SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

military sponsorship, how is it?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by adismo, Mar 8, 2000.

  1. adismo

    adismo covered in moon dust 10+ Year Member

    436
    1
    Jan 11, 2000
    tent
    Is anyone receiving the full ride to DOctorhood being offered by any of the branches of the US Armed Forces? Is it particularly hard to qualify? I hear minimum commitment is at 5 years active duty.
    Also would you recommend this to anyone pursuing the DO degree?

    COMP hopeful, adismo
     
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. fmfcorpsman

    fmfcorpsman Member 10+ Year Member

    58
    0
    Feb 29, 2000
    New Berlin, WI USA
    Just letting you know how it is from a prior Navy enlisted medic:

    Dr's DO or MD usually complete 2-3year residency at a Military Hospital. In the Navy after the 2-3year residency you go to a "sea service" assignment. This may be a ship, with the Marines, or at an overseas hospital. This lasts for 2-3years, and if your doing your math this means that there is still 1-2years left on your contract, In which the military will probably try to convince you to sign on for additional years of service by offering you a residency in orthopedics or something like that.

    Military medicine is outstanding and I feel that the Navy has the best supporting cast (corpsman)to make your life easier. There are some drawbacks which I (unlike your officer recruiter) will tell you. In the Navy, and that branch is the only one that I have any authority on, they will promise you the world, e.g. you can travel europe ect. The fact of the matter is that I was in for four years and never had the opportunity to see europe, because I was stationed on the west coast. You see the navy is devided into two coasts east visits europe and the mediteranian and the west which visits the orient. Once your on one coast it is very difficult to switch, usually they make you sign on for more years to transfer you to the other coast. You will be away from your family for at least 6months of your four years and it very well may be more than that.

    If I were to look into a military scholarship I would have to choose the Air Force, they don't do anything and the odds are that you wont be sitting in a ditch getting shot at during your time in service. If you are into being in a ditch and getting shot at join the army they have the greatest chance of any branch to sleep in the mud and get shot at. The navy may be good, but if you have a family it is probably the worst because they have deployments more than any other force, and you might end up with the Marines which means that you end up doing the same thing as the army but with worse equipment.

    Questions you should ask any officer recruiter:

    Where is the worst place they could stick me?
    Air force has a base in the middle of Saudi Arabian desert and they need Dr's there too.
    I have been there and let me tell you it is no fun.

    What are the rotations e.g. how long are you in one place before you are forced to move?

    When will you have the opportunity to specialize, you usually have to give more time in order to get more training.

    Anyway, I encourage you to consider the military, the deal that they give you is great. Im thinking of doing it agian, and I have seen just about the worst situations the military can throw at you. I just wanted you to KNOW everything that you may be up for. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.
     
  4. fmfcorpsman

    fmfcorpsman Member 10+ Year Member

    58
    0
    Feb 29, 2000
    New Berlin, WI USA
    As far as DO in the military they are right alongside MD's and there is no favorability toward either. Military runs on rank, you are a physician with rank of whatever that is how you are known. Many military units may actually like DO's more because the most common ailment is muscular skeletal injuries. Of which omt may be of benifit.
     
  5. Spang

    Spang SDN Angel 10+ Year Member

    As a current Navy pilot working on becoming a Navy doc, let me throw in my two cents.
    <p>
    The biggest drawback I can see to Navy medicine (aside from having to go where they tell you, that's a given) is the requirement for a large percentage of USUHS and Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP)graduates are selected for General Medical Officer (GMO). This means after graduation you do one year of internship (residency yr 1) then go to be a GMO on a ship or at a shore installation. Basically you see sick call type folks, have clinic and take call like anywhere else. This is usually a three year tour that, in my opinion, interupts your GME. Toward the end of you GMO tour you apply for a residency and in some specialties, have to repeat the first year. Having said all that, it's my belief that Navy and military medicine is the finest in the world (they treat the leader of the free world, for pete's sake) but there are some problems with the civilian contract administrator (TRICARE).

    As far as the committment goes the HPSP provides tution, books and fees at MD and approved DO schools with a monthly stipend of $939.00. Payback time is one year for every year of medical education provided. BTW the years you spend in GME (residency) do NOT count toward you payback time. For USUHS students everything(even note service and stethescopes!) is provided and you receive the pay of an 0-1 (ensign/2nd Lt) while in school. Payback time is seven years, again not counting GME.

