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Military Scholarships

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by futuromd, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. futuromd

    futuromd Junior Member
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    Does anyone have any info on Airforce/Navy/Army scholarships for med school? Are you obligated to enter one of their residencies? Are the benefits (getting your loans paid for) worth it? Have you heard any horror stories? Advantages/Disadvantages? Thanks!
     
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  3. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member
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    futoromd,

    You ask very good questions, I'll answer them briefly, but we have had extensive discussions on these topics -- search on HPSP for prior posts. I have asked the powers that be to start a forum on military medicine to avoid some of the re-posts, but as of yet my requests not yielded any change.

    I am a MS-III with an army Health Professions Scholarship Program. HPSP scholarships are generally 2-4 years. However, the Air Force generally gives only 4 year scholarships, doling out its 3 year scholarships to those who didn't make the cut the prior year. The program pays for your tution, most fees, and books (thank god). You also get about 1000/month as a stipend. In exchange you give the military one year of post residency service for each year in the scholarship program.

    In the middle of fourth year, you must apply to the military match. Generally, if you match, you must do the military residency. If you don't match (at least in the army) you are given an automatic deferral to the civilian match and would enter the military after you civilian time. From what I have seen posted here, the Air Force is less stingy with granting deferrals prior to the match, but only for specialties they really need and do not have adequate residencies for (like interventional rads?). The quality of the residencies varies from good to exceptional depending on your choice. Most of them will probably be half-way between what you would get in a community hospital versus an academic medical center. In order to avoid limiting exposure to just its own patients, the programs have away rotations at non-military hospitals (e.g. the ortho program in Tacoma sends residents to Seattle (?I think) for pediatric ortho.

    In terms of horror storries, there are lots of problems with military medicine. Remember, however, there are lots of problems with managed care everywhere. I would encourage you to look at the website www.usmedicine.com. Look at the letters to the editor for the past few years. Just remember, however, because the satisfied are not going to write letters. If you want to avoid a horror story, just know what you are getting into. Don't do it just do it for the money. If you are inclined toward serving your country in the military, it is a great deal. If not, you will regret it. Unlike civilian service, the organization comes first -- before both you and your patients. Never forget that.

    I can post some more at a later time on some of the advantage/disadvantages including a financial calculation to show the money side.

    One final warning. When talking to the recruiters take everything with a grain of salt. They are great people and do a great job, but they often do not know some of the sticky details of the program (I will tell you a few later). Remember what their goal is. You comittment is not like some high schooler signing on for two years. You will be in the program for a decade or more.

    Ed
     
  4. CaptainAmerica

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    You might also want to check out www.usuhs.mil, the Uniformed Services University web site. Good luck!
     
  5. futuromd

    futuromd Junior Member
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    Ed and Captain,

    Thanks for your replies - I will take a look at those sites...

    Do either of you or anyone else know have any info on scholarships for working in underserved areas of the US after med school?? Thanks!!
     
  6. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    I just joined the FAP (NAVY ophthalmology), which is an alternative to the Arms Forces Scholarship Program. It's an awesome program because you get to pick your civilian residency first (I'm doing mine at the University of Iowa). This is important.

    People who graduate from the Arms Forces Scholarship Program will likely end up as a GMO. In the Navy, about 75% will have to be a GMO. As a GMO, you'll have one year experience as an intern and practicing general medicine during the payback. This is scary if you ask me. Additionally, the military has a lot of say in which field you can go into. One of my colleagues wanted to be an ophthalmologist in the AF, and they said "No". She served as a GMO for 5 years, left the AF, and then applied for residency after that. Another friend was in the Army during medical school. He was allowed to match in orthopedics. Half way through his surgical internship, they said he was needed as a GMO and they cut his position. This is the nature of military residency programs. They have complete control over you.

    With the FAP, you're in the inactive reserves status as a civilian with a future commitment to serve; which allows more freedom in regards to where you can train.

    As for taxes, it's not a big deal. I get $39,000/year. You don't pay social security or FICA tax, so I pay about $9000 in taxes per year. You can then take your $30,000 to pay back loans.

    Here's the BIG BONUS. If you decide to go into surgery, which can take 5-7 years of residency. You'll be earning $30,000 + your residency pay, which is about $37,000-$42,000 per year depending which stage of training you're in. If you have tons of loans, then you have about $30,000 X 5-7 years (~$150,000-$210,000) to pay back your debt or use it to supplement your lifestyle. You may even have more if you're frugal with your resident's salary.

    With the FAP, my wife and I are able to have a family during residency and pay back my debt too.

    Here's the SECOND BONUS. If you decide to do a fellowship that the military needs, then you can also collect the ~$40,000 per year under the FAP during fellowship training too. Therefore, you can potentially make over $80,000 per year during your residency and fellowship training at any major teaching hospital in the US.

    In my opinion, the FAP gives you more flexibility in regards to career choices and how you decide to spend your money.

    I hope this helps.
     
  7. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    $30K take home during your residency when you're trying to survive and pay back loans is huge. With the FAP, you're receiving money upfront when you need it most. $30K is worth more to a resident than an attending.

    The social security break for special pays and bonuses is true for the whole military. Social security is removed from monthly payroll. Special pays and bonuses for physicians come twice yearly as lump sums.

    I'm not sure about the AF. We all go through through a joint GMESB for residency and fellowship selection. By going through the FAP route, I pick the residency first. BTW, ophthalmology was not offered this year through the FAP for the Navy. They took me and another person a year ago, then closed this opportunity.
     
  8. Hmmm...interesting. What are you saying, exactly? When would priorities like this come into practice?
     
  9. Interesting. I had no idea it was that generous for surgery residents. I'm planning on going into General Surgery myself, followed by a 2-3 fellowship...and from I thought I knew, it wasn't a good idea to consider the military for tertiary care like this.

    Plus, who wants to get shipped off to some godforsaken country? :confused:
     
  10. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    This fear alone is a reason not to join.
     
  11. Yeah. :( Damn.
     
  12. doctorperez

    doctorperez Jesus was a dissident
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    Does anyone know if you are an armed forces reserve soldier (Not an officer, not on the health scholarship, just a reserve soldier) if you could be activated while being in med school?
     
  13. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member
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    Yes you can. I have heard of no deferrment for medical school for regular reservists.

    Ed
     
  14. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member
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    Indeed, one of our classmates was just activated from reserve status and is on his way to Iraq (technically, to an "undisclosed location"). So, it can and does happen.
     
  15. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    Just make sure that you are not joining the military *just* to pay off medical school, you know you may find yourself in a combat zone and getting shot at.
     
  16. Masonator

    Masonator Senior Member
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    I would check out the military medicine forum on this site if you want to get a flavor for all the strings and benefits.
     

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