Curiousity Question About Military Medicine

Aug 15, 2015
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Hey, this is just a curiosity question that I felt would be appropriate to ask on this forum:
Is military medicine "less competitive?" I've heard people say that it is because less people go into military medicine than civilian medicine. I read somewhere on this forum that dermatology residency spots go unfilled in the military. That sounds crazy to me since dermatology is one of the most competitive specialties. I think that person might have been talking about the Mexican military though. If the US military has unfilled residency spots for highly competitive fields like dermatology, please let me know :laugh:
Can somebody clear this up for me? I know that medicine isn't an easy thing (they say USU is "noncompetitive," and that school has a 6% acceptance rate last time I checked; most medical schools are 3% and lower from my understanding), so please don't think I'm looking for some unicorn school/institution where they pass you through and give you whatever specialty you want as long as you show up. I'm just asking about the competitiveness of military medicine vs civilian medicine. Thanks guys!
 

md-2020

The Immaculate Catch
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Jun 29, 2015
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USUHS is absolutely competitive. It's a lower tier med school just like Jefferson, Drexel, NYMC etc, though it is free and you get a stipend while studying there.

The reason most people avoid military med is this: for ever year of training/education you do in the system, you have to serve an additional year. So say you go to USUHS (7 year GMO requirement), then do a 5-6 year residency.

You're looking at 4 (med school) + 7 (service requirement) + 5 (residency) + 5 (additional time added) = 21 years minimum in the forces. That essentially makes you a lifer.

Military residencies pay well but compensation for serving is not comparable to civilian attending salaries. Lifestyle is also completely different.
 

sonofva

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Aug 31, 2009
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Hey, this is just a curiosity question that I felt would be appropriate to ask on this forum:
Is military medicine "less competitive?" I've heard people say that it is because less people go into military medicine than civilian medicine. I read somewhere on this forum that dermatology residency spots go unfilled in the military. That sounds crazy to me since dermatology is one of the most competitive specialties. I think that person might have been talking about the Mexican military though. If the US military has unfilled residency spots for highly competitive fields like dermatology, please let me know :laugh:
Can somebody clear this up for me? I know that medicine isn't an easy thing (they say USU is "noncompetitive," and that school has a 6% acceptance rate last time I checked; most medical schools are 3% and lower from my understanding), so please don't think I'm looking for some unicorn school/institution where they pass you through and give you whatever specialty you want as long as you show up. I'm just asking about the competitiveness of military medicine vs civilian medicine. Thanks guys!
there's no reason to avoid military medicine. just know that once you sign that contract, your life is not your own. if you want a competitive specialty, you'll get there someday assuming you're not a complete ****bird. but the time between now and then could be bumpy. you've got a long way to go. get through high school. then most of college, then decide if you want to be a military officer.

**edit: maybe not "no reason"
 

Stagg737

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Jul 2, 2013
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USUHS is absolutely competitive. It's a lower tier med school just like Jefferson, Drexel, NYMC etc, though it is free and you get a stipend while studying there.

The reason most people avoid military med is this: for ever year of training/education you do in the system, you have to serve an additional year. So say you go to USUHS (7 year GMO requirement), then do a 5-6 year residency.

You're looking at 4 (med school) + 7 (service requirement) + 5 (residency) + 5 (additional time added) = 21 years minimum in the forces. That essentially makes you a lifer.

Military residencies pay well but compensation for serving is not comparable to civilian attending salaries. Lifestyle is also completely different.
This isn't quite accurate. I think you're mixing/combining the HPSP (military scholarship) with the USUHS service obligations. If you go to USUHS you're required to serve at least 7 years of active duty. If you serve less than 10, then you must serve as a Reserve member for extra time depending on how many years below 10 you serve. Residency and med school are accounted for within this, so they don't add extra time for that.

Page 17 has the USUHS service obligations:
https://www.usuhs.edu/sites/default/files/media/medschool/pdf/whatyouneedtoknow.pdf

If you take the HPSP, the military scholarship which can be accepted while attending any medical school in the country, then med school and residency years start counting for obligated service time. However, they are repaid concurrently. Example: If you accept the HPSP for all 4 years (which you should if you take it) then go into family med (a 3-3.5 year residency), you will only have to serve for 4 years after residency because you 'repay' the residency and med school years concurrently and the years accumulated in med school (4) is more than in residency (3-3.5). However, if you do a longer residency that takes 6 years, then you'll owe them 6 years of service since residency was longer than med school. Keep in mind these are under 'ideal' circumstances in which you go straight into a military residency after med school and don't do a fellowship, which doesn't always happen in the military. There are also many other ways which you can lose pay/add time that many people don't realize unless they do some digging. As someone else stated, once you sign those papers, they own you until you can leave.

Hey, this is just a curiosity question that I felt would be appropriate to ask on this forum:
Is military medicine "less competitive?" I've heard people say that it is because less people go into military medicine than civilian medicine. I read somewhere on this forum that dermatology residency spots go unfilled in the military. That sounds crazy to me since dermatology is one of the most competitive specialties. I think that person might have been talking about the Mexican military though. If the US military has unfilled residency spots for highly competitive fields like dermatology, please let me know :laugh:
Can somebody clear this up for me? I know that medicine isn't an easy thing (they say USU is "noncompetitive," and that school has a 6% acceptance rate last time I checked; most medical schools are 3% and lower from my understanding), so please don't think I'm looking for some unicorn school/institution where they pass you through and give you whatever specialty you want as long as you show up. I'm just asking about the competitiveness of military medicine vs civilian medicine. Thanks guys!
From what I've seen it is very rare and it is actually more common for those spots to not be available in a given year than to go unfilled. The military has the ability to adjust the number of people that get accepted into specific fields each year based on what they need within their personnel. So you may want to go derm, but if they don't need dermatologists they can say sorry, that's not available. In that case you could either try and match through the civilian (normal) match, go into a different field, or do a GMO year and enter the match the following year. Some fields are definitely easier to match through military than civilian, but other than a couple it typically varies from year to year depending on what the military needs at the time, or at least this is what I was told.