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Remaining HPSP Questions before I sign

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by NJEMT1, Apr 3, 2004.

  1. NJEMT1

    NJEMT1 Member
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    Everyone on this site has been SO wonderful and helpful. Studentdoctor.net has definitely been one of my main info sources while learning about military medicine and HPSP. So I've gotten into the Air Force and signed a letter of acceptance (my recruiter says I won't get the actual contract until after my background check is completed). AF is my first choice, although I applied through the Army also (and haven't heard from them yet). Before I sign the *final* papers with the AF I have some remaining questions.

    1) Deployments - Based on information on this site, it?s clear now that when the AF recruiter says deployments will be not more than 60 days every 15 months unless waived, this information is false. For how long and how frequently should I expect do deploy? (I?m not saying I don?t want to deploy, I just want to know what I?m signing up for.) My recruiter also says that AF doctors are currently still using this regular deployment schedule ? is this false as well?

    2) IRR -My unofficial contract and AF recruiter both say that I will server my IRR time after my 4 years of active duty payback. The Luke Ballard website (AF) says that IRR time is usually served concurrently with med school ? so has the policy changed? I will be considered active duty reserve during med school. The Army recruiter told me that if I do a military residency than the time served in military residency will count toward IRR. I am planning to go AF, but am just wondering if this was true (since it definitely will not be true for me in the AF). Also, have doctors been called up from the IRR during the current situation in Iraq? Recruiter claims AF hasn?t called IRR since 1947.

    3) AF recruiter says that the AF is a safer choice (however safe you can be while on military deployment) bc they don?t have front line hospitals. He says there are no AF doctors in Iraq, only Army, but that AF will go everywhere else. Is this true about Iraq? (My parents would like to hear that it?s true, but I will do what I have to do?)

    4) Pregnancy - How does this work? Recruiter says I will get 3 weeks. What happens though during the end of a pregnancy if I wasn?t well and unable to work? (although I have no reason to anticipate this happening?) Would this time be tacked on to the end of the 4 yr obligation? My recruiter says no problem bc you get unlimited sick days, but this seems VERY hard to believe.

    5) I heard somewhere you can get paid more by the military if you speak a foreign language. Any chance this applies to docs? (I majored in Spanish in college!)

    6) If I failed a class and had to repeat it, how does HPSP handle that? (hopefully this would never happen but I was wondering!) I imagine I would have to pay for it, but are there any other unforeseen repercussions ? besides looking bad for residency?

    7) Matching - I want to go into emergency medicine. I know from this site that EM will be a hard match, particularly in the air force. The captain (super nice, lovely nurse) who interviewed me for the scholarship looked into this and left me a message saying that last year 20 of 24 people who applied for EM got it. While that totally sucks for the 4 who didn?t get it, that?s a match rate of 83% - which overall doesn?t sound as terrible to me as I was anticipating (based on what I read here.) Do you think those #s are accurate? I realize that number is much lower than the 97% match rate the AFIT website boasts?

    8) Matching - Military residency is my first choice, but if it came down to civilian deferral for EM vs. no EM, I would want to do the civilian deferral?I know the Army has the unofficial policy of granting civilian deferrals to people who don?t match with the military in their first choice specialty. Is getting an AF civilian deferral highly unlikely? Are they known for not giving them?

    9) Matching - Is it current policy in the AF to reapply for PGY2 training and beyond? Someone I know in Army HPSP was just told by a visiting colonel that the Army is getting rid of that policy and now you can just sign a form during first year to continue on ? does AF have any such policy in the works? If I am specialty training and don?t match for PGY2 and I was doing a transitional yr, will I be a GMO? If I was doing a transitional year and I didn?t match, would I then be a GMO also? I read that the AF doesn?t really use GMO?s anymore, but I can?t see any other end result for these situations.

    9) I?m Jewish and wondering if any of you have come across other Jews doing HPSP. (This has no bearing on my doing the program, I?m just wondering?)

    THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ANYONE WILLING TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS!!!! Sorry for the long post... I am very excited about HPSP and the air force. I think it is a real opportunity for me. Even if I get answers I don?t like to these questions I plan to do the program, I just want to know what I?m getting into. Thanks!
     
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  3. cdreed

    cdreed Senior Member
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    In response to your questions:

    1. The "ideal" deployment schedule in the AF is that all personnel should be assigned to a 15 month rotation cycle wherein you could be deployed during a three month window for up to 90 days. Of course, military needs come first, and in a dire situation with shortages in any particular field, some personnel deploy more often and for longer time periods.

    2. I'm not sure about the IRR obligation. I was prior service and intend to stay until retirement... never an issue for me.

