongly considering going to USUHS and being an EM doc in the army. I'm starting this thread because i'm concerned about what life would be like...

I know that I can get deployed to Iraq and such, but that's part of what I like... what i'm afraid of is that i'll get stationed in some far away place for many years, and that i will not be able to have a relationship with anyone.

If anyone reading this is either a med student or a doc in the military and can give me some advice or share some experiences, it would be greatly appreciated!!

- Quideam
 

Andrew_Doan

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Check out the following thread from more details and alternatives to USUHS:

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=62983

Being a military physician is a great job if you're looking for adventure and the things you discussed above. Deployment over seas is usually for 2 years at a time, so you'll have the option of coming back to the US after your time is up or renew your orders.

With the NAVY for example, before you're assigned, they ask where you want to go. Each year the NAVY publishes all the available billets, and you rank your top three. You'll likely get your one of your top three choices.

Having the military pay for medical school will result in the military having more control in regards to your medical training and speciality, i.e. the military may say NO to EM. I recommend the FAP because you pick your field and then determine if the military needs that particular speciality. There is a risk that you may enter a field that the military will not need and won't be able to join.
 

CaptainAmerica

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At some point in your career, you will get stationed in some far away place, but not for many years. A usual tour (in the Army at least) is usually 2-3 years, unless you're a superspecialist (pediatric neurosurgeon, etc.). Those guys typically don't move around a lot, but tend to hover around one or two of the major medical centers (meaning D.C., San Antonio, Hawaii, Tacoma for the Army) for most of their careers. It makes sense, though, because how many of those guys do you need down range? Not many. The rest of us will have a lot more options as far as locations and jobs (mix of hospital and operational tours).

Back to the far away places. This kind of depends on your definition of far away. I don't think Germany or Italy are far away, but Fort Irwin, CA is much further than I would ever choose to go voluntarily (not a huge fan of Death Valley). The other place that folks in the Army typically try to avoid is Korea. It is far away, but it's usually a 12 month tour (I think there was some talk about making it 18 months, but I don't know what became of that). But, even Korea is kind of what you make it. Seoul is a great city.

I hope this answers your question. PM me if you have other specific concerns.

CA
USUHS 2006
 

dr barb

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I'm currently an officer in the army reserve (medical service corps) and a first year med student (although not at USUHS). I applied to USUHS though because I'm seriously considering a career in the army. But the downside with attending USUHS is that the committment is a very long one. Isn't it something like 7 years of active duty after residency that you owe? That means that when you sign the contract, the next 10 years of your life are pretty much non-negotiable (actually more, because 4 for med school, 3 for residency, then the 7 you owe). I think being a doctor in the army would be awesome, and I don't mind being deployed and all that. But that's me today. I don't know what I'll be like 10-14 years from now, so making that huge commitment would be a mistake for someone like me. But if you think that you know what you want your life to be like 10 years from now, you should totally go for it.
 

quideam

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Dr barb,

I totally agree with your sentiments.

The things is, if I do HPSP, then I still do the 4 years of med school and 3 of military residency. Then I owe them four years instead of seven. The three extra years seem worth it to me to get to go to a school like USUHS - i'm absolutely in love with their curriculum. It seems very different (especially starting second year) than all other med schools, and I really think that I would enjoy being there much more than anywhere else. Besides, if I did HPSP, I would be going to a med school where most others wouldn't be doing military, so the opportunity for me to meet someone who I could possibly eventually marry and be stationed with is much, much slimmer. So to me, it makes more sense to do USUHS.

Also, I don't think there are too many people who like the idea of doing military medicine, being deployed, and such, and I think that the person I would want to be with is someone who likes these things as well. So again, I feel that USUHS is the best option.

I guess my biggest conern is that I just won't meet anyone at all who would want to be involved with someone living the military life... I don't know how real a concern it is, but that's why I started this thread :D I know that I shouldn't be basing my career choices on marriage prospects, but I think my mother has finally gotten to me.... :laugh: :laugh:

- Quid
 

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Originally posted by quideam

I guess my biggest conern is that I just won't meet anyone at all who would want to be involved with someone living the military life... I don't know how real a concern it is, but that's why I started this thread :D I know that I shouldn't be basing my career choices on marriage prospects, but I think my mother has finally gotten to me.... :laugh: :laugh:

- Quid

Quideam,

Don't worry about meeting someone. My wife loves that I'm in the military. Being married to a military physician/officer is very different than being married to an enlisted man. The quality of life will be good for you and your children.
 

