yankpak786

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May 6, 2012
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I am really looking forward to applying and hopefully getting the HPSP. Now, my question is if I choose the Air Force, what are the chances of being sent to an overseas battle ground? Lol sorry if I sound ignorant, but I really have so many questions! My parents are always concerned that it wont be safe, but dentists wont exactly be placed on the battleground, right? What is it like to be the in the Air Force/Navy/Army HPSP? Is it worth it? Most importantly, is it safe?
 
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Decent chance with all of them of being deployed somewhere (more likely for Army tho) but its anyones guess. What you need to know (based off what my recruiter has told me), as a dentist in any branch, is that you are on the bases not driving out on convoys into battlezones. Think about it, if someone gets hurt what are you going to do? Give them a braces consult?
 
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CraigHack

5+ Year Member
Apr 29, 2013
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Disclaimer: I am not in a HPSP program.

I'm currently active duty with the Marine Corps (Captain, 5+years in service). I'll give you my opinions:

1. Anyone who puts on the uniform should be prepared to die for their country. Not in a Saving Private Ryan, meaningful kind of way either. Servicemembers are killed, sometimes in unceremonious and meaningless ways, and it is hardly a thing of consequence to 99% of Americans.

2. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed in a 4 year period is reasonably high. If we are not engaged in a protracted war somewhere, you'll still be screened for dental clinics all across the world, including some not so desirable places.

3. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed, and finding themselves in harm's way, is low. You represent a significant investment for the military. You also don't provide any tactical advantage in combat. You support the dental readiness of the fighting forces. There is always danger associated with serving in the military, but as a dentist, it would be fairly low. I do not know the last time a dental officer died in combat, but I suspect it is a very rare occurrance. So to answer your question: it's reasonably safe.

4. Is it worth it? You have to weigh the value of the HPSP program against the deployment(s), work environment, quality of life, etc. As a servicemember, you'll have to do a lot of things that seem like a waste of time. There is an oppressive amount of bureaucracy in the government and military that makes simple objectives into painful endeavors. You will have very little influence on where you end up living. Many decisions affecting your life will be beholden to "timing" and luck of the draw, regardless of your performance or dedication to duty. Many dentists leave the military because their quality of life is lower in the service than in the private sector.

5. I see people argue that four years is a small price to pay for free schooling. However, consider that as a military dentist, you may be underutilized and experience an atrophy of skills, setting you up for decreased performance as you transition to the private sector. You'll also be 4 years behind your peers in setting up your practice(s) (if that is your ultimate goal). Some military dentists say they got much more than they put into the military in their 4 years. You could very well be one of them. However, you don't control whether the service will help you, or hurt you, in your ultimate goals. You only choose whether you want to "sign on the dotted line".

6. I am getting out and transitioning into dental school because I am tired of the issues listed above. Dentistry provides a great deal of autonomy (as a practice owner), which is a huge benefit in my eyes. Military dentistry does not provide this opportunity.

7. One last thing: there's a military dentistry sub-forum located here http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/military-dentistry.178/. There are plenty of people there willing to give you their impressions of the HPSP program. That said, I have been over there, and certain individuals paint a unrealistically cheery picture of what military life is like. I find the general attitude over there fails to capture the frustrations and hardships of military life. Just take this to heart, and you'll be all right: "military service is just that, service".
 

pinkster

2+ Year Member
Apr 26, 2014
322
186
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Pre-Dental
Disclaimer: I am not in a HPSP program.

I'm currently active duty with the Marine Corps (Captain, 5+years in service). I'll give you my opinions:

1. Anyone who puts on the uniform should be prepared to die for their country. Not in a Saving Private Ryan, meaningful kind of way either. Servicemembers are killed, sometimes in unceremonious and meaningless ways, and it is hardly a thing of consequence to 99% of Americans.

2. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed in a 4 year period is reasonably high. If we are not engaged in a protracted war somewhere, you'll still be screened for dental clinics all across the world, including some not so desirable places.

3. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed, and finding themselves in harm's way, is low. You represent a significant investment for the military. You also don't provide any tactical advantage in combat. You support the dental readiness of the fighting forces. There is always danger associated with serving in the military, but as a dentist, it would be fairly low. I do not know the last time a dental officer died in combat, but I suspect it is a very rare occurrance. So to answer your question: it's reasonably safe.

