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Current Med Students in Army Reserve MDSS Program?

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ILoveYouDr13

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Hey everybody!

I'm a MS-1 and am very interested in the Army MDSS Program, or the Medical-Dental School Stipend Program. I'm pretty familiar with the service obligation, but I just wanted to hear from some actual students in the program and see what you guys think about managing school work with the army.

Cheers!
 

notdeadyet

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Are you medical or dental?

Keep in mind that if you are looking to become a doctor, you'd be signing up for 15 years minimum for the sake of $100k.


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ILoveYouDr13

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Medical. I was under the impression it was 1 year of active reserve duty per 6 months of paid stipend. So if I were to use the stipend for my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of medical school I would owe 6 years active reserve and 2 inactive reserve for a total minimum officer's commission of 8 years.

Is this not accurate?
 

notdeadyet

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Correct in regards to obligation, but there's an important point about payback of this obligation.

You can take the stipend in your MS 2-4 years of medical school. This would amount to three years and approximately $75K. You would incur a 6 year drilling obligation.

But you technically enter drilling phase as you take the MDSSP. This varies by state/location and some are quite liberal, but in others, you will drill one weekend every month or two as an MS 2-4. After you graduate medical school, you will be in residency and you will be drilling. The time in medical school and residency do not count towards your payback. You will continue drilling after residency and the clock starts ticking on your payback as you drill post-residency.

So in your case, if you take MDSSP MS 2-4, and do a three year residency, you will be in drilling status for 12 years (3 yrs MS, 3 yrs residency, 6 yrs post-residency). If you do a five year residency, you will be in drilling status for 14 years (3 yrs MS, 5 yrs residency, 6 yrs post-residency). IRR is a non-issue for MDSSP, because you will be in far longer than the 8 years.

Caveat emptor.
 

notdeadyet

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As a counterpoint, if you just take out medical student loans and do NOT join the Reserve Corps, you can join after you've finished residency and receive HPLRP (loan repayment) of $40K/year for up to 6 years.
 

Gulliver Dark

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How does this apply if you have prior service? Say I do a three year residency, with 9 years prior service. That would put me at 16 when I finish residency. If I only complete four years then retire and am obligated 6 or 8, how does that play out? I've searched a bit, but most prior service things say just don't take any money and serve out time, without explaining why this is better. It would be pretty nice to get 7 years of med school and residency of service time with no deployments (been there done that too many times to start that merry go round again, at least until after residency).

Just a premed, applying in a month, so I've got some time to decide. I have the GI Bill, which will be nice, but extra cash never hurt anyone.
 
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deleted480308

As a counterpoint, if you just take out medical student loans and do NOT join the Reserve Corps, you can join after you've finished residency and receive HPLRP (loan repayment) of $40K/year for up to 6 years.
unless rules have changed, I beleive you can take strap and HPLRP......but either way, you are right that the opportunity cost for that cash flow during school is high
 

notdeadyet

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The rules haven't changed, but there is fine print there too.

If someone takes STRAP and is in a Critical Warfare Shortage specialty, you can take STRAP concurrent with HPLRP in your PGY-3 year and above. But you will incur STRAP payback and can not payback STRAP while taking HPLRP.

So if you do a four year residency and choose to take STRAP for PGY-3/4, you can also take HPLRP for PGY-3/4. So during these sweet two years, you would payback $80K in student loans (minus taxes, mind) and earn $50K in stipend (minus taxes, again). But after this, you will have four years of STRAP to pay back before you can access the other 3 years/$120K of student loan repayment.
 
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notdeadyet

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How does this apply if you have prior service? Say I do a three year residency, with 9 years prior service. That would put me at 16 when I finish residency. If I only complete four years then retire and am obligated 6 or 8, how does that play out? I've searched a bit, but most prior service things say just don't take any money and serve out time, without explaining why this is better. It would be pretty nice to get 7 years of med school and residency of service time with no deployments (been there done that too many times to start that merry go round again, at least until after residency).
I can't tell from your explanation, but I'm assuming that you are not in the active or reserve right now? If not, if you join up as a medical student and do a three year residency, that would put you at 16 years. If your goal is to put in your 20 and retire, you would need to put in four more years.

So if you want to maximize money without extending past what you need for reach the minimum for retirement, you have two options:

1. join when you start medical school and get slotted as a medical student. Drill status in medical school and residency. Sign up for STRAP for the final two years of residency. If your residency is on the Critical Warfare Shortage List, you can get HPLRP (loan repayment) for your PGY-3 year. You will be obligated for four years of drill post-residency, which would bring you to your 20. Between STRAP and HPLRP, you'd get about $50K in stipend pay and $40K in student loan repayment.

