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ROTC student deciding between Navy or Army

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by OkiDoki, May 25, 2008.

  1. OkiDoki

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    Hello,
    I'm a soon-to-be high school graduate who has a major decision to make in the next couple of weeks. I've been awarded the Army ROTC (Pre-Med)scholarship, but recently I've been doing a lot of thinking.
    I've taken the entire Memorial Day weekend so far to read through hundreds of posts on this forum. From what I've gathered, military medicine is highly stressful with very little benefits. With that being said, I still want to join the military medical corps, because I really, really want to a) help the troops and b) be an officer, but I'm having trouble deciding between sticking with my Army ROTC scholarship or declining that for Navy ROTC (as a nonscholarship cadet), and then going for the scholarship after the first year or so. At first, I was all set on going Army, but factoring in things like base locations (I've never been away from a coast. Ever) and being around Marines, my mind has been drifting over to the Navy side more often these days.
    My father is a now retired Marine, I've lived around Marines all my life, and my mentors in high school were my two Marine Corps JROTC instructors. The only reason I'm not gunning for Marine officership is because I also want to be an anesthesiologist. I figure the next best thing would be to treat and provide support for them.

    Not to say that treating soldiers would be a bad thing, not at all, but I've grown up with Marines and love the community.

    One more thing. I was born and raised on Okinawa, Japan for about 13 of my 18 years...so I'm going to miss it terribly when I get to Minnesota. What are the chances of being stationed at Torii Station at some point if I become an Army doctor? I'm assuming it isn't that hard as a Navy doc with all the Marines here, so my question for the Navy side is what are my chances of getting stationed in Hawaii? I guess this question can apply for Army as well since the one time I had to go to Tripler for surgery, I fell in love with the hospital.

    If anyone can explain to me the differences between Army and Navy in terms of medical training, lifestyle, deployment, quality of bases/housing, that would be great. Would it be worth taking out loans for a year or two my Freshman and Sophomore year of college if I choose to go the Navy ROTC route? The university I'm going to attend is pretty expensive and I'm unfamiliar with Navy programs that help with loan payments.

    And is Navy medicine seriously that bad? When I looked through the archives, the only negative posts I've seen were on Navy and the Air Force. Very little to no complaints that I've seen on the Army. Why is that?

    Thanks in advance. I'm planning on spending a good portion of my life in the military. I just want to make sure whatever branch I choose would be the right fit for me, ya know? I don't want to go Army and discover I would've been happier in the Navy, or vice versa.
     
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  3. OkiDoki

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    Ouch, yeah, I didn't factor in the HPSP/USUHS, which I would definitely have to apply for...

    While I AM planning on making it a career, I also want the choice to get out just incase. I don't, and I don't think any student really understands the enormity of signing one's life away on that piece of paper, and while I would gladly serve for a long, long time, I'm also a cautious person by nature, so I want to have other options years down the road...

    Does the military offer any programs to assist with loan repayments, or will the payments I get with programs like FAP or HPSP be adequate enough for me to start paying back my undergrad loans (+ med school loans if I choose the FAP route, if I understand correctly how it works)? I'm more concerned with undergrad loans than med school loans, honestly.

    If I choose to opt out of ROTC (which is probably a good idea with all the crazy classes I'm planning on taking...), then with the assumption that I'm paying all of my fees, it'll equal 160,000.

    Man, this is tough. :eek:
     
  4. Galo

    Galo Senior Member
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    My advice is to take it easy. You really do not know what will change in your life over the next 4 years. Do not lock yourself into only one door, and close all the others. Military medicine is in bad shape right now, and not likely to get better. What you should be concentrating on in your academics, and being able to get into med school. If you are a good student getting an HPSP scholarship will be a breeze, and 4 years from now you will be able to keep up with what's happened to military medicine, not only from this forum but by talking to active duty docs when your time gets closer to make a decision. Also, you have 4 yrs of med school, and you really won't know about anesthesia till sometime in your 3-4th year. So do not lock yourself into anything that limits your opportunities.

