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HPSP and other questions

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by Peter H, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. Peter H

    2+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Hey all ya'll
    (guess which state I'm from ;) )

    I've looked at the HPSP information on this forum and elsewhere and there were a few questions i couldn't seem to find the answers to.

    I'm a junior in high school and I've very recently (read: two days ago) started to seriously look at going down the doctor route (sorry if the word "doctor" is a gross generalization, or using M.D. would be better... i don't know yet what specialty i would want to choose). I am currently wavering between HPSP and going the "civilian" way. If i get all the terminology wrong on this please understand i'm new to this.

    My dad teaches at a university that is part of a "Council for Christian Colleges & Universities" (CCCU). As such, i can get free tuition at any of these colleges (sorry for the humongous list) organized by state.

    Alabama Christian Colleges
    Judson College

    Arkansas Christian Colleges
    John Brown University
    Williams Baptist College

    California Christian Colleges
    Azusa Pacific University
    Biola University
    California Baptist University
    Fresno Pacific University
    Hope International University
    Master's College & Seminary
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Simpson University
    Vanguard University
    Westmont College

    Colorado Christian Colleges
    Colorado Christian University

    Florida Christian Colleges
    Palm Beach Atlantic University
    Southeastern University
    Warner Southern College

    Georgia Christian Colleges
    Covenant College

    Idaho Christian Colleges
    Northwest Nazarene University

    Illinois Christian Colleges

    Greenville College
    Judson College
    North Park University
    Olivet Nazarene University
    Trinity Christian College
    Trinity International University
    Wheaton College

    Indiana Christian Colleges
    Anderson University
    Bethel College
    Goshen College
    Grace College & Seminary
    Huntington University
    Indiana Wesleyan University
    Taylor University

    Iowa Christian Colleges
    Dordt College
    Northwestern College--IA

    Kansas Christian Colleges
    MidAmerica Nazarene University
    Sterling College
    Tabor College

    Kentucky Christian Colleges
    Asbury College
    Campbellsville University
    Kentucky Christian University

    Louisiana Christian Colleges
    Louisiana College
    Eastern Nazarene College
    Gordon College

    Michigan Christian Colleges
    Calvin College
    Cornerstone University
    Spring Arbor University

    Minnesota Christian Colleges
    Bethel University
    Crown College
    Northwestern College--MN

    Mississippi Christian Colleges
    Belhaven College
    Mississippi College

    Missouri Christian Colleges
    College of the Ozarks
    Evangel University
    Missouri Baptist University
    Southwest Baptist University

    New York Christian Colleges
    Houghton College
    Nyack College
    Roberts Wesleyan College

    North Carolina Christian Colleges
    Montreat College

    Ohio Christian Colleges
    Bluffton University
    Cedarville University
    Malone College
    Mount Vernon Nazarene University

    Oklahoma Christian Colleges
    Oklahoma Baptist University
    Oklahoma Christian University
    Oklahoma Wesleyan University
    Oral Roberts University
    Southern Nazarene University

    Oregon Christian Colleges
    Corban College
    George Fox University
    Northwest Christian College
    Warner Pacific College

    Pennsylvania Christian Colleges
    Eastern University
    Geneva College
    Messiah College
    Waynesburg College

    South Carolina Christian Colleges
    Erskine College
    North Greenville College
    Southern Wesleyan University
    South Dakota
    University of Sioux Falls

    Tennessee Christian Colleges
    Bryan College
    Carson-Newman College
    Crichton College
    King College
    Lee University
    Lipscomb University
    Milligan College
    Trevecca Nazarene University
    Union University

    Texas Christian Colleges
    Abilene Christian University
    Dallas Baptist University
    East Texas Baptist University
    Hardin-Simmons University
    Houston Baptist University
    Howard Payne University
    LeTourneau University
    Wayland Baptist University

    Virginia Christian Colleges
    Eastern Mennonite University
    Washington Christian Colleges
    Northwest University
    Seattle Pacific University
    Trinity Western University
    Whitworth College

    Now, of course, not all of those will even have pre-med programs, but this brings me to my questions.

