Army Scholarship Armed Services University

Please med students, if you don't know anything about this network and get some newbies to post here…I couldn't find much discussion about this, but put up a link if I'm wrong…I need information from current medical students and graduates about the experience of accepting an army scholarship AND/OR attending the Hebert school of medicine for the armed services AND/OR what happens if you discontinue the scholarship. The more info, the better…after all, this would be a significant obligation! I have a father who was in the army and I lived on a base for a while, so I am comfortable with the military environment.
Thanks so much,
Sara (MCAT 11V, 9B, 9P, undergrad GPA sucks 3.24)

You probably already have these sites, but they’re a good start for others:
- Tae

Hi there,
Several of my classmates attended medical school on Armed Forces Heath Scholarships. My best friend, who is a West Point graduate, entered a military residency in General Surgery after graduation even though she opted not to use the Armed Forces scholarship program. She will give back one year for every year of medical school after she is done with her residency. She had attained the rank of major just before entering medical school. I am certain that she will be a full bird very quickly after she is done with residency. The pay for her is so much higher than what I am getting on the civilian side but I prefer my university-based residency program since I am heading for academic surgery practice.
Another good friend who is graduating this year, is under the Air Force scholarship program. She served full-time during the summers between her first and second year and between her second and third year after she had taken USMLE Step I. She is anticipating doing a military residency. Her ultimate goal is to be an OB-Gyn. She has everything paid for including books and computers. She has the rank of Lt and will become a Captain when she graduates in May.
My cousin went to medical school at Tufts on Navy scholarship. The Navy paid all of his tuition. He served 4 years as a Navy flight surgeon (did mostly flight physicals) and went into a 4-year anesthesia residency after he finished his service obligation. He is now an Anesthesiologist with no loans and a very fine education that cost him essentially nothing.
One of my colleagues in General Surgery at UVa is in the Virginia Air National Guard. He serves two weeks during the summer and on one weekend per month. My residency director makes sure that his schedule allows him to serve. He draws both paychecks and gets full military benefits. He will have most of his medical school education paid for after he is finished with residency.
You should follow the links mentioned in other posts and get more information from the internet. I can tell you that the Armed Forces Scholarships are very competitive and not at all a sure thing. The age cutoff for the Armed Forces Scholarship program is 33 years so they are not open to all people of all ages. There is also a fairly stringent physical exam.
UHUHS which is located in Bethesda, MD is a great medical school. They have great facilities and excellent faculty. Again, your medical school expenses will be paid for but you will be active duty military. As we are heading into war, that may or may not be of interest to some folks.
There are pros and cons to military residencies so you should spend some time talking with folks who have done both. I believe that my best friend has a very good set-up but she is a West Point grad which put her into a different category than most folks who have the Armed Forces scholarships. My friend who wants to do OB-Gyn may not have that option should she take a military residency.
Good luck

Nat and Tae -
Thanks for your very detailed and informative replies! Again, I am reminded why I recommend this website to my “traditional” and “nontraditional” premed friends alike. I hope others benefit from your advice as well! (Though if most OPMs are over 33, they wouldn’t qualify for a scholarship, eh?)

QUOTE (saralane @ Oct 20 2002, 04:48 AM)
Nat and Tae -
Thanks for your very detailed and informative replies! Again, I am reminded why I recommend this website to my "traditional" and "nontraditional" premed friends alike. I hope others benefit from your advice as well! (Though if most OPMs are over 33, they wouldn't qualify for a scholarship, eh?)

Just a small point to Nat's detailed post:
I talked with the Army and Air Force HPSP recruiters in my area, and they both agree that the age cutoff is 35, and it isn't a hard and fast cutoff either. The reason behind the cutoff is that at that age, you will be able to do 20 years active duty and receive half your base pay, if you choose to go 'career'. Anything above that age and you reach mandatory retirement age before hitting your twenty. But, if you do not choose to make military medicine a career, then it should matter little to you. Bear in mind, that they will favor people who can put in the twenty years, whether they plan to or not.
For people who aren't close enough to the cutoff, there is always the option of taking out private loans, then joining during residency. The two big advantages are that you are free to enter any civilian residency that you match with, and you are paid ~$25k/year for every year in residency, in addition to what the residency itself pays. You owe a year for every year you are paid extra. The disadvantage is that don't you get nearly as much in financial support as if you were to enter during medical school - what with the paid tuition and stipend.
I'm 34, and I've got one more year before I no longer qualify for a full twenty years active duty. So, this application cycle is rather important for me.
- Tae

that “extra” $25K would go along way towards knocking down that loan debt though - interesting option.

I will tell you this that they should change this so people can get scholarships up until they are 45. I mean they could serve for less than 10 years and still help the military.