    Best of luck
     
  5. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    This is an inexperienced opinion, since I didn't do ROTC and I'm just starting medical school. Anyway... yeah, I don't see ROTC as being particularly conducive to the medical admissions process. It takes up a bunch of time that you won't have (not if you want to ever sleep/have fun), and more or less eliminiates your options for second chances if you don't get in the first time (second chances which a whole lot of medical students, including myself, needed to get in). Of course even if you do then get in, and get permission to go to medical school, you take HPSP and are obligated for a minimum of 8 years post residency (if you get a residency). That's a lot for a system you've never worked with, however much you might have observed growing up around the system.

    So, yeah, my vote would be to wait until you get into medical school and then do HPSP (or FAP, or HPCP).


    This may be an erroneous assumption. Did you apply for financial aid? It's pretty rare for you'd acually end up paying the full tuition for the school.
     
  6. colbgw02

    colbgw02 Delightfully Tacky

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    I did ROTC. If you already know that you want to go to medical school, then there are only two compelling reasons to accept an ROTC "scholarship". And they're not completely unrelated, so I'll call them 1A and 1B...

    1A) If you really want to go to a college that you could not afford without ROTC.

    1B) If you have a high degree of confidence that you will attend a medical school that is less expensive than your college.

    The caveat to these two situations is that if you intend on accepting HPSP anyway, then it doesn't really matter.
     
  7. Mirror Form

    Mirror Form Thyroid Storm

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    OkiDoki,

    Is your goal to be a doctor, or be an officer, or both? If you get into medical school, the military will literally be throwing scholarships at you. So don't think that ROTC is your only option for becoming a medical corps officer.

    Whereas, doing ROTC will be make getting into medical school more challenging, and will significantly limit your options in many ways.

    So, if you're goal is to be a doctor, or to be both a doctor and an officer, then avoid doing ROTC. You can take an HPSP scholarship or do USUHS later.
     
  8. a1qwerty55

    a1qwerty55 Attending

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    My opinion here, based on my service to date. I have generally enjoyed my service as an Army physician, and for the most part don't have major regrets.

    Army and Navy have more capable and robust medical departments. The Army offers more training opportunities without having to do a GMO. If however you are gung-ho to work with Marines, a GMO tour with the Marines might not be bad for you. The Navy is much more hung up on rank structure and protocol that the Army. As an aside, as a high schooler, I was going Navy ROTC and was in your situation and went with the Army scholarship. In retrospect (for me) choosing the Army over the Navy, was a very good decision given the type of medicine I practice.

    If you take a 4yr scholarship, you are giving the military a real deal, as there is no way they could recruit a physician for the paltry monthly, stipend, books and tuition you receive as an ROTC cadet/midshipman. Had I not taken a scholarship, I would have much more leverage on the military and could have left the service or signed a reenlistment bonus earlier in my career. Having gone to a fairly cheap school, I can't believe what a great deal the military got. In my case for a roughly 20K investment, the military got a doc for 4 years.

    As much as I am one of the more positive posters here, I think very strong arguments can be made for forgoing the ROTC scholarship unless your school is super expensive or as another mentioned, you cannot otherwise attend. As far as Army or Navy, each has positives and negatives, you have to figure out which suits your personality/goals.

    Good luck either way. If you do or do not take it, things will work out for you.
     
  9. OkiDoki

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    Thanks everyone, I really mean it. I wasn't expecting this much response.
    Anyways, I decided to apply for this small school at my home state (Georgia) that has an unusually late admissions deadline. Public, in-state tuition, + the probability of getting the HOPE scholarship later, so I should be good to go. Thank God I was randomly shuffling through my old college brochures last night, because I completely forgot about it. :oops: I'll just do a year or two there and then apply for a transfer into University of Georgia, without distractions.

    I talked to my MCJROTC instructor this afternoon and even he thought I really shouldn't take the ROTC scholarship. Even though I'm dead sure I want to be both an officer AND a doctor for 20+ years, I also want to be able to make that decision to stay or leave every few years. After all, I will be giving up the best years of my life in order to serve, right? So yeah, I'm turning it down. When med school rolls around, I'll look into the various programs offered. 'Till then, I'll just study and work hard.

