Dental HPSP

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Nov 26, 2002
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i've been reading the posts on this military medicine and i think it's very informative and helpful for future and current HPSP students.
i'm in HPSP for dental school and was wondering if all the medical HPSP stories and situations are similar for dental. for those who are in active duty right now, what are some ups and downs for army dentists? (from what you've seen or heard) how likely is it for me to get stationed in my top choices right after school? thanks guys

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I would also be interested in learning more about this. Dental school is still a ways off and iknow lots of stuff would have changed for me by then, but i have a few questions to add myself.

Is it possible to become a specialist (endo, etc) in the service. Can they send you to a school to accomplish this?

Also, is the AF have any drawbacks compared to Army Dental HPSP?

One more, this is sort of along with the physicians in combat thread, can dentists join spec ops, etc units in the army? AF?

thanks a lot
I have been researching the military dental scholarships for months now as I plan to enter dental school in 05. I have spoken with Navy, Army, and Air Force recruiters respectively about dental careers and such, and even have some cd roms that the recruiters sent with the literature. On the army cd, one dentist talked of going to flight surgery school and how rare an opportunity that is for a dentist. Also, I have heard that there is either or both a dentist with the Army special forces or 101st Mountain Division out of Ft. Drum in N.Y. but I am not sure so please don't quote me on this. Someone of the active duty docs or dentists on this forum will probably correct me on this.

As far as specialization, which is my greatest concern since I want to do OMFS, I have heard contradicting options. Recruiters say that you can specialize directly out of dental school in a military or civilian program (incresing obligation to the military) or you complete a minimum tour first then apply for specialty training with the military or a civilian program. If you choose a civilian program once your obligation time is up, you have the option of using the FAP program for additional military obligation time or getting out altogether and doing it alone. The problem is that all dental residencies do not pay a salary or stipend in the civilian world while of course if you are active duty you won't have that problem in a military residency.

The other concern is the quality of the military program if you choose that route. Many posts on this forum have questioned the quality of military residencies as far as the physicians are concerned, but I am not sure about the dental residencies. My gut tells me they are probably not too far off, but that is pure speculation. I am prior service in the Army, but that was field artillery and not the medical side so my viewpoint is somewhat disadvantaged.

In the end, my top concern is availability of specialty training and quality of the residency program itself. I know myself and that I want OMFS or nothing at all and would not like anything to stand in the way of that even Uncle Sam.

However, I have battled with myself on this issue for months now, and at the end of the day, it may prove wiser to take the HPSP if I get a scholarship and just bite the bullet until Uncle Sam lets me specialize. Either that or beg, borrow, and deal for four years of dental school and not so much in Oral surgery residency.

Most oral surgery residencies pay you a decent salary and some don't.

Another option could be to hold off on the HPSP and borrow for dent school and apply to a specialty program. Then you can make the decision of where to do residency unobligated. Once you know where you want to go, you could do the FAP which pays you money during residency even if the civilian residency pays you as well, for service time.

The way the FAP works is you owe uncle sam two years of service time for the first year of support, and one year for each additional year thereafter. For example, a 4yr OMFS residency on the FAP would incur 5yrs of military service in obligation.

You can check out the Navy dent programs fact sheet which is a word This is my website and see the explanation of the Navy programs and Army's as well. The latter is in PDF form. I hope this helps and remember that it is good to seek out all options. The cost of dental school can be intimidating if not down right depressing, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. God Bless.

PS. To Save time I have attached the aforementioned Word Doc and PDF file so you can click on them here.


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Thanks grant555 for replying. Your website and the links provide a lot of good information and i will look through them and if I have questions i will ask.

Once again, thanks for all your help
I am wondering how difficult it is for1st, 2nd year HPSP dentists (after D-school) to go to specialty training of ones choice?

Also, does dental school class standing, gpa, board scores count toward placement in 24month specialty training straight out of school or after 1 or 2 years?

