Questions about Air Force medicine that I can't find recent answers for.

  • SDN Site Updates

    Hey everyone! The site will be down for approximately 2 hours on Thursday, August 5th for site updates.

  • How To ACE Your Medical School Interview

    In this webinar hosted by SDN with experts from BeMo Academic Consulting, you will learn a simple five-step process to help you translate your interview invitation into an acceptance.

Apr 24, 2012
4
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
I am new to this, but I have so many questions that I can't find recent answers for. Please don't get angry if you know of a forum that answers my question. You can just point me in that direction. I have spent several hours looking for answers and didn't find all the answers I am looking for.

First off, I am a premed student, half-way done with my undergrad. I know I want to go to med-school and I have been thinking about going into the military for the past 3 years now. I have always known I wanted to help people since I was very young.

I try to get involved in as much as possible (volunteering, student medical society, honor societies and so on) and I have a pretty good gpa (3.7). I haven't taken MCATs yet.

I have been looking into the air force hpsp scholarship and being an orthopedic surgeon. I know that the orthopedic residency is 5 years, maybe longer if I want to specialize in spinal surgery. So I guess my questions would be....

1. How competitive is orthopedic surgery in the Air Force(recently)? Is it possible to specialize in spinal surgery or other specialty area?

2. I know everyone says not to base your decision on pay (but long story short, I didn't have much growing up and want to make sure my kids never experience that. I want to give them everything I possibly can and in today's world that means making as much money as possible.) So would it be more beneficial to serve my four year commitment and get out and be a civilian doctor, or would I make more serving my 20 years and retiring from the Air Force? I feel like the new health care bill will really affect this.

3. Will I have more time to spend with my family being a military doctor or civilian doctor? I don't currently have any kids, but when I do I know they will be my whole world and I want to have time for them. (I know that in the civilian world you can kind of make your own schedule, but this also effects how much money you make.)

4. Is it hard to have a family and be a doctor in the military? (I know this has been answered other places but I want specific opinions of a current military doctor.)

5. Overall, do you have any regrets becoming a military doctor?

Thank you for your responses and I apologize for all the questions, I just can't find any recent threads on these topics and it seems like a lot is changing with the military and medical field.
 

MaximusD

Anatomically Incorrect
10+ Year Member
Aug 8, 2006
5,183
396
State of Delirium
www.lmgtfy.com
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
For the love of God, have you EVEN READ the new healthcare bill? I'm not answering any of your questions (mostly bc I'm not qualified-to), but the "new healthcare bill" does VERY LITTLE to effect the pay of doctors. FFS

And in most non-primary care specialties, if money is your driving motivator, there is a rather large pay gap between civilian pay and military pay...even with incentive and specialty pays. That said, I don't think you'll find a military doctor that starves or is hard-up for money.
 
Apr 24, 2012
4
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Nope, haven't read it. I have 6 current doctors in my family that say it could effect it big time and have heard many times that the bill is shrinking the gap between civilian and military physician pay. They even told me to really think about what I want to do because of it.

I figured I wouldn't run into jerks in this forum, unlike all the other ones... Wrong again. Why do you waste the time???
 
About the Ads

deuist

Stealthfully Sarcastic
15+ Year Member
Jun 14, 2004
4,536
447
Florida
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
Start here: http://lukeballard.tripod.com/HPSP.html

Ortho is competitive everywhere, and in the military, you may not be allowed to pursue a fellowship.

Military attending pay is 1/2-1/3 of civilian attending pay.

Family life is difficult for many specialties no matter where you practice, but it's even harder if you're deployed or being forced to move every few years.
 
2

244913

Start here: http://lukeballard.tripod.com/HPSP.html

Ortho is competitive everywhere, and in the military, you may not be allowed to pursue a fellowship.

Military attending pay is 1/2-1/3 of civilian attending pay.

Family life is difficult for many specialties no matter where you practice, but it's even harder if you're deployed or being forced to move every few years.