    1. Do you recognize any college in there that you know has a good pre-med program? (the only one i've found with a pre-med program from the limited exploration i've done is huntington)

    2. I have not found this explicitly stated anywhere in my searching, but i am assuming that you wouldn't apply for an HPSP until your junior year of college (after taking the MCAT?). Also, at what point are you committed to HPSP? Would it be possible to take the MCAT then see if any medical schools are interested in you, and decide at that point between HPSP and going to a medical school on your own?

    3. That brings up another question, do medical schools offer scholarships (I.E. fight over) those who do well on the MCAT?

    Really if they do offer scholarships i think there is a good chance i might get one. i took the SAT when i was 14 and got a 1340, i haven't taken it a second time yet. Also i am taking dual credit classes at the university where my dad teaches (by the end of this semester i will have completed all the math required for most engineering degrees, with a 4.0... assuming i don't botch any tests coming up ).

    4. Is it true that your major in college is irrelevant as long as you complete the required biology/chemistry/etc courses? For example, could i major in Mechanical engineering, throw in a math minor (because i basically have one already), and complete the required biology/chemistry/etc classes? (assuming i can handle this workload of course!)

    5. Along the same lines as the last question, would it be possible to major at a college that has no pre-med program, and organize volunteering at the local hospital yourself (assuming it's a reasonably large hospital) and still be accepted into a medical school (or HPSP for that matter) after taking the MCAT... that is even if you can take the MCAT at a school with no pre-med program

    more specifically HPSP questions:

    6. I don't mind doing a GMO (in the navy) as the journey is just as important as the destination for me (and a GMO seems like a good experience). i was wondering though, does the GMO count towards "pay back" time? (i know the 6 month training in the navy FS GMO counts but i'm not sure about the rest). Also i am assuming the residency doesn't count as pay back time.

    7. How long (it might vary don't know, but average if it does) are you in the "reserves" after completing pay back time? (I.E. how long is it that they still have the right to request you anytime they feel like it) [edit] actually i think i figured this out, seems if you do 4 years of pay back time then you are in their "reserves" for 4 years after that.

    8. How does coming from a HPSP affect you once you are out of it? Do hospitals look down at you as one of "them"? are you even "licensed" to practice outside of the military? If i did go through with all this, it would be because of my faith, so i'm just trying to figure out how open i would be to whatever God might want me to do.

    9. Overall, would you say you end up with more or less useful medical experience from going the HPSP route?

    ok, that's a lot of questions and i hope i asked them all. Basically i don't mind spending the extra time that seems to be required in HPSP, and i feel like it would leave my options slightly more open in the sense that i'd actually have money when i finished, but slightly restricted as i would sort of owned by the military... another factor is that i think i would enjoy the military aspect of it, i have thought about joining the marines in the past (though i decided against it). but i don't want to do HPSP just because i think it would be fun.

    on the other hand if it's possible to get a scholarship to a medical school i might just try to do that.

    thanks in advance! i'm leaving tomorrow morning for mexico and won't be back for a week, so don't think i abandoned this thread, i'll be back! (& i'll be checking it before i leave)

  2. R-Me-Doc

    R-Me-Doc Now an X-R-Me-Doc
    10+ Year Member

    Aug 31, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Yikes, that's quite a list. I think Wheaton in Illinois is recognized pretty widely as an all-around very-good-to-excellent school. Oral Roberts, while I don't know much about it academically, at least has a lot of name recognition.

    You apply to HPSP only after you have a medical school acceptance letter in hand. This will probably be sometime in your senior year of college.

    Medical school is a seller's market. They don't have to fight over anyone. But a good MCAT "might" make financial aid more likely.

    Keep being optimistic but don't necessarily count on it. Scholarship availability varies wildly from school to school.

    Yes, but you will probably get a lot of different opinions on this.

    I guess it would be possible but I wouldn't recommend it. Many med schools want a letter of recommendation from a specific undergraduate pre-med director or committee. If your college doesn't have that, I think your letters of recommendation might carry less weight.

    Although I suspect I know the answer, I will defer to my Navy colleagues on this one.

    Short answer: Everyone initially entering the military incurs an 8-year committment. Once all your active and reserve time adds up to 8 years, you are free.

    I've never met anyone who's had trouble finding a civilian job after coming out of military medicine.

