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Joining The Military As A Doctor

Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

Are you an international student? and been puzzled by the contradictory information you encountered on the internet. You need not look further, this article allows you to learn more about joining the military as a doctor.

It is possible for you to find more information about how to join the military to become a doctor on collegelearners. Read on to discover the latest information on can you join the military to become a doctor

About Can A Doctor Join The Military

The Military offers several entry points for physicians and aspiring physicians alike. At whatever stage you join, you will benefit from exclusive training, financial assistance and the unique experiences that come from working with the Military’s exceptional patient population. Discover how the Military can help you achieve your goals.

About The Military Services
The U.S. Military has five Services: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Each Service has an active-duty and Reserve component. Additionally, the Army and Air Force have Guard components that are controlled by state governments, unless they are called to serve during emergencies or support military objectives.

Joining + Eligibility | Medicine + the Military

While all the Service branches need physicians, keep in mind that Navy physicians serve the Marine Corps as well as the Navy, and members of the Coast Guard rely on the Public Health Service instead of the Military. There are also some differences in the career paths available for different active-duty Services and different Reserve and Guard components.

Eligibility Requirements »
Aspiring military physicians must distinguish themselves mentally and physically and always push themselves to be the best. Find out what it takes to be a military doctor.

Medical School Scholarships »
The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) offers two-, three- and four-year military scholarships for all students. It covers civilian medical school tuition and includes a monthly stipend and signing bonus.

Military Medical School »
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) looks for aspiring students with a passion for service. They are active-duty service members with their education paid for by the government, plus a salary and military benefits.

Medical Resident Program »
For residents, the Financial Assistance Program (FAP) includes an annual grant of $45,000, a monthly stipend of over $2,000, reimbursement for required books, equipment and supplies and payment of any required tuition.

Part-Time Service Options for Students + Residents »
Medical students and residents can gain invaluable experience and benefits by serving part time in the Reserve and Guard components of the Military. They can also participate in various stipend programs and trainings.

Licensed Physician Options »
Licensed physicians can serve in the Military either full or part time and even receive a signing bonus. The Military provides the requisite tools to practice a specialty and spend time with patients without worrying about the overheads.

Nicole Solana performing an eye exam
Did You Know?
The U.S. Military has five Services, and each Service has an active-duty and a Reserve component.

Learn More About the Military Service Branches
Explore Your Options
Select the category that best fits you and see the opportunities the Military has to offer.

HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE STUDENT
The Military offers several funding programs to cover the costs of medical school in exchange for a service commitment. If you elect to join the Military through one of these programs, not only will you receive funding for education, but you will also gain unique training experiences that will set you apart from your peers.

Medical School Scholarships »
The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) covers the cost of civilian medical school, provides extra training opportunities and can be used at any accredited medical school in the United States or Puerto Rico.

Military Medical School »
America’s Medical School, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), offers world-class medical training, along with leadership development and training in global health and medical diplomacy.

Part-Time Service Options for Students »
If one of your students is interested in attending a civilian medical school, they may be able to participate in the Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP), which offers over $2,000 per month in exchange for part-time service in either the Reserve or Guard.

MEDICAL STUDENT
If you are already a medical student, it isn’t too late to join a physician officer commissioning program and receive a scholarship for the remainder of your schooling. You could also serve part time in exchange for drill pay and additional training as a member of the Reserve and Guard.

Medical School Scholarships »
The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) covers the cost of civilian medical school, provides extra training opportunities and can be used at any accredited medical school in the United States or Puerto Rico.

Medical Resident Program (Medical Student) »
Students in their last year of medical school may be interested in the Financial Assistance Program (FAP), which provides a monthly stipend of over $2,000 and an annual grant of $45,000 in exchange for a service commitment. Participants must attend an accredited residency in a specialty that the Military considers critical.

Madigan physician named Female Physician of the Year | Article | The United  States Army

Part-time Service Options for Students »
If you are already accepted to a civilian medical school, you can participate in the Reserve and Guard’s Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP), which offers over $2,000 a month in exchange for part-time service.

