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The Health Professions Scholarship? Pros and cons?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - DO' started by raz, May 1, 2000.

  1. raz

    raz New Member

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    I'll be attending DMU starting in the fall of 2000. Anyway, I was just offered the 4-year Air Force Scholarship, and was wondering if anybody could give me any advice, pros or cons, of the scholarship. I don't want to sign onto anything that could end up a bad deal in the long run. But, at the same time, I don't want something that sounds pretty good to pass me up. Any advice that you can offer would be great!! Thanks...

     
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  3. RollTide

    RollTide Senior Member
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    Do not do it unless you plan on being a military physician for a good part of your future. If working for the military is what you would like to do, then it's a great deal. If you are just looking for a way to pay for school then you should probably look elsewhere. Just my two cents.
     
  4. UHS03

    UHS03 Senior Member
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    If you plan on going into primary care, it's probably a pretty good deal. However, when I spoke to the Army (and I don't know if this applies to the Air Force or not), they said that I would owe additional years for every fellowship year I do. If you are in the armed forces, you are guaranteed an MD residency, if that is something you want. You will owe 1 year for every year of med school they pay for, but you do not owe any more time for residency years (even if you do a civilian residency.) Like I said before, if you plan to subspecialize and do a fellowship, you will owe more time for that. As an example, say you want to be a cardiologist. You go through 4 years of med school (you now owe 4 years of service), then you do 3 years of Internal Medicine residency (you do not owe for this) then you do a 3 year cardiology fellowship (you owe 3 more years of service.) That's 7 years. If you enter medical school at 24 (like me), then you graduate at 28. You do 6 years of training, now you're 34. Now you owe 7 years to the armed services. So you will be 41 when your commitment is done. In my opinion, it's not a bad deal if all you do is a 3 or 4 year residency, but it adds up if you subspecialize. I didn't want to feel limited as far as my future training goes by those restrictions, so I stopped pursuing an army scholarship. If I planned to stop training after a FP or IM residency, I may very well have pursued the scholarship. I thought coming into med school I would go into surgery for sure. The more I learn, the more different areas of medicine I like (and I'm only just completing my first year!) so I'm glad I have left my options open. Another question to ask is how the medical needs of the army may dictate what training area you enter. I have no clue if it has any bearing on it whatsoever, but the recruiter I spoke with indicated that if I wanted surgery, there were no guarantees because the army may not need surgeons at that time. I'm not entirely sure what that meant, but it sounded to me like they were planning on "suggesting" what residency I go into. No thanks! All my info comes from a brief period where I spoke with an army recruiter, so others who are actually on the scholarship right now may have a different perspective and/or want to make corrections to what I have said.

    [This message has been edited by UHS03 (edited 05-02-2000).]
     
  5. doatc

    doatc Senior Member
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    I am currently on an Army HPSP and my advice to you is if you have the desire to become a military physician and serve your country, then take it. If you are just looking for someone to pay for your schooling, then don't. The Airforce is the most cushy of the services. Their phyisical fitness requirements are less than the Army and Navy and there is less of a chance that you may get deployed to an area of conflict. Get as much info as you can before you make the decision.
     
  6. raz

    raz New Member

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    Thank you very much for all of your advice...I really appreciate it
     
  7. Nanook

    Nanook Senior Member
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    My big question about the HPSP is this:

    When you are repaying your 4 (or 7, or whatever) year debt, does the military pay you like a physician (ie, ~100,000/yr), or do you just make whatever the predetermined amount for your rank is (ie, ~33,000 for Lt, ~40,000 for Capt, etc)?

    I would think this makes a big difference, but nobody seems to address this.

    The reason I ask is this: If you get the NHSC or IHS scholarship or loan repayment plan, you get pretty much the same benefits, but they definitely do pay you a full salary when you are working.
     