    Depends on your specialty. For surgery, I'd probably say less. For primary care and medical subspecialty, probably equivalent to civilian training.

    Final words of advice: You are very, very far from being a doctor at this point. By the time you get to the point of practicing, medicine (and probably military medicine in particular) may be vastly different than today. If you feel it's really for you, go for it, but keep your eyes open. Good luck.

  3. Dr. Dukes

    2+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Medical Student
    I'll give you my standard to HS students.
    You have no idea what you're interested in. When I was in HS I liked both bio and history, went to college planning on history/econ major, only declared bio 3 weeks before the deadline. You want to go to a good college that will prepare you for whatever it is you want to do, and will give you enough diversity in what you take to find out what you like.
    As far as schools with "good" pre-med programs, I'm totally unqualified to comment on your list. A "good" pre-med program is really nothing more than a good bio dept. You want to be exposed to everything in biology and be able to have interesting discussions in classes and with your profs. You want profs/other students who are smart, interesting, and helpful.
    PM me if you have any specific question.
  4. West Side

    5+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    I believe something like 65% of pre-meds bomb out by o-chem, and find they're far more interested in the far more diverse set of academic options available to them in college, as opposed to high school.

    Furthermore, if you've got such great scores (and last I checked, 1340 isn't something to get too excited about...certainly pretty good for a 14 year old), you can probably widen your college search significantly, as you can expect a combo of grants and scholarships that would make a heathen school financially viable.

    Lastly, if you're absolutely dead set on going the military route (and if you spend any time on these forums, I would imagine your opinion will change), check out the FAP program.
  5. The White Coat Investor

    The White Coat Investor Practicing Doc and Blogger
    Physician Partner Organization 10+ Year Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Attending Physician
    Um....get involved with the track team, find a girlfriend, drive recklessly, catch a flick and worry about HPSP vs no HPSP in 5 years or so. Seriously, are you trying to live your entire life in advance? You may not even like medicine in 5 years when it comes time to apply to med school.

    Don't pick your college by its pre-med program. If you do well in school and do acceptably well on the MCAT and are a genuinely interesting, caring person, you can get into medical school no matter what podunk college you go to. Don't count on a med school scholarship.
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  6. OP
    Peter H

    2+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Thanks all for the answers.

    yeah, i know that's not the best score ever for sure (even for 14).

    Though if i continue to do as well in college as i have been doing then that might help aswell.
    so far i've taken the following classes:
    Calc I, II, &, III
    Linear Algebra
    Computer Science I, & II (for fun, not going to be a CS major)
    Weight training (again for fun)
    and maintained a 4.0 in all of them
    (taking Differential Equations and University Physics this semester)

    I still have 3 semesters left before i'm college age, and i can take 6 hours a semester, so i should be able to get a fair amount of classes out of the way (such as english).

    though once i start taking weed out courses such as chemistry/whatever they happen to be, i don't really know how well i'll do. (i'll certainly work hard at them that's for sure)

    btw, that may seem like a large math focus, but that's just because i tested ahead and finished highschool math early. (So it made sense for me to continue taking it so i wouldn't get rusty by the time i got to college).

    Ok, but "might" is better than "what? financial aid? BWAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"

    ah ok. I'd gathered that you would apply in your junior year to medical schools and receive word on acceptance (or not) in your senior year. Good to know though that you apply for HPSP after you've picked and been accepted to a school.

    Ok, i really don't want to sound too arrogant here, and the truth is i don't have a reason to be arrogant. You certainly would know more about this, having been through it. but i would like to believe i know a little bit more about what i want than the standard HS student. (and a little bit more about how colleges work since my dad has taught at one/moved to "less fun" administrative stuff in one currently)

    anyway, it does seem that a biology major would be the way to go. as i would pick up more useful experience than if i did some other major and just did the required classes on the side.

    i'm really not dead set on it. and are you suggesting my opinion would change against the military route or for it? :p

    I'm just trying to weigh the pros and cons, and if anything right now i'm leaning towards not doing HPSP (though i might wait until senior year of college to decide that).

    yeah it seems i can wait to worry about HPSP. and as for living my life in advance, i can't see myself doing well in college unless i have at least a goal or reason for doing it.

    also i may have come across in my first post as thinking i'm all hot and going to get a scholarship to a medical school... don't worry i understand that wouldn't be likely. that's why i was looking at HPSP, because i doubted i could get a scholarship to a medical school (and was trying to think of all the reasons i might be able to get a scholarship)

    with not picking a college by it's pre-med program, you're not saying that it doesn't have to have a pre-med program right? just that it's pre-med program shouldn't be the deciding factor at all...

