Mar 29, 2010
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Was browsing through the boards to see if there was any cases similar to mine here but didn't see any. I am currently in the military and am getting to the point where I need to grow up and get a job. I am trying to figure out if it would be feasible for me to attempt becoming a doctor with a worst case (based on timing) scenario. If I wait until I am retired, I will have 20 years as an officer, be a 41 y/o, BS in engineering, and an MA in national security. I am a pilot so have zero experience in military medicine (besides the yearly physicals :) ), would I need to take time to do the volunteer work/shadowing/mentoring that I have been reading about? Does the military service count for brownie points with the admissions boards? I know I have to to take a couple of of the pre-reqs since my BS didn't require them. I want to start those sooner than later but don't want to waste time with something that isn't realistic either.
 

Salient

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There is nothing wrong with going back to medical school at 41 (or 43), if that's what you want to spend the rest of your career doing.

As I understand it, you won't be given any special preference due to your background at most allopathic medical schools. From the stories I've heard, many of them prefer the traditional types. You will need to have competitive grades/scores in any case, but you will most likely get more help from your background at osteopathic programs. I have a friend who is a DO, and she/her husband were in a class almost exclusively comprised of non-traditional students.

A lot depends on your PS/interview and how you present yourself, but some of the allopathic schools are likely to weigh the fact that you're probably only going to work for 15 years and retire as heavily as your more rounded background and life experience.

So you certainly can do it and you're certainly not too old, but you will probably find a more welcoming reception if you aim for the DO route.

Edit: You'll still need to have clinical experience and volunteering, but as a somewhat senior military officer you will have awesome opportunities for the volunteering category that can blow all the college students out of the water.
 

Old Grunt

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Was browsing through the boards to see if there was any cases similar to mine here but didn't see any. I am currently in the military and am getting to the point where I need to grow up and get a job. I am trying to figure out if it would be feasible for me to attempt becoming a doctor with a worst case (based on timing) scenario. If I wait until I am retired, I will have 20 years as an officer, be a 41 y/o, BS in engineering, and an MA in national security. I am a pilot so have zero experience in military medicine (besides the yearly physicals :) ), would I need to take time to do the volunteer work/shadowing/mentoring that I have been reading about? Does the military service count for brownie points with the admissions boards? I know I have to to take a couple of of the pre-reqs since my BS didn't require them. I want to start those sooner than later but don't want to waste time with something that isn't realistic either.
I left active duty to go to medical school (Infantry Officer for four years). I didn't have an acceptance before I left, I had to do all the pre-reqs, so it was a bit of a leap of faith. I am not sorry I didn't stay in for 20 and then do this. So far it's worked out okay. Only you can determine whether to try for this now or at 41.

The previous poster is mistaken. Your military experience will be an asset to your application no matter where you apply (at least that was my experience) allopathic or osteopathic. What it won't do is make up for really poor statistics (GPA, MCAT, etc).

I wouldn't sweat the lack of medical exposure if you go at the age of 41 (since you will be retired and be on pension, that's not a bad gig). Most ADCOMs are going to view you as different. Most of the people looking at your file or interviewing you will be around your age and probably will treat you as such. After all, as a pilot, you are a professional as well. If you get out now, I'd try to get some exposure to medicine just to check that box.

I would think the hardest thing to do would be to get back into lecture mode and doing well on the MCAT after being away from the material for so long. That being said, plenty of people go into medicine as a second career after military retirement.

If you are married, make sure your wife is on board.

Good luck.
 
OP
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Mar 29, 2010
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Thanks for the info. I think I may try for the UHUHS route. That way I can start sooner if I get accepted and not mess up my retirement. Apparently I can get a waiver for my age. Now to knock out the pre-reqs/MCAT and get the Navy to release me...Navy might be the hardest part lol.
 

Old Grunt

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Thanks for the info. I think I may try for the UHUHS route. That way I can start sooner if I get accepted and not mess up my retirement. Apparently I can get a waiver for my age. Now to knock out the pre-reqs/MCAT and get the Navy to release me...Navy might be the hardest part lol.
That would probably be a good option as your time in the USHSU would count as active duty time (I believe). You know how the military is, if you've got a commander that supports you, you can get away with murder.