Does specialty training in fields without many spots (eg. 6 for (Army)endodontics,2 for AF, etc) always get taken up by career officers, obviously they get preferecne but do they always take the slots?
I asked this same question of an army dentist in San Antonio via the internet. The way it was explained to me was that the Army sends its HPSP students info on residency training before graduation somewhere around the third or fourth year. From what I gathered, it is feasible to go straight into residency, but not guaranteed and even more difficult if the residency you want is not what the army needs. It is important to remember that the needs of the military can and do change.

As I understand it, the Army and Navy need endodontists and oral surgeons more than anything else, but no so much ortho and prosthodontics. So if you want endo or omfs, you are in better shape than anyone else except those that want a general practice residency, which is especially true in the Army. The reasoning behind this is that the Army has its own AEGD(advanced education in general dentistry) residency lasting two years. In this program, a participating dentist would complete rotations in all specialties of dentistry giving them sound experience and confidence in everything from oral surgery to endo to ortho to prosthodontics, a virtual jack of all trades. One factor to consider is that participating in an AEGD program with the Army or GP (General Practice) residency with the Navy increases the likelihood that you will get sent to a field unit or on board a ship respectively. Once again, it is not set in stone, but chances are greater. The situation changes somewhat when you are stationed with a field unit because you will be required to pt more often than not and/or participate in field exercises with your unit when necessary. In other words, you may spend more time away from the dental clinic than you thought before you joined. This is all dependant on the expectations of the individual dentist(soldier) and/or the officer in charge who may or may not be a dentist.

It should be noted that many dentists find the AEGD to be of great value to them especially if they plan to work in private practice someday. The idea behind this is that since they received such a thorough introduction and practice in all phases of dentistry, they would be able to handle more complex and expensive cases in the civilian world, which means less referrals to specialists and more money they can make on their own. One dentist who went through the AEGD in the Army said he felt comfortable doing just about anything in dentistry from full sedation surgery to complex endo which can be a huge advantage monetarily, but still referred patients to specialists when he wanted to.

At the end of the day, the decision to participate in the HPSP and what type of residency program (civilian or military) is heavily dependant upon what type of dentistry you want to practice either in the military or in the civilian world. This can be a huge choice. I debated what type of residency I wanted to pursue virtually my entire sophomore year in college, and didn't really decide on OMFS until I observed a local oral surgeon.

According to the recruiters I spoke with, it is looked at as a plus to have completed your first tour or payback service period and then specialize, but it is not impossible to go straight through. Some members on this forum have said that almost no one goes straight through, while some have said they know of some that have gone straight through. It is believable that more HPSP students could go straight through towards residency training than actually do, but decide otherwise to prevent incurring more service time obligation.

However, it is possible to complete your specialty training and not incur an additional service time. For example, if you are a 4yr HPSP student who gets an endo or omfs residency with the Navy three and four years respectively, you would only owe the Navy the 4yr with the endo(1 HPSP not paid back yet and 3 with the endo) and 4yr with the omfs. In the other words, the time is run concurrently since you essentially started your HPSP payback period while attending a military residency. Remember, while in a military residency, you are a full time active duty soldier whose number one job is to complete the residency successfully and the military's needs since afterwards they will have their own specialist. Afterwards, you need only pay the service back for whatever service time from the HPSP your residency didn't cover, if any at all, and the service time for the residency itself.

As we've discussed previously in this thread. Some people match out of dental school into civilian residencies and take the FAP thus incurring additional service time. A 4yr HPSP student who takes a 6yr omfs residency would owe the service 11yrs total(4 for HPSP and 7 for the 6yr omfs civilian residency since the FAP is 2yrs for the first yr and 1yr for each year thereafter) so you can see why some people decide to complete the first tour first before they decide to apply for specialty training since they can decide if they like the service or not and get out or stay in depending.

In many ways this is the most logical option since you could realistically be unhappy for 4 yrs or 11yrs if you don't like the military. Like any equation, the more variables involved increases the difficulty of getting to the solution. These conditions are less of a concern with prior service since you have a military background and some idea of how military life is like. If you do the general tour for HPSP payback you could easily get out of the service and complete a civilian residency at a relatively young age and in good financial shape.