    *reads up on FAP*
  7. West Side

    5+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    You should try and get into the best school you can get into, however you define it.

    Lookit, here's how I usually characterize it. For pretty much the top 4/5 of schools, the middle 75% - 80% of all students are completely fungible, with respect to abilities and social habits/skills. Honestly, you couldn't tell them apart if you tried. Where the delta comes in is the bottom and top 10%. The average at your Florida States and North Dakota Polytechnic State for these extremes is going to be markedly different than at your Ivys, Amhersts, Stanfords, Pomonas, Mass/Cal Techs, etc. That's really the only difference. And the quality of academics is going to just as homogenous. I truly believe that, and my experience with people of many different scholastic backgrounds seems to bear that out.

    Assuming you take what I say as true, college really comes down to quality of life, and how you want to learn. Big school, small school, geographic amenities, availability of resources to pursue your interests. And by the way you describe yourself, which is telling, your interests don't really extend much past school. School...ends! School is an incredibly artificial situation, and if you spend your formative years in college on just school, you'll be much poorer for it.

    As my Daddy once said, don't let school get in the way of your education.
  8. Droopy Snoopy

    7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Hey, props for gathering info on this so soon. You'll get some good info by searching this forum as well as the allo and preallo ones (also http://lukeballard.tripod.com/HPSP.html), but seeing as how my cable's out and I just finished my last block exam before Spring Break I'll throw out some stuff for you.

    EDIT: as I am such a slow typist, it seems most of your questions have already been answered. But since I took the time I'm posting this anyway dammit. :smuggrin:

    1) Pre-med programs (i.e. majors) are pretty rare. At most it'll be a minor; my university simply listed it as an "emphasis" area on my transcript. During undergrad you can major in anything that floats your boat. Although a plurality of med students major in biology or biochemistry, my current class in med school includes humanities majors, 5 engineers, 2 lawyers, a pharmacist, a PA, and a dentist. I think a biology degree better prepares one for medical school, but that's just me. Obviously larger universities have a wider selection of courses, clubs, activities, research, and advisors than smaller ones, all of which may help contribute positively to your application, but it's really up to the individual not the school. I would suggest picking whatever school you think you'll be happy at based on cost, location, facilities, etc., not what you think may help you get into medical school. After all, something like 75% of premeds change their mind at some point in the process, and in any given cycle almost half of those who apply don't get into US allo.

    2) You get the HPSP application ball rolling around the summer of junior year, around the same time you start applying to medical schools and after taking the spring MCAT. This involves talking to a recruiter, filling out paperwork, getting a military physical, etc. Once you receive an acceptance, you send in your application portfolio to whichever service's review board. If they say yea, you get to sign on the dotted line. This is the committment point. The section of your quote which I've bolded needs to be emphasized. The military owns you at this point. Not sort of, not slightly restricted, not to be considered just another factor. You are and will be considered a soldier first and a student/physician second. Please gather more info on this point from the sources I mentioned above.

    3) Most of the scholarships available to medical students are via the medical schools themselves. Unlike undergrad, there aren't that many Kraft Macaroni Essay Scholarships and Fun With Cockatiels Research Awards floating around out there. They give out a handful of academic/achievement scholarships as well as some general endowment scholarships, but the vast majority are for underprivileged/minority students. My school gave out 2 full scholarships out of 105 matriculating students; these kids had 4.0s and high MCATs, the idea being the scholarships are incentive to stay at their state school (and hopefully stay in the state after graduation) instead of going off to an Ivy somewhere. Most kids rely on private and gov't loans; new MDs enter residency and the workforce deep in debt ($100K to upwards of a quarter mil) which they will work at paying back for the better part of their career.

