4 yrs undergrad (public)
4 yrs med school (private, nice, ranked ~15th in country)
internship in Navy, plus 6 mo stash GMO
Flight surgeon training 6 mo
3 yrs served as flight surgeon with P-3 community
deployed twice to Europe
Never got to fly in a pointy-nose, light my hair on fire, and tell the pilot to try to make me sick -- which was one of my goals. Would'a been fun, but no.
Was restricted from interviewing d/t deployments.
Was restricted from seeing my newborn twins for the 1st 5 mo of their lives. Never mind that they were in the ICU for 6 days. It was "against policy" to send officers home for that kind of stuff.
Worst thing about the HPSP: restricted training options, by far. This affected me in a particularly demotivating way, which I believe was instrumental my worst and most embarrassing test performance ever (one test), which is still having its affect on my career 7 years later. Word to all: Don't listen to anyone who tells you Step 3 doesn't matter. Don't take it so sleep deprived that you can't even finish a section and a half of the test within the time allotted. Don't click "Certify" if you know you did poorly -- Get up, walk out, and reschedule. Lastly: no, you can't retake any step of the USMLE if you blow it but with a passing score (You can retake it only if you fail -- I didn't).
Best experience? Trap landing and cat shot off a carrier in a C-2. Got to see lots of flight ops with S-3, F-18, F-14, and EA-6Bs. I think it was even the last deployment ever for F-14s, so I was really lucky there.
Got out, did a year of research, and am now in Nuc Med at a top institution. Loving it, but would recommend Rads over Nuc Med if you are considering either, then do fellowship in Nucs. If you like Nuc therapy, go with Rad Onc.
No, I would not do HPSP again. Would have taken the loans, dealt with the anxiety, and used that fear to kick ass on the tests that mattered to make sure I could pay the loans off. Might have done the FAP after I had already chosen my field. For FAP, still would have chosen Navy.
I think Navy and all armed services need good doctors, but somebody has to pay for them (or make sure they are otherwise well compensated -- benefits, honor, good worklife -- these are all on the decline). Free market.
I think the Navy screws its doctors, while at the same time using them for low-level medical work that could more efficiently be done with a PA or NP.
With regards to flying - you actually had PIC time? The Navy paid for your training? I really want to fly (I have a civilian PPL) and am currently lined up for Air Force HPSP, but having major second thoughts. Some that is due to not being able to do a stint in flight surgery and the fact that air force doesn't appear to let FSs get any flight time. You actually get to fly in the Navy? How often? And the most important question that I still haven't found an answer to, is what kind of medical do you have to get to qualify? My concern is that my eyesight isn't that great (my right eye is only correctable to 20/40-20/50 and I fail the dept perception test). I know I never had a chance at a pilot slot because of my eyes, but I really want to know if I could do FS before signing the dotted line. If I can't do anything with aviation, then the HPSP is no longer attractive to me and I will just take the loans. Even though I want to do FS, my interest is not in primary care at all. I am mostly focused on rads and its subspecialties. So you seem like a good person to ask for advice -- is it worth bailing on the air force HPSP and switching to Navy HPSP or do I have basically no shot at any sort of aviation med service and should just bail and go straight through civilian school and into rads?