ZAZA67401

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Has anyone here ever done the PHS Costep program? If so where did you go? Can you go anywhere? How long of a committment is it? And what year of school did you do it? What was the experience like? What did you gain from the experience.
 
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ZAZA67401

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No one has done this?

Also is anyone thinking of joining the PHS/IHS after they graduate? I would do the health scholars program but I fear being obligated to the program and then having being assigned to some far off remote place. I figure by just working for the IHS when I finish residency that at least a benefit is that they pay back I think something like 30000/year in loans. I know its not as good a deal as being a health scholar but still this way you are not obligated...Any thoughts from someone out there? Please?
 

Moxxie

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I am seriously considering doing the PHS/IHS thing - perhaps even getting in while I'm in school. I see a number of benefits to the program, but I'm not sure about the commitment that they require and how easy it is to choose your location. I also am confused over what type of role pharmacists play in the PHS - is it purely dispensary or are there clinical elements?

So I second ZAZA - anyone here participated in these programs?
 
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ZAZA67401

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Well, I guess no one has done it? Maybe someone will eventually see this who has done it before. I guess my main reason to be hesitant about doing the PHS/IHS is my assumption that there will be a lot of bureaucratic stuff to come along with it too. Otherwise I think it would awesome to work in underpriveliged sites and really help those whom need healthcare the most. Hopefully someone will have some insight eventually for us?
 

flounder

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Wow! It's great to see there's interest in PHS (and the first time I've felt compelled to write). I currently work for USDA but would love to get back into the PHS some day - I only see advantages. I participated in the JrCostep program for my graduate school internship (MS-Industrial Hygiene) the summer of 2002, which to date, was unequivocally the best summer of my life. I worked in Fairbanks, Alaska for IHS Office of Environmental Health. (I essentially got to pick from about 5 locations where IHS is active.) It was a small office of 2 environmental engineers and 2 environmental health specialists. They worked with Native Alaskans in sanitation issues, drinking water and sewage and general compliance. I travelled to remote villages in the interior (by small plane) and provided training on how to write drinking water reports for EPA. Plus I worked as a lay vaccinator in their rabies control program (imagine all the sled dogs). The highlight was a week-long trip down the Yukon River visiting summer residents along the fish camps (think big salmon). I have only the BEST things to say about my experience, the program, the philosophy, the Native Alaskans, and co-workers. Two of the guys in the office had been Peace Corps Volunteers (one currently living in Saipan still with PHS) and another girl later volunteered with IRC in the Congo and is now at Johns Hopkins - the point is they are humanitarian-oriented, and just phenomenally cool people. The only drawback is while visiting the military base (to get ID & physical exam) there was a lot of unfamiliarity with PHS and realizing it is part of the Uniformed Services and thus entitled to all of those military privileges. And see? That's nothing. I'm happy to answer more specific questions or get you in touch with people who have a career in PHS. Best of luck!
 

alina_s

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I did the Jr Costep in the summer between 1st and 2nd years of medical school. Maybe the previous poster had some connections? Or other people in the grad program had done Costep? I had a good experience but finding a position was certainly a do-it-yourself operation. I don't know where the general application goes but I heard absolutely nothing from anyone after submitting it. I e-mailed assorted IHS offices and found someone in Montana who needed a summer research assistant. After everything had been settled in Montana, I needed to re-submit everything to both Montana and Washington, DC. But besides the bureacracy, it was a good experience- the IHS staff were interested in getting some work out of me but also showing how the system worked, getting familiar with some of the local culture, what the major health issues were. And it paid extremely well for a brief summer job. Take note, though, that the USPHS makes you an inactive member (read: draftable) by default after you finish. They haven't called anyone up since Korea but with the current situation...
As far as financing medical school, I would not recommend the NHSC. I think it's probably a better deal to take out the loans and then look for repayment options after residency. The NHSC reserves the right to change the rules after you've signed the contract and I will probably end up working in a position that 1) isn't at all why I signed up and 2) doesn't help with my career goals.
 

BattlAngl99

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Mar 14, 2006
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This is 2 years later but I thought someone might benefit so I'm posting up what I know.

1st - There are 2 COSTEP programs, the JRCOSTEP and the SRCOSTEP. The JRCOSTEP is like an internship and is completely non-obligational. You have to fulfill a minimum of 31 days and a maximum of 120 days. The SRCOSTEP is something you apply for during your 3rd year of school (given a 4 year program) and if you are selected for a site, they pay you at salary for a certain amount of time during your 4th year (depends on when you were selected). So let's say a salary for a pharmacist is 50K (that's an estimate, I actually have no idea.) That means for let's say, 10 months of your last year in pharmacy school (August-May), you'll be getting paid a salary of 50K. The caveat is that because the USPHS paid you for 10 months, you then have to give them twice that amount in return. Meaning you have to go work at the site that sponsored you for a minimum of 20 months.

