chester

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Optometrist
Since optometry school is so expensive these days, I am considering the military's Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP). I've talked to a few ODs and looked it up on the Navy's and Army's websites. Are there any current optometry students on the HPSP? Any graduates do the HPSP? What is your opinion on this?

I don't have any urge to serve our country through the military, but, I look at this as a great way to relieve some of the debt from optometry school. Three years of paid tuition, books/supplies for three years of military optometric service might be a good way to get some experience out of school.
Thanks!
 

bigred

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I think the military scholarship is the typical case of the old adage, "if it sounds to good to be true it probably is." The way it works out you work for the military for around 40k a year for 3 years when you could have made 75k in the civilian world. That means you have lost about 100k in income which is about what they will spend on you going to school (stipend and tuition). The biggest issues I have are contract extension and the actual working environment. The whole contract extension issue has been really big in the national news recently. A couple of guys tried to challenge the military contracts they signed because they did not mention involuntary extension, but it is a federal law and as it turns out the contract does not have to mention the possible extension. As for working environment, I was told as an optometrist I would be working in a medical setting like a hospital. Then I visited UAB and they had a photo of a former military graduate, he was unloading cargo. The bottom line is you really don't save any money, they can keep you as long as they want, and there is no guarntee you will even be treating patients. I don't mean to offend any pro-military or current military optometrists and if I have misstated anything please feel free to point it out.



chester said:
Since optometry school is so expensive these days, I am considering the military's Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP). I've talked to a few ODs and looked it up on the Navy's and Army's websites. Are there any current optometry students on the HPSP? Any graduates do the HPSP? What is your opinion on this?

I don't have any urge to serve our country through the military, but, I look at this as a great way to relieve some of the debt from optometry school. Three years of paid tuition, books/supplies for three years of military optometric service might be a good way to get some experience out of school.
Thanks!
 

tamathat

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There is a great post on the military medical portion of this site. It breaks down the money pretty well.. check it out.
 

Richard_Hom

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bigred said:
"...I was told as an optometrist I would be working in a medical setting like a hospital. Then I visited UAB and they had a photo of a former military graduate, he was unloading cargo. The bottom line is you really don't save any money, they can keep you as long as they want, and there is no guarntee you will even be treating patients..."QUOTE]

As retired military optometerist, I can say that your post has elements of truths.

1. Your contract acceptance says that the "needs of the service" come first. That means that they can assign you to wherever and whatever.

2. I doubt that the main job is "loading/unloading' cargo. However, it may be a "additional" duty task which all military officers are required to do. I've done AOD (Administrative Officer of the Day), courts and boards (courts martial boards), health and safety (inspect living quarters). All of the former were not optometry jobs. I did them either at the conclusion of my duty day or in between.

3. Executive orders or other acts of legislature can always "trump" contract terms.

4. In general, though, I believe that a military career whether it is only for the period of the contract or as a 20 year career, can be rewarding. For one, you will get responsibility fast. You will leran to manage people.

5. Choose or decline applying for an HPSP not because what might happen but what you could learn from it. If you feel that there is nothing to learn from a military stint, then I would not recommend that you apply for one.

Richard
 

wannabe_OD

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I am currently deployed with the Army. I am not going to try to disuade or persuade you. However, just keep in mind that our OPTEMPO is very high right now. As a medical provider you will be deployed. Just count on that. There are some chances that you will not have to deploy, but if you are going to sign up then you better be fine with a deployment to the middle east and/or korea.

I wish you the best of luck with your decision. I suppose that Navy ODs support the Marines so don't count on less deployments that way. I cannot speak about any other service than the Army though. Just my two cents though.
 
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chester

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wannabe_OD said:
I am currently deployed with the Army. I am not going to try to disuade or persuade you. However, just keep in mind that our OPTEMPO is very high right now. As a medical provider you will be deployed. Just count on that. There are some chances that you will not have to deploy, but if you are going to sign up then you better be fine with a deployment to the middle east and/or korea.

I wish you the best of luck with your decision. I suppose that Navy ODs support the Marines so don't count on less deployments that way. I cannot speak about any other service than the Army though. Just my two cents though.
Sorry for the not knowing, but what is "OPTEMPO"? I'm guessing it is employment opportunities.

I thought it would be unlikely that an OD would have to go to war. If we are losing the battle and need to send in the ODs then wouldn't it be time to think about surrendering? or do you mean providing diverse eye care in a safe environment, while located in the middle east or korea?
 

polkadot

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OPTEMPO = operational tempo. If by "employment opportunities" you meant deployments, you are absolutely correct!

Having served active duty in the Navy for 7 years, I am discouraging you from considering HPSP solely for the monetary benefit. If you don't want to take my word for it, check out the military medicine forum. You will read posts from plenty of current/former military MDs who were not prepared for the scope of "adminutiae" that was required of a military officer. I like to point out a portion of the officer's oath for those who seem to forget "that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion."

That being said, a military career, as Dr. Hom mentioned, can be entirely rewarding. I had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines during my time in the Navy. It's funny that, although I felt like I was ramming my head against a wall almost every day (fighting "the man"), I still have very fond memories of the time I spent and the people I knew and am very proud of my service. If military service means something to you and you don't mind roughing it, HPSP is certainly something to consider. If the service part is not among your top 3, I would look elsewhere for cash. This is purely my opinion, of course.

-p.dot