    3. AF does not have "front line" hospitals per se. Usually AF treatment facilities will be in the 2nd or 3rd echelon of care. But we do send in deployment teams with docs pretty close. If you are a gen surgeon, trauma doc or anesthesiologist, you will probably be closer to conflict than others. You may be assigned to CCAT (critical care team) or FAST (forward mobile surgical team) among many others. Once again, the AF is fairly utilitarian. The needs of the greater good trump those of the individual or minority.

    4. If you get pregnant, you will be put on restricted duty during your pregnancy. You will receive 6 weeks of maternity leave after the baby is born. If you have any complications during your pregnancy, your OB will have the option of further restricting your duties or putting you on convalescent leave, which means that you will not work. If called for, you may even be hospitalized with no detriment to your employment. These "con" leave days are not charged against your annual month of vacation leave.

    5. You can be paid more if you speak multiple languages. You will be tested, and if you meet minimum standards, you will qualify the extra pay.

    6. If you are having academic difficulties, you will have to coordinate with your AF program director. They have the option of dropping you from the scholarship, but to my knowledge this rarely happens. Usually, I think that the AF would rather have you on the 5 year extended plan.

    It has been my experience as well, that med schools do not want their students to fail. So if you're having problems, usually they will assign a tutor to assist you. This may vary by school.

    7 and 8. It is possible in the AF to receive a civilian deferment if you do not match into your specialty of choice in an AF residency.

    9. Not sure about this one.

    10. I have a friend at school who is Jewish. She is on the Navy HPSP.

    I was prior service AF for a short time before I received the HPSP and was separated to attend school. Feel free to ask me anything. I will answer as honestly and objectively as I can.

    Hope this adequately answers some of your inquiries.

    Cyndi
     
  4. NJEMT1

    NJEMT1 Member
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    Thanks Cyndi!!! I appreciate that you took the time to answer my questions. If anyone else can offer additional information, I would love to hear what you have to say. Thanks again!

    Lauren
     
  5. MeganRose

    MeganRose Senior Member
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    Hey Cyndi!

    To the OP:
    I agree with everything above. Some more thoughts:

    2. IRR, basically your name remains on a list for 4 years. In the past, the IRR was of no consequence-- when you fufilled your active contract, you basically had fufilled your contract. But I was on active duty when the war started and I met a guy that was months from getting off IRR and he was inprocessing (reentering into the Army) Once again, this was the Army and I have a tendency to believe what the recruiter said about no AF recall happening from the IRR since 1947.

    5. I don't know about the AF, but the Army no longer pays for Spanish (I was a spanish major too and they stopped paying me the bonus:-( My boyfriend speaks Russian and he does get the bonus. So I think that it might now be limited to non-romantic languages (or more likely just no bonus for Spanish speakers)

    7. I have an interest in EM as well and I'm AFHPSP. The armed services group at my school recently had a meeting on this so I'll share what I learned. The verbage may not be right but the gist is that EM is very difficult to match into, so that 83% seems kind of high. Still, the neat thing about HPSP is that you're almost guarenteed any field that you want by doing a stint as a flight surgeon (I think that this is synonymous with GMO tour-- can someone clarify the correct term for this two year period?)

    At any rate, its like a transitional year, only its two years long, doing FP-type duty. By doing this, you add "points" to your residency application almost guarenteeing you of the residency that you want. (matching in the military is done with application points, the person with the most points gets their pick of residencies. Points are awarded for things like board score, grades and prior military service) Like I said, the vocab may not be correct, but I know the concept is.

    Alternatively, I heard that you can chose just the residency that you want and indicate on the application that if you don't get a military match in your residency, then you want to do a civilian residency. I don't know the limitations on this, but I think its pretty much a case of if you can find a civilian residency that will accept you, the military will allow you to complete your residency training there (without the pay as a O-3 )'

    Bottomline: You can get most any residency you want, you just may have to add two years time to your total time to becoming a full-fledged physician or do a civilian residency

    I highly recommend HPSP. There is no better way to pay for school, esp if your school is particularly expensive. Still you have to be sure about where your head and your heart is at. Military life isn't for everyone. There can be a lot of politics and BS that you won't find in private sector. But there are tons of pluses as well. I was an AF brat and I had 6 months active duty Army (4 years reserve) so I know that this was where I wanted to be. As long as you understand and have a real desire to serve in the military, you can't go wrong. Recruiters *definitely* aren't your friend, so triple check everything you hear. You sound like youre being really smart about everything. Best of luck! PM me if you have any other questions.
     
  6. NJEMT1

    NJEMT1 Member
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    Thanks Megan for your help! I really appreciate the input. That is too bad about Spanish, I would imagine there would be many bases where the language would be useful. It is good to hear that there are good chances of getting the residency I want if I put more time in. Thanks again for your help!

    Also, I would like to ask my IRR question again to anyone who could answer for the Air Force. Is your time to be served after your payback obligation or concurrently with med school? Thanks!!!

