Aug 10, 2016
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Hey guys and gals, I posted a question like this a couple weeks ago in the military medicine forum but got no responses so I figured I would try here before giving up for good, I just wanted a perspective other than that coming from a recruiter (even though they have helped immensely).

So I will try to keep this concise, college sophomore, have a desire to serve in the military both as a physician and in undergrad, would ideally go to med school straight through (no breaks). I would do the minuteman scholarship or enroll through the SMP program and ROTC and then continue my obligation in med school (taking no benefits, bad deal imo. Might do HPLRP after residency but I don't like STRAP or MDSSP), in which I would be non-deployable as to not interrupt my schooling and residency, which I understand is a policy and not in my contract. My plan is to either join now or join my first year of med school, however I am not really seeing any disadvantages to joining now as opposed to then.

So basically this is what I have:

Pros:

Leadership Experience
Get to serve
Tuition money
State tuition assistance in medical school
Healthcare for me and my spouse

All of it seems like it is too good of a deal for me and not for the Guard, I feel as if there is something I don't know or some caveat that has not been explained to me yet. Sorry for posting in multiple forums but just wanted to see if I could get another opinion before making such a huge life decision.

Thanks guys.

-Yahtzee
 

Goro

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Only you can answer this for yourself. But from an Adcom perspective, any military service is really, really good.


Hey guys and gals, I posted a question like this a couple weeks ago in the military medicine forum but got no responses so I figured I would try here before giving up for good, I just wanted a perspective other than that coming from a recruiter (even though they have helped immensely).

So I will try to keep this concise, college sophomore, have a desire to serve in the military both as a physician and in undergrad, would ideally go to med school straight through (no breaks). I would do the minuteman scholarship or enroll through the SMP program and ROTC and then continue my obligation in med school (taking no benefits, bad deal imo. Might do HPLRP after residency but I don't like STRAP or MDSSP), in which I would be non-deployable as to not interrupt my schooling and residency, which I understand is a policy and not in my contract. My plan is to either join now or join my first year of med school, however I am not really seeing any disadvantages to joining now as opposed to then.

So basically this is what I have:

Pros:

Leadership Experience
Get to serve
Tuition money
State tuition assistance in medical school
Healthcare for me and my spouse

All of it seems like it is too good of a deal for me and not for the Guard, I feel as if there is something I don't know or some caveat that has not been explained to me yet. Sorry for posting in multiple forums but just wanted to see if I could get another opinion before making such a huge life decision.

Thanks guys.

-Yahtzee
 
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Mclovin0351

It makes sense if you don't think about it
May 4, 2016
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I can comment rather generally after 4.5 years in the Marine Corps Reserve, although I am not familiar with some of the specific programs you mention.

If you want to serve, serve. I love it and have had amazing experiences and met better friends, albeit as an grunt who has never deployed. Some of the most impressive individuals in the nation serve in the military, and most I've met joined for the right reasons and are an honor to serve with.
@ericd8 is right about HPSP, although I am still pursuing it because I have some specific career goals in the military. If I were you, I would learn as much as possible about military medicine and figure out exactly what you want to do, and why. There are a ton of paths within the military, and some are much better than others.

National Guard from a Marine Corps grunts perspective: They have it way better. Full tuition, more money for training, more and better deployment opportunities if that's what you want, at least during OEF and OIF. Although its still the military so I'm sure there is plenty of stupidity and bureaucracy to deal with.
 
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OP
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Aug 10, 2016
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@ericd8 @Goro @Mclovin0351

Thank you all for the responses. I thought about the HPSP scholarship for a long time but I decided that active duty is not for me. I have many personal goals both professionally in the private sector and family wise that active duty would complicate. However, I still have a strong desire to serve in the military. My main concern is if I *gulp* don't get accepted immediately if I would be deployed and interrupt my schooling for a couple years. I have no reservations about being deployed but I want to finish my schooling before I go on that journey.

A questions for @Goro specifically, I was wondering if being "active duty" in the National Guard would look good 0r bad to Adcoms. I understand that past military experience is good but I wondered if they would have issues admitting someone who has such a large prior commitment outside of their schooling.

All in all, I want to serve, just don't want to get screwed over by joining too soon and not being patient, i.e. already being accepted to medical school.

Thank again, you guys are helping me a ton!
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Can also comment generally after about five years of Naval service. Don't serve solely for the benefits or it will be a long commitment. There is a lot of bull**** that you have to deal with, and hanging on to the benefits and counting down the days is not a good way to live.

