Dec 1, 2009
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I have been considering taking advantage of the scholarships provided by the army to Medical students. As far as the money goes it seems like the same except that to banks I owe money, and the army/other branches of military I owe time. Only a few things concern me at the moment.
1. Residency. To Military Doctors perform residency, and if they do not will that hinder them from getting a job in the civilian world later?
2. going overseas. I do not like the idea of leaving my family and friends behind. It is one thing to move to base an hour or couple states away, but I could always catch a plain on the weekends or something. It would be easier on a base in the US than overseas. Will the military force me to go overseas, or will they station me on a base (hopefully close to home) and let me practice there for 4-7 years(depending on whether residency is required and how long.
3.If residency is required what is it like. Do i perform residency on a base or is it just like residency to a civilian and the military pays for it while I perform residency, and afterwards serve 2-3 years for the residency training also. Or perhaps residency is part of the 4 years that I will be serving to make up for their paying for my education. They consider my working on the base in a military hospital or something residency.
4.I am not worried so much about the money because for 4-7 years after graduating I would be living on a very low income to wipe out the debt. But some people say you make more in the army as a doctor than in the civilian world. to my understanding you only make like 20 thousand a year. is this figure wrong, and if it is, what is the correct figure or how is that much more than what a doctor is the civilian world makes.
 
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silverhorse84

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Disclaimer: I am not yet a military doctor, just a first year medical student so I don't know much. This is just what I do understand.

I have been considering taking advantage of the scholarships provided by the army to Medical students. As far as the money goes it seems like the same except that to banks I owe money, and the army/other branches of military I owe time. Only a few things concern me at the moment.
1. Residency. To Military Doctors perform residency, and if they do not will that hinder them from getting a job in the civilian world later?
You don't have to do a residency - you can spend time as a GMO. Many HPSP docs spend their 4 year payback time as a GMO (General medical officer) and then go to a civilian residency when they get out. GMOs are flight surgeons, dive medical officers (Navy), etc. Where you're stationed depends on what work you'll do as a GMO, but it shouldn't be too complicated since all you'll have behind you is your internship year.

2. going overseas. I do not like the idea of leaving my family and friends behind. It is one thing to move to base an hour or couple states away, but I could always catch a plain on the weekends or something. It would be easier on a base in the US than overseas. Will the military force me to go overseas, or will they station me on a base (hopefully close to home) and let me practice there for 4-7 years(depending on whether residency is required and how long.
If you're not prepared to deploy during your career, please do us all a favor and do NOT go into the military. Granted we have a longer payback, but all our professors say WHEN you deploy, not IF. If you're stationed at bases where there's no conflict (Italy, Japan, etc) then generally you bring your family, but not for deployments. Again, DO NOT join if you're against deploying.

3.If residency is required what is it like. Do i perform residency on a base or is it just like residency to a civilian and the military pays for it while I perform residency, and afterwards serve 2-3 years for the residency training also. Or perhaps residency is part of the 4 years that I will be serving to make up for their paying for my education. They consider my working on the base in a military hospital or something residency.
It depends on the residency and the service you enter. Some of the fellowships you'll spend some time in a military hospital and some other rotations at a civilian hospital if the military doesn't have adequate resources for you. You can try for a deferment to do a civilian residency but they're rare, and more common in the AF than other branches because they're the smallest service. So for example, the 3 Navy hospitals that have residencies are in Bethesda, MD, Norfolk VA, and San Diego, CA - say you enter a pediatrics residency: you'll do most if not all of your residency at the base hospital. If you then enter a fellowship you may do some training at a nearby civilian hospital the military contracts with.

In terms of payback, it can get a little confusing. Every year you spend in training you owe a year. So after med school with a HPSP scholarship, you'll owe 4 years. After your first year of residency you'll have paid back a year, but since you're training you add a year - in other words it comes out as a wash. After residency you'll still owe 4 years - that's why many do a GMO tour for 4 years, then get out and do a civilian residency.

4.I am not worried so much about the money because for 4-7 years after graduating I would be living on a very low income to wipe out the debt. But some people say you make more in the army as a doctor than in the civilian world. to my understanding you only make like 20 thousand a year. is this figure wrong, and if it is, what is the correct figure or how is that much more than what a doctor is the civilian world makes.
Really the only time you'll make more in the Army than the civilian world is during med school and residency. After that, the civilian side will make quite a bit more, except maybe in primary care which may be a wash.
In the military you get paid based on rank, and depending on your specialty you'll get some bonuses. As a med student who is considered active duty (rank of O1) I make about 48k/year after taxes are taken out. That's just the rank + housing + food. Once I'm residency trained I'll be an O3 which increases my pay and I'll get several bonuses depending on my specialty.
As an HPSP student it's different because you're not active duty; you'll be considered a reservist for the 4 years.. As a student you'll get tuition and books paid for (anything the school requires, not whats just recommended) + a stipend of just under 2k/month.


I would suggest heading over to the mil med forum - lots of people who are much further along than me can help you out.
 

scattun

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OP, first let me preface this by saying that I understand you may just be fishing for info here, but take everything here with a grain of salt. An anonymous online forum is not even remotely comparable to talking to recruiter about these opportunities (and from what I here you should get anything a recruiter promises in writing, also). Having said that, my dad is a flight surgeon in the air force reserve, so there are couple areas of your post I think I can answer.

1. Not all military docs complete a residency. I think the requirement to practice medicine in the military is that you have to be licensed in any one US state and that generally (perhaps necessarily) means completion of a one year internship after medical school. I would think, though I don't know for sure, not having completed residency would limit you in finding a job in the civilian world. I would imagine your malpractice would be pretty high since you aren't board eligible to practice any specialty, but maybe employers take military medical experience into account when hiring.

2. I very much doubt you will be able to elicit a guarantee that you won't be deployed away from your family. I'm pretty sure that is kind of like asking if you can join and not wear the uniform. There are branches that are better about this than others though. The Navy for instance might put you on a ship for months on end. Not great for the family. The army has a lot of docs serving ground forces in areas like iraq and afghanistan (as does the navy who provides medical care for the marines). The air force also has people in these areas that families can't go, but from my limited understanding it is sufficiently less, since they also support forces that are based other places and just fly over the areas of danger, i.e. Germany and Guam). For instance my dad has been deployed, quite literally at least 6 or 8 times since 9/11 for brief stints and everywhere he has been stationed is somewhere that active duty personal could bring their families with them. So while you won't be able to control exactly what happens you can try and play the odds by picking a particular branch.

3. From my understanding, some people on these scholarships complete military residencies and other complete civilian. Either way, the military pays for you and you are considered active duty. However, I am almost 100% certain that this doesn't count as part of your pay back time, and in facts adds to the time you have to pay back, at least if you do a civilian residency.

4. Almost every active duty person in the military makes more than $20,000 a year, that's why it attracts so many kids right out of high school. Officers start out at more than that, and doctors start out at more than officers of the same rank because they are on a different pay scale to try and compensate for the fact that they could be making a lot more in the civilian world. I do know of one family medicine doc who decided to join because he made almost the same amount in the military as he did as a civilian with like 95% less headache that comes with running your own office. Short story: You make more than 20,000 but less than what you could get in the civilian world.
 

searun

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Don't do the military route for financial reasons. There are none.

Agreed. Given the disparity of what military docs earn and what docs earn in civilian life, in many cases, there is no financial advantage, especially if you would enter a higher paying specialty. Be a military doc because of your value system and passion. If you run the numbers, they usually do not compute in terms of financial advantage.