    I never would have known anything about all of this without this site. You guys are awesome. Thank you again. :D
     
  10. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    Apply for a transfer to Georgia Tech. You know, the Georgia school that doesn't have a degree in Playground Management?
     
  11. colbgw02

    colbgw02 Delightfully Tacky

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    Yeah, especially if you don't enjoy the company of attractive females. Georgia Tech's a great school, but...oh man.
     
  12. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    If you're dumb enough to date within the school, you're too dumb to be there in the first place. Georgia State is right across the street, and those girls don't particularly want to date Georgia State guys. If you need a little more desperation to give you an edge, drop by the all girls colleges of Brenau and Agnes Scott.

    It is definitely funny watching the non-Greek freshmen turn blue trying to figure this out.
     
  13. OkiDoki

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    Uum, I'm a girl. :p

    Wait, I don't get it. Is UGA not a good school? I heard it was pretty nice. :confused: I don't particularly want to be in Atlanta, but Georgia Tech is going to be one of my other choices anyway, since it makes no sense applying for transfer to just one school.
     
  14. NavyFP

    NavyFP Senior Member

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    There is nothing wrong with UGA. Both UGA and GT will give you a fine education.
     
  15. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    I went to Tech, if you can't tell.

    Seriously, they're both excellent schools. The general consensus is that Georgia Tech is better for after you graduate (higher stats for entering students, better research/work opportunities, better programs in the sciences, higher starting salaries per major) which Georgia is more fun while you're currently attending (more parties, college town, if you're a guy at Tech you have to deal with the 2:1 ratio of men to women). None of these are deal breakers, of course. Georgia still has pretty high starting salaries and plenty of research, Georgia Tech was still plenty fun.

    That's assuming you're planning on majoring in the sciences, of course. If you want to major in the liberal or fine arts (or in Playground Management, I wasn't kidding about that being a degree) you're going to be apply to UGA, since majors in the liberal arts generally aren't offered at Georgia Tech. There are a handful of liberal arts programs that aren't very good, and resepected degrees in International Affairs and Management, but that's about it.

    So, both good schools, but Georgia Tech is better.
     
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  17. clockwork09

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    I heard from somewhere that the Navy only accepts just a few from the NROTC program to go on to medical school and become physicians. Is this true? So would I really have a better chance at becoming a Navy Doctor by just waiting until medical school to get help from the Navy? I plan on staying in my home state (mississippi) or either going to a public university out of state (auburn univeristy, maybe) for my undergraduate studies, so school won't be horribly expensive for me (still expensive though).

    So is NROTC really worth it for a pre med who's NOT going to be paying a horrific amount of money for school (much less than 20k per year)? And would the Navy be more partial to give medical school scholarships/aid to their brand spanking new just commissioned NROTC officers than to someone who didn't do NROTC? I would love to get all this sorted out before I go to the trouble of applying for a NROTC scholarship. :)
     
  18. Kingfisher

    Kingfisher Active contact

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    1. As of a couple of years ago they offered 25 ROTC guys per year the opportunity to try for med school. (I don't know if it still is the same)

    2. Only you will be able to decide if it is worth it.

    3. The Navy HPSP is not more likely to accept ROTC types. It all depends on the applicant.

    4. Good luck.
     
  19. SirGecko

    SirGecko Go Navy

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    As an NROTC midshippman currently applying to medical school I'd say: don't do NROTC if your major desire is medicine (not naval service). NROTC is about making Naval officers, if you happen to get medical corps in the process then good for you but noone will bend over backwards to make it happen for you.

    That said they allow up to 25 people each year to apply to medical school each year. Past years they haven't filled these slots; I belive 2007 had 22 people. I think the major thing you have to consider is how much NROTC will take out of your ability to maximize your application. Summer training really disrupts your summer and stuff during the year can be a real distraction. (hurting both medical activities and GPA)

    Do NROTC only if you are passionate about being a Naval officer. You have to be happy doing something else besided med corps. If that is the case then go for it.
     

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