I attend the Hebert SOM, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. I am an MS1, but I also spent 7 years as an officer in the Army Medical Department. I'm more than willing to answer any specific questions you have.
So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at USUHS (granted, that's only 3 months, but they were a very full 3 months). I am a lifer. I intend to practice medicine as an Army doc until I retire. After that, I might just hang around as a Dept of the Army civilian. I am a huge advocate of military medicine. My experience in the Army Medical Department (in my former life, I was a clinical laboratory officer) has been absolutely great. I've met and worked with a lot of wonderful folks, and now I can't imagine studying or working anywhere else. I know I sound like a recruiting commercial, but my wife and I both hold great affection for the military community, and I consider it a privilege to get to provide care for its members.
With that said, the military may not be for every one. Although it is NOT the rigid, austere lifestyle many imagine it to be, it is not without some significant differences from civilian practice:
1. The needs of the military come first. So far, my desires have pretty much matched the needs of the Army. However, I know that if I really, really, really, really want to be a cosmetic surgeon, there's a good chance the Army won't need any of those and I may have to go into a different line of work. However, in most cases, I think most folks end up getting one of their top choices. Ask me again in three years and I might not sound so optomistic.
2. If you get to attend USUHS, you get to wear a uniform every day. Once you graduate, you also wear a uniform every day. The battle dress uniform (camouflage) is actually quite comfy.
3. You will be required to deploy at some point in your career. Some folks really enjoy deployments and gravitate toward jobs that maximize operational time (forward surgical teams drop themselves and their equipment from airplanes and go to work). A lot of this will depend on your specialty. Pediatric oncologists aren't usually needed at the front lines. On the other hand, primary care docs and some surgeons get more exposure to deployments.
4. While the military (at least the in the medical community) is not usually the rigid structure portrayed in some movies, there is a defined hierarchy and a set of general guidelines that must be adhered to for the organization to maintain its readiness to perform its mission. As an officer, you are subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. It is similar to civilian codes, but makes allowances for the special needs of the military legal system, both in peace and war. UCMJ is the basis for courts martial.
5. NO MALPRACTICE PREMIUMS! The military accepts corporate responsibility for the actions of its medical doctors. This is not a license to perform bad medicine, however. There is at least one cardiothoracic surgeon who is now in prison for repeatedly closing up chests following jacked up procedures.
I hope some of this is helpful. Like I said, I am a huge advocate of military medicine, but there are those out there who aren't so enthusiastic. I would try to get opinions from both sides before deciding.

I would like to add a bit to what Captain America said. First, I primarily agree with him. I was an Army Medical Service Corps officer for nearly fourteen years. And although I was assured by recruiters my age could be waivered based on my years of active service, I made the choice to leave active service to go to medical school, and to not apply for HPSP. (I am currently a first year). Although I agree with Captain America about many of the good things, and I enjoyed military life and my deployments, etcetera, there are some considerations anyone seriously considering this route should be aware of. First, and probably foremost, I would emphasize what was already said: NEEDS OF THE ARMY COME FIRST. This may well mean that the Army needs a General Medical Officer, more than it needs you to attend a residency program right away. I know of several doctors who did NOT get to go immediately to a residency. (They did, of course, do a transistional internship). They went on GMO assignments. They got residencies at various times later. This may not be a problem for some people. However, as non-trads we tend to be more eager to get into our careers. And remember, scholarship payback doesn’t occur during the years of your residency. So although those years being a GMO count toward payback, if you then go into a residency, and then finish your committment, you could well end up spending more years than you had planned. This may be fine with folks-- I just hate to see people accept scholarships unaware that this is a VERY REAL possibility, or thinking it is unlikely. It’s not that unlikely. It does vary of course, based on specialty, and that fluctuates with time and demand of the military.
Needs of the Army also means they may need you at Camp Casey, Korea for year, or at Ft. Polk for three years, or in a unit that deploys frequently. Of course, they could need you at Tripler in Hawaii, too.
Also, and this is where I am hesitant to mention this as I do not know this as fact-- so put this as ancedotal and unproven-- but the HPSP(scholarship) grads are rumored to get lower assignment preference than the USUHS (military medical school) grads, since more money has been spent on the USUHS students. Whether it is true or not…
Bottom line-- I know military docs who loved the military life and their profession, and others who felt they’d been mislead and abused by the system. I think they didn’t know what to expect going in (and there have been changes in the military medicine system, but that is WAY too long to go into here).
I’m currently in the inactive reserve, and to plan on becoming an active reservist in the Medical Corp after I graduate- I am not writing this to discourage people from military medicine, but to encourage people to make SURE their eyes are open going in to the process, and not just be aware of the “best case scenario” of immediately getting the residency of choice in a lovely location.
Hope that helps.

Epidoc, you're right on. It is absolutely essential that any one considering military medicine understands COMPLETELY the pro/con list. I have a couple of things to add:
I have heard the same about USUHS vs. HPSP residency assignment. I think USUHS students are significantly outnumbered by HPSP students, though, so statistically, I don't know if it's really a huge issue. Still, something to think about…
The Army is moving quickly away from the GMO concept, and is, rather, trying to get docs into residency immediately following internship. This is a new policy, though, so I don't know how well it's working yet.
One more recommendation: Talk to as many people as possible who have been or are currently involved with military medicine. There is an awful lot of erroneous information floating around the internet, and it pains me to hear of people foregoing a potentially very rewarding military experience based on little more than rumors. Talk to people who have been there and liked it and people who have been there and hated it, then make up your own mind.

Hi all,
I have a question for those in HPSP, or know people in HPSP. My wife's due date is mid-June, and I know that ADT/COT training falls in somewhere in June/July. Now, I'd love to apply for this scholarship, but not if it means not being around when my wife delivers.
I know that late accensions and those with school schedules that clash with the training dates can defer the training until the next year, but what about my situation? Does anyone think I could defer because of this?
- Tae