I hope this helps. It is always good to seek as many avenues as possible to get your questions answered especially when making decisions as important as those we've discussed. God Bless.

P.S. The email of the Army Dentist I spoke with was
Colonel Ann Sue von Gonten, D.D.S. email: [email protected]
Phone: 210-295-9604

The navy dentist I spoke with via email was
Director, Graduate Programs
Naval Medical Education and Training Command (NMETC)
email: [email protected]

The Air Force AEGD is one year to my knowledge
Thadeus M. Chamberlain, Lt Col, USAF, DC
Chief, Air Force Dental Education
email: [email protected]
Phone: 210-565-3619
thanks for the great deal of helpful info you bring to this thread!
i was just wondering if you know if doing residency (specialties, AEGD) would count as part of the payback AD time. i know you mentioned doing endo in navy may count as part of payback. does this apply to army as well? for example, if i were to do 2yr AEGD in army will i still be in active duty for 4 yrs total? (2yrs AEGD and 2yrs HPSP payback) i was under the impression that any residency would just be neutral (neither additional time or part of payback) can you clearify this for me if you can?
wow grant thanks for all the info. I appreciate you taking your time to answer my questions.

batz, I believe that in the army and i think AF, i'm not really interested in navy and haven't looked around in that direction, the 1yr and 2yr AEGD add 1 and 2 yrs respectively to your owed time. Ex. 4yr HPSP> then do 1 yr AEGD, 4 yrs left still.
Not sure about the other residencies.
As far as I know, residency time does count towards HPSP payback along as it is a military residency, but while you are paying back the HPSP time (while serving in the military residency) you are essentially accruing a new obligation for the residency itself.

For example, a four year navy HPSP student who does a four year oral surgery residency at bethesda, maryland, portsmouth,va., or san diego (the Navy's three oral surgery residency programs), would essentially owe four years of service to the Navy after the four year residency training period. This is the way it was explained to me by two different navy guys, one face to face and the other via email, the former a healthcare recruiter, the latter a naval maxillofacial prosthodontist. My reasons for asking two different guys the same question was to see if I would get consistent answers. For the most part, I did. At the end of the day, I researched the Navy the most, the A.F. the least, and the Army somewhere in the middle. I don't know why, but I feel more comfortable with the Navy. Maybe because I served in the Army already I am somewhat bored with the idea of going back. Personally, I like new horizons. I get bored with too much routine.

Also, in the next couple of months, I am supposed to interview with an acitve duty navy dentist in Fort Worth, TX since I am here in DFW. According to my recruiter, it is a part of the process that I interview with a navy dentist before I can sign anything. Hopefully, during that final interview, the answers to the above questions will remain consistent. I hope this helps. God Bless.
The chances are slim, especially in the Navy. The navy has corpsmen, or what would essentially be nurses who would be with the Marines and field units alike. A classmate of mine at was a corpsmen for five years in the Navy before he started college and eventually went to med school at SUNY in Brooklyn. As far as the Army, and Air Force, I suspect that no dentist would be on the front lines in either branch, especially the Air Force since their primary job is dropping bombs on time on target. This is not to diminish the combat readiness of the Air Force, but their primary job is along those lines. Even in the Army, the closest a dentist would get to live action would be on a base, which could be in hostile territory, but not necessarily on the front lines. However, I am sure under extreme conditions, especially in times of war and in the Army, a soldier with a pulse can carry a rifle and would be put to use. But in the end, I doubt that would happen.

Moreover, the service you're attached to has put thousands of dollars into your education as a dentist. It would be somewhat counterproductive to put you in a situation where your best talents were not utilized.