    I can reluctantly agree that the Air Force may provide an easier path and certainly some of their quality of life facilities beat the Navy hands down. I personally have enjoyed the Navy (I did see Europe, Africa, Middle East, SW Asia, Carribean, Canada and most of the US!) and intend to continue as long as possible in one capacity or the other.

    Feel free to email me or post any other questions. I'd be happy to ****-screen anything the detailer is telling you, though it's my impression that they are a lot more honest that people give them credit for.

    BTW fmccorpsman was right on the money about the DO thing. You're a LT first, a doctor second and nobody you treat really knows or cares if you're a DO or MD, IMO. Both of the flight surgeons at my current command are DO's from PCOM, and really who cares, they're doctors.

    Best of luck.

    [This message has been edited by Spang (edited 03-08-2000).]
     
  6. UHS03

    UHS03 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    420
    0
    Jan 24, 2000
    Detroit
    I can offer yoou my experience. When I was accepted to medical school, I contacted the army to ask about their scholorships. I asked every question I could think of because I had a funny feeling when talking to the recruiter (like I was talking to a used car salesman!) Anyway, everything was sounding great until I asked about fellowships. See, during medical school you owe one year for every year your under scholorship...lets say 4 years. You do not owe additional years during residency, however if you are interested in subspecializing..you will owe for fellowship years. In addition, they may make you repay your original 4 year debt BEFORE entering the fellowship. For illustration, let's say I want to do vascular surgery: I do my 4 years of medical school, I do a 5 year general surgery residency, and then I do a 3 year vascular fellowship. That is 7 years I now owe the army. Say I'm 24 when I get into medical school. I'm 28 when I finish, 33 when I complete residency, and 36 when I complete fellowship. Now I owe 7 YEARS to the army. I'm 43 when it's over and I can go into practice for myself. Combine that with the fact that I may be separated from my family in addition to being a busy resident, and it was a no-go for me. It was like pulling teeth getting the recruiter to tell me the truth about the "fellowship clause" he wanted me to sign up and then find this stuff out later. There is no denying that the military really takes care of you, but it does come at a price. I was not willing to have my future option limited by worrying about debt payback to the army..I would rather deal with student loans..but that's me. If that recruiter gave me any bad info, please correct me...I am just relaying what the recruiter told me. Hope this is helpful! [​IMG]

    [This message has been edited by UHS03 (edited 03-08-2000).]
     
  7. doatc

    doatc Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    119
    0
    Oct 25, 1999
    Lake Bluff, IL, USA
    If anyone has questions about the Army program, drop me a line and I will give you the real details. I have only been on scholarship for two years, but I have learned a lot about the little things they don't tell you up front. I love it though and would do anything different if given the chance. GO ARMY!!

    By the way the President is treated at Bethesda Naval Medical Center and I would't be suprised if he is treated by Army Docs...go figure. The current Army stipend is $976/mo, and a 4yr scholarship equals a 5 year active duty payback with an extra 4 years in the inactive ready reserves(IRR)

    [This message has been edited by doatc (edited 03-08-2000).]
     
  8. Spang

    Spang SDN Angel 10+ Year Member

    doatc-

    Would you be more suprised to learn that if the president wanted to be treated by "Army docs" that he could go to Walter Reed Army Hospital(10 minutes away) instead of the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda?
     
  9. doatc

    doatc Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    119
    0
    Oct 25, 1999
    Lake Bluff, IL, USA
    Spang,

    True, but Bethesda and Walter Reed are apart of a consortium so they have mixed staffs. Based on that, I wouldn't be suprised if his Docs are Army. All of my Brother's children were born at Bethesda and delived by Army Docs :)
     
  10. Sheon

    Sheon Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    320
    2
    Mar 2, 1999
    Brooklyn, NY
    Be warned. A military scholarship should be seen as a military physician career.

    Speaking from an Air Force perspective, almost all military physicians get residencies. There are only a few who do not. Included, however, as a residency is "Flight Medicine" I don't know that there is an equivalent in the civilian world. Residencies are usually in military hospitals (with some exceptions). The Air Force does encourage attainment of multiple specialties and/or subspecialties.

    It is likely that you will be assigned to smaller clinic facilities upon completion of your Air Force residency. This means that once you finish your residency, you will be providing care to military folks and their families. This is not a typical population. You will not get the type of exposure and experience that your civilian counterparts are getting.