I mentioned this on another thread, but that website is both outdated and somewhat irrelevant. There is some decent info there on specifics (again, outdated) but the good CPT Ballard did not exactly have the typical path through AF Med. No flight surgeon tour, civilian deferred for Radiology to OHSU, and at the time of his last posting was still in residency. Of course the dude liked the AF. He would have to have been an even bigger misanthrope than yours truly to be dissatisfied with his circumstances at that particular juncture.

OP, to address your questions

1.Orthopedics is competitive in the .Mil, probably moreso than civilian. If you are a competitive applicant with good scores hope for a civilian deferment. Then again, they might bend your class over like they did the 2007 folks and ram a bunch of you into flight surgeon slots. That's the thing with the .Mil. You are completely at their mercy and it is hard to predict what will happen in the next five minutes let alone the next 5 years.

2. Doing 4 years as a FS is not ideal and should not be your default going in, but you could do your time, and then apply to civilian ortho programs. Unless you do a surgical internship you'd have to redo that piece. A Military retirement is nothing to sneeze at but the pay differential between civilian and military orthopedics is so disparate that with prudent investments and saving you'd likely be ahead of the game if you went civilian. Also, I can't imagine doing 20 years in the .Mil, especially the AF. They will bring the pain and they will bring it hard. I hope you like saluting 250 lb Nurses with chronic fatigue/fibromyaglia/"Lupus."

3. Family life. Hmmm. Divorce rate in my outfit for Officers is 70%. Enlisted > 80%. Deployments take a toll. Your kids might very well hate you and your wife will in all likelihood express her distaste for your vocation by gaining prodigious amounts of weight. She might also not enjoy living in some of the choice locations the military offers like Minot, North Dakota, and Fort Polk Louisiana.

4. See above

5. I don't regret joining the Military. I do wish I had more information at my fingertips back then so I could have made an informed decision. My med school was cheap and I feel like the .Mil really got a sweetheart deal. I've spent my entire time operational as a flight surgeon which has upsides and downsides. No nurses or hospital crazymakers but a lot of sick call, administrative B.S. and possibly irreversible cerebral atrophy. Deployments were interesting but spending half of your commitment in Afghanistan hasn't been "ideal." I'm out in less than a year and off to my dream civilian specialty.

I've said this before, but I would only encourage you to join the .Mil if you are comfortable seeing yourself as an "Officer first" and are prepared to delay your training for 3-4 years. Doing the .Mil for money, mistaken assumptions about family life, payscales (??!!!) is a fool's errand.

** If you go to a crappy and expensive DO school then the HPSP might bear fruit- opens up training opportunities and wipes away tremendous debt **

-61N
 

oneyearwonder

Full Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2008
44
0
Status (Visible)
Family life is difficult for many specialties no matter where you practice, but it's even harder if you're deployed or being forced to move every few years.

It's not ARMY (insert USAF, USN here) STRONG, it's ARMY(insert USAF, USN here) WIFE STRONG
.
It may not be a big deal now if you join while you're single, but when you sign up, you're looking at active duty projections 10+years from now. N.Korea? Iran? who knows.

It is an honor to serve your country, but it is sacrifice. Even if you don't get stuck in GMOville (which will never go away unless outlawed explicitly), you'll deploy and move to places that may not be cool.

Many premeds think we're all just a bitter bunch of old former GMOs or surgeons, etc, but I think we were just ignorant back then. Our recruiters were ignorant too, and many were making stuff up to appease us so we'd sign, and they'd get their bonuses.

My most bitter days on active duty .milmed were whenever I thought about money/HPSP. my best days were when I focused on my mission to keep aircrew healthy, even if it meant nonmedical people told me what to do and where to go and how to live.

I still like airplanes but could get my fix by learning to fly without the 95% of the other charlie foxtrots that go along with it.

I'm glad this site is here to counter any rosy colored projections that may pop up. This is reality.

Proud to serve, (just glad it's over)

Oneyearwonder
location--civilian residency of dreams
status--out of IRR
 

oneyearwonder

Full Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2008
44
0
Status (Visible)
** If you go to a crappy and expensive DO school then the HPSP might bear fruit- opens up training opportunities and wipes away tremendous debt **

-61N

attaboy, 61N, stirring the pot.