  8. tiffsatt

    tiffsatt Member
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    I am also considering the Air Force scholarship. I know there are many pros and cons but I think the good out-weighs the bad...once again depending on the reasons that you accept the scholarship. Most residents work 8-5 like a regular job and aren't on call every other day of the week. There are also benefits of 30 days paid leave, no malpractice insurance, the opportunity to travel. These sound great to me, but once again I have only investigated this for a brief period of time. I would get in touch with a doctor on a base and find out "exactly" what the good, the bad, and the ugly are!
     
  9. wiggy

    wiggy Member
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    I was awarded and Army HPSP,and I too debated whether I should take it. My biggest concern was having the freedom to take leave from school (ex. taking time off to do a Ph.D., M.P.H. etc). I called up Walter Reed AMC (not a med corps recruiter) and asked about policies on taking leave I was told that taking time off was possible, but with everything in the Army, the needs of the Army come first, so take this fact in mind when you decide. I decided to take the scholarship, and I'm getting commissioned this week (btw, get an earlier date of rank if you can!). Good Luck!
     
  10. tman

    tman Senior Member
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    "Most residents work 8-5 and aren't on call"? I hate to break it to you but you've been misinformed! I am in the Air Force at Keesler AFB where there are several residencies including Internal Medicine, Peds, OB/GYN and General Surgery. I have become good friends with several of the residents over the past few years and I can tell you that military residencies are comparable to civilian residencies in hours worked (afterall they conform to the same standards). First year residents work 80+ hours/week and are on call (in house) an average of every third night, regardless of what program they are in. After the internship year internal medicine and peds residents have more rotations in the outpatient clinics and during those times the call schedule is lighter, but when they are on the wards or icu/picu/nicu/ccu they are pulling in house call every 3rd night or so again. Surgery and OB/GYN residents spend the remainder of their 5 year residencies pulling call a couple of times every 7-10 days. I'm not writing this to dissuade you from accepting an HPSP scholarship, but don't join for the cushy residencies or you will be disappointed. Also it is true that you accrue 30 days of leave/year on active duty but that doesn't mean you will be allowed to take 30 days of leave/year during your residency. Most programs allow 2-3 weeks leave for first year residents and 3-4 for subsequent years.

    As far as pay goes, as a med student you get all tuition and fees payed for, as well as books and equipment. Med students also receive a $900/month stipend. Once you graduate from med school you enter active duty as an O-3 (captain). First year residents get an additional whopping $1200/year in special pay. After the first year the $1200 is increased to $5000/year. Residents end up making ~$42-50k, (better than the $30k that civilian residencies pay). Once you have completed residency and begin the payback time you are entitled to some other pays in addition to the $5k mentioned above. Currently you get a $15k/year lump sum payment and a couple of thousand more/year for board cert. pay. So you will be making ~$75-80k during the payback time. After your payback is completed there are other programs aimed at keeping you in the Air Force and depending on what your specialty is you will be making 100k+. All in all it is not a bad deal, especially if you rack up a big bill in tuition and fees during med school, and you probably end up coming out ahead in the end when you add it all up.

    I have been in the Air Force for 11 years and am applying to USUHS this year. The Air Force has been great, and I plan on continuing my career in the Air Force as a physician if all goes well. The military is great but is definitely not for everyone, so if you are thinking about applying for an HPSP scholarship make sure that serving in the military is something you'll enjoy. Otherwise your bills may be payed for but what's the use if you have to spend 7+ years miserable?

    Whatever you decide I wish you all the best of luck! Who knows maybe I'll see you around the Air Force...If anyone would like to contact me for further discussion please email me at [email protected]

    [This message has been edited by tman (edited 05-07-2000).]
     