2nd - I'm a PharmD student and did a JRCOSTEP the summer after my 2nd year. For Pharmacy students, that's the earliest you can do it although I think for Med students it may be after your 1st year, so it varies based on program. The way the selection process works is that you fill out the application and on it indicate which agencies you'd like to work for (FDA, IHS, etc.) and then later on if a PHS officer sees your application and wants you to work for them then they'll contact you. Be cognisant that the application for a summer COSTEP is DEC 31st, and is different for a fall and spring COSTEP.

3rd - My JRCOSTEP was at IHS Headquarters in Rockville. Theoretically, you could go anywhere but that depends on if someone selects you, so it's not really up to you. You can always turn down an offer and hope that another agency selects you (my friend turned down an offer from IHS and then received and accepted another offer from FDA) so if you're really gung ho for one agency then that's an option, but a second offer is never guaranteed. Finally, if you want to read about past experiences, you can do so here: www.hhs.gov/pharmacy/costep97

And lastly - I love the Public Health Service and definitely hope to sign on after graduating!!
 
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montessori2md

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Look at the JrCOSTEP info on the site. The pay is good, and they're pretty flexible, but they only accept about 1/2 the applicants. Contact their coordinator listed on the site -he's very helpful about telling you exactly what to do, and right now is the time to be doing the paperwork if you're interested. He suggested having an idea of what you want, and a personal statement to that effect, helped them decide whether or not they could use you.
 
Apr 19, 2009
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I did the JRCOSTEP program during my sophomore and junior year of college (Summer 2000). At the time I was an Engineering student. I was located on a reservation in Montana. It was a great experience. The pay was great and I enjoyed the experience that I had. Would I do it again, of course. Now that I changed careers I would love to get back into the PHS corp.
 

sunset823

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Jun 4, 2006
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I'll be an incoming med student in 2009 and I am extremely interested in both the JRCOSTEP and SRCOSTEP programs of PHS - I had a couple of questions:

1) For the JRCOSTEP program, the site says you should have completed at least a year of medical school, but a post above said you have to apply by Dec 31 of the year you want to go for a summer placement - I'm assuming you can apply in December of your first year of school for a summer placement after you finish your first year?

2) Even if you do JRCOSTEP, are you still eligible for SRCOSTEP as well?
 

235750

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hi everyone! I have a question regarding the process:

Where's the application?

If I click on the 'Application' link under 'JRCOSTEP Application', it takes me to the Electronic Call to Active Duty (eCAD) which has 3 forms, and none of those mention JRCOSTEP at all

Thanks!

EDIT: Ah I see it now, it's a box I have to tick! Sorry
 
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Anastasis

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I (finally) found a COSTEP position that really fit me and all I can say is network network network. I was told repeatedly that it's hard for medical students to find positions (I have no idea why) so it took lots of calling/emailing and being introduced down a chain of people to find a position but the upside is that the position is *perfect* for me. (My mentor literally got my email/CV three times: once from me and twice as a forward from other people.)

Hope that helps someone!
 
Mar 26, 2010
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I'm not a medical student, I'm actually studying for a career in the IT field, but I applied to JRCOSTEP recently and I've yet to meet anyone in the PHS. I'm not sure what the deadline is, if any, but I was recently told that they're in selections right now and they haven't even received all of my papers first, so I probably missed the boat for this round. Oh well, I might as well get started on my SRCOSTEPS package now.
 

montessori2md

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I'm not a medical student, I'm actually studying for a career in the IT field, but I applied to JRCOSTEP recently and I've yet to meet anyone in the PHS. I'm not sure what the deadline is, if any, but I was recently told that they're in selections right now and they haven't even received all of my papers first, so I probably missed the boat for this round. Oh well, I might as well get started on my SRCOSTEPS package now.
You need to phone the contact on the website and ask for assistance in seeking a position that is funded. Submitting an app without speaking to a person is pretty useless.
 
Mar 26, 2010
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Sure would've been nice if they'd stated that on their website, but I'll call them up Monday and see if they have anything for computer geeks. Thanks.
 
Mar 26, 2010
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Just talked to a recruiter, and they said that you don't need to call ahead to seek out assignments before applying. You just fill out an application and submit it with the requisite paperwork, and if you're selected then you'll be contacted with whatever opportunities are available. I also found out that I won't need to submit more reference forms with my SRCOSTEP package. That's a relief!
 
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