That said, if you want to serve, I highly recommend it. I love it. There are definitely ups and downs (some of which you will avoid in the NG), but more ups than downs in my opinion. The benefits are great, I've seen a lot of great places, and I've had experiences civilians never will. I've also moved 6 times, missed six month of the first year of my daughter's life, and been in some sticky situations. But it's a great feeling to serve.

I will say that if you join before you apply to med school, at least for active components (which NG is not, so double check on this), you have to get permission to detach. For reserves, you need permission to miss drill weekends, training, and deployments.
 

Mclovin0351

It makes sense if you don't think about it
May 4, 2016
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I forgot to mention, a Marine in my old platoon was a full time student at UNECOM at the same time he was in the Reserves, and was managing it well. He liked drill weekends because they were a "break" from the study grind.
 
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T800'sThumb

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Thought I'd throw in my 2 cents here--

I was a reservist throughout undergrad-- i thought it'd help pay tuition and i'd have fun serving. Between mobilizations; annual training; misc. orders; and a 13-month long deployment, my grades were a mess and so was my mental and social well-being. I tend to tell younglings these days that if you want to serve, great. Serve. But, it's all the way in, or all the way out. Get the experience you want. Leave it when it's time and move on to your studies. If you want to serve after med school, do USUHS or HPSP.

Sure, there are people who do this and come out the other side squeaky clean with a 4.0 and a bunch of medals. I wasn't that talented.

Best of luck to you.
 
OP
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@Mclovin0351 @T800'sThumb Thanks for the responses guys.

How do you think you would've fared without the deployment? As part of the SMP (Simultaneous Membership Program) I would be non-deployable while in school. The only part that I get nervous about is if I don't get in an am forced to take a gap year, I would be serving my commitment still and for that year I would be deployable, which could throw a wrench in my plans. Although I would still have to do Basic and ATI, as right now I am doing LTC (aka CIET) I think so the chances of me being deployed before I re-applied would most likely be slim. I have the desire to serve but just don't want to get screwed over, which I've noticed a good amount of people who join the military feel like they do at some point.

Thanks again.

-Yahtzee
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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@Mclovin0351 @T800'sThumb Thanks for the responses guys.

How do you think you would've fared without the deployment? As part of the SMP (Simultaneous Membership Program) I would be non-deployable while in school. The only part that I get nervous about is if I don't get in an am forced to take a gap year, I would be serving my commitment still and for that year I would be deployable, which could throw a wrench in my plans. Although I would still have to do Basic and ATI, as right now I am doing LTC (aka CIET) I think so the chances of me being deployed before I re-applied would most likely be slim. I have the desire to serve but just don't want to get screwed over, which I've noticed a good amount of people who join the military feel like they do at some point.

Thanks again.

-Yahtzee
Everyone gets screwed over in the military at some point. Being in the NG lowers the number of ways they can give you the D though. Not deploying makes things way easier, but kind of misses the point of serving.
 

medic86

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Getting screwed is a possibility. It's a good thing we're not deployed in large numbers like we were just 6 years ago, or it'd be a real possibility.

I'd do HPSP, USUHS, or FAP vs serving in the NG now. The stabilization while you're in school is nice, but don't be surprised if you get ****ed by the Army for some reason or another in the midst of your application cycle, or even during medical school (depending on how much "active" drilling time you contract for).
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Getting screwed is a possibility. It's a good thing we're not deployed in large numbers like we were just 6 years ago, or it'd be a real possibility.
They still find a way. I got ****ed on my last set of orders, and I got to miss my oldest's first birthday because of a deployment extension just last year. But that's the life. I'd still swear in again.

Edited for spelling.
 
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T800'sThumb

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@Mclovin0351 @T800'sThumb Thanks for the responses guys.

How do you think you would've fared without the deployment? As part of the SMP (Simultaneous Membership Program) I would be non-deployable while in school. The only part that I get nervous about is if I don't get in an am forced to take a gap year, I would be serving my commitment still and for that year I would be deployable, which could throw a wrench in my plans. Although I would still have to do Basic and ATI, as right now I am doing LTC (aka CIET) I think so the chances of me being deployed before I re-applied would most likely be slim. I have the desire to serve but just don't want to get screwed over, which I've noticed a good amount of people who join the military feel like they do at some point.