4. Is it worth it? You have to weigh the value of the HPSP program against the deployment(s), work environment, quality of life, etc. As a servicemember, you'll have to do a lot of things that seem like a waste of time. There is an oppressive amount of bureaucracy in the government and military that makes simple objectives into painful endeavors. You will have very little influence on where you end up living. Many decisions affecting your life will be beholden to "timing" and luck of the draw, regardless of your performance or dedication to duty. Many dentists leave the military because their quality of life is lower in the service than in the private sector.

5. I see people argue that four years is a small price to pay for free schooling. However, consider that as a military dentist, you may be underutilized and experience an atrophy of skills, setting you up for decreased performance as you transition to the private sector. You'll also be 4 years behind your peers in setting up your practice(s) (if that is your ultimate goal). Some military dentists say they got much more than they put into the military in their 4 years. You could very well be one of them. However, you don't control whether the service will help you, or hurt you, in your ultimate goals. You only choose whether you want to "sign on the dotted line".

6. I am getting out and transitioning into dental school because I am tired of the issues listed above. Dentistry provides a great deal of autonomy (as a practice owner), which is a huge benefit in my eyes. Military dentistry does not provide this opportunity.

7. One last thing: there's a military dentistry sub-forum located here http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/military-dentistry.178/. There are plenty of people there willing to give you their impressions of the HPSP program. That said, I have been over there, and certain individuals paint a unrealistically cheery picture of what military life is like. I find the general attitude over there fails to capture the frustrations and hardships of military life. Just take this to heart, and you'll be all right: "military service is just that, service".
This seems fairly accurate, but I would question the "atrophy" of talents, as well as the "behind in setting up a practice". Generally, most students who graduate dental school are NOT ready for private practice, let along setting up their own. Most do a GPR. So I would argue that someone in the military for four years will actually not be too far behind their peers in terms of setting up their own practice. I would also argue that in the military, if a patient needs a procedure done, it gets done. There isn't the red tape that comes with insurance and a patients income in private practices. I would argue that you will gain a lot a great experience in the military, just as you would setting up your own practice right out of school. Are there people who may not get as much practice? Sure. But generally speaking I view the four years after school as a chance to get more practice, get a decent salary (and not have any debt), and practice without having to deal with the finances and red tape that come with a private practice.
 
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yankpak786

yankpak786

7+ Year Member
May 6, 2012
310
209
New York, NY
Status
Dental Student
Disclaimer: I am not in a HPSP program.

I'm currently active duty with the Marine Corps (Captain, 5+years in service). I'll give you my opinions:

1. Anyone who puts on the uniform should be prepared to die for their country. Not in a Saving Private Ryan, meaningful kind of way either. Servicemembers are killed, sometimes in unceremonious and meaningless ways, and it is hardly a thing of consequence to 99% of Americans.

2. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed in a 4 year period is reasonably high. If we are not engaged in a protracted war somewhere, you'll still be screened for dental clinics all across the world, including some not so desirable places.

3. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed, and finding themselves in harm's way, is low. You represent a significant investment for the military. You also don't provide any tactical advantage in combat. You support the dental readiness of the fighting forces. There is always danger associated with serving in the military, but as a dentist, it would be fairly low. I do not know the last time a dental officer died in combat, but I suspect it is a very rare occurrance. So to answer your question: it's reasonably safe.

4. Is it worth it? You have to weigh the value of the HPSP program against the deployment(s), work environment, quality of life, etc. As a servicemember, you'll have to do a lot of things that seem like a waste of time. There is an oppressive amount of bureaucracy in the government and military that makes simple objectives into painful endeavors. You will have very little influence on where you end up living. Many decisions affecting your life will be beholden to "timing" and luck of the draw, regardless of your performance or dedication to duty. Many dentists leave the military because their quality of life is lower in the service than in the private sector.

5. I see people argue that four years is a small price to pay for free schooling. However, consider that as a military dentist, you may be underutilized and experience an atrophy of skills, setting you up for decreased performance as you transition to the private sector. You'll also be 4 years behind your peers in setting up your practice(s) (if that is your ultimate goal). Some military dentists say they got much more than they put into the military in their 4 years. You could very well be one of them. However, you don't control whether the service will help you, or hurt you, in your ultimate goals. You only choose whether you want to "sign on the dotted line".

6. I am getting out and transitioning into dental school because I am tired of the issues listed above. Dentistry provides a great deal of autonomy (as a practice owner), which is a huge benefit in my eyes. Military dentistry does not provide this opportunity.

