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anniekat2025

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Going to be separating in 2021 before starting medical school. I will probably be starting school while on my terminal so I won't necessarily have a ton of time to ease into civilian life.

Anyway, as excited as I am about starting medical school, I'm really nervous about transitioning out of the military. The military has had a huge impact on my life and who I am as a person and it's SO hard to imagine my life without it. I'm especially concerned about feelings of isolation or feeling disconnected from my classmates. Looking for advice/insight on how to prepare for and handle the transition.

Important Note: I am not going to do HPSP or go to USUHS. I have spent enough time in the MHS and witnessed enough of the DHA craziness to know that neither of those programs are going to be a good fit for me. I'm definitely planning to come back into the military post-residency (probably guard or reserves), but there are too many strings attached to HPSP/USUHS for my liking. Respectfully, please don't try to change my mind on this one.
 
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HighPriest

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Well, for starters, you may very well have prior service guys/gals in your class. I had about 4. Depends upon your luck and your school, but they’re out there: ex-ROTC or former enlisted. Secondly you may have HPSP students in the class. You’ll know 1,000,000x more about the military than they will, but if they have half a brain they’ll respect your experience and try to connect with you. You just have to go at them with kid gloves because many of them are naive about military life.

You do have a double whammy insofar as being non-traditional and former military, but there will be other non-traditional students with life experience outside of school who you can connect with. The non-trads at my school (I was one) tended to connect because they weren’t as cliquey as the kids who just went high school->college->med school.

I suppose you just have to realize that you almost certainly won’t be the only one there who feels like they’re taking a plunge. Lots of people don’t go straight through to med school nowadays, and there’s bound to be someone else who gave up a perfectly good life outside of school to go back. Even if they aren’t all former military.

Keeping a routine for yourself will be very important as to not lose a sense of organization in your life. Plus it will help you do well in school.

I don’t think anyone is going to try to talk you in to HPSP man.

Also, I’d encourage you to find at least one social thing outside of school that you do. Aside from drinking. Not only will it give you a sense of community, it will come in very handy as a release valve from school.
 
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anniekat2025

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Well, for starters, you may very well have prior service guys/gals in your class. I had about 4. Depends upon your luck and your school, but they’re out there: ex-ROTC or former enlisted. Secondly you may have HPSP students in the class. You’ll know 1,000,000x more about the military than they will, but if they have half a brain they’ll respect your experience and try to connect with you. You just have to go at them with kid gloves because many of them are naive about military life.

You do have a double whammy insofar as being non-traditional and former military, but there will be other non-traditional students with life experience outside of school who you can connect with. The non-trads at my school (I was one) tended to connect because they weren’t as cliquey as the kids who just went high school->college->med school.

I suppose you just have to realize that you almost certainly won’t be the only one there who feels like they’re taking a plunge. Lots of people don’t go straight through to med school nowadays, and there’s bound to be someone else who gave up a perfectly good life outside of school to go back. Even if they aren’t all former military.

Keeping a routine for yourself will be very important as to not lose a sense of organization in your life. Plus it will help you do well in school.

I don’t think anyone is going to try to talk you in to HPSP man.

Also, I’d encourage you to find at least one social thing outside of school that you do. Aside from drinking. Not only will it give you a sense of community, it will come in very handy as a release valve from school.
Thank you! I appreciate this very much.
 
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MedicalCorpse

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Important Note: I am not going to do HPSP or go to USUHS. I have spent enough time in the MHS and witnessed enough of the DHA craziness to know that neither of those programs are going to be a good fit for me. I'm definitely planning to come back into the military post-residency (probably guard or reserves), but there are too many strings attached to HPSP/USUHS for my liking. Respectfully, please don't try to change my mind on this one.
You are making the right decision regarding avoiding HPSP and USU at this time. In 1986, if military "medicine" looked like this dog's breakfast of DHA micromanagement; intentional hemorrhage of physicians in favor of less-trained "providers"; and greedy outsourcing to cynical corporations that get paid to PREVENT medical care, I would never have considered USUHS.

While you are in med school, keep an eye on the news. The experience of many physicians and other military specialists in high demand during wartime (ODS, OEF, OIL) is that, when the balloon goes up, the military will find it "necessary" to rely on the reserves as if they were active duty, due to sheer poor Pentagon planning (P3) in staffing and retaining AD members. So if we are locked in a ground war in [Country 1] or [Country 2] when you graduate, you may want to reconsider joining the reserves if you wish to retain a civilian practice, a family, your financial security, and/or your autonomy/sanity when you find that your medical judgment is considered less important than your commander's nursing judgment (true story).