Thanks again.

-Yahtzee
My deployment has shaped a vast sum of my adult perspective and sense of self-- the lessons I learned there, and the people I'd met have be become an integral part of me and how I see the world and society in general. I literally can't imagine where I'd be now if I'd never deployed.

Matthew9Thirtyfive said that it sort of defeats the purpose of serving. This should raise an interesting question for you-- what does it mean for you to serve? Why are you serving? Are you using it as a primer for medical school applications or are you serving because you want to be part of the military's mission right now? If it is the former, I suggest you simply aim to become as well-rounded a person as you can as you make your way toward applying to medical school. If it is the latter, you should have no expectations of not being asked to give everything up.

Be honest with yourself. Think thoroughly about what it is you're trying to achieve.

Happy to answer further questions.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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My deployment has shaped a vast sum of my adult perspective and sense of self-- the lessons I learned there, and the people I'd met have be become an integral part of me and how I see the world and society in general. I literally can't imagine where I'd be now if I'd never deployed.

Matthew9Thirtyfive said that it sort of defeats the purpose of serving. This should raise an interesting question for you-- what does it mean for you to serve? Why are you serving? Are you using it as a primer for medical school applications or are you serving because you want to be part of the military's mission right now? If it is the former, I suggest you simply aim to become as well-rounded a person as you can as you make your way toward applying to medical school. If it is the latter, you should have no expectations of not being asked to give everything up.

Be honest with yourself. Think thoroughly about what it is you're trying to achieve.

Happy to answer further questions.
Great response. Personally, I think deployment does two things: it changes your perspective on the world and your place in it, as well as your appreciation of just how great we have it here, and it gives you some amazing opportunities to experience and do things no civilian ever will, while forming bonds no civilian will ever understand with people from all over.

It also sucks ass and I was glad when it was over. But I'll do it again when it's my turn.
 
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namenerd

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I know the feeling. I missed my sons birth due to an extended deployment in 2012.
+1 missing 1st birthday (not birth, obvi)

Nothing beats the "Who the eff are YOU?" vaguely terrified look on your infant's face when you return home from a deployment. Punk, I gave birth to you! Fed you from my own boob! *sobs in corner*

Agree with everyone who said they would still do it all again -- both deployments taught me a lot about myself. For me, the grand takeaway from deployment isn't about being ready to kill; it's about being prepared to die. Nothing is more noble than risking your life for your beliefs, more thrilling than making life-or-death decisions correctly, more eye-opening than seeing what you are willing to do when you truly believe you are going to die.

Finally, OP, if you believe any recruiter when they say you are ever truly "nondeployable"....I have a great used car you might want to take a look at.
 
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Thank you to everyone who responded. It seems like the majority of you believe that if I feel a deployment would hinder me in school, not to join. I know that I 100% want to serve, I always have, I just want to find the right time. I just need to think about how it would impact me and my wife (and any future kids) and talk it over with those close to me. I will keep you guys updated on my decision, will probably inbox or ask more questions in here as I learn more about serving as a student or a physician!

Thank you to everyone!

Random question: From what I know, Family docs, internists, and ER docs get deployed the most, which I am find with seeing as I want to go FM. I like the idea of serving my country overseas and it is an experience that I long to have. However, I have a friend (more like my mentor, he is in med school as a third year. Showed me the pre-med ropes) who when I told him my idea of serving he said that sounded like something he would be interested in too, he is former Army. He was asking me questions (bad idea I know) and asked how he would serve as a surgeon. He said when he was overseas he only saw like FM type doctors. He wants to go into ortho or ENT I think but he said he doesn't know if he would like to serve if he could never deploy. So basically, do surgeons deploy overseas? It seems like not many people are going to get that torn ACL repaired in Iraq, but then again I have no military experience.

Thanks for the help again!
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Thank you to everyone who responded. It seems like the majority of you believe that if I feel a deployment would hinder me in school, not to join. I know that I 100% want to serve, I always have, I just want to find the right time. I just need to think about how it would impact me and my wife (and any future kids) and talk it over with those close to me. I will keep you guys updated on my decision, will probably inbox or ask more questions in here as I learn more about serving as a student or a physician!

Thank you to everyone!

