Switching from Military Medicine to the Public Health Service


10+ Year Member
Mar 13, 2005
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  1. Attending Physician
Does anyone have personal experience switching from the military medical corps to the public health service (PHS)?

I'm currently a military physician, but I cannot see me and my family living the military lifestyle for 20 years. However, I can see myself finishing off my military commitment and then switching to the PHS to finish 20 total years of uniformed service and earn my retirement/pension. The PHS seems to be a humanitarian organization madeup of many intellectuals, research-orientated, and more open-minded (more liberal and laid-back than military). It also seems to have significantly less deployments overseas. These qualities are definitely attractive to me. I'm especially interested in possibly serving as a PHS Medical Officer at the NIH, FDA, or CDC.

This topic has been posted in the military medicine forum, but only 1 person replied. So I thought I'd post it directly in the PHS forum.


Senior Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2002
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no luck with responses, eh? I'm wondering whether the USPHS is as mangled as the military is. I heard not-so-good things, vaguely, about the USPHS, about how docs are at a loss figuring out how to practice outside the PHS after a stint there.


New Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2007
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I didn't even know a PHS forum was even available. I think the PHS is the best kept secret in the medical community. I am a recent USUHS grad who went through the Indian Health Service of the USPHS and I have nothing but praises for this very small service (about 2,000-3,000 medical folks, not sure what percentage make up physicians but it is an all medical corps). For one, there is a common misconception that the PHS is solely for those looking to go into FP and internal medicine but I was surprised by the variety of specialties they were recruiting for: ENT, ophtho, rads, anesthesia, ortho, surg. In fact, they let me do derm. Another point to keep in mind is that many folks who have been in the PHS started during the Vietnam War so they are now holding many civilian positions as hospital and program directors alike and are very enthusiastic about folks going into this service. E-mail me directly if you have questions.
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