If you are serious about this, I would see if you can get some sort of light duty that will allow you the time and stability to knock out the requirements. Though, you know as well as I, that if it doesn't work out, forgoing a high demand job in favor of a low demand one could hurt your aviation career in the long run.

I had a lot of buddies, mostly West Pointers who had planned to do this since their academy days, who got released by the Army and Infantry Branch once they had an acceptance. Once you are accepted, I think it's a relatively easy matter to get released if they know they are going to get a Doctor out of the deal. Might be harder for you since they've spend so much money training you, but I am speculating. I don't know much about the ins and outs of Navy life.

As an aside, neither of my friends went to USHSU (or whatever the acronym is). One went to Georgetown and the other went to Ohio (I suspect on the HPSP program). So don't feel like you can only consider that. Both are now MDs.

Good luck to you.
 

Pemberley

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I am a pilot so have zero experience in military medicine (besides the yearly physicals :) ), would I need to take time to do the volunteer work/shadowing/mentoring that I have been reading about?
I started this while still on active duty. Being an officer, you have to be very careful about privacy issues. I got around this by shadowing the pathologist in the on-base hospital (I wasn't at one of the major hospital bases, but I was on a base with a respectable-sized hospital), and saving the "smelling patients" bit until I was separated, but I expect you could work something out with patient contact if you & the doctor you were working with were very careful about not seeing people you know professionally (or their spouses). You could also, of course, work with an off-based doctor, but then there's an increase in time and travel and logistics.

The good news is, just a couple hours a week, sustained for a long time, works well with the work schedule and looks good on the resume. The other bit of good news is, if you shadow a military doctor he gets a free OPR bullet for almost no work, so you'll find them quite happy to work with you. :rolleyes:

My 2 cents: go slow & steady with the pre-reqs... start out with just one. Especially with the irregular schedule pilots get, lab courses could be a real pain in your butt. Some courses are only available during the day, and therefore require buy-in from the boss -- my active duty boss was not good to work with on that point. Clarify expectations ahead of time -- in writing if you can.

USUHS is probably a great option if you're planning on doing 20 anyway, and ready to leave piloting behind.
 
Jan 1, 2010
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I'm a line officer who is going to med school. I started everything while on active duty and timed things so that as I leave the service, I start med school.

I can say that the experience you gain while in the military is a huge asset when you are applying/interviewing. I have "below average" stats GPA wise (engineering degree...ugh), a 4.0 informal post bacc, and an average MCAT and I was accepted to 4 MD schools. I didn't apply DO. Although I was screened out at some schools for my low stats, I was accepted fairly early to every school that I interviewed at. Kind of toolish, but I wore my uniform to interviews and believe that this helped set me apart and set the tone with my interviewers.
 
Jul 31, 2009
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I'm a line officer who is going to med school. I started everything while on active duty and timed things so that as I leave the service, I start med school.

I can say that the experience you gain while in the military is a huge asset when you are applying/interviewing. I have "below average" stats GPA wise (engineering degree...ugh), a 4.0 informal post bacc, and an average MCAT and I was accepted to 4 MD schools. I didn't apply DO. Although I was screened out at some schools for my low stats, I was accepted fairly early to every school that I interviewed at. Kind of toolish, but I wore my uniform to interviews and believe that this helped set me apart and set the tone with my interviewers.

Congrats...I can not wait to get my first uniform!!!!!!!!!
 

