bigtruckguy3500

10+ Year Member
Sep 30, 2009
761
70
Texas
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Medical Student
So I'm not even done with med school yet, but let's just say a lady-friend would like to know.

I was wondering if one of you could tell me what family life is like when you're in beyond your minimal commitment. I understand that while you're O-3/O-4 your primary job will be being a doctor and that can put you on long deployments, or can keep you at a shore duty station, or both, and that you could potentially have to relocate every 2 years. But, let's say I do a GMO tour, followed by residency (ER or Surgery hopefully), followed by another 4-5 years active duty, how much will I likely be deployed and PCSed. And then if I stay beyond my commitment, will anything change? What if I start taking on admin roles until I hit 20 years or beyond? How will the Navy utilize me then?

Thank you
 

pgg

Laugh at me, will they?
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Dec 15, 2005
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First and most important, no one on earth can really predict what military medicine will look like in 10-20 years. But here are my guesses as it pertains to career paths for doctors who stay for 20:


If you decide to stay for 20, you need to decide how much you want to be an O6 - to get there, you need to take on major admin (non-clinical) responsibilities which WILL significantly detract from your clinical time, regardless of specialty. It's a zero sum game.

If you decide that you'll be satisfied retiring as an O5, you can avoid a lot of that admin work. A O5 can have a very small collateral duty load if he doesn't care about O6 or his next set of orders. It may be harder to homestead at one place (extend and/or get repeat orders) if you're unwilling to play their admin game ... and you may have to be a little passive-aggressive to avoid playing. That's not a bridge that's easy to un-burn.

If you want to avoid PCS'ing and homestead someplace, you need to make your masters WANT to keep you there. I've seen requests to extend orders denied because the person making the request was viewed (fairly or unfairly) as a malcontent or simply a non-contributor to the admin side.

Gunning for O6 means admin work and often PCS'ing to smaller places where an O5 can take on a huge leadership role. You can't swing a dead cat at one of the big 3 Navy med centers without hitting an O5 and with so many of them there, rubbing shoulders with a similarly large sea of O6 people hogging the leadership positions, it can be really hard for them to stand out. In contrast, O5s and even O4s can get a seat at the board of directors table at small commands ...

Deployments are heavily specialty-dependent, not to mention war- or no-war-dependent. Peace isn't going to break out worldwide any time soon, but we're probably moving into a not-much-war period of time, for lots of reasons. I would expect O5 and O6 doctors to deploy less but not never. There will always be a fresh pool of O3 and O4 staff with short service committments and the Navy will be motivated to get its pound of deployment flesh out of them before they leave for good.
 
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bigtruckguy3500

10+ Year Member
Sep 30, 2009
761
70
Texas
Status
Medical Student
Thanks for your insight. As I'm looking to find someone to settle down with, I think it's important to make sure they understand what things may be like, even if I don't stay in for a full 20.