Placement at medical units as a physician in the Army Medical Corps

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May 31, 2021
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I'm prior enlisted and had essentially no say over where I went while I served. Can someone give a rundown of how unit placement works in the Army's Medical Corps? I was considering joining again after residency. Directing me to the proper resources works as well--all I can really find is information on how to become a physician in the military.

For instance, the idea of serving on an FRST intrigues me. Is there a way before commissioning that I could guarantee which unit I would be assigned to (perhaps with sponsorship of the unit)? Or is it something I write my preferences and it's based on the needs of the Army thereafter?

I have a strong distrust of recruiters, especially enlisted recruiters who have not gone through such a process.


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Give some details about where you are in the process: college student, med school applicant, med student, intern/resident, physician attending. If already residency-trained, specify in what. Your post doesn't give enough information.

Medical officer placement--detailing--is very dependent on where you are in your career path. If you are being sent to a hospital as a fully-trained specialist, you will be in contact with a specialty detailer (and probably staff presently at the prospective assignment facility) about the job. Sometimes you get a choice, but sometimes the choices are very limited by issues of critical need at a particular facility or lack of support for a specialist despite your interest. Frequently you will have a significant amount of lead time to know where available assignments will be when you are ready to move and can consider and prepare. But there are exceptions, and sometimes options open and close at inconveniently late stages.

I have heard of instances where a potential accession was guaranteed a specific job (neurosurgeon) as an attending at a specific center (Walter Reed), but that individual had considerable leverage since he didn't owe the military any payback and he was coming from a highly-rated program (Harvard, IIRC). And that happened a long time ago. So contracts that specify where you will work can be made, but they are pretty rare.
@orbitsurgMD I Should have clarified - current medical student. I will be under no obligation (ie no HPSP, FAP, etc). This would be joining without any payback owed, and I am looking to go into either a surgical subspecialty or general surgery.

That info did help a lot. So it sounds like my last few year or so of residency, I can start reaching out to detailers (and staff at prospective assignment) to enquire about opportunities I would be interested in? Does this similar principle apply to field medical units?

Thanks again.