  11. curtis

    curtis Member
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    UHS03,

    I was reading your reply and it is somewhat confusing. I am trying to figure out what you mean by being 41 when your time with the Army is complete. You put 28 when you graduate med school - 6 years of training (34) then 7 years of Army payback (41). What is the 6 years you are talking about? It sounds to me that it should be more like. 28 when you graduate and then your seven year payback. That puts you at 35. When you graduate you will immediately start training with the Army. This would include your HPSP payback and doing an Army residency. You are correct in saying that doing an Army fellowship will add on years. Let me ask you this. If you were making $125,000 with a hospital you are working at and then decide to do fellowship training with that or another hospital are you going to be making the same $125,000 a year or will they knock you back down to slave wages again? I would venture to say that you will develop a lifestyle based on the income you are making before a fellowship and then find out that it will not be as easy as it seem. Another issue you need to look at. At what rate do the civilian hospitals match first choice for the residency that you want. Go to this website and check out the Army http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/medcom/meded/fygme/WEBSTAT.doc I think you will be impressed by the information. The Army usually matches around 70% first choice the civilians around 45%. If you do not match your first choice the Army is not going to tell you where to go. You can go transitional and reapply the next year. You will most likely find that if you stay a civilian and apply for your residency and do not get it that you will find yourself in one that is your second or maybe even third choice. Now, if you are under the scholarship and do not match with the Army but you do with a civilian hospital you can get an educational delay and go do the civilian residency once you complete the residency then come on active duty to do your payback in the area you are trained in. The Army has systems in place to help you. You will find that most of the residency program directors in the Army grade themselves on how well they set you up to be the best civilian doctor you can be after you serve your time with the Army. You must also keep other things in mind. You will make more as an Army resident as opposed to a civilian resident. If someone does an Airforce or Navy scholarship they will more then likely do a civilian residency. The other branches tend to want you in a civilian residency (not always though - just my opinion). By the way I am an Army Medical Recruiter. I am not nor do I ever plan on being a doctor but I will tell you this much. I listen to a lot of medical students talk and some of them are clueless as to how it is going to really be when they finish medical school. I have a great bunch of HPSP students that I have recruited that have taught me a lot about the medical field and how things work. I also recruit licensed physicians and it is what I learn from them that lets me know just how clueless a lot of students are. it is all about research. I have yet to run across a doctor that was an HPSP student that has anything bad to say about how it helped them get established in a hospital or their own practice. You know the national average for a civilian resident is about $35K a year. The average for an Army resident is about $42K a year. I want even go into the fellowship. It is true you will not get rich in the military as far as money goes but you can get very rich as far as education goes. I welcome any comments you may have. After all, I do learn a lot from you medical students. I wish you the best of luck with your medical training.

     
  12. Sherry

    Sherry Member
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    I wholeheartedly support the above comments. However; you have all forgotten the most important factor when considering the military as an option. THE NEEDS OF THE ARMY, AIR FORCE, NAVY, ALWAYS COME FIRST!!!!
    My husband and I are both Desert Storm Veterans (my husband is still active duty) and we were proud to serve. But we were separated and in the middle of a war (and we lost friends...remember skud missles!?). There has never been a twenty year period in American history (Time it takes to retire) when our medical community has not been deployed to an area of conflict and or hazardous duty zone to support our troups, or the troups of our allies! (Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Granada), [currently Bosnia, Korea, Turkey, Saudi]. Our troops all over the globe need doctors and nurses. Not just at Keesler or Wilford Hall.
    Think hard now because if you decide later that you are a conscientious objector, you could be in for a rude awakening.
    My husband retires in four years and we plan to enjoy life, just as we always have (but with a few extra thousand a month, just for waking up in the morning...we will do it a little more comforatably!!!) We have NO REGRETS!
     
  13. curtis

    curtis Member
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    Sherry,

    You are correct. The needs of the military always come first. I always tell the students I recruit that. I tell them if they get there first choice of assignments its not because it was there first it is because the Army had a need there. It usually works out for medical professional. Not always though. We recruit over 65,000 quality brave young men and women each year out of high school and everyday walks of life. Therefore, we need to recruit quality medical students, doctors and nurses to provide the quality care we all deserve. Man, I know I sound like a recruiter now. Ha! Ha! Ha! All kidding aside it really does come down to that. None of us would have what we have or be able to get the things we want (quality education etc.) if it was not for the freedom that our military provides us. Sherry, thanks for your comments. I too retire in 4-years. I wish you and your husband the best of luck.

    Stan
     

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