ftrflyr29

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Was browsing through the boards to see if there was any cases similar to mine here but didn't see any. I am currently in the military and am getting to the point where I need to grow up and get a job. I am trying to figure out if it would be feasible for me to attempt becoming a doctor with a worst case (based on timing) scenario. If I wait until I am retired, I will have 20 years as an officer, be a 41 y/o, BS in engineering, and an MA in national security. I am a pilot so have zero experience in military medicine (besides the yearly physicals :) ), would I need to take time to do the volunteer work/shadowing/mentoring that I have been reading about? Does the military service count for brownie points with the admissions boards? I know I have to to take a couple of of the pre-reqs since my BS didn't require them. I want to start those sooner than later but don't want to waste time with something that isn't realistic either.
I'm currently an active duty pilot about to get out to start medical school in about your same position. I will have just over 13 years when I get out. I did all the pre-reqs while on active duty, studied for the MCAT, took it, applied and interviewed all during the last 3 years. Old Grunt is right, sorry Salient, from my experience, I would say the military gives you a definite advantage, but you have to have the stats, scores and PS to get you an interview invite. In most of my interviews we spent half the time talking about my military experience and I was always asked about how to land on the boat.

I will say I am well below average with my cGPA ~3.2 in Sociology. I had no sGPA to speak of so took a self-contained post-bacc (at a Junior College BTW, with no issues there), so that definitely helped because my sGPA was 3.95. I scored average on the MCAT (30O), the second time. I got a 25O the first time, applied late, got one interview at USUHS and didn't get in, so your scores and timing do count. As for shadowing, I found physicians to shadow at the local Naval hospital and took leave for a week at a time allowing me to shadow for one week straight (40 hours). I also shadowed my flight surgeon. If it was someone I knew, he asked if it was okay and if we were both comfortable, if either felt funny, I would just wait outside.

This application cycle went much better--the big differences--better MCAT score and I applied within the first week of AMCAS being open. This year I applied much more broadly, got 15 interview requests, went to 7 was accepted to 5 MD, 1DO and waitlisted at 1MD.

USUHS is a good option, just know (contrary to what was said above) that USUHS will screen your app even interview you, but will not send your application package to the ADCOM until you have the letter from BUPERS granting you resignation or contingent resignation. And, I'm sure you've experience the speed with which BUPERS functions. I know 2 people who were waitlisted and DID NOT get in at USUHS because BUPERS took too long to get their request approved. The initial issue will be getting the okay from your detailer, who may not let you out of you initial commitment because he's got you tapped for an IA/GSA. Another thing I've seen--people not getting the contingent resignation until their commitment is up or within 6 months of being up.

The other thing to know about USUHS is the commitment is 7 years (not including school, internship, residency, flight surgery training, fellowship, etc.--any training does not count toward your commitment). Your time at USUHS does not count toward retirement, but will get added back in once you retire, i.e. you retire at 20, you get 24 years credit. That being said, if you do 3 years of getting your pre-reqs, MCAT, etc, you'll be at 16, then 17 years when you matriculate, you will do 4 years at USUHS (with save-pay). Once you graduate, you will owe 7 years, but your clock won't start ticking until you are done with internship. So...say you are lucky enough to go straight through to residency and you do a FM residency, you will graduate at 17 years, do internship and residency for 3 years, now you're at 20, but you owe 7 years for your USUHS commitment. You will not be eligible for some bonus pays (multi-year specialty pay I think--someone please confirm which it is) until your initial commitment is up, but if you don't get promoted to O-6, you will be out at 30, so miss out on those bonuses. Once can justify that you will make the pay while your in school, which is a valid point, you will be signing up for essentially another air contract.

There are MANY options for you--HPSP (they pay for school, currently $1900/mo stipend, you owe year for year and if you take the $20K bonus, tack on one more year). HSCP (you go to school as an active duty E-6, promotable to E-7. The time in school counts toward retirement, but they do not pay for your school--you can use the post-9/11 GI bill, scholarships, whatever. I can't remember off-hand the commitment). Or you can go civilian route, get a civilian residency, do FAP, get you civilian pay and $70K-ish per year bonus to come back in. In these cases you are eligible for bonuses earlier and they don't control you for as long--just food for thought.

PM me if you have any questions. I'm not going to proofread this ridiculously long diatribe, so sorry if there are typos and/or grammatical errors.
 

Old Grunt

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PM me if you have any questions. I'm not going to proofread this ridiculously long diatribe, so sorry if there are typos and/or grammatical errors.
N'ah. That was a great post and did more to enlighten the OP than anything else posted here.

