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Med School Leave of Absence (military service)

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hangooksaram

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Hi everyone, I'm an accepted student to an allopathic medical school in the US (class of 2020). I'm also a dual citizen (USA and South Korea) and all South Korean males are obligated to serve the military for 2 years -- which I have not served yet.

Long story short, I may have to take a LOA at some point in medical school in order to serve the Korean military. I know my school allows up to 2 years of LOA for special circumstances. So my question is, assuming I must take this LOA, when would be the best time to do so? I thought perhaps after M2 once I've taken step 1... or after taking step 2 some time during or after M3.

Also, in what ways will this 2 year gap affect my residency match, after I return from the military? Are there particular things to watch out for, or prepare, during the years in school to ensure that I pull off the best match given this circumstance?

I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts on this.

Note:
*I cannot take a "LOA" for 2 years before matriculation.
*My question assumes that serving the Korean military is absolutely necessary -- and I cannot serve as a military doctor in Korea later in the future due to 1) Korean physician license 2) Officer rank cannot be dual 3) I cannot renounce my Korean citizenship given the laws that apply to me currently. 4) age at time of service
*2 years in Korean military will consist of mostly manual labor; no real time for studying or self-improvement etc.
 

Crayola227

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sorta depends on the curriculum of your school

if it is traditional and not systems based but block based, I would say between years 1 and 2. That's how it was done at my school and it was the easiest transition from what I saw.

I don't advise doing a 2 year gap after 4th year, people do one year gaps and they and residencies find them "rusty", 2 years and I'm not sure who will touch you, you'd have to likely do something to show clinical skills/involvement. Nah, I think it's a ****show to do it then. Plus you'd have to be trying to interview match while in military.
 

hangooksaram

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sorta depends on the curriculum of your school

if it is traditional and not systems based but block based, I would say between years 1 and 2. That's how it was done at my school and it was the easiest transition from what I saw.

I don't advise doing a 2 year gap after 4th year, people do one year gaps and they and residencies find them "rusty", 2 years and I'm not sure who will touch you, you'd have to likely do something to show clinical skills/involvement. Nah, I think it's a ****show to do it then. Plus you'd have to be trying to interview match while in military.

I imagine trying to take step 1 after returning would be extremely difficult...
 
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medstu19

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I'd say between MS2 and MS3 is a good idea. People at my school who take a year off to do research (or MD-PhDs) do it then for exactly the reason you stated--getting STEP1 out of the way. Good luck!
 
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xffan624

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Hi everyone, I'm an accepted student to an allopathic medical school in the US (class of 2020). I'm also a dual citizen (USA and South Korea) and all South Korean males are obligated to serve the military for 2 years -- which I have not served yet.

Long story short, I may have to take a LOA at some point in medical school in order to serve the Korean military. I know my school allows up to 2 years of LOA for special circumstances. So my question is, assuming I must take this LOA, when would be the best time to do so? I thought perhaps after M2 once I've taken step 1... or after taking step 2 some time during or after M3.

Also, in what ways will this 2 year gap affect my residency match, after I return from the military? Are there particular things to watch out for, or prepare, during the years in school to ensure that I pull off the best match given this circumstance?

I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts on this.

Note:
*I cannot take a "LOA" for 2 years before matriculation.
*My question assumes that serving the Korean military is absolutely necessary -- and I cannot serve as a military doctor in Korea later in the future due to 1) Korean physician license 2) Officer rank cannot be dual 3) I cannot renounce my Korean citizenship given the laws that apply to me currently. 4) age at time of service
*2 years in Korean military will consist of mostly manual labor; no real time for studying or self-improvement etc.

I have to ask, why would you apply to medical school knowing you still had this potential obligation? A 2 year gap between MS2 and MS3 is still pretty significant. You will be in the Korean military for longer than you have been in school and likely come on to the wards with some significant rust. Better would be to defer prior to starting altogether. Also, I recommend looking in to the KATUSA (RoK soldiers embedded with the US Army) program. I worked with those guys when I was stationed in Korea and they live a much better lifestyle than the regular RoK guys.
 

hangooksaram

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I have to ask, why would you apply to medical school knowing you still had this potential obligation? A 2 year gap between MS2 and MS3 is still pretty significant. You will be in the Korean military for longer than you have been in school and likely come on to the wards with some significant rust. Better would be to defer prior to starting altogether. Also, I recommend looking in to the KATUSA (RoK soldiers embedded with the US Army) program. I worked with those guys when I was stationed in Korea and they live a much better lifestyle than the regular RoK guys.
Applied to KATUSA, rejected. It's a lottery system. One can apply only once in a life time.
 

xffan624

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Applied to KATUSA, rejected. It's a lottery system. One can apply only once in a life time.


