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Life of a GMO

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by mississippi DO, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. mississippi DO

    2+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2006
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    To any knowledgable Navy folk:

    Before I begin, I'd like to say that I've already accepted the Navy HPSP scholarship for a number of reasons, I don't need a lecture on why not to join and how terrible military medicine is, like I've seen several times on this forum. I just need some constructive advice. I'm married and have a 2 yo, and will begin med school next august. Family is very important to me, and I was wondering what being a GMO is like. I've heard different things. A sore-head on this website once told me that they are basically 24 month deployments on a boat in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Another source told me that GMO tours are a good chance to recharge your batteries after the 4 yr grind of med school; that it is a 8-5ish type of job, but that you will be deployed for 6 mos at a time each year. Could anyone with any CONSTRUCTIVE, NON-BIASED knowledge shed some light on this for me. It would be much appreciated. And please save the lectures on why mil med sucks. I'm a big boy; I'm all grown up. I've made my decision to take the HPSP scholarship already.
    CrystalArrowhead likes this.
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  3. Gastrapathy

    Gastrapathy no longer apathetic
    Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2007
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    Attending Physician
    Well, the answer is...it depends. Before the Iraq war, there were GMO's who spent 3 years in a clinic seeing sick call but now nearly everyone deploys in some form or another. There are basically 4 groups of Navy GMO jobs: shipboard, Marine, Flight and Dive. Each of these have a variety of jobs within the group although the first two are more predictable. For shipboard tours, its 2 years on the ship of which you'll be gone about half the time (including workups and deployment). For Marine tours, you'll go when your unit goes (and maybe more than that), so I think its safe to say you'll spend about half your time away as well. Flight and dive are more variable, there are dive billets that are fairly nondeployable in normal times. The reason you've seen such varied info is that peoples experiences are so varied.
  4. NavyFP

    NavyFP Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    May 18, 2006
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    Attending Physician
    Your experience as a GMO will ultimately depend on the billet you get.

    1) Flight Surgeon. 24 month tour - probably away from home for 9-10 months of that time. One will be a 6-7 month deployment and the remainder will be in 2 week stints for training evolutions.

    2) Undersea Medicine. If you are assigned to a sub squadron, you may not have a significant deployment. There will be periods of time when you are away but those should be short. Physicians don't deploy with the subs, so they go out and you remain. If you end up on a sub tendor, you could deploy for 2-3 months at a time, but for the most part they seem to be pierside. EOD and SEALs deploy for 6-9 months at a time and are served by UMOs.

    3) Sea-Bees. Their op tempo is high, I would expect to be gone 12 of the 24 months.

    4) Surface. Depends on the ship. If it is in the yards, no deployment, otherwise similar to flight surgeon.

    5) Fleet Marine Force - similar to Sea-Bea. It would be reasonable to anticipate being gone 12 of the 24 months. This will probably have the most variability. If you join your battallion just as they return, you could only have one rotation in Cent Com.

    Clinic GMO spots are going away. In fact the current plan is to reduce GMO billets by 100 per year for the next 5 years and eliminate them entirely. Will that actually happen, probably not, but by 2011 there should be less than half the number of current spots.

    When you are a GMO at home, the hours are good. They tend to be 40ish hour work weeks. Most line units give you 4 day weekends when there is a holiday. They will typically give you 4 days when you come out of the field, so life is calmer. You will be home for dinner during these days.
  5. IgD

    IgD The Lorax
    10+ Year Member

    Jul 5, 2005
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    Plan on being deployed to Iraq for at least a year. Talk with your wife and make sure she understands. This way you aren't blindsided when it happens. From what I've seen the key to surviving (and enjoying) military medicine is going with the flow and adapting to change. Anticipate that you are going to get the rug yanked out from under you several times.

    Come up with a strict savings plan. If HPSP has any advantage it is that you are in the black during medical school and residency. Capitalize on this and sock some money away. This way you if you decide to get out after your GMO tour you can do a civilian residency and have money to fall back on.
  6. pgg

    pgg Laugh at me, will they?
    Moderator Physician Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2005
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    Attending Physician
    Couple comments -

    Navy flight surgery tours are 3 years ... 6 months of training followed by 2-2.5 years of GMO time.

    12 is a bit on the high side. I would estimate closer to 9. Most FMF GMOs at Lejeune did one deployment in their two year tour (7 months in Iraq/Afghanistan plus 1-1.5 months away for workups).

    Very few actually make two trips in a 2-year tour, because the cycles are such that "gettin' out time" or "residency start time" would typically fall during the second deployment, and they try very very hard to avoid pulling GMOs home mid-deployment. The division surgeon was good at moving short-timers and people who were post-deployment to units that either weren't going to deploy soon, or to units that only deployed companies without GMOs (such as tanks, engineers, etc).

    I was there for 3 years and deployed twice, for a total of 14 months over there plus another ~3 away for workups.

    :) They better cut a few hundred of those billets in the next 3 years, since HPSP sure isn't producing the bodies to fill them. The ongoing HPSP disaster may just be the incentive they need to start getting rid of GMO-land.

    This was my experience, except for the couple months leading up to deployments. There's also no call, and every weekend at home is off. Medically, the work is easy, but that's a double-edge sword ... sick call isn't taxing, but seeing nothing but sprained ankles and rashes and routine physicals just rots your brain.

    If it wasn't for the sandy vacation time, it'd be a very cushy job.

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