If I am wrong here, I am sure some of the active duty personnel on this forum will correct me. For the most part, a dentist is treated like a physician, and not many would be put in direct live fire situations unless a military base was somehow infiltrated in some way, and in that case, you might want to carry a weapon. I wouldn't dwell on that either because it is an extreme situation and attempting to predict a likely outcome without being farfetched is difficult. Furthermore, the entire scenario is somewhat speculative, and during my time in the Army in field artillery, I heard nor saw any evidence of any physician or dentist being put on the "front lines", so to speak. I hope this helps. God Bless.
The army dentist's combat role is to be the triage person at the Medical Company in the Forward Support Battalion (FSB). This FSB supports a Brigade and is in the Brigade Support Area (BSA). This is not the "front" lines on a linear battlefield (but much closer to the front than the rear)("linear battlefield" - the first part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where we attacked force-on-force), but is very much the "front" lines in a nonlinear battlefield such as our troops are experiencing now. The future of the military is that if you don't have a combat role, they will give you one and hire a civilian to do your non-combat role. This is sweeping with a very broad brush, remember, but I'm sure that you get my intent. An Army general surgeon was recently KIA in Iraq. Something to think about - it has been said a million times on this board, if you are doing it for the money, take the loans - your time in service will be miserable, you WILL go to the field, you WILL train at NTC and JRTC just prior to a six month deployment (and then go BACK to JRTC/NTC within weeks of returning from a six month deployment), eat MREs for a month at a time, not take a shower for more than that. It doesn't matter if you are a doc or a dentist - OB/GYN? Assistant general surgeon in a Combat Support Hospital. Pediatrician? Battalion surgeon (the front lines!). Again, if this does not appeal to you, don't do it. I've been telling my mother this for years - the military doesn't exist to pay for my undergrad, my flight training, my masters, and now my MD because they are nice - they do it because we have to go kill people sometimes and they need my expertise in a particular area.
Pilot Doc is probably correct when he states that no one should do it for the money. Again, I wouldn't recommend the HPSP unless you have some sort of military experience, or are willing to adjust to all new type of lifestyle. That being said, being in combat doesn't factor into my decision about joining the Navy or any other branch. When I enlisted in the Army in 95, dental school was the farthest thing from my mind. Either way, it is important to remember that when you are in the military you are basically the property of the military, and they can utilize you any way they see fit, which was what I alluded to in the post.

Ultimately, the best question anyone could ask themselves to help them decide yes or no about the HPSP is: " if there was no money for school or loan repayment, would you join?" This is purely a personal decision, and the answer will be different for each man or woman who contemplates service in the military.

Oh by the way, I liked MRE's especially the Turkey and Rice. They are great when you use the water heat pack. LOL.

Needless to say, we all have our doubts about the HPSP and things in general. Hell, I thought about which dental schools I should apply to for months, and that has nothing to do with combat. Just listen to your heart, and don't do anything you can't see yourself fulfilling especially something as binding as a military contract. God Bless.
I haven't had time to read over everything yet, but wanted to reply about the idea of residency counting back towards payback. That is absolutely, without question WRONG! There's no such thing as a free lunch, and that would not beneift the military whatsoever. Even a GPR/AEGD no longer counts in payback with the Army or Navy. I believe the exception is the Air Force which does include a one yer AEGD in the payback. However, the Air Froce will only pay for three years of school in return for four years payback.
sorry, one more thing to add. The way a specialty residency would work in the examples given would be like this: 4 year HPSP = 4 year payback. 2 year military residency not only does not count towards payback, but also adds 2 more years commitment. In total, this will be 8 years. If you are having thoughts of trying to do a civilian residency before serving your committment, don't count on it. While this may occur very rarely, don't expect it. My plan is to serve my payback, and after my committment is finished, decide if I want to specialize.
The way it was explained to me by the health recruiter (not a dentist) and Cpt Taft a naval maxillofacial prosthodontist was that a military residency did count towards payback. Either I didn't understand them more than once or they me, or they flat out lied.

I have put the exact email message below so that you can read it, and tell me what you get from it. If I am wrong, I stand corrected and will be better for it.