From: The Army Reserve as part of the Operational Force :
"The Army Reserve is in the process of recasting itself from its part-time "strategic reserve" role, to a fully integrated and critical part of an operational, expeditionary Army."

Best of luck,

RJ, M.D.
ROTC Det 365 '85, USU Class of 1990, WHMC Anesthesiology '94
Resigned commission and walked away after 15 years toward retirement (19 years total AD with USU).
 
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anniekat2025

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You are making the right decision regarding avoiding HPSP and USU at this time. In 1986, if military "medicine" looked like this dog's breakfast of DHA micromanagement; intentional hemorrhage of physicians in favor of less-trained "providers"; and greedy outsourcing to cynical corporations that get paid to PREVENT medical care, I would never have considered USUHS.

While you are in med school, keep an eye on the news. The experience of many physicians and other military specialists in high demand during wartime (ODS, OEF, OIL) is that, when the balloon goes up, the military will find it "necessary" to rely on the reserves as if they were active duty, due to sheer poor Pentagon planning (P3) in staffing and retaining AD members. So if we are locked in a ground war in [Country 1] or [Country 2] when you graduate, you may want to reconsider joining the reserves if you wish to retain a civilian practice, a family, your financial security, and/or your autonomy/sanity when you find that your medical judgment is considered less important than your commander's nursing judgment (true story).

From: The Army Reserve as part of the Operational Force :
"The Army Reserve is in the process of recasting itself from its part-time "strategic reserve" role, to a fully integrated and critical part of an operational, expeditionary Army."

Best of luck,

RJ, M.D.
ROTC Det 365 '85, USU Class of 1990, WHMC Anesthesiology '94
Resigned commission and walked away after 15 years toward retirement (19 years total AD with USU).
Thank you for your candor!

The reserves is appealing to me because I could ask around and ideally pick a unit that seemed like a good fit. This, in theory, would allow me to deploy without having to work in an MTF and deal with the other bureaucratic nonsense I am so tired of currently. Most of the docs I deployed with did this and they seemed happy with their situations. But I know that "the needs of the AF/Navy/Army" can always trump whatever lovely vision I have for my career haha. And who knows what international affairs/foreign policy will look like by the time I finish residency. Thankfully I have plenty of time to decide, however.
 

MedicalCorpse

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Most of the docs I deployed with did this and they seemed happy with their situations. But I know that "the needs of the AF/Navy/Army" can always trump whatever lovely vision I have for my career haha. And who knows what international affairs/foreign policy will look like by the time I finish residency. Thankfully I have plenty of time to decide, however.
The big questions will be where you will be deploying in 2026 and beyond, and why.

The Pentagon spent so much of the 1990s obsessing about MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War) and LIC (Low Intensity Conflict) that they forgot to plan for MIW (Missions Involving War) and HIC (High Intensity Conflict). These failings directly led to the disasters of Operation Anaconda, the escape of Osama Bin Laden from Afghanistan into Pakistan, and the premature "Mission Accomplished" mindset 11 whole years before the "end" of the Iraq debacle.

Currently, doctrine, equipment, and command structures are informed by our most recent adventures in the sand with enemies armed with AK-47s, IEDs, and machetes and without anything resembling IT resources, armor, navies, air forces, or integrated air defense systems. Thanks to today's military planners, we are absolutely, 100% ready to fight the war before last.

By 2026, when you finish internship and become deployable, a dizzying number of new technologies will radically change the way wars are fought with peers, near-peers, and technologically-superior enemies. I don't need to enumerate them; just read science magazines online.

The key question for anyone planning to join the reserves in the future will be the degree to which your selfless service to your nation and our troops outweighs the value you personally place on the dangers to your life from the utter poor planning of everyone at the Pentagon from the top down. Force protection should start with modernization of an expeditionary medical system stuck in the 1990s at best (look at the primary Air Evac [A/E] aircraft platforms: C-5 and C-17, born from the minds of 1960s and 1970s engineers; it's hard enough to keep them flying and landing without enemy action in 2020, let alone 2026). Oh, and after landing from our mission, let's inventory the A/E equipment by hand on paper as if it's 1699, shall we, so the loggie can lose it when he rotates back home?