    4) See above. If you can carry a 4.0 through engineering then more power to you. It's also a great backup plan for med school and will prepare you well for the workload to come. A minor is worthless, but if it's something you'll pick up along the way anyway then by all means. You have to take certain medical prerequisites before graduation: 1 year of chemistry, 1 year of organic chemistry, 1 year of physics, 1 year of English, 1 year of math, and 1 year of Biology. A small percentage of schools have various additional prereqs (statistics, calculus, Spanish, biochemistry). Do it prior to taking the MCAT (not required but they're what's covered by the exam). These grades count as part of your BCPM gpa, which is the second most important number on your application behind your MCAT score. According to AMCAS most of your engineering courses are NOT science courses and won't serve to bring up this average, so it's especially important to do well in these. Also realize that even though a 3.5 in engineering is probably much tougher to achieve than a 4.0 in psychology, adcoms will view the 4.0 as the superior student all other things being equal, so make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew.

    5) Absolutely. Anybody with $160 (or whatever it is now) can take the MCAT. Again all the typical premed activities will be more accessible at Ohio State or Yale than at Podunk U, but not drastically so.

    6 and 7) You sign up for 8 years. Like you said if you take a 4-year HPSP it's 4 years active duty and 4 years inactive reserve. A 3-year HPSPer like me owes 3 and 5. A GMO is active duty, and this counts toward your AD payback time. If you do a military residency, this counts toward your inactive reserve time. If you do a civilian deferred residency, it doesn't count for squat. If the military sponsors your civilian residency, you essentially swap more AD time for less IRR time. Confused yet? One last thing: once an officer always an officer. The military can call you up when it likes, including during school/residency or after you retire. It rarely does this, but there have been stories of 82-year-old psychiatrists getting called up for camel-riding duty.

    8) If you graduate from an LCME-approved US medical college, pass the necessary state and national boards both for general practice and your chosen specialty, and are DEA-apporved to prescribe medications, then you are a physician in or out of the military. And if sometime between signing on for HPSP and M4 year God calls you to become a surgeon in order to help war-torn African peoples, be aware that if the military requires more pediatricians you may have to decide between becoming a pediatrician or spending some time in Ft. Levenworth.

    9) So far (as an M2) I've enjoyed the financial benefits of HPSP. I enjoyed the officer training over the summer, and I'm proud to be apart of this thing. That said there are undeniably major flaws in this process, but I can't comment personally on these being still on the near side of the tunnel as I am.

    The portions of your quote I bolded is a huge understatement, and I cannot stress to you how important it is to get more info on this subject. Things have a way of looking grossly different at 17 than they do at 30 (as XRMD said). Focus on getting good grades, doing research, shadowing, all the things that will get you into med school. At the same time don't get too wrapped up in some potential future 12 or 20 years down the line. Be in high school, live it up in college, get a part-time job waiting tables and go cow-tipping with your coworkers after closing down the restaurant. Leave yourself open to other life possibilities than making a living getting puked on and/or shot at. Anyway, get more info on HPSP and the process of becoming a physician in general. See where you sit 3/4 years from now. And don't do it for the money. Hope this helps.
  9. OP
    Peter H

    2+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Yeah that helps thanks.

    I think that i might just go through college + med school then decide if i should do FAP.Though in reality i think that there's very small chance that i'll do FAP. I've known while considering this that the military owns you afterwards (i just said "sort of" because it's not like they will really straight up use you for the rest of your life unless we get invaded by the rest of the world or something....).

    Right. that's where all my gathering of information here is somewhat moot. If God leads me to join HPSP or FAP though, there's no risk that he'd change his mind and send me to africa (which is why i would need to make 100% sure that he would want me to do it before i did it ;)). Though if i went through FAP than apparently i wouldn't have to worry about possibly being forced into the "wrong" specialty (since they would either accept me or not)

    so, in conclusion, thanks for all the responses, i think i'll first, make sure i'm even supposed to be a doctor, then if i am go to college + med school before even thinking about the military aspect...

  10. HumptyDumptyMil

    HumptyDumptyMil Almost done...
    5+ Year Member

    Jan 3, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Medical Student
    good luck with everything. My advice is just do well in whatever you end up studying for. That way, you will always have the option to choose whichever path you want to take. You can be a history major and still end up in med school. don't forget to enjoy college life either

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