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Join Army to pay for medical school?

SincererLoveSincererLove 748 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
D is still in early stages, but she went to a career fair at Vandy and happened to talk to an army recruiter who encouraged her to consider going to Army to pay for medical school. D thought it is pretty good deal. Anyone doing this or thinking about it?
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Replies to: Join Army to pay for medical school?

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10145 replies200 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    She should only consider that option if she wants a military career. HPSP does pay for medical school plus pay a base salary for as an officer during med school, but...

    1) your daughter must meet all the physical, psychological and medical requirements for military enlistment.

    2) your D will be required to do a military residency

    3) she will owe at least 4 years of active duty military service after she has completed her residency. She may also incur a ready reserve obligation upon completion of her active duty service.

    Although theoretically she will be allowed to pursue any specialty she wants, the needs of the service will always come first and not all specialties will be available to her in the military match. IOW, her choice of specialties may be limited and will be directed by what her branch of the service needs most.


    D1 had 3 classmates who did HPSP, all of whom were ex-military. They all matched well, including one classmate who got the ONLY ophthalmalogy slot offered in the mil match.

    HPSP is highly competitive. Military veterans get preference in HPSP selection.
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  • CU123CU123 3537 replies65 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ….if she wants a military career.

    Don't be confused with serving the 4 years after residency with a military career. Most doctors leave the service after their initial commitment is completed.
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  • SammoJSammoJ 29 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Two friends of our family took this route. one a cardiologist, one a psychiatrist. Almost 20 years after residency, both are very happy to have done so. Both intended to satisfy their 4-year commitment and get out, both stayed in. They have noted that as their non-military colleagues have had more and more insurance paperwork and less patient time, they are not burdened by that. They worried about frequent relocations, that hasn't happened either.
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  • SincererLoveSincererLove 748 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited September 12
    Thank you for your helpful responses.

    D was a swimmer in HS and lettered every year. After freshman 15, she is very into physical health again. A girl who would sneak in pushups and weight training while watching TV. She had thought about going to Naval Academy (the service academies sent a lot of materials to her), but decided against it.

    The army recruiter told her that with her GPA (3.92), she just needs MCAT of 500 to get into medical school. I am sure that is not the case.

    I am not sure how much they get paid after their residency. Are they just captains making $60k? That would be such a paycut compared to civilian doctors!

    My DH and I were ready to full pay for her to go to MIT or U Chicago two years ago. She decided to go to Vandy for CS premed with full tuition scholarship. We wanted to spend the money saved to pay for her medical school. DH is very against HPSP and concerned about her safety.
    edited September 12
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 617 replies55 threadsRegistered User Member
    A few things:

    First, you're getting a bit ahead of yourself. During the course of the lengthy medical school application process, your daughter can decide if she wants to be considered for HPSP. And those scholarships are competitive; I spoke with several parents at my kid's white coat ceremony whose children had been denied the scholarship for a variety of reasons. So she'll need to apply and be offered one before it becomes an issue. And each branch of service handles its own scholarships.
    Here's the Navy fact sheet:
    http://wichita.kumc.edu/Documents/wichita/asa/Navy HSCP Program.pdf
    and USAF
    https://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/Media-Center/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/425437/hpsp-fact-sheet/

    Second, military pay for active duty physicians isn't bad, especially in light of the fact she'll have no(or very little) debt if receives the scholarship. And she'll receive a salary while in medical school(see above). So with no debt and quick-relative to other officers-promotion opportunities, and with specialty pay, the salary can be quite good.

    Third it is incorrect to say if you accept the scholarship, you must make the military your career. My sibling currently works with two former USAF physicians who paid back their time and are now working in a large healthcare organization. They have zero debt from medical school, and are used to treating a diverse patient population, so they got acclimated very quickly. Both are grateful that they took the scholarships.

    Third, for a variety of reasons my experience while on AD is that physicians are respected and highly valued within the military,which is an intangible

    All that said, your student would be joining the military. That means that you can be sent virtually anywhere worldwide at short notice, and be required to stay there for an extended period of time. And no matter what anyone says, there will in fact be the element of risk, and the possibility of being stationed in a war zone. In the book, The Long Road Home(about the period when things went very bad very quickly in Iraq), there's a physician, trained as a pediatrician, who was sent to Iraq. He was suddenly thrown into treating grievously wounded soldiers who had been ambushed on patrol. Graduate of UM and Michigan medical school, he had paid for med school with HPSP, trained as a pediatrician, and had little or no training in trauma. Being a combat physician was not what he had expected.

    I can't emphasize the last part enough; you are in the military. Before applying for and accepting a HPSP scholarship, it is important to understand, as best possible, what this means.
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  • AndorvwAndorvw 338 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Most med students are taking out the fed loan with their signatures, please do not let the army recruiter sweet-talk your D into HPSP without considering all the possible consequences.
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 617 replies55 threadsRegistered User Member
    No matter what else, there is no need to join the military at this point. Let the application process play out first.
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  • GoldenRockGoldenRock 1546 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @SincererLove

    If your D is considering Military for cause, salute her. But if she is considering to contain the cost for MD, she can apply to different medical schools which are relatively less costly like in-state schools, Texas schools and few other schools which give merit aid like NYU, Kaiser, UCLA. Agree, naturally all these schools going to be a notch higher to secure admission since more applicants will apply.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10145 replies200 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    RE: the 500 MCAT

    The recruiter could possibly be talking about the Hebert SOM at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. The average MCAT for USUHS is 508-509, but even with your D's high GPA plus an 508 MCAT, she would still need to go through the regular application process. There is no guarantee of acceptance. Preference in admission is given to current and former military service members.
    https://www.usuhs.edu/medschool/somadmissionrequirements

    Applicants to USUHS must enlist in one of the branches of the military as a condition of enrollment at the program. Tuition is free at Hebert and students receive an officer's salary during medical school.

    The payback period is different than it is for HPSP.

    I would strongly recommend that your D go the military medicine sub-forum at SDN and read about the pluses and minuses of HPSP/Hebert before she makes any decision.

    ~~~~

    There are other scholarship-for-service programs that will pay for medical school. NHSC is a federal program, but there are similar individual state-based programs as well.

    NHSC offers tuition + a living expense stipend in return for 4 years full time working in a primary care specialty (FM, IM, peds, Ob/GYN. Psych and EM have been on the list of allowable specialties in years past, but are not currently included.) in a federally designated medically underserved area. There are 2 and 3 year NHSC scholarships which have shorter payback periods.

    These program are competitive, but less so than HPSP/Hebert

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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 617 replies55 threadsRegistered User Member
    RE: the 500 MCAT

    Military recruiters have a well-deserved reputation for being, er, overly optimistic when speaking with potential recruits.
    Per a recent AMA Journal article:
    "The average MCAT score for students who matriculated to medical school in 2018–2019, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, was 511.2."
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  • texaspgtexaspg 16493 replies340 threadsForum Champion Pre-Med & Medical Forum Champion
    I would assume one can go to DO school with a 500 (i know at least one who joined last year). Does the military only consider MD?
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10145 replies200 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    HPSP scholarships are open to DO students.

    But still there is no guarantee of a DO acceptance with a 500 MCAT. (Median MCAT for matriculating osteopathic students was 504 last year.)
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