Certainly, I am going to be flamed by people who see such warnings as unpatriotic. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," and all that jazz. Remember that the first and last response of the military bureaucracy to people who speak out for improvement and positive change is "Shut up" (because they can't say "Shut up and you're fired" the way civilian companies can).

Our forebears in military medicine after WWII worried about having to pack lead-lined underwear in case of WWIII. That may be the least of our worries in the future, when microwave radiation and nanotech bombs can literally eat your brain away. Of course, you may just be lucky enough to be at ground zero of a nuclear strike, in which case you will barely have time for your nervous system to register the bad light all around you.

Best of luck, and keep your personal EMP generator (PEG) handy just in case...

(Disclaimer: MedicalCorpse denies any responsibility for the legal or medical sequelae of you attempting to build a PEG and/or future nightmares based on my posts)
 
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MedicalCorpse

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🤣🤣🤣
The unofficial motto of the U.S. military: "Yesterday's Technology Tomorrow!"

From the Wired article quoted in the link above:

Office Life at the Pentagon Is Disconcertingly Retrograde

"Collectively, poor connectivity, limited computer access, robotic meetings, and a severe lack of diversity undercut our strategic planning and weapons acquisition programs. They result in poor information sharing, weak analysis, limited creativity, slow communication, and low-quality decisionmaking. These deeply entrenched aspects of Pentagon culture must be addressed if we’re going to join the digital age and strengthen our national defense."

Of course, in contrast, our F-35 fleet must be currently outfitted with compact, state-of-the-art, hacker-proof computer systems. I guess we should all pray to a one-eyed Norse god of Wisdom for salvation...
 

orbitsurgMD

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I wouldn't count on a choice of reserve unit of your preference having much to do with what you might be tasked to do. I would assume it will be within the scope of options of the DHA and DOD to individually augment reservists from any available unit to whatever activity they deemed needing specialized personnel, independent of the unit as a whole.
 
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armytrainingsir

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Meh. I have had a good reserve experience.
Expectations and medical specialty are the biggest variables IME.

Don't worry, lots of time to let mil medicine do its thang until you have to decide if you want to be a part of it.


I don’t think anyone is going to try to talk you in to HPSP man.
haha, and this.
;)
 
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anniekat2025

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Meh. I have had a good reserve experience.
Expectations and medical specialty are the biggest variables IME.

Don't worry, lots of time to let mil medicine do its thang until you have to decide if you want to be a part of it.



haha, and this.
;)
Would it be OK if I shoot you a message to ask about your experiences in the reserves?
 

HighPriest

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Here’s what you do on your first day (minus the shooting, please don’t do that)


 
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Legion1

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Going to be separating in 2021 before starting medical school. I will probably be starting school while on my terminal so I won't necessarily have a ton of time to ease into civilian life.

Anyway, as excited as I am about starting medical school, I'm really nervous about transitioning out of the military. The military has had a huge impact on my life and who I am as a person and it's SO hard to imagine my life without it. I'm especially concerned about feelings of isolation or feeling disconnected from my classmates. Looking for advice/insight on how to prepare for and handle the transition.

Important Note: I am not going to do HPSP or go to USUHS. I have spent enough time in the MHS and witnessed enough of the DHA craziness to know that neither of those programs are going to be a good fit for me. I'm definitely planning to come back into the military post-residency (probably guard or reserves), but there are too many strings attached to HPSP/USUHS for my liking. Respectfully, please don't try to change my mind on this one.
Good for you (seriously). I did the same thing a number of years ago. I was a cynical combat vet who was done after 6 years in the infantry. Turns out that med school and residency are largely designed for kids in their 20s without a family. We decided to go back to AD for several reasons and did a two year HPSP scholarship and only owed two years after residency as a result (my program was considered internship plus two year residency and I also rejected the 20k signing bonus which carries a 4 year ADSO). I am not trying to talk you into doing HPSP but rather than to say life changes, if you decide to return to AD there is always a way if you push hard enough (I had to involve OTSG). That said, I echo everyone above. Only the most naive or willfully ignorant can look at that legislation that approved DHA and not realize that there is no future for the majority of military medicine. COVID provided a temporary stop to the destruction but it will pick up steam soon. To be honest, I'm not sure its the wrong move -- I can't see how the military can financially justify having a pediatric nephrologist or many other sub specialists when you look at costs of equipment and training for the entire time to support that one SME but that's another debate.