DO vs MD Thread hijack coming any second now, I can feel it!

--got my popcorn,
oneyearwonder
 

a1qwerty55

Attending
10+ Year Member
Aug 16, 2006
708
33
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
I am new to this, but I have so many questions that I can't find recent answers for. Please don't get angry if you know of a forum that answers my question. You can just point me in that direction. I have spent several hours looking for answers and didn't find all the answers I am looking for.

First off, I am a premed student, half-way done with my undergrad. I know I want to go to med-school and I have been thinking about going into the military for the past 3 years now. I have always known I wanted to help people since I was very young.

I try to get involved in as much as possible (volunteering, student medical society, honor societies and so on) and I have a pretty good gpa (3.7). I haven't taken MCATs yet.

I have been looking into the air force hpsp scholarship and being an orthopedic surgeon. I know that the orthopedic residency is 5 years, maybe longer if I want to specialize in spinal surgery. So I guess my questions would be....

1. How competitive is orthopedic surgery in the Air Force(recently)? Is it possible to specialize in spinal surgery or other specialty area? (in other words, I'm not sure I can match civilian - and the AF seems like the less military of the services...)

2. I know everyone says not to base your decision on pay (but long story short, I didn't have much growing up and want to make sure my kids never experience that. I want to give them everything I possibly can and in today's world that means making as much money as possible.) You mean like a kiddie porsche or something - everything makes screwed up kids...

3. Will I have more time to spend with my family being a military doctor or civilian doctor? I don't currently have any kids, but when I do I know they will be my whole world and I want to have time for them. (I know that in the civilian world you can kind of make your own schedule, but this also effects how much money you make.) Translation - I don't really want to put in too many hours at work but want lots of money - help me beat the system.

4. Is it hard to have a family and be a doctor in the military? (I know this has been answered other places but I want specific opinions of a current military doctor.) Again - can I do this without any personal sacrifice?

5. Overall, do you have any regrets becoming a military doctor? Not really but I do look forward to getting out.

Thank you for your responses and I apologize for all the questions, I just can't find any recent threads on these topics and it seems like a lot is changing with the military and medical field.


Love
 

AFSurgeon

New Member
Apr 26, 2012
7
3
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
As an Air Force Surgeon, I would NOT sign up for HPSP. I know $200,000+ is a scary number, but it is NOT worth it. If you're really interested in it, you can always sign up after you've matched into residency finishing medical school. And if not, making 300k a year as an ortho surgeon, you only have to live off 100k your first year and you could theoretically pay off your med school loans in a year. What if you change your mind during med school about what specialty you want to go into (which most people do,) and the military doesn't have any forecasted spots in that specialty your year? You'll be screwed. Regardless, I feel nobody applying to med school can grasp the ramifications of this decision (signing up for the military post-residency) that will affect you for the next 12+ years.

I am counting down the days til my separation from the military, and the vast majority of surgeons I know are as well. Talk to an actual physician that has been through the process, they'll tell you how it is. Probably 9 out of every 10 people who have done HPSP get out right away after their 3 or 4 years is completed; that should tell you something. The recruiter will tell you what you want to hear. Going into ortho, not only do you have to be able to match into a residency, but the AF has to give you the permission to apply. Secondly, you will likely get stationed to a place you do not want to be at, and the only way to change locations is if you agree to more time. Many graduating from med school will be forced to be a "flight surgeon," i.e. general medical officer, where you will have to start residency AFTER paying your time back. While practicing, you will feel like you are getting bent over again and again, and there will be many pointless "administrative" responsabilities. Trying to get anything accomplished in your clinic will be completely your responsability.

There are positives, such as having the opportunity to serve your country during your deployment, but when you're not on deployment getting that sense of reward, you will be very bitter and regret the day you signed on the dotted line.
 
About the Ads
This thread is more than 9 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.