Are you interested in medicine, but would rather spend more time with your patients than with your paperwork? Does one part of you want to travel the world, but the other part just wants to start your medical career as soon as possible? Then military medicine may be the ideal path for you to have it all and more. Two popular ways of entering military medicine are through the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) School of Medicine.
Major Differences Between HPSP & USUHS:
Finance: Both the HPSP and USUHS cover the full cost of medical school including tuition and other associated mandatory fees. Beyond that, each has additional financial perks. (see websites below)
HPSP: Apply for either a 3 or 4 year scholarship (through the Navy, Army, or Air Force) independent of medical school applications. The scholarship covers tuition and required fees at any accredited medical school in the United States or Puerto Rico. This option offers more flexibility in terms of choosing where you want to spend the next four years.
- A monthly stipend of approximately $2,200/month for cost of living on top of an initial $20,000 sign-on bonus.
USUHS: Applying to USUHS is like applying to any other medical school through AMCAS, but there is no fee for secondary applications and no tuition costs. The school is located in Bethesda, Maryland.
- While enrolled, students are paid the equivalent of a Second Lieutenant (approximately $63,000/year).
Service Obligation: Upon graduation, students earn an officer rank of O-3.
HPSP: Service obligation is year-for-year depending on how long you receive the scholarship, in addition to one 45 day Active Duty Tour per academic year, one of which is a 5 week Officer Development School (details vary depending on branch).
USUHS: Service obligation is a minimum of 7 years. All incoming students attend a 4 to 6 week, branch-specific officer orientation program to learn about officer responsibilities and military customs, prior to matriculation.
Major Benefits of Military Medicine:
See the World: A common piece of advice given to pre-med students is to take time to travel before enrolling into medical school because there won’t be time for a long time afterwards. As a military physician, you can travel the world as part of your job and participate in international humanitarian missions. Even during vacations, military physicians have access to low-cost, on-base lodging around the world.
Residency: More and more seats in medical schools are opening, but additional residency spots are not opening at the same rate. As a result, many newly-graduated medical students struggle to get a residency spot in their top choice specialty (Robeznieks). Each of the military branches offer a wide variety of specialties in addition to the option of completing a civilian residency, thus increasing the available residency opportunities for military physicians.
Logistics/Patient Care: Civilian medicine is not simply patient-doctor interactions. It comes with a long list of logistics relating to business and finance including equipment and office management, malpractice insurance, endless stacks of paperwork, and more. Military medicine minimizes these miscellaneous responsibilities in order to maximize time spent with working with patients in order to provide the best possible care available. (see websites below)
Intrinsic Reward: In my opinion, working with military families on a military base last summer was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had so far in my college career and has shifted the direction of my own career goals. There is definitely a unique feeling of pride and respect that comes from helping the people who serve our country and their families who sacrifice a lot in their own way.
Military healthcare is not limited to Medical Corps. There are also programs for Nurse Corps, Dental Corps, and more. Each branch has minor differences in the programs and work environments, so I encourage you to look further into the Navy, Army, and Air Force to explore which branch or program might work for you.
For more information, contact your local recruiter and check out the respective websites below:
Robeznieks, Andis. “Match Day nears, with worries there still aren’t enough residency slots.” Modern Healthcare. 18 March 2015. Web. <http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150318/NEWS/150319897>.
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