7. One last thing: there's a military dentistry sub-forum located here http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/military-dentistry.178/. There are plenty of people there willing to give you their impressions of the HPSP program. That said, I have been over there, and certain individuals paint a unrealistically cheery picture of what military life is like. I find the general attitude over there fails to capture the frustrations and hardships of military life. Just take this to heart, and you'll be all right: "military service is just that, service".
Thanks for a great reply, I guess you're right, there's a lot that doesn't meet the eye as of right now. Would contacting the air force be the best way to educate myself on this? Thanks again.

And is true that they would essentially pay for everything? or is there fine print, say I want to attend NYU, would they cover all the tuition, fees, books, and boarding?

Thanks again.
 

Bis-GMA111

7+ Year Member
Nov 7, 2010
1,974
125
Status
Dentist
I am really looking forward to applying and hopefully getting the HPSP. Now, my question is if I choose the Air Force, what are the chances of being sent to an overseas battle ground? Lol sorry if I sound ignorant, but I really have so many questions! My parents are always concerned that it wont be safe, but dentists wont exactly be placed on the battleground, right? What is it like to be the in the Air Force/Navy/Army HPSP? Is it worth it? Most importantly, is it safe?
if you choose the air force? there were 18 scholarships available the year I applied. 18. you don't choose them, they choose you (this goes for all branches). these scholarships are getting extremely competitive.

and if you get deployed yes you get sent to war theaters. you won't fight per se, but you'll be treating soldiers who have to fight.
 

Bis-GMA111

7+ Year Member
Nov 7, 2010
1,974
125
Status
Dentist
my opinions on the matter are underlined. @CraigHack makes some very valid points here

Disclaimer: I am not in a HPSP program.

I'm currently active duty with the Marine Corps (Captain, 5+years in service). I'll give you my opinions:

1. Anyone who puts on the uniform should be prepared to die for their country. Not in a Saving Private Ryan, meaningful kind of way either. Servicemembers are killed, sometimes in unceremonious and meaningless ways, and it is hardly a thing of consequence to 99% of Americans.

2. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed in a 4 year period is reasonably high. If we are not engaged in a protracted war somewhere, you'll still be screened for dental clinics all across the world, including some not so desirable places. not so much in the army. many of the dentists i've spoken to are on waitlists to deploy. drawdowns are making it difficult

3. The likelihood of a dentist being deployed, and finding themselves in harm's way, is low. You represent a significant investment for the military. You also don't provide any tactical advantage in combat. You support the dental readiness of the fighting forces. There is always danger associated with serving in the military, but as a dentist, it would be fairly low. I do not know the last time a dental officer died in combat, but I suspect it is a very rare occurrance. So to answer your question: it's reasonably safe.

4. Is it worth it? You have to weigh the value of the HPSP program against the deployment(s), work environment, quality of life, etc. As a servicemember, you'll have to do a lot of things that seem like a waste of time. There is an oppressive amount of bureaucracy in the government and military that makes simple objectives into painful endeavors. You will have very little influence on where you end up living. Many decisions affecting your life will be beholden to "timing" and luck of the draw, regardless of your performance or dedication to duty. Many dentists leave the military because their quality of life is lower in the service than in the private sector.

5. I see people argue that four years is a small price to pay for free schooling. However, consider that as a military dentist, you may be underutilized and experience an atrophy of skills, setting you up for decreased performance as you transition to the private sector. You'll also be 4 years behind your peers in setting up your practice(s) (if that is your ultimate goal). Some military dentists say they got much more than they put into the military in their 4 years. You could very well be one of them. However, you don't control whether the service will help you, or hurt you, in your ultimate goals. You only choose whether you want to "sign on the dotted line". disagree with this to some extent. you get provided with CE courses. while that may not be the 'end all be all', yes your skills will prob be lacking in certain areas--i.e. esthetics. 4 years behind? try taking out a half a million dollar loan to pay for school. what if you want to open a practice? have a family? the idea is, you want to pay your loans off aggressively. numerically, you can't beat the hpsp for 4 years. a big thing that people don't consider: you have to go into dental school with the mindset that you're going to be a general dentist. a large majority of dental schools train you to be a general dentist. with that said, factor in the income +lifestyle associated with that and then ask yourself...is the scholarship worth it financially? the answer is, yes it is. crunch the numbers for yourself if you don't believe me.

if you find yourself having to go to an expensive private school, the initial 4 year commitment is absolutely worth it. now, arguing the whole 'opportunity cost' angle might work if you know for a fact you can specialize (i.e. have an ''in'' somewhere).