2. join when you start medical school and get slotted as a medical student. Drill status in medical school and through the entirety of residency and DO NOT sign up for STRAP. Do the four years post-residency you need for retirement but take HPLRP during those four years you need for retirement. With HPLRP, you would get $160K in student loan repayment.

So the choice is going to be deciding how important cash vs. loan repayment is. All things equal, 2 is the smarter choice, but that changes if you decide to stay in past 20. Then, taking STRAP and HPLRP (after repaying STRAP) makes more sense.
Just a premed, applying in a month, so I've got some time to decide. I have the GI Bill, which will be nice, but extra cash never hurt anyone.
Army cash always hurts. Sooner or later. The piper gets paid.
 
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Gulliver Dark

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Army cash always hurts. Sooner or later. The piper gets paid.

Yeah, I'm out completely now. The money does always hurt, but it will be nice to have the GI Bill during med school, and it wouldn't be horrible having some extra either, as I said. I have been considering rejoining for quite a while, partially to finish to 20 and partially because time has helped me forget all the aches and pains of the military and miss it more, miss the camaraderie. It would be nice to be able to get to 20, serve a population I care about quite a bit, and not get a ton of flesh taken out of me in return. It sounds like I should take loans and do HPLRP if thats the case.

That said, I hear that military medicine isn't really that great, and maybe I should get my "serving servicemembers" fix by working at the VA on the side.

Anyway, didn't mean to sidetrack. Thanks for the info.
 

notdeadyet

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I have been considering rejoining for quite a while, partially to finish to 20 and partially because time has helped me forget all the aches and pains of the military and miss it more, miss the camaraderie. It would be nice to be able to get to 20, serve a population I care about quite a bit, and not get a ton of flesh taken out of me in return. It sounds like I should take loans and do HPLRP if thats the case.
That sounds sensible. And you have plenty of time to consider the STRAP vs. pure HPLRP route and will have better visibility into what's really available by then. These programs change.

And your reasons for joining are better than most and you're going in with both eyes open. Nothing wrong with that.
That said, I hear that military medicine isn't really that great, and maybe I should get my "serving servicemembers" fix by working at the VA on the side.
I really enjoy Reserve Corps. I feel like I get the best of both. There's the same headaches and frustrations you get on active side, but in much smaller, more tolerable doses. And the only time I will have to deal with this stuff on a full-time basis is if I get called up in time of war, and of course I'm happy to do that. But 24/7 on a base in the inland South? Less appealing to me personally, and god bless those that fulfill that role.

As for the VA thing, I personally think that folks make a tighter association with the military than I feel. I work at the VA part-time and it just doesn't scratch the same itch for me. There's a world of difference in philosophy, pathology, and mission between the VA and military populations and providers. Not that either is bad or wrong, I just prefer working with both and would miss the other.
 
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ILoveYouDr13

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WOW! Such a plethora of information, I really appreciate it ya'll. Like previously mentioned, I'll have to weigh my options for STRAP v.s. HPLRP, but luckily I have a few more years until that!

As for the medical student stipend, my biggest concern is when to get in the 4 wks of reserve BOLC training at Sam Houston...since it's so late in the year, do you think it would be wise to wait until AFTER Step 1 of Year 2?

Again, thanks everyone for your input!
 
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deleted480308

WOW! Such a plethora of information, I really appreciate it ya'll. Like previously mentioned, I'll have to weigh my options for STRAP v.s. HPLRP, but luckily I have a few more years until that!

As for the medical student stipend, my biggest concern is when to get in the 4 wks of reserve BOLC training at Sam Houston...since it's so late in the year, do you think it would be wise to wait until AFTER Step 1 of Year 2?

Again, thanks everyone for your input!
Some schools give elective credit as a 3/4 yr rotation. Other then that you do it after graduation or summer after 1st yr.

You'll go eventually
 
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DMBandFan86

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But you technically enter drilling phase as you take the MDSSP. This varies by state/location and some are quite liberal, but in others, you will drill one weekend every month or two as an MS 2-4.
Caveat emptor.

I'm current MDSSP. Just remember your monthly drill while under the MDSSP is to complete a dd-1380 form and get paid for going to non-clinical course work. You will get paid to go to class. Unless you really wanted to spend your weekends sitting around a drill hall, your time while a medical student will be focused on coursework and clinical rotations. Once you graduate, you have to option to take STRAP which will change your service obligation, however you have to be in a critical wartime specialty. Or you can decide not to take STRAP and you will start drilling like a normal army reservist and your service obligation will begin after you finish your residency.

