Dec 20, 2017
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Hi,

I’ve been unable to find an answer to this question after a lot of searching. I would like to know how long can one can defer residency after graduating from a US medical school. Long story short, I’m a third year medical student and I’m considering become an Air Force pilot and then enterting medicine again after my service (I was told it’s a 12 year commitment). I’ve had my private pilots license since 2010 and have always had a passion for flying, and after talking to a recruiter I was told that with my experience, GPA, etc. I would have about a 90% chance of being selected by the pilot selection board, especially given the current shortage of pilots. However, I cannot complete residency prior to pilot training because the cutoff age is 29 and I’m currently 27. Unfortunately, it seems like I would have to choose between either practicing medicine or being a pilot, but I’m wondering if there’s any way I could do both. I know the military currently has a pilot physicians program, but from what I can gather it sounds like one would go through pilot training and then enter medical school after serving.

I don’t really care to hear anyone’s opinions on why this is a bad idea, because I’ve already read about this in several other threads. I just want to know what the legal requirements are. Would I be able to (or be required to) retake step 1 and step 2 after a certain number of years prior to applying for residency? I also have my MBA and would love the idea of taking on an administrative role in medicine instead of practicing, so I’m wondering if this would be an option as well following my service in the Air Force. Thanks for all the help.
 
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Keona

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You wouldn’t be able to do this most likely. Most residencies won’t interview you if you’re more than 5 years out from medical school. Why not join the air force while in medical school? They need more physicians and you could serve while also in training
 
Dec 20, 2017
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You wouldn’t be able to do this most likely. Most residencies won’t interview you if you’re more than 5 years out from medical school. Why not join the air force while in medical school? They need more physicians and you could serve while also in training
Thanks for your reply. Do you mean doing the flight surgeon route? I’ve heared mixed things about that but it’s certainly something I could look into.
 
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Keona

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Yes I mean flight surgeon potentially. Contact your local Air Force recruiter or fill out something online saying you’re in medical school and want to join. They also take residents (they come and talk to our program once or twice a year). You go each summer for a program each year and then I think it’s a 4 year commitment if they pay for medical school entirely. You’re given a certain rank as well during medical school. There are stipulations to the match as well but I don’t remember what they are exactly but I think it has to do with ranking a military program first. Again I don’t know the details exactly.
 

doc05

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Flight surgeon is not a pilot. It's a general medical officer for the Air Force. You won't be able to be a pilot and also a medical officer.

In answer to your original question, no. Most states (but not all) impose a 7 year limit between step 1 and step 3. More importantly, you will have zero chance at a residency spot if there's a 12 year gap after med school graduation. Realistically, more than 1 year off will dramatically reduce your chances.

Also, keep in mind that being a military pilot is much more demanding than having a private pilots license, which is essentially a hobby.
 
Dec 20, 2017
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Yes I mean flight surgeon potentially. Contact your local Air Force recruiter or fill out something online saying you’re in medical school and want to join. They also take residents (they come and talk to our program once or twice a year). You go each summer for a program each year and then I think it’s a 4 year commitment if they pay for medical school entirely. You’re given a certain rank as well during medical school. There are stipulations to the match as well but I don’t remember what they are exactly but I think it has to do with ranking a military program first. Again I don’t know the details exactly.
Ok sounds good. I'm meeting with a recruiter next week to talk about some options. It sounds like it would be pretty unwise (and probably impossible) to come back to medicine after pilot training, but I did speak with a family friend who is an ENT and also served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force for many years after residency and he told me that he got a lot of flying time even though he didn't go through pilot training. I'm not sure how common that is but it sounds pretty cool. Maybe I'll have some additional options in the military given my pilot experience. Thanks for all your input.
 
Dec 20, 2017
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Flight surgeon is not a pilot. It's a general medical officer for the Air Force. You won't be able to be a pilot and also a medical officer.

In answer to your original question, no. Most states (but not all) impose a 7 year limit between step 1 and step 3. More importantly, you will have zero chance at a residency spot if there's a 12 year gap after med school graduation. Realistically, more than 1 year off will dramatically reduce your chances.

Also, keep in mind that being a military pilot is much more demanding than having a private pilots license, which is essentially a hobby.

That makes sense. It would be a waste for me to put in all this work in medical school and not be able to get into a residency. I'm going to meet with a recruiter next week to discuss some options. I know a flight surgeon isn't a pilot but I hear you do get some flight time, although my guess is that's probably not very much, if any. I appreciate your input.
 

osckey

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Complete your medical education and fulfill your desire to be a physician, join the service and fulfill your desire to be in the Air Force, have a private pilot's license to fulfill your desire to be a pilot and fly as a hobby. You can't have multiple careers, it just doesn't work. Make one of those passions a hobby.
 
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