FMLizard

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Wow, MSTP, Navy, married...nobody can accuse you of being a commitment-phobe :laugh:


I was ROTC and was scheduled to commission into pilot training in the AF this weekend, before getting bounced suddenly a few months ago. I did like the military lifestyle, at least what I saw of it, but you do have to realize that they can have some pretty inflexible policies and regulations. I have seen some very qualified people have some awfully nasty things happen to them. Once you are actually on active duty, its not bad. They leave you alone for the most part. It is conceivable that you could have your whole med school paid for and be left at the altar though. If you have any sort of medical issue of your own, get held back at all, or have any sort of legal involvement, you could wind up screwed beyond belief. They may even try to pull you out of your MD program and send you into active duty in another capacity!

As for deployments, most tours, at least in the AF, are only 90 days to one year for the bad spots (Middle East, Bosnia, Africa, Korea). All European tours (Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, etc.) are usually three years, but these are usually fun and interesting, and highly coveted. Your pay will stink compared to the private sector, but you will have no debt either. After 4 years, they will start throwing bonuses at you to keep you, or you can head into the private sector.
 

edmadison

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I agree with Optho that FAP is a good deal. HPSP has a few partial advantages over it: First, FAP tuition rembursement is taxed. Your scholarship in HPSP/USUHS is not. Second, being on active duty during residency gets you "into the system" earlier. Thus, more years for retirement credit and time to get to know people -- especially important if you want a career in the military.

This all being said, as Optho has noted in other threads, HPSP/USUHS "forces" you to do your specialty training in the military. The programs are good. But many can get into much better programs (as Andrew did -- Go Hawkeyes!) There are other considerations as well. What if you want to do a residency that isn't offered in the military. For a while, I was interested in triple boarded Peds/Gen Psych/Child&Adol Pysch. Since the Army has peds and psych, I doubt they would have deferred me. Yet another consideration for USUHS students is that they MUST do their residency in the military. If you are not competitive, then you may not get your first choice of specialty. Finally, FAP avoids the most dreaded three words in the military: GMO.

Both routes have advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to have all of the information ahead of time and make an informed decision. Do I regret doing HPSP -- No. Did I underestimate some of the drawbacks -- Yes.

Good Luck,

Ed
 

Andrew_Doan

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Originally posted by edmadison
First, FAP tuition rembursement is taxed. Your scholarship in HPSP/USUHS is not. Second, being on active duty during residency gets you "into the system" earlier. Thus, more years for retirement credit and time to get to know people -- especially important if you want a career in the military.

Nice post Ed. The $40K/year FAP tuition is taxed and is similar to salary, but FAP money is not subjected to FICA/Social Security Tax. You end up taking home about $31,000/year. For a four-year residency, this would allow you to pay off a $124,000 medical debt. Suppose you wanted to due Neurosurgery. This is a 7 year residency with a potential FAP payout of at least $210,000+ (historically there's been a 4-6% increase in the FAP stipend per year). If you don't have that much debt, then the rest of the money is yours for a nice car or home. The FAP allows you more financial flexibility and the ability to choose your speciality and training.

Additionally, while USUHS allows you to be in the system faster which counts towards retirement, the FAP will allow you to start at a higher rank. I entered as a LT (O-3).

You have many options, and as Ed stated, be informed before making your choice.

Good luck!
 

Primate

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A quick aside on military medicine. One other route to consider is going into the Ready Reserves after graduating. The pay isn't as good as the FAP, but you do draw drill pay. If your specialty is a "critical need" for ANY service, you can also drill in a PRIMUS unit (4 x 1/2 drill days per year total but credit for 2/month and 2 weeks/year - they just want to make sure you can still fog a mirror). If you're concerned about active duty, you'll only do this if called up (but if you're not willing to do that, then you're really not interested in military medicine). You'll wind up being the specialist (or GMO, depending on your residency of choice) for a local base and you can do the 2/month 2weeks/year AD if you can/want to.

The downsides are less $ than FAP (or more debt than USUHS), you have to be in a critical need to get the PRIMUS deal (and these needs change Q2year, I think).