MEDICAL RESIDENT
As a resident, you will surely immerse yourself in your medical specialty — but you can further bolster your training through military service. You can also participate in the Financial Assistance Program (FAP), which helps pay for your residency, or you can participate in programs specific to the Reserve or Guard.

Medical Resident Program (Medical Resident) »
The Financial Assistance Program (FAP) provides a monthly stipend of over $2,000 and an annual grant of $45,000 on top of normal residency pay in exchange for a service commitment. Participants must attend an accredited residency in a specialty that the Military considers critical.

Part-Time Service Options for Residents »
If you are already accepted to a civilian residency program, you can participate in the Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP) or Training in Medical Specialties (TMS) program, each of which offers over $2,000 a month in exchange for part-time Reserve or Guard service.

LICENSED PHYSICIAN
If you have already completed medical school and residency, you can serve as a military physician, regardless of where you are in your career. You could join the Military full time, or you could maintain your civilian practice while serving part time as a member of the Reserve or Guard.

Licensed Physician Options »
You can serve either full-time on Active Duty or part-time in the Reserve or Guard, which will allow you to maintain your civilian practice. Depending on your training, experience and skills, you typically enter the Military at the rank of captain or major in the Army and Air Force or lieutenant or lieutenant commander in the Navy.

You’re not just training to be a physician. You’re also training to be an officer. In fact, you’re a military officer as soon as you join, whether or not you have completed medical school. While there are variations in what you learn among the Services, you will immerse yourself in military culture, study the leadership skills required of all officers and participate in physical officer training.

Being An Officer
By serving as an officer in the Military, you will be a leader. You will be expected to support, manage and inspire not only officers but also enlisted service members, who usually perform day-to-day tasks. The skills you learn in this position can be applied anywhere, whether you continue on in the Military or move to a civilian career.

Commissioning + Rank
When you join the Military, you will be commissioned as an officer. If you join during medical school, either through the Health Services Scholarship Program, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences or the Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program, you will enter the Military as a second lieutenant in the Army or Air Force or as an ensign in the Navy. After graduation, you will advance to the rank of captain in the Army or Air Force or lieutenant in the Navy. If you join through the Financial Assistance Program, you will serve at the rank of at least captain (Army/Air Force) or lieutenant (Navy).

When you join the Military, you will be commissioned as an officer.

If you enter as a licensed physician, your rank will typically begin at captain or major (Army/Air Force) or lieutenant or lieutenant commander (Navy), but it may be higher depending on where you are in your career. When you apply to join the Military, a professional review board will evaluate your work experience and prior service, if any. Once your rank is determined, it must be approved by Congress or the Secretary of Defense. This process may take several months.

What To Expect From Your Training
Physicians do not attend the same Basic Training required for enlisted service members, but they must participate in officer training. Since training can take between 5 and 14 weeks, it is preferable to complete officer training as soon as possible so that your training does not unnecessarily interrupt your medical studies or career, though the timing may depend on your situation.

Below you will find the name, length and location of officer training for each Service:

Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard

Basic Officer Leaders Course (OBC)

10–14 weeks for Active Duty
Two weeks for Reserve
Fort Sam Houston, Texas
More about OBC

Navy and Navy Reserve

Officer Development School (ODS)

Five weeks for Active Duty
Two weeks for Reserve
Naval Station Newport, R.I.
More about ODS

Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard

Doctor finds military career immensely rewarding | Article | The United  States Army

Commissioned Officer Training (COT)

Five and a half weeks
Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
More about COT

If you have prior commissioned service in the branch to which you’re applying, you may not need to attend officer training. Contact your recruiter for more information.

You want to join the Army, serve your country and see the world. You’d also love to become a doctor — after all, the healing professions are just the thing for you. Hey, why not do both?

The Army needs doctors — and offers generous financial assistance to attract them. The American Medical Association estimates the average cost of four years of medical school to be more than $250,000 [source: U,S, Army] and the Army offers aid to pay for the whole package.