Sorry. Didn't know how they assigned those guys. You would think fluent English speakers would get priority to serve with the US Army, lol. Still didn't answer my first question. You obviously knew this was coming at some point, why did you apply to medical school without having completed it? (PS it would have also made for great application fodder).
 

hangooksaram

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Sorry. Didn't know how they assigned those guys. You would think fluent English speakers would get priority to serve with the US Army, lol. Still didn't answer my first question. You obviously knew this was coming at some point, why did you apply to medical school without having completed it? (PS it would have also made for great application fodder).

Yeah, I know I didn't answer a part of your original question... I don't have to answer it and answering it doesn't help in actually answering the main question of this thread.
 
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benjamin94559

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My gut is between first and second like the way people split MD-PHDs but at the same time when people do masters' they ususally do it between 3rd and 4th, so in terms of time the logical choice would be to do it between 3rd and 4th but I know nothing just what people have told me.
 

medstu19

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I think at the end of the day, @hangooksaram, asking the advisors at your school specifically is what will help you make your decision. I didn't realize this before but I guess every MD-PhD/MBA/etc program times the break differently for different reasons so we will be throwing all sorts of uneducated answers at you in terms of our own experiences.

You've been accepted so already your administrators will want to help you (or they should...). If you're nearby maybe hop into their offices or call/email. I'm sure they'd know better what would work for your particular situation.

PS: never feel obligated to give more information than you want to, even if other posters ask. :)
 

JustaDO

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Yeah, I know I didn't answer a part of your original question... I don't have to answer it and answering it doesn't help in actually answering the main question of this thread.

Oh, but it does. You came to the board asking for advice, and this is your response? Know this, when you do apply for a LOA, they will ask why, and this question will be asked of you since a special circumstance often refers to something that comes up, not something that you knew would come up.

You asked how this would affect your residency match. While residencies look favorably upon US military service, its speculation whether the same be said about foreign military service, allies or not. It is also a issue of judgement, and without knowing nor caring to spend time looking up foreign military obligations, if I was a residency director, how would I know if 2 years later you may leave because you got called upon by SK or whatever other obligations you may have? If I have a class of 8 residencies, and say NK invades SK, should I expect you to be gone if they call you back up? Or should I just fire you as and find a replacement ASAP, as FMLA applies to US service members to my knowledge, and you may die in service?

The burden of accurate information based on context falls not on the person answering, but the person asking.
 
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NotAProgDirector

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N=1, but this exact situation happened to a student I know. He ended up completing medical school and then doing the 2 year mandatory service commitment after graduation. Applied in the match 2 years later. Did amazingly well, got great interviews, matched at a top program in Cali. He was otherwise a great candidate with excellent USMLE's and class ranking. YMMV.
 

Stagg737

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    N=1, but this exact situation happened to a student I know. He ended up completing medical school and then doing the 2 year mandatory service commitment after graduation. Applied in the match 2 years later. Did amazingly well, got great interviews, matched at a top program in Cali. He was otherwise a great candidate with excellent USMLE's and class ranking. YMMV.

    Going off this, would it be possible to postpone your military service until you graduate then serve two years as a medical officer? Idk how the South Korean military works or if you can request a delay, but just a thought as it would allow you to graduate med school uninterrupted and also gain more potential clinical experience before residency...
     

    hangooksaram

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    Going off this, would it be possible to postpone your military service until you graduate then serve two years as a medical officer? Idk how the South Korean military works or if you can request a delay, but just a thought as it would allow you to graduate med school uninterrupted and also gain more potential clinical experience before residency...

    It is possible to go as a medic, but not as a medical officer as dual-citizens are not allowed into the officer rank. I'm seriously considering a leave after M2 and go as a medic, or graduate uninterrupted and then go as a medic.

    However going after graduation would mean I take off three years (2 year service + 1 year for the match cycle). Plus... at this point I feel like I really need to get this obligation out of the way asap. Any advice on weighing these options would be appreciated.
     

    petrosgp

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    Your best bet would be to leave it for after residency, at least, that's what people in my country do (Greece, we also have compulsory service). Just don't set foot in Korea until you are ready.
     

    dpmd

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    I wouldn't advise doing it between third and fourth year. I was in the US Army Reserve as a nurse during med school and got deployed part way through third year and was gone for 14 months. It made things a little tricky when it came time to apply to residency (not to mention the fact that it was longer than a year meant I was doing rotations up until the day before graduation just to meet all requirements). Somewhere in the preclinical years (based on what your school advises and assuming they don't say tough luck you should have thought of that before you applied here) sounds better to me and if you are able to do it as a medic you may find you are more comfortable on the wards than others (my nursing training certainly gave me a leg up).
     
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