For the NAVY, and only for the Ready Reserve, you also get time in serve credit for each year of training up to your licensure (which in Penn. requires two PGYs), according to my recruiter (WARNING WILL ROBINSON! - that is what he said, though). If you're a combined degree, by the time you finish you're looking at coming in as an O-4 or as an O-3 with about 3 minutes to promotion (again, my recruiter's words, so take c 5mg NaCl).

Not right for everyone, but another option to consider. Depending on how my family plans shape up (I'm gettin' old for moving alot), I will likely take advantage of this option. Still considering the FAP, though (pretty nice deal if you're OK with the 5 years AD).

Best,
P

PS - as usual, this wasn't such a quick aside.
The chattering monkey
 

Lebesgue

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Originally posted by quideam
Dr barb,

I guess my biggest conern is that I just won't meet anyone at all who would want to be involved with someone living the military life... I don't know how real a concern it is, but that's why I started this thread :D I know that I shouldn't be basing my career choices on marriage prospects, but I think my mother has finally gotten to me.... :laugh: :laugh:

- Quid

If you want to go to USUHS, go. If you want to do the HPSP, do that. There are plenty of great women in the military and out of the military. You certainly won't be restricted if you go the military route, especially in regards to military women if you go into the Air Force.

I met my awesome wife :D (a civilian) while I was in the military, got out, finished my B.S., and now I'm off to med school. She's both for me staying civilian or going back in.

I guess in either case, it will be really subjective and based upon your relationship with her. If you simply pursue your goals, there is a greater chance you'll meet someone that is in alignment with your trajectory, and both of you will be happier overall.

Don't worry about it, you'll meet plenty of women in whatever you decide! And without a doubt, you'll meet the one for you! But you have to do what will make you happy first and let everything fall into place!

:)
 

dr barb

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Originally posted by quideam
Dr barb,


I guess my biggest conern is that I just won't meet anyone at all who would want to be involved with someone living the military life... I don't know how real a concern it is, but that's why I started this thread :D I know that I shouldn't be basing my career choices on marriage prospects, but I think my mother has finally gotten to me.... :laugh: :laugh:

- Quid

Don't worry about the ladies, Quid. All my friends from ROTC are army nurses - they're all captains now, totally cute, and most are still single. Let me know if you want me to fix you up. ;) :love:

dr barb
 

quideam

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LOL.... thanks guys, but i'm a girl!!!! :D :D :D

I appreciate the "help" though :)

- Quid
 
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Primate

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I think that better than 2/3 of my former NROTC (jarheads included) friends ended up marrying within the military, so that's one route. :)

As for outside the military, don't worry. Women in uniform are HOT. :D You'll be beating the civi's away with a stick (or rifle-butt, depending on choice of service ;) ).

Best,
P
 

Alli Cat

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Whoa, I totally thought you were a guy, too! I wonder what it was? Your anxiety about marriage (or rather, anxiety about the ABSENCE of marriage) should have tipped us off that you were a woman, though! :)

You'll be such a catch that you'll have to run away from the droves of men pleading for your hand in marriage. Think about it: physician special pay, TRICARE coverage, living for free on base in cool locales... who wouldn't jump at the chance?

Are you planning on going to USUHS/HPSP/wherever this year or next? Good luck!

~Alison
 

Caffeinated

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Quid,

Sorry that I don't have any stats to back this up, but the folks at USUHS report that the environment there seems to be ripe for budding romances and growing families. Lots of student-student marriages, and lots of babies being born into USUHS families....Hmmm, must be something in the water. Maybe a current USUHS student can verify this trend.
 

buglady

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Just wanted to add to this thread, to no one in particular, that I'm getting commissioned today for the Navy!

I'm doing the good 'ol HPSP....I have a brother in the Seebees, so I kinda know what I'm getting into....

No OIS for me this summer, but next summer for sure! Will I see any of you folks there?
 

Andrew_Doan

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Originally posted by buglady
Just wanted to add to this thread, to no one in particular, that I'm getting commissioned today for the Navy!

I'm doing the good 'ol HPSP....I have a brother in the Seebees, so I kinda know what I'm getting into....

No OIS for me this summer, but next summer for sure! Will I see any of you folks there?

Congrats Buglady! Navy is the best way to go. :)
 

Primate

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Go NAVY!