As for the transition itself, it was hard for me at times but probably spurred the most growth in my life other than becoming a father. We formed a close group of vets at my med school and we still keep in touch years later. All of us had multiple combat tours and had seen a lot of bad stuff so it helped on many levels to have that support as PTS symptoms creeped up from time to time. Even if you don't have that background it is a pretty big jump from the type of folks in the military to those in med school. Don't try to be one of them because you aren't (I assume you aren't 22 with no life experience) and you'll just look dumb. Thats is not to say don't make friends but you will be respected by your faculty and classmates for your experiences and leadership -- own it and who you are. My wife and I did make couple/family friends with the other older non-traditional students and they became some of the closest friends of our life.

Its like anything else in life -- its what you make of it. All of those things that are good about the military (team approach, selfless service, honorable, etc) --own them and you will do very well and doors will open unexpectedly.
 
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Oo Cipher oO

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I would recommend to try to get your separation physical and VA claim done as soon as possible. It may be challenging to find days off for VA appointments once medical school starts. You don’t have to wait for your separation date to get that stuff done.
 
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anniekat2025

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Good for you (seriously). I did the same thing a number of years ago. I was a cynical combat vet who was done after 6 years in the infantry. Turns out that med school and residency are largely designed for kids in their 20s without a family. We decided to go back to AD for several reasons and did a two year HPSP scholarship and only owed two years after residency as a result (my program was considered internship plus two year residency and I also rejected the 20k signing bonus which carries a 4 year ADSO). I am not trying to talk you into doing HPSP but rather than to say life changes, if you decide to return to AD there is always a way if you push hard enough (I had to involve OTSG). That said, I echo everyone above. Only the most naive or willfully ignorant can look at that legislation that approved DHA and not realize that there is no future for the majority of military medicine. COVID provided a temporary stop to the destruction but it will pick up steam soon. To be honest, I'm not sure its the wrong move -- I can't see how the military can financially justify having a pediatric nephrologist or many other sub specialists when you look at costs of equipment and training for the entire time to support that one SME but that's another debate.

As for the transition itself, it was hard for me at times but probably spurred the most growth in my life other than becoming a father. We formed a close group of vets at my med school and we still keep in touch years later. All of us had multiple combat tours and had seen a lot of bad stuff so it helped on many levels to have that support as PTS symptoms creeped up from time to time. Even if you don't have that background it is a pretty big jump from the type of folks in the military to those in med school. Don't try to be one of them because you aren't (I assume you aren't 22 with no life experience) and you'll just look dumb. Thats is not to say don't make friends but you will be respected by your faculty and classmates for your experiences and leadership -- own it and who you are. My wife and I did make couple/family friends with the other older non-traditional students and they became some of the closest friends of our life.

Its like anything else in life -- its what you make of it. All of those things that are good about the military (team approach, selfless service, honorable, etc) --own them and you will do very well and doors will open unexpectedly.
This is amazing, thank you so much.
 

Falcon12

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I was AD 5 years and got out to do HPSP (starting a family at the time). Through med school, you will most likely have a maturity classmates and Instructors will respect. You can leverage it into good working relationships and opening doors to different opportunities if you do your part studying hard. The traits that bring success in military are the same ones that build success in medicine. One thing I noticed is that having just arrived from the work force, I brought a different perspective to patient care than younger kids that haven't worried about W-2s and holding a job and that institutionalized folks in the ivory towers are missing. When it comes to finding your place in medicine, you might travel a different path than trad students, but that's just a part of the value prior service brings to the medical community.
 
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anniekat2025

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I was AD 5 years and got out to do HPSP (starting a family at the time). Through med school, you will most likely have a maturity classmates and Instructors will respect. You can leverage it into good working relationships and opening doors to different opportunities if you do your part studying hard. The traits that bring success in military are the same ones that build success in medicine. One thing I noticed is that having just arrived from the work force, I brought a different perspective to patient care than younger kids that haven't worried about W-2s and holding a job and that institutionalized folks in the ivory towers are missing. When it comes to finding your place in medicine, you might travel a different path than trad students, but that's just a part of the value prior service brings to the medical community.
Thank you!
 
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