6. I am getting out and transitioning into dental school because I am tired of the issues listed above. Dentistry provides a great deal of autonomy (as a practice owner), which is a huge benefit in my eyes. Military dentistry does not provide this opportunity.

7. One last thing: there's a military dentistry sub-forum located here http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/military-dentistry.178/. There are plenty of people there willing to give you their impressions of the HPSP program. That said, I have been over there, and certain individuals paint a unrealistically cheery picture of what military life is like. I find the general attitude over there fails to capture the frustrations and hardships of military life. Just take this to heart, and you'll be all right: "military service is just that, service".
 
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CraigHack

5+ Year Member
Apr 29, 2013
170
143
GA
Status
Dental Student
This seems fairly accurate, but I would question the "atrophy" of talents, as well as the "behind in setting up a practice". Generally, most students who graduate dental school are NOT ready for private practice, let along setting up their own. Most do a GPR. So I would argue that someone in the military for four years will actually not be too far behind their peers in terms of setting up their own practice. I would also argue that in the military, if a patient needs a procedure done, it gets done. There isn't the red tape that comes with insurance and a patients income in private practices. I would argue that you will gain a lot a great experience in the military, just as you would setting up your own practice right out of school. Are there people who may not get as much practice? Sure. But generally speaking I view the four years after school as a chance to get more practice, get a decent salary (and not have any debt), and practice without having to deal with the finances and red tape that come with a private practice.
The 2014 ADEA guide states that 5,769 dental students enrolled in the Fall of 2013 (p14). 1,736 dental students enrolled into a GPR/AEGD that year as well (p9). This is about 30% of graduates, which does not qualify as "most" by anyone's standards. If you head over here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/dental.18/, I think you'll find that there are plenty of dentists who had success starting a practice with only a year or two of associate work, or even going straight into practice ownership. That puts you 2 to 4 years ahead of your military peers, with better training if you opt for the GPR/AEGD. Some military dentists will fully endorse their experiences, saying that they got to practice a wide range of procedures and exercise freedom. Others will give you horror stories of mismanagement and restrictive practicing guidelines. Let me reiterate my point from before: I'm not saying you will experience an atrophy of clinical skills in the military, I'm saying you might, and you don't control whether that happens to you. When a private practice guy is unhappy with his situation, he can leave any time he wants. When a military dentist is getting a raw deal, he has no options. People can argue how much you are really at risk of ending up in an undesirable situation, but I think it's fair to say that you can't argue with the point I'm trying to make here.

Now for the other issue: debt. First, let's make sure we're working with the right numbers:

The average dental student graduates with $241,097 of debt. For public school dental students, that number drops to under $200K (Source: http://www.asdanet.org/debt.aspx). You certainly can dig yourself a much deeper hole than that, and for some aspiring pre-dents, they will have no other choice. If you find yourself in this situation, then the argument for HPSP becomes much stronger. And oftentimes, when you look just at the numbers, the HPSP seems like a superior option. My goal here is to impress upon the SDN community that the military lifestyle comes a cost that cannot be quantified in dollars. For some, that cost is relatively low, because in a lot of ways, they enjoy the service. For others, like myself, it is very "expensive". I could explain all the little intricacies of how military income adds up to less than the numbers will bear, but for a lot of people, it doesn't make sense until you experience it for yourself. That's why military dentists have such a high turnover rate. It's why the military offers such a generous scholarship to fill the churning void of dentists.

Ultimately, I just want pre-dents to go into the HPSP with a better understanding of what they're gaining/sacrificing. I think too often individuals look at the raw numbers without the proper context to make an informed decision. And I do want to make it clear that some HPSP'ers will be glad they did it; but for others, it'll end up being one of the worst decisions of their life. I just want to help maximize the former and minimize the latter.
 

Bis-GMA111

7+ Year Member
Nov 7, 2010
1,974
125
Status
Dentist
my responses are a bit scattered, but all there nonetheless.