Congrats, oh buggy one. :D

P
 

dr barb

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Originally posted by quideam
LOL.... thanks guys, but i'm a girl!!!! :D :D :D

I appreciate the "help" though :)

- Quid

Well that changes everything!!!:clap:
The ratio of men to women at USUHS is like 3 to 1. The only trouble you're going to have is narrowing the selection down to just one.

Good luck in your quest!;)

Oh, and BTW, good luck with the whole USUHS/military/doc thing too!
 

quideam

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Congrats on getting into the Navy, buglady! My heart lies with the Army, but hey, we're all on the same side ;)

Thanks guys for all the replies; I do feel somewhat better. It's a whole big mess right now - I really want to go to USUHS (it's been my dream ever since I decided to be pre-med), but my boyfriend isn't willing to move - EVER. We've been together for about a year, and it's fairly serious, so now it's coming down to him or military surgeon. Well, I guess only time will tell... I have to wait and see how things go with interviews and such.

Thanks again for everyone's advice and comforting comments; this whole process is so nerveracking, and it doesn't make it any easier to have love involved in the mix of things...

- Quid :)
 

buglady

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Originally posted by Ophtho_MudPhud
Congrats Buglady! Navy is the best way to go. :)

THANKS...my dad was a Marine, older brother a Marine, other brother in the Naval Corp of Civilian Engineers...and now add me to the list for the MC! The Navy was definitely the way to go for me.... :cool:

I now have my cool framed certificate saying I'm an Ensign in the United States Navy...it's official, the government owns me :D !
 

Andrew_Doan

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Originally posted by buglady
THANKS...my dad was a Marine, older brother a Marine, other brother in the Naval Corp of Civilian Engineers...and now add me to the list for the MC! The Navy was definitely the way to go for me.... :cool:

I now have my cool framed certificate saying I'm an Ensign in the United States Navy...it's official, the government owns me :D !

I was commissioned last year as a LT for the Navy for the FAP. I'm super proud too. Perhaps our paths will cross one day. Good luck! :)
 

Andrew_Doan

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Originally posted by quideam
Congrats on getting into the Navy, buglady! My heart lies with the Army, but hey, we're all on the same side ;)

Thanks guys for all the replies; I do feel somewhat better. It's a whole big mess right now - I really want to go to USUHS (it's been my dream ever since I decided to be pre-med), but my boyfriend isn't willing to move - EVER. We've been together for about a year, and it's fairly serious, so now it's coming down to him or military surgeon. Well, I guess only time will tell... I have to wait and see how things go with interviews and such.

Thanks again for everyone's advice and comforting comments; this whole process is so nerveracking, and it doesn't make it any easier to have love involved in the mix of things...

- Quid :)

Quid,

Don't hold your life back for a guy unless he's asked you to marry him. When I applied to medical school, I severed my commitments because I was moving away. Several years later, I ended up marrying the woman that I left behind. If it's meant to happen, then it will.
 

Caffeinated

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Quid,

I will second what Andrew said: no ring, no strings. Until this guy is ready to get hitched, you shouldn't make your plans assuming this guy thinks you are the one. Imagine how bad you will feel if you don't go to USUHS, and this guy cuts you loose. If your boyfriend is as dead set against moving as you indicate, then this could be a sign of future problems (i.e., inability to compromise). If you do get hitched, but you don't follow your dream as a military surgeon, you may start to resent him. If you are passionate about this, you will always wonder if you could have done it. Of course, it is also possible that this guy doesn't see you in his future, and his unwillingness to compromise or support you in this endeavor is a passive way to start cutting you loose.

Of course, I don't know either of you, so all of my speculation is worth what you paid for it. But if you do end up at USUHS, Operation Quid Match will start immediately.

Best of Luck!
Caff

Originally posted by quideam
Congrats on getting into the Navy, buglady! My heart lies with the Army, but hey, we're all on the same side ;)

Thanks guys for all the replies; I do feel somewhat better. It's a whole big mess right now - I really want to go to USUHS (it's been my dream ever since I decided to be pre-med), but my boyfriend isn't willing to move - EVER. We've been together for about a year, and it's fairly serious, so now it's coming down to him or military surgeon. Well, I guess only time will tell... I have to wait and see how things go with interviews and such.

Thanks again for everyone's advice and comforting comments; this whole process is so nerveracking, and it doesn't make it any easier to have love involved in the mix of things...

- Quid :)
 
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