Thanks.
 

blife

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I'm currently an active duty pilot taking classes to show current coursework (pre-reqs were done in undergrad), and I know at least three other pilots planning the medical school route (some strange correlation between pilots and medicine?).

For me, the key step has been maneuvering into a flexible job that I can disappear from for a few hours a week for class (I'm only taking one at a time). For volunteer time and clinical exposure the local university hospital emergency room is great because they have shifts available 24/7, so I volunteer on the weekends. You'll sometimes hear people complain about stocking sheets, etc, but the experience really is what you make of it.
Once the ED staff get to know you, you'll be able to watch procedures (and sometimes help with small stuff). I've learned a lot just from talking to patients as they are waiting to be seen. The ED also provides a good environment to see many different specialties in action and lots of blood/snot/vomit/ulcers/broken bones/drunk jerks/rotten feet to see if medicine is really a career you're interested in. It also helps motivate you when you're super busy with work, class and/or family.
So, what has helped me:
1) volunteer during the weekends so it doesn't interfere with work
2) try to take early morning classes or evening classes (avoid time-sucking labs unless you need them for pre-reqs)
3) if you have a supportive front office, tell them your future plans (if you are sure) so you don't stress about them finding out second-hand
4) once you start taking classes, get involved in the pre-med activities at the school, I've learned a lot from the groups and met people on the same path

Hope this helps
 
Apr 20, 2010
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There are MANY options for you--HPSP (they pay for school, currently $1900/mo stipend, you owe year for year and if you take the $20K bonus, tack on one more year). HSCP (you go to school as an active duty E-6, promotable to E-7. The time in school counts toward retirement, but they do not pay for your school--you can use the post-9/11 GI bill, scholarships, whatever. I can't remember off-hand the commitment). Or you can go civilian route, get a civilian residency, do FAP, get you civilian pay and $70K-ish per year bonus to come back in. In these cases you are eligible for bonuses earlier and they don't control you for as long--just food for thought.
Okay, I'm an E-6 medic in the Army with a deployment to Iraq under my belt and an upcoming Afghanistan deployment to get through before I can finish my pre-meds and apply. I have a BS Civil Engineering, MS Environmental Engineering with a certificate in Public Health... I know, it's ridiculous how roundabout my path has been. I'm not exactly WORRIED about getting in, though my undergrad GPA leaves a little to be desired. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to do it. I've looked into USUHS but think I might be too old to apply and I'm also a little hesitant about the commitment. I've heard of the HSPS and was probably going to go that way. I'm not familiar with HSCP though... can someone clarify for me?
 

ftrflyr29

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Okay, I'm an E-6 medic in the Army with a deployment to Iraq under my belt and an upcoming Afghanistan deployment to get through before I can finish my pre-meds and apply. I have a BS Civil Engineering, MS Environmental Engineering with a certificate in Public Health... I know, it's ridiculous how roundabout my path has been. I'm not exactly WORRIED about getting in, though my undergrad GPA leaves a little to be desired. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to do it. I've looked into USUHS but think I might be too old to apply and I'm also a little hesitant about the commitment. I've heard of the HSPS and was probably going to go that way. I'm not familiar with HSCP though... can someone clarify for me?
As for USUHS, you would just have to get an age waiver and they seem pretty easy to come by these days. I'm over 35 and it was no issue getting the waiver. It is a great option, particularly for those with families to support. It's good to weigh all your options. At this age, I get nervous owing the military so much of my life (done it once with an 11 year contract, not sure if I'm up to it again).

HSCP (Health Services Collegiate Program) is a Navy only scholarship where you serve on ACTIVE DUTY as an E-6 (promotable to E-7 based on grades) while you are in school. You get pay, benefits, accrue leave and time-in-service while you are in school. The kicker is they do not pay for your school, so you would use the post 9/11 GI Bill or scholarships, loans or pay out of pocket. When you graduate you are commissioned in the Medical Corps.

HPSP (Health Professional Scholarship Program-all services have it) pays for your schooling and gives you and monthly stipend to live on (currently ~$1900/mo). Your time in school does not count as active duty time, but your school is paid for. Currently, there is a $20K sign-on bonus, but it adds an additional year to your commitment.

