Navy HPSP Help!

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Jul 14, 2002
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HELP!! Worst case scenario in the Navy is doing a 4 year GMO tour. My recruiter said that means a internship(military) + 3 years as a GMO(General Medical Officer). Does that sound right? I thought the internship didn't count towards payback. Isn't it 1 year internship + 4 years as a GMO? Anybody know the truth? I have to make my decision in the next couple of days!!! GMO sucks!!!



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Feb 28, 2001
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I don't know if I can tell you what the "worst case scenario" is, but I can tell you how the system works. Your recruiter may or may not understand this. I have found few who do.

When you sign up for HPSP you incur an active duty, non-residency, service obligation equal to the length of your scholarship. Thus, if you get a 2 year scholarship, you must serve two years on active duty as either a GMO or as "specialist", by which I mean any specialty after a complete residency.

Here's the tricky part. You incur a training service obligation for each year of your residency NOT counting the internship (R1) year. These obligations can be served concurrently. Examples are very illustrative. Lets take me, using my Army HPSP scholarship. I have a three year scholarship. At the end of medical school, I owe the Army three years as a non training physician. I apply for the army match and we'll say I match in General Surgery. This is a five year program: Internship plus 4 years. I go straight through without a GMO tour (yeah!). At the end of my five years of residency, I still owe the Army a 3 year scholarship obligation, but I also owe the Army a 4 year training obligation. I can serve those obligations at the same time, so I only have to serve 4 years. My total then is 5 years of residency and 4 years of active duty for a total of 9 years.

Now here is how the Navy screws you. Most must do GMO tours despite the fact that Congress passed a law requiring them to get rid of it. We'll take my example again. At graduation, I owe 3 years. I match in a general surg internship and serve with distinction. Now I get sent on a two year GMO tour. At the end of the tour, I have served two of my three years of scholarship obligation. I now do the rest of my residency in Gen Surg, incurring a 4 year training obligation. I serve my two obligations concurrently, but it still takes me 4 years. Thus, my total Navy time is 1 year internship, 2 years GMO, 4 years residency, and 4 years active duty for a total of 11 years.

Thus, unless you decide to do a residency which is shorter than your scholarship duration, the GMO tour counts for nothing. Navy docs are faced with a tough choice, give the Navy 2 years for "nothing" or leave the Navy after a GMO tour and try to find a PGY-2 residency position (very hard in many specialties) or start from scratch, enter the match and redo internship. Neither is a very happy thought.

I was very interested in the Navy because there is some family tradition. This issue made me not even consider the Navy.

Irrespective of the issue I raised above, the GMO structure is a bad idea, in my opinion. GMO's have just completed a internship which (unless it was in FP) invariably focussed on inpatient medicine. When they go to their first billet, the GMO becomes a primary care physician practicing outpatient medicine. They are held to the standard of a board certified Internist, Pediatrician and Gynecologist -- a standard to which the cannot even hope to acheive. Compound on this, a general paucity of resources in Military Medicine and the picture is not pretty.

Good luck with your decision. I wonder home many of those that the Navy signs up actually know the whole story.