    Lauren
     
  7. Globus P

    Globus P Senior Member
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    The IRR time you speak of is to be served after your active duty payback. The IRR while on at school is simply a category to place us HPSP folks in order to pay us (tuition and stipend). It's the bottom of the barrel default category, we're not active duty (except for 45 days/year), we're not ready reserves, we're in the lowest priority tier the military has.

    Once you finish your 4 years of payback, if you choose to separate from the service, then you will "payback" the IRR portion. This is NOT reserve duty, one weekend a month, 2 weeks each year type of duty. Basically if WW3 breaks out, the AF can recall you back to active duty. I don't think it happens often, if at all, even with the latest Gulf war. Recalling IRR personnel is a last ditch effort to save the country from the invading Huns. Things have to be pretty bad for IRR folks to be recalled. Simple as that, nothing to sweat. I wouldn't make it part of your HPSP decision making process.

    I'm Navy HPSP, but this policy is military wide, not service specific.
     
  8. tomplatz

    tomplatz Member
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    A friend of mine is a trauma surgeon who was HPSP (Navy). He was out for 7 years when Gulf War II broke out and got recalled and deployed with 48 hours notice. I think it depends on your specialty. If you're a super high value officer you can be recalled up to your 59th birthday I think, irrespective of time since discharge. At least that's what I remember my FTO saying at officer training.

    BTW, he's still over there. He was home for a month and then got sent out again. Tough times!
     
    TheEarDoc likes this.
  9. NJEMT1

    NJEMT1 Member
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    Thank you tomplatz and ToddE for answering my questions about IRR. I am going to follow the advice and not let the IRR time factor into my decision making (which has been to accept!!). In case anyone is interested, I had a really nice conversation on the phone today with a Lt Col/command flight surgeon who agrees that the AF hasn't called the IRR in a long time - not while he's been there. He also said AF docs ARE in Iraq, which was interesting, considering one of my recruiter's selling points was that the AF doc's weren't there. Anyway the doc was REALLY friendly and positive about AF medicine, so it looks like there are some happy people out there :)
     
  10. tomplatz

    tomplatz Member
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    Hey NJEMT1,

    Congratulations!!! I'm finishing 3rd year now and go on my 2nd ADT next month. Can't wait. For me this is absolutely the right decision, but it isn't for everyone. I think you did the right thing in asking a lot of folks for their opinions and then forming your own.

    As far as officer training goes, it's a blast. I had the best time and made some super friends. The positive attitude and camraderie are unbeatable.

    Congrats again and good luck in med school.
     
  11. NJEMT1

    NJEMT1 Member
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    Thanks Tom!!! I appreciate the support and I'm glad you're still happy with the program. I hope COT is as great for all of us new folks as it was for you!
     
  12. ltraptor

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    Where is the information coming from regarding the Army having an unofficial policy of granting civilian deferrals to people who don't match with the military in their first choice specialty? I always thought you were only permitted to do that in a residency they're short on, or have targeted. Does this unofficial policy tend to extend for civilian surgical residencies?
     
  13. TurtleDO2012

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    Talk about bringing a thread back from the dead...

    The Army grants the least amount of civilian deferrals for residency. If u don't match in the military you don't automatically get to apply civilian. A very small few people if any depending on the year may be allowed to try for a civilian residency. If u are the greatest thing since air u will likely do an army residency.

    There is no magical special policy. Any chance of deferral is determined based on projected needs and current capacity. It boils down to the consultant and the head of GME making the call which is a yearly decision. Out of 360 or so people my year I think 20 people were allowed to try for a civilian deferment. For surgical likely the only ones they may go with would be Ortho and general surgery. Both of the specialities have granted civilian deterrents previously.
     
  14. TheEarDoc

    TheEarDoc Audiologist
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    Actually a lot of folks in the IRR for many different MOS were brought out of IRR and forced to go when Iraq and Afghanistan occurred. Had a couple friends who had this happen. If you're IRR always be prepared for that phone call especially with the way we are gutting our troop numbers. If something bad happens (say Israel decides to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities and Russia steps for example) then we could be seeing another conflict with low troop numbers and needing docs from the IRR. Sure you'd probably be pulled to back fill someone who was state side who gets moved to the combat zone, but you never know.
     
  15. pgg

    pgg Laugh at me, will they?
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    Has there been even a single physician recalled from IRR since Saddam was hauled unshaven and unkempt from his spidey-hole?
     
  16. TheEarDoc

    TheEarDoc Audiologist
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    That I could not tell you. I know one of my friends was a nurse in AMEDD and the other was 68W combat medic. Both got yanked. I guess someone could ask an AMEDD recruiter or officer?
     
  17. IlDestriero

    IlDestriero Ether Man
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    During the war a hand surgeon was recalled from his new $$$ private practice job and it caused him a lot of problems as he had just spent all his money on a $2m house and a $150k car and found himself with a 90% pay cut.
    I didn't shed a tear for him though. ;)
     

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