    Here is an except directly from the Air Force Physicians Assignments web page:

    "Past experience has revealed many graduating residents would prefer to start off at a large facility. However, the majority of Air Force facilities fall in the 25-to-40-bed range. As a result, the normal career progression pattern within the Air Force is from smaller facilities to larger facilities based upon a physician's performance record."

    If you choose to get out immediatly upon completion of your commitment, you will have 4 years of experience working in the equivalent of a private practice. This will make it difficult for you to market yourself on par with other physicians who were your classmates.

    I wish I had saved the website (unfortunately I didn't), but there was a physician job placement director that had a website providing candid comments about his experiences trying to place military physicians who were getting out (if anyone has it please post the link).

    Essentially, he said that he often had a difficult time placing military physicians and he gave the common reasons for rejection. These included:

    1) Age- Many employers would rather have a physician that just graduated residency with little experience than several years removed from residency with little experience (as some military physicians are).

    2) Age- Many employers would rather have a younger person that has more years of work ahead than an older person with a military standards of practice that have set in (he pointed out twice that this was illlegal, but it was still done).

    3) Experience- Many military physicians are forced to practice outside their field of expertise when they are stationed in these smaller locations. Further the variety of illnesses that a physician will be exposed to within the military (particularly if they spend most of their time in smaller facilities) will be unimpressive.

    4) Education- Many employers attach a stigma to a military education (if you remember the Gourman report it consistantly ranked USUHS among the last three schools).

    5) Administration- The military has one form of payment--Tricare (the equivalent of a second party payer). The rules are always the same from location to location. Civilian practice has numerous different plans that tend to take different positions on what care is and is not covered. They have different requirements and different compensation rates. A military physician will have almost no exposure to the third party payer system.

    There were quite a few others, but they must have been minor because I can't remember them. These aren't my ideas, but in my review I have found that they come up repeatedly.

    The site also pointed out that through career management several military physicians are able to avoid those common pitfalls. If you plan on staying in, you have no problems. If you plan on getting out you need to prepare yourself properly.

    If you are considering a military scholarship, I urge you to find someone who was DISSATISFIED with their experience and talk to them too. Most people won't volunteer negative information, you usually have to press them for it.

    I think the military route is a great way to go, IF AND ONLY IF you want to be in the military and/or would fit into the military way of life. They have no qualms about telling you this is what they are looking for (someone who is SERIOUS about a military career).

    PLEASE don't do it for the scholarship money (I view this as equivalent to selling your soul for a free ride in medical school). If you do the math you will find that the dollars will balance out almost exactly right down to the day you are eligible to leave (this was a very calculated decision on their part).

    I am not down on the military (even though I am anxiously awaiting seperation in 131 days [woo hoo]), but it is unlikely that many of you have seen this side of the arguement before.

    Good luck.

    Sheon

    [This message has been edited by Sheon (edited 03-09-2000).]
     
  11. adismo

    adismo covered in moon dust 10+ Year Member

    436
    1
    Jan 11, 2000
    tent
    Sheon,

    Sounds like it's harder to get a civilian job
    in specialty or sub-specialty areas, but what about GP, internal med, or g. surg.?
    Thank you for your honesty; what is your medical ed. background (md/do) or specialty?
     
  12. Sheon

    Sheon Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    320
    2
    Mar 2, 1999
    Brooklyn, NY
    I am currently a Captain in the Air Force. I am stationed at Brooks AFB which is essentially the medical training base for the Air Force. Most of the people I gathered my information from have been senior level physicians in staff positions at the School of Aerospace Medicine.

    The site didn't really address specific specialties. I didn't ask about specific specialties either. My guess is that in a primary care specialty it would be easier to get a job that in a specialty. This is a gross generalization (as was my previous post).

    On an anecdotal note, when I was taking my prerequisites, I took them alongside another Air Force officer with the desire to be a physician. He worked as a medical administrator for the Orthopedic surgery clinic in the largest hospital in the Air Force. The Air Force Scholarship program has not rejected a single application from an active duty member in the last 10 years. Neither of us even applied to the program.

    Again, I am not trying to discorage anyone from going this route, it can be the best way to go for MANY people. I am saying that there are more aspects to accepting a military scholarship than most people realize.

    [This message has been edited by Sheon (edited 03-10-2000).]
     
  13. waffle

    waffle Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    10
    0
    Feb 17, 2000
    Boston, MA

Share This Page