Random question: From what I know, Family docs, internists, and ER docs get deployed the most, which I am find with seeing as I want to go FM. I like the idea of serving my country overseas and it is an experience that I long to have. However, I have a friend (more like my mentor, he is in med school as a third year. Showed me the pre-med ropes) who when I told him my idea of serving he said that sounded like something he would be interested in too, he is former Army. He was asking me questions (bad idea I know) and asked how he would serve as a surgeon. He said when he was overseas he only saw like FM type doctors. He wants to go into ortho or ENT I think but he said he doesn't know if he would like to serve if he could never deploy. So basically, do surgeons deploy overseas? It seems like not many people are going to get that torn ACL repaired in Iraq, but then again I have no military experience.

Thanks for the help again!
Yes, surgeons deploy. From what I have been told from my one gen surg friend, they deploy more often, but for shorter tours. Orthopods don't just fix ACLs. There is a lot of trauma over there.
 

KaBoom'd

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I'll weigh in on the serving in undergrad part. You mentioned you looked through the military medicine forum, but there is a lot of info there if you dive deep.

The National Guard can still throw you some curve balls during undergrad. I served on active duty for several years and transitioned straight into the guard last year. Anecdotal experience - my 2 weeks of Annual Training this year were the two weeks immediately prior to my school's spring break. That was obviously less than ideal. I managed to get back for 2 days during AT to take a couple exams I couldn't reschedule, and scraped by with all A's for the semester, but it was way more difficult than it needed to be. I'm sure me being able to miss AT time is atypical, and I wouldn't count on that. There are quite a few men and women in my unit that are pursuing an undergrad degree right now, most of them couldn't leave, and it was bad for all of us. These aren't reasons to not join, but something you should weigh with how well you're doing in school currently. I would hold off if I wasn't cruising by with A's right now.

I'll echo what others have said about deploying - for most people it's a net gain as far as life experiences go. The reason serving gives most people a better perspective is because it sucks. This also isn't 2008. The chances you'll be deployed in the guard during a gap year are slim, but it would also be the very best gap year you could possibly have.

FWIW, I'm planning on staying in throughout medical school, residency training and beyond until I hit 20. I will commission when I get an acceptance, but I'm not taking any incentives so I can in theory walk if I feel like I need to.
 
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namenerd

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Thank you to everyone who responded. It seems like the majority of you believe that if I feel a deployment would hinder me in school, not to join. I know that I 100% want to serve, I always have, I just want to find the right time. I just need to think about how it would impact me and my wife (and any future kids) and talk it over with those close to me. I will keep you guys updated on my decision, will probably inbox or ask more questions in here as I learn more about serving as a student or a physician!

Thank you to everyone!

Random question: From what I know, Family docs, internists, and ER docs get deployed the most, which I am find with seeing as I want to go FM. I like the idea of serving my country overseas and it is an experience that I long to have. However, I have a friend (more like my mentor, he is in med school as a third year. Showed me the pre-med ropes) who when I told him my idea of serving he said that sounded like something he would be interested in too, he is former Army. He was asking me questions (bad idea I know) and asked how he would serve as a surgeon. He said when he was overseas he only saw like FM type doctors. He wants to go into ortho or ENT I think but he said he doesn't know if he would like to serve if he could never deploy. So basically, do surgeons deploy overseas? It seems like not many people are going to get that torn ACL repaired in Iraq, but then again I have no military experience.

Thanks for the help again!
You are very welcome. Feel free to PM or tag me anytime. I wish you the best of luck. When I was a PL, most of my platoon was made up of National Guard -- some of the most amazing people I have ever known.

Regarding surgeons, I agree (as always, it seems) with @Matthew9Thirtyfive. It depends on the theater of operations, but the more established places offer treatment to more than just trauma cases. When I was over there, soldiers in my battalion would be flown from smaller bases to Bagram to treat appendicitis, kidney stones, ovarian cysts, hernias, all sorts.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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You are very welcome. Feel free to PM or tag me anytime. I wish you the best of luck. When I was a PL, most of my platoon was made up of National Guard -- some of the most amazing people I have ever known.

Regarding surgeons, I agree (as always, it seems) with @Matthew9Thirtyfive. It depends on the theater of operations, but the more established places offer treatment to more than just trauma cases. When I was over there, soldiers in my battalion would be flown from smaller bases to Bagram to treat appendicitis, kidney stones, ovarian cysts, hernias, all sorts.
They also deploy on ships in the Navy, doing mostly lumps and bumps with the occasional appy or hernia thrown in (and the very occasional trauma).
 
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