Family Doc in Reserves vs Guard

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Chris Knight

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Hello all, I appreciate your time and answers.

I am a family practice resident finishing my chief year at a civilian residency, and seriously considering the guard vs reserves. I have talked to several recruiters and weighed my various options, and feel comfortable that This is something I want to do. But, I still have qualms about which to join. I relate this to the fact that despite the recruiters and physicians I've talked to, I still haven't a good handle on several areas for potential differences

I appreciate any help you can give in this regard. I thought I might gain the most insight by outlining certain aspects of why I am choosing this path, and ask that you make a case for which service best fulfills these goals. They are as follows:

-fulfilling experience ( meaningful, rewarding and challenging medicine)
-opportunities for advancement (in rank and responsibilities)
-educational experiences ( tropical medicine, aerospace etc etc)
-not getting shot/blown up

Those are in no particular order.
Thanks!

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Hint!

Don't join an organization who's primary purpose is fighting wars where people get shot and blown up, then be surprised when you're deployed to a war zone!!!

I am very aware of the inevitability of deployment. That said, how directly one stands in harms way in the respective services is my concern. I'm a doctor , I'm interested in doctoring.
 
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I'm interested in hearing responses to the OP as well.
 
-fulfilling experience ( meaningful, rewarding and challenging medicine)
-opportunities for advancement (in rank and responsibilities)
-educational experiences ( tropical medicine, aerospace etc etc)
-not getting shot/blown up

Those are in no particular order.
Thanks!

I have been operational before and this is my take on your questions.

1. As long as you are practicing medicine it should be meaningful (if not for you, for the pt), rewarding is also going to depend on you. I find what I do very rewarding. I do a lot of sick call but that's ok, since I am in primary care, sick call is my bread and butter anyway. I see a bunch of URIs but I also see the occasional case that sets your socks on fire (brain CA, lung CA, bowel CA, crazy cardiac stuff, derm, etc...). I know I have made a difference in those pts lives.

2. Advancement is decent compared to the line. The higher you advance, the less clinic you are likely to see due to the demands of the admin side of things. There is a lot of admin! There is monthly training requirements that you will have to do, meetings, collateral duties, blah blah. I could go on and on.

3. There are plenty of educational opportunities but recent budget cuts have made it more challenging to take advantage of them. Money is tight so getting TAD orders to go do the cold weather, tropical, or mountain medicine is nearly impossible unless you are going on your own dime.

4. Risk of getting blown up is always there. Depending on where you go and in what capacity you will be practicing will depend on how likely you will be to eat rounds. I did my time surrounded and protected by billions of dollars worth of steel, radars, and explosives.

Overall my experience was good. It was challenging because your resources are not what you are going to be used to. Labs and meds can be limiting. There may be times that you have to medevac pts and there also may be times that you have to sit on pts that need a medevac due to operational constraints. You will have to do the best with what you have.
 
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I'm a doctor , I'm interested in doctoring.

No doubt, you have encountered a joint commission survey and know how little they seem to be constrained by common sense, or clinical judgement.

The .mil is like that, only much much worse.

The primary goal of .mil is not to deliver medical care, it's a secondary mission and its frequently treated as such.

If your goal is to be a .mil officer who plays Doctor, then by all means sign up, but if your truly interested in doctoring, you will eventually find it very frustrating.
 
I am very aware of the inevitability of deployment. That said, how directly one stands in harms way in the respective services is my concern. I'm a doctor , I'm interested in doctoring.

I am an FP (as you can guess by the name) and have done 3 combat deployments and spent 2 years (combined time) in combat zones.

I have not been shot.
I have not been blown up.

However..............
I have been shot at.
I have been within 30 feet of an unexploded IED and the closest explosion was 250 meters away.

While a combat injury is pretty unlikely, it can happen. If your tolerance is zero, may not be the best of ideas to join. But know that the overall risk is pretty low.
 
Right, I'm interested in hearing responses to the OP's question of Reserves vs Guard and since both offer significant time not being deployed I was just curious if you were speaking to those points.
 
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