Not So Perfect But What Is

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I have read many posts on this forum about the different military branches and the HPSP scholarships. I am about a month away from taking the DAT (began studying 12/03) and I feel pretty good about it. I have been talking to a Navy and Army recruiter about the HPSP. I was an army reservist for six years, so I have some military experience and can agree that the military can be frustrating and quite a bit of a bureaucracy.

But at the end of the day, I will apply for the HPSP to help with dental school. I have a three year old son, and my wife is a stay at home mom (the way I prefer it) and I feel that I have no realistic way to attend dental school than with the military's help. The cost to go to dental school is so great in my opinion, that I couldn't afford it if my wife and I both worked full time jobs during the four year stint. The instruments alone run in the thousands and some schools even make you lease them.

If I borrow all the way, I'll owe 40K for undergrad, about 150k for dental school, and a young associate only makes about 125k, but the IRS will dig into that. This doesn't even include owning a home or a couple of cars.

The only concern I have about the HPSP is availability of residency training. Without a doubt, I want to enter a Oral Surgery residency after school, and will pick any branch that has the best chances for me to do so. Any help that anyone can give will be greatly appreciated.

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I am fairly sure that a OMFS residency is only possible after at least one and likely two tours as a GP dentist in all of the services...that's 3 to 6 years before getting in an OMFS residency. I'm also fairly sure that after dental school, you will be required to do one year of "internship" before going onto your first GP tour.
I agree with MilMD. The timeframe is about the same for the navy. No one goes straight through into any dental specialty directly out of school. My dental friends have all done one year at a branch clinic, then a GP tour. During this time they apply for further training. My last dentist started his his OMFS after being out for 3 years. (1 year clinic, 2 years shipboard) My current dentist is starting an orthodontics program this summer after his 3rd tour as a GP.
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I am glad that you and militarymd responded with honesty to my post. If what you say is true, I will not seek a military scholarship for two reasons: One every recruiter I've spoken with (4 altogether) all gave the indication that some students do go straight through; either they all misunderstood me in the same manner or I they or they lied. Either way, that is not the way to recruit. I can take no for an answer, but when I ask a question, I exect an honest answer, not smoke.

Second, I am not comfortable with idea of waiting any longer than is necessary so I will just borrow the money and take the more traditional route.
Thanks for you replies; they were greatly appreciated.
I asked the dentist on my ship and she said that she know of 2 people from her year group that went straight through but that most do not. She also said that most want to avoid any further committment, so they don't apply to go for follow-on training. She did know of some who applied and didn't get it too. Hard to say what the odds would be. Also, most Navy dentists are counting the days till they can get out.
I'm sure "some" go straight through, but the majority do not. They have to apply to a graduate medical education selection board. Say there are 2 slots and only 2 people apply, everyone gets a position, even right out of school/internship. If there are 2 slots and 4 applicants, if all are equally qualified, then the guys with fleet time take precedence over those without. However, if there are 2 slots and 4 applicants, someone could get a program immediately if their competition is poor, i.e. bad fitreps/njp or you are a shining candidate.

I'll use FP and rads for a navy example, please don't blast me on this. Interns were matching straight into FP residencies this year, because Family Practice isn't a sought after residency right now. Less competition, or in some instances, more positions than applicants. If you are a qualified intern, you will likely match straight through. If you tried to match radiology right out of internship you are wasting your time, because there are so many qualified applicants in the GMO pool, that they don't need to look at student/intern applications.

I don't know if you can do a civilian deferrment for dental programs. Can anyone input on that? Then your dental school is paid for, you would go straight into your residency, but your payback clock would not start until you report for active duty.
The question you asked is a good one. I asked the same question myself to the recruiter, and I was told that I could, however, given the info I have received from this post and others similar to it, I am not sure. This is what makes the process discouraging: I simply am not comfortable "rolling the dice" as so many others on this forum have stated with the military and their needs. I understand that with a HPSP they invest a great deal of money into a student, but we as students have also invested time and money in ourselves as well.

Let's face it, a dentist or physician spends some of the best years of their lives in education and training. In the end, borrowed money can be repaid and money lost through years of education can be made up, but time cannot be recycled.

I am pretty sure that there are plenty of great dentist in the military branches, and I wouldn't mind being one of them and not just for the scholarship either since I think it is a great way to give back to the country. But I will be just as honest with you as I am with myself when I admit that I would become frustrated if I was kept from completing a civilian or military residency just because of something I couldn't control.

I don't mind competing with others, but if I do earn I spot, I would like to complete it. Afterwards, I would have no problem giving Uncle Sam back what he wants. Clearly, there are no guarantees in anything, and the military is no different. If I were a betting man, I would say that I won't try it, just to avoid the potential debacle.

Thanks for the reply and insight. It was greatly appreciated.
Well, you can get a civilian deferment to do a residency from dental school, but it's not easy. And I'm not sure how PBD 712 changes this. My husband went from dental school straight to a civilian perio residency. A million people in the military told us the only way for us to assure to be together (our main reason for civilian residency) was for me to join the military too (I'm internal medicine).

Basically it boils down whether the navy needs periodontists/oral surgeons/etc and as always there are no guarantees. If you know you want to do oral surgery then probably you should avoid HPSP. Unless you don't mind waiting... +pity+