As for BOLC training, do it as quickly as you can. Do it the summer of your MS-1 year. Otherwise, you're never going to have time to go. The summer of your MS2 year also probably won't work, but that depends on your school. At my school we had about 1 month to take step 1, and then had required activities all summer until we started clinical rotations. Then when you get to MS3-4 you never know what your schedule will be.
 

notdeadyet

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I'm current MDSSP. Just remember your monthly drill while under the MDSSP is to complete a dd-1380 form and get paid for going to non-clinical course work. You will get paid to go to class. Unless you really wanted to spend your weekends sitting around a drill hall, your time while a medical student will be focused on coursework and clinical rotations.
Just pointing out that each person's mileage may vary. The MDSSP experience is dependent on ARNG vs. Reserve, state vs. state, and command vs. command. Folks should be willing to spend a weekend q2 months drilling while in medical school and be pleasantly surprised if they do not have to show, weigh in, APFT, drug tests, etc.

As for BOLC, I agree with the others that summer post-MS1 is a great time. NOT MS-2 time as it tends to interfere with Step 1 study. Some programs may give credit for a MS-3 or MS-4 elective (look for elective time slated for didactic/classroom and ask to substitute BOLC). Plan on enrolling in BOLC very early, as seats at popular times like summer fill fast. Do whatever you can to not defer until residency. Many residency programs start in late-June and hit the ground running. You do NOT want to be the "special case" going into intern year.
 
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deleted480308

I'm current MDSSP. Just remember your monthly drill while under the MDSSP is to complete a dd-1380 form and get paid for going to non-clinical course work. You will get paid to go to class. Unless you really wanted to spend your weekends sitting around a drill hall, your time while a medical student will be focused on coursework and clinical rotations. Once you graduate, you have to option to take STRAP which will change your service obligation, however you have to be in a critical wartime specialty. Or you can decide not to take STRAP and you will start drilling like a normal army reservist and your service obligation will begin after you finish your residency.

As for BOLC training, do it as quickly as you can. Do it the summer of your MS-1 year. Otherwise, you're never going to have time to go. The summer of your MS2 year also probably won't work, but that depends on your school. At my school we had about 1 month to take step 1, and then had required activities all summer until we started clinical rotations. Then when you get to MS3-4 you never know what your schedule will be.
+1 o notdeadyet's comment that this is highly variable.

My co will usually let us off if enough if us are around but we don't get paid if we aren't there and we actually show up for drill and perform physicals. Getting paid for class is not on the table

We also have to pass annual apft in my unit
 

DMBandFan86

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Well I was just giving you my experience in the MDSSP and how my monthly requirement worked out. The national guard sounds pretty bad compared to the army reserve while in medical school. BTW, if you can't pass the APFT in your sleep then you should reconsider joining the military.

Also, I'm one of those "special cases" that hasn't gone to BOLC going into residency. I took 3 years of MDSSP and joined during my first year of school. The AR wouldn't let me go to BOLC the summer of my M1 year, and I still haven't had a week off since Dec. 2014 going all the way to graduation. Also my medical school would not let me go to BOLC unless I took the whole year off and repeated. So basically, you can only go to BOLC during your M1 summer unless you get really lucky with your school. If you end up in my shoes and escape medical school without going to BOLC, it sounds like the national guard will force PGY-1 residents to go to BOLC and take them out of their residency training. That would really suck.
 

ILoveYouDr13

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I think I'd be in a very similar boat as you. So when do you plan on going to BOLC?

Also do you think there is any conceivable way I could get all the paper work done in time to go to BOLC this summer?

AGAIN, love ya'll at SDN! I have received more info from you guys in the past 2 days then the past week of my own feeble research.
 

notdeadyet

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Also, I'm one of those "special cases" that hasn't gone to BOLC going into residency. I took 3 years of MDSSP and joined during my first year of school. The AR wouldn't let me go to BOLC the summer of my M1 year, and I still haven't had a week off since Dec. 2014 going all the way to graduation.
Yikes. Why would they not let you? And doesn't that screw you out of pay? You can't be promoted from 2LT to 1LT without BOLC per regs.
If you end up in my shoes and escape medical school without going to BOLC, it sounds like the national guard will force PGY-1 residents to go to BOLC and take them out of their residency training. That would really suck.
When are you going to go to BOLC? Personally, I'd rather do it in medical school than in residency. In residency, you have to use personal vacation time. You could just take leave, but I have a hunch programs will make you stay the extra three weeks after residency graduation to make up the time (as they do for other forms of leave), which kind of sucks when it comes to job hunting.
 

notdeadyet

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Also do you think there is any conceivable way I could get all the paper work done in time to go to BOLC this summer?
No.

