Hi All. I have looked at many of the threads on this forum and really appreciate the wealth of knowledge provided by those of you who "understand" military medicine. Currently I am AD Air Force, enlisted, with a little over 7 years in. I have about three weeks to decide if I want to press forward with my HPSP application or get out of the service and go to medical school. I have been offered a scholarship by my state school - first year tuition and fees paid plus a guarantee that I will receive at least $10,000 in scholarship aid for years 2-4. I have also been accepted to USUHS. As do most of you on here, I love my military family; I cherish the notion that one day I will be offered the opportunity to care for some of the best men and women this country has to offer, as well as their families. I am idealistic, I want to make a difference, I want to be part of the solution. However, I know all too well that ideals wont get you very far if you are not in the right position to fix something, On a personal level, unlike a lot of HPSP candidates, I already have 7 years invested in the service. If I take this scholarship, the payback will put me at 11 years for HPSP, 14 for USU. This is a lot of time to invest considering that I am a nontrad, will be 30 once school starts, if I'm not going to stick it out. I really do worry about being deferred or told that I can't do a residency of choice which would make me even older before I could get out and do a residency of choice. In the hospital, I see mil to civ conversions all the time and many more contract doctors coming in and military docs getting deployed. It seems like the Air Force is contracting out a huge number of specialties and putting less and less of them in blue suits. I am drawn to the options that a military retirement might offer me: a supplemental retirement and health care coverage for my family and me. However, I would not be surprised if I am required to wait until 65 to receive these benefits. On a professional level, I am not sure how well I would handle the lack of autonomy that many military docs complain about. Also, I know all too well how the chain of command can work and being told how to do my job/rated by a nonphysician will be very difficult. Probably will happen on the outside though. With the current ops tempo, I have been told by many residents that there just arent enough midlevel docs to provide adequate teaching. Those that have been in for a while have taken a command track and those who haven't have gotten out. Many of the residents feel that there just aren't enough docs with experience around to teach them; this is coming from residents at WHMC! GWOT has taken up so much money, not to mention BRAC, that the Air Force has put a freeze on PCS moves. Our lab commander was told that he might as well plan on retiring here (he has been here for 2 years and he has almost 4 years left before he is eligible). I am not sure what type of impact this will have on docs, but I can imagine if you were practicing at Minot, Hill, or some other small base that the lack of diversity in your patient cases could not be good for your professional development. However, I dont have experience with the civilian side. I'm always told that the grass is not always greener so for those of you who have been there and done that, exactly how green is it? In your opinion, are the uncertainties that I have mentioned worth giving up HPSP/USU and 7 years of service?