There's also some incentive programs through the Guard available. I merely completed the pre-reqs and took the MCAT, which is what you will have to do as well. Good luck on your deployment.
 
Apr 20, 2010
5
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Iowa
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Ahh, makes sense that I haven't heard of it if it's Navy. Glad to hear too that an age waiver is possible. I deployed to Iraq with a doc who went through USUHS and he loved it, said that's the way I should go. We'll see. I'll be 30 when I'm going through apps and we'll see where I'm at family-wise then. Thanks so much for the info!!
 
Apr 20, 2010
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Ha ha, and I just realized that I put HSPS instead of HPSP... so much for learning the acronyms once you're in long enough.... :/
 

combatwombat

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Was browsing through the boards to see if there was any cases similar to mine here but didn't see any. I am currently in the military and am getting to the point where I need to grow up and get a job. I am trying to figure out if it would be feasible for me to attempt becoming a doctor with a worst case (based on timing) scenario. If I wait until I am retired, I will have 20 years as an officer, be a 41 y/o, BS in engineering, and an MA in national security. I am a pilot so have zero experience in military medicine (besides the yearly physicals :) ), would I need to take time to do the volunteer work/shadowing/mentoring that I have been reading about? Does the military service count for brownie points with the admissions boards? I know I have to to take a couple of of the pre-reqs since my BS didn't require them. I want to start those sooner than later but don't want to waste time with something that isn't realistic either.
To some extent and yes



LITER COLA
 
Apr 2, 2010
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HPSP (Health Professional Scholarship Program-all services have it) pays for your schooling and gives you and monthly stipend to live on (currently ~$1900/mo). Your time in school does not count as active duty time, but your school is paid for. Currently, there is a $20K sign-on bonus, but it adds an additional year to your commitment.
i'm not sure if this is accurate. i'm about to start med school with the AF HPSP and according to the CSAB contract (the contract for the $20k bonus) it's a 4 year commitment served concurrently with the commitment incurred by the HPSP. so it seems like it would only add a year if you did the 3 year HPSP. am i missing something? is it different service to service?
 

gonnif

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As for USUHS, you would just have to get an age waiver and they seem pretty easy to come by these days. I'm over 35 and it was no issue getting the waiver. It is a great option, particularly for those with families to support. It's good to weigh all your option
The Lt. Commander for Health Professions Recruiting in Chicago was asked this at an OldPreMeds conference and said if you have a letter of acceptance and can pass a physical, waiver over I believe the 36 year old age limit was almost no issue. I believe that has been raised to 42, for at least the Scholarship Program. Actually, I recall a few years a marine corps major with over 10 years in (it may have been 20 years in) was accepted to USUHS and was taking a commission in the Navy as as ensign!
 
Jul 21, 2009
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For those of you coming in from being a pilot, what did you fly and how did/do you enjoy your aviation career?

I will be attending medical school next year but have been fascinated with the idea of military aviation for a while now.
 

ftrflyr29

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i'm not sure if this is accurate. i'm about to start med school with the AF HPSP and according to the CSAB contract (the contract for the $20k bonus) it's a 4 year commitment served concurrently with the commitment incurred by the HPSP. so it seems like it would only add a year if you did the 3 year HPSP. am i missing something? is it different service to service?
Your contract is correct and I did not explain it correctly. If you take the sign-on bonus, you incur a 4 year MSO (minimum service obligation), so as I understand it, if you take HPSP during your MS2, MS3 or MS4 year, you will incur a 4 year commitment.

So.....if you take the scholarship as an MS1, you take the bonus, you owe 4 years. If you take the scholarship as an MS2 and take the bonus, you owe 4 years. If you take the scholarship as an MS2 and don't take the bonus, you owe 3 years. If you take the scholarship during MS3 or MS4 and take the bonus, you owe 4 years. If you take the scholarship during MS3 or MS4 years and don't take the bonus, you owe 3 years.

This is how I read the Navy HPSP requirements. I will attach a Feb 2010 slideshow about it. Thanks for bringing my error to my attention.

Also, it may be different for other services.
 

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