You can ask your recruiter to check, but I have a hunch BOLC is either filled or close to filled by now for this summer. And you should expect to spend at least 3-4 months from the time you submit your paperwork to the time you swear in and become eligible for benefits (and training). If you need any kind of wavier, add a few months to that.
 

ILoveYouDr13

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Yeah....I had a feeling it was cutting it close haha

Do you recommend calling student affairs and attempt to find a possible 4 wk period to fit BOLC in?

Or should I just take my chances like DMBandFan86 (btw, love Dave, seeing him in July) and ride through Med school without attending BOLC?
 

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Army regs state that you need to attend BOLC within 2 years of direct commission, but this can be waived to extend that to 3 years. In the past, they would extend it beyond that, but this has been harder to get approved in recent years.

The risk of trying to wait it out is that you may find that when you start approaching the 3 year mark, the Army will REQUIRE you to attend BOLC as per regulations. And the Army tends to get tighter on this stuff when peace breaks out.

If the Army REQUIRES you to attend, you have limited options. Maybe your medical school will let it slide and give you the time off. They are required to let you go, but not required to not have you make up the time. Similarly in residency: they must give you the time away, but you may have to stay on to make up the work (this happens all the time with maternity leave and the like) and it can make things harder for fellowship or job hunt.

I would talk with your recruiter about when you are REQUIRED to attend BOLC and let your school know to see what they can do. When you let them know the Army is REQUIRING this, they may be more flexible about scheduling. If your school has a student veterans group, look for some allies there.
 

DMBandFan86

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No you should do BOLC as soon as you can, and its best to do it during medical school. I tried going during my M2-M4 years and wasn't able - otherwise I would have gone. I actually could have gone, but I would have missed my graduation and decided not to apply. I plan on going as soon as I can during residency, and I'm trying to plan my vacation time to take off to go to BOLC. Problem is I only get 3 weeks off during my PGY-1 year, and my PGY 2-4 is with a different program.

I'm really not all that excited about BOLC - I've already been through basic training and AIT. I'd rather the army just deploy me during residency and I just go to pre-deployment training than going to BOLC, but thats not how it happens. I'll probably end up going sometime between PGY-1 and PGY-2 year, and may have some delay in my program transition.
 

DMBandFan86

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its less than 4 weeks - (3 weeks and 4 days + travel). Supposedly it is going to be longer in the future though...
 

ILoveYouDr13

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Darn, It's getting harder and harder to fit in haha

Here's to hoping Marshall's student affairs office comes through with scheduling....otherwise I'll be at a crossroads!
 

DMBandFan86

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Darn, It's getting harder and harder to fit in haha

Here's to hoping Marshall's student affairs office comes through with scheduling....otherwise I'll be at a crossroads!

I agree. If you take MDSSP for 3 years, then you really don't have a chance to go to BOLC, unless you decide to extend your medical school or get really lucky. In my experience, you just need to learn how to keep your head down and not get noticed :)
 

ILoveYouDr13

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hahaha I like your style. Well in that case I'll see if my school will allow me to take BOLC sometime after step 1, if not I'll aim for just 2 years of MDSSP.
 

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Best of luck out there. BOLC is just the beginning. Once you finish that the army will just keep wanting to send you to more and more training courses.
 

ILoveYouDr13

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Hooray many more to come! haha

So I talked to the recruiter and apparently his director said he'd okay a waiver for me so I could do BOLC after graduation.

Do most residencies start in July? Or is it possible to do BOLC sometime during 4th year?
 

notdeadyet

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So I talked to the recruiter and apparently his director said he'd okay a waiver for me so I could do BOLC after graduation.

Do most residencies start in July? Or is it possible to do BOLC sometime during 4th year?
Congrats!

All residencies start July 1st. In fact, some even start a week earlier for orientation.

I did BOLC as a PGY-4, but used vacation time. I was able to get 2 weeks okayed as a substitute for "didactic time," but I ended up using it for another actual didactic course I wanted to do.

Talk to your medical school about BOLC being an Army requirement. Depending on your medical school, they might be willing to bend for you.
 
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