Here's the email:

My name is Capt Robert Taft and I am the Director for Graduate Programs in the Navy. I am also a Maxillofacial Prosthodontist and often act as a liaison for Dental HPSP students. Your question is very interesting because we deal with this every year. Graduate Dental education can happen under two particular routes. The Duty Under Instruction Board (DUINS) applications are out in January of the year prior to the start of the intended program and the board meets in June of that year. The board reviews the applicants (which are active duty military as well as people in dental school like yourself) and selections are made for training within the Navy programs. Oral Surgery has training programs at Portsmouth Virginia, Bethesda Maryland and San Diego Naval Hospital. That training is considered inservice training and your obligation for your HPSP contract and that incurred by your OMFS training may be paid back at the same time. So your overall payback time would be 4 years at the end of your OMFS program. Some outstanding candidates are asked to compete for civilian training through the match process. If they match, then they would also occur a 4 yr obligation but it would have to be paid back consecutively with any other educational obligation. So in your case it would be 8 additional years after you completed the OMFS program. The second opportunity for training outside the Navy and not as an active duty individual, is the Financial Assistance Program (FAP). That is when you apply for training by getting an application from the local recruiter and apply to the civilian school of your choice. You also apply for the DUINS process mentioned above. If you get into a civilian school than you can go, however you owe 2yrs payback for the first year and one year payback for each additional year. That means for your four year OMFS program you would owe 5 yrs for just that training. Then you would have to add this to your obligation from the HPSP program and the total payback would be 9 yrs from the day that you graduate.
So you ask why would I want to go this route. Well each year the number of applicants for each specialty in dentistry changes. You may or may not be competitive on a particular year compared to people that have excellent academic credentials as well as military credentials. With a limited number of slots available for active duty people, you possibly could not be selected and you would not be able to attend right out of dental school. This program does not count against our active duty slots and we do pay for your tuition, book and you get a stipend as well.
In your junior year my office will send out a notice asking interested people to email me for the application package.
I know this email has a great deal of information and may be somewhat confusing. Please email me or call and I will be most happy to help you with any of your questions and or concerns.
CAPT R. M. Taft, DC, USN
Director, Graduate Programs (Code 0G)
Naval Medical Education and Training Command (NMETC)
8901 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20889-5411
Voice: DSN 295-0650; COMM 301-295-0650
FAX 301-295-1783
e-mail: [email protected]

Try contacting the man himself and ask him. Let us all know what answers you get. I think it will be good for the masses to get to the bottom of things.
God Bless.

That's an interesting post, I'll have to do some more research. I took a look at my contract, and i was really difficult to tell, everything wsa so vague. The way you describe the payback is better than I thought, but is still not counting back towards payback. If this were the case, you're four year committment would be finished when you finished your residency, as you would be paying it back over those four years. The way you described it is what my recruiter described as neutral years, where it doesn't count towards the payback, but you also don't incur any more payback.

All my contract states is that I can do a GPR/AEGD right out of school, and additional graduate education after this first year MAY result in additional service obligation, but says nothing more specific.
Here is a simple way of looking at it.

At a minimum, you will do 4 years of active duty time.

If you do a GPR, you will do a minimum of 5 years.

If you do any kind of training with obligation left, your obligation after training will be either the length of training or what is left of your obligation....whichever is longer.

If you go into a 4 year training program right out of school, your total active duty time will be 8 years if you have a 4 year scholarship
That's pretty much the way I understood it worked. Thanks for the 411. It is good to get an active duty response to the question. God Bless.
How competitive are dental 4 year scholarships this year? Does anyone have any inside info about this?

Am I going against 3 or 7000 people per slot in the Army 4 year dental scholarship this year?

It is my understanding that the Navy offers 300 medical and 80 dental scholarships a year. But I am not certain. If memory serves, I think my health recruiter told me that they are offering 70 or so this year. Also, I am not sure if that number includes HSCP recipients which is different than HPSP scholarships. In the end, 70-80 is a good ball park figure. I think the Army offers the most HPSP scholarships of all, but again I am not for certain on this. God Bless.
Does anyone know which Navy bases provide advanced education in general dentistry? thanks!