The 2014 ADEA guide states that 5,769 dental students enrolled in the Fall of 2013 (p14). 1,736 dental students enrolled into a GPR/AEGD that year as well (p9). This is about 30% of graduates, which does not qualify as "most" by anyone's standards. If you head over here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/dental.18/, I think you'll find that there are plenty of dentists who had success starting a practice with only a year or two of associate work, or even going straight into practice ownership. That puts you 2 to 4 years ahead of your military peers, with better training if you opt for the GPR/AEGD. Some military dentists will fully endorse their experiences, saying that they got to practice a wide range of procedures and exercise freedom. Others will give you horror stories of mismanagement and restrictive practicing guidelines. Let me reiterate my point from before: I'm not saying you will experience an atrophy of clinical skills in the military, I'm saying you might, and you don't control whether that happens to you. When a private practice guy is unhappy with his situation, he can leave any time he wants. When a military dentist is getting a raw deal, he has no options. People can argue how much you are really at risk of ending up in an undesirable situation, but I think it's fair to say that you can't argue with the point I'm trying to make here. If you go straight into practice ownership right out of school, you are taking an extreme gamble first of all. If you don't have family/friends in the field, it would be extremely foolish to do so. straight up. if you go into it blind, hiring some kind of consult from henry schein or lord knows what other management consultant, you're a sucker. i don't care how business savvy you are. owning a practice isn't easy. you can't teach someone how to manage a practice in school...you've gotta work as an associate first.

also, a year or 2 of associate work+your dental school debt? getting a business loan on top of everything else is going to make it extremely difficult. i should have clarified in my previous post..the hpsp is only worth it if you're attending a private school+have to pay everything in loans. taking my school into consideration for example, pulling out loans for everything will put you in about 420-440k in the hole. and you're right, you can't argue with where you'll be placed/what situation you'll be in. in private practice--you're only as good as what you can produce. you can get canned at any second.

Now for the other issue: debt. First, let's make sure we're working with the right numbers:

The average dental student graduates with $241,097 of debt. For public school dental students, that number drops to under $200K (Source: http://www.asdanet.org/debt.aspx). You certainly can dig yourself a much deeper hole than that, and for some aspiring pre-dents, they will have no other choice. If you find yourself in this situation, then the argument for HPSP becomes much stronger. And oftentimes, when you look just at the numbers, the HPSP seems like a superior option. My goal here is to impress upon the SDN community that the military lifestyle comes a cost that cannot be quantified in dollars. For some, that cost is relatively low, because in a lot of ways, they enjoy the service. For others, like myself, it is very "expensive". I could explain all the little intricacies of how military income adds up to less than the numbers will bear, but for a lot of people, it doesn't make sense until you experience it for yourself. That's why military dentists have such a high turnover rate. It's why the military offers such a generous scholarship to fill the churning void of dentists. HPSP is a superior option, numerically. and yes you are right. the military lifestyle does come at a cost that can be quantified in dollars. i'm going to be honest with you--i don't agree with that figure of $241,097. at all. just based off of my experiences i suppose. talk to any dental school faculty/recent graduates and they'll tell you published numbers don't mean a thing...case in point--the bls.gov salary estimates for dentists. they only really show you a piece of the puzzle. published numbers will also tell you that there is a national shortage of dentists---not in 'underserved' areas alone--but across the country. in fact, my county alone was listed as an 'underserved area'--not true at all. you can't just go off of the numbers. be mindful of them, yes, but you can't use that as your sole argument.

but anyway, you failed to mention the 1. $$that is provided for CE courses which can be pretty darn expensive 2. the G.I. Bill which can be used after the initial contract obligation to pay for a civilian residency, should you be fortunate enough to be placed in that situation 3. the fact that you can be eligible for a pension, should you stay in the military in some way (be in active duty or reserve or guard) 4. the fact that residencies are less competitive in the military (not saying they are a 'shoe in', but relatively easier to get) 5. the fact that you can't get fired. you can develop your skills and speed in the military 6. your service will be an excellent resume builder--many PG directors have flat out told me that some of the best dentists that have gone through their programs have been military dentists


Ultimately, I just want pre-dents to go into the HPSP with a better understanding of what they're gaining/sacrificing. I think too often individuals look at the raw numbers without the proper context to make an informed decision. And I do want to make it clear that some HPSP'ers will be glad they did it; but for others, it'll end up being one of the worst decisions of their life. I just want to help maximize the former and minimize the latter.
agreed. people should look at the whole package. in life you're going to have to make sacrifices. you can't expect your military experience to be all 'rainbows and sunshine'. they invest a little less than half a million dollars in you for your education. you've gotta be willing to give a little.

lastly, thanks for your service @CraigHack
 
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