The pay for an Army doctor may not be as high as that of a provider in private practice. Basic pay for an Army captain is $44,543 a year [source: U.S. Army], while the median salary of a general practice civilian physician is $119,122 [source: Pay Scale]. But completing a residency in a qualified field can bring a $75,000 bonus [source: U.S. Army]. Promotions, allowances, board certification and re-enlistment bring more money.

Plus, Army doctors often work shorter hours than their civilian colleagues. They enjoy regular vacations and excellent benefits. They have a guaranteed job with generous retirement benefits.

Some aspiring physicians are attracted to the life of an Army doctor. You won’t need to build a practice or manage a business. No worries about malpractice insurance, no dealing with health insurance company bureaucracy. You’ll have opportunities to travel and to enjoy the camaraderie of the service.

But the military lifestyle is not for everyone. The bureaucracy and hierarchy of rank can be a drawback for some. Most Army doctors are deployed overseas at some point (though not necessarily to a war zone), away from their families. And keep in mind that once you enlist, it’s your superior officers who decide where you go and what you do. They will try to honor your preferences, but there are no guarantees.

About 65 percent of Army doctors are reserve officers, serving part-time when not called to active duty [source: Darves]. The rest opt for a full-time military career. Almost all medical specialties are represented. You’ll also find opportunities to do research, to teach, or to work in medical administration.

Read on for some valuable tips for becoming an Army doctor.

Tips for Becoming a Doctor in the Army
Your first step will be to contact an Army recruiter. That person can give you a clear picture of your options.

If you decide to become an Army doctor, you will begin with same medical training as any physician. You’ll attend either a civilian medical school or the special Uniformed Services University, a federal medical school that trains doctors for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service. When you complete your education, which may include specialized training in combat medical skills, you’ll enter the military with a captain’s rank. Army doctors do not have to go through basic training. Instead, they attend a six-week Officer Basic Leadership Course, which teaches about military life and the role of a leader [source: U.S. Army].

Keep in mind that the Army requires the same high academic qualifications as any medical school. That means you need a solid grade point average and a good score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). You’ll also need to have recommendations from professors [source: Darves].

The Army has additional qualifications that don’t apply to civilian medical students. You need to be physically fit and must pass height and weight standards. You’ll have to receive a security clearance [source: Darves].

The financial assistance opportunities are many. Here are some of the ways the Army can help with the cost of your medical education [sources: U.S. Army; USU; Directorate of Medical Education]:

The Health Professions Scholarship Program pays all your tuition and fees for four years of medical school and gives you a monthly stipend of more than $2,000. After you graduate, you’ll serve one year in the Army for each year you received the scholarship.
The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is tuition-free. Graduates must complete seven years active duty and six years as a reservist [source: Frager].
The Financial Assistance Program is designed for medical school graduates wishing to go for specialized training. On completion, they become active duty officers for at least two years. .
The Specialized Training Assistance Program is designed for physicians currently enrolled in residency programs. You receive a monthly stipend of more than $2,000 and become part of the Army Reserves when you finish.
Probably the best tip is: Don’t become an Army doctor just for the money. Financial help with your education is great. But joining the military an important decision that will change the direction of your life. You need to be motivated by more than dollars.

The next section will give you more valuable information about becoming an Army doctor.

Military Doctor FAQ
How much do military doctors make?
Military doctors earn up to $275,000 a year. These funds include their yearly bonuses and additional compensation.
How do you become a military doctor?
Military doctors are required to complete their bachelor’s and medical degrees in order to qualify. They are then required to join the military.
Do military doctors fight?
Military doctors may not fight physically but they face ethical challenges while treating their patients as enemy soldiers require medical assistance as well.
What rank are military doctors?
When you enter the military as a licensed physician, your rank will begin as a Captain of the Army or Major of the Air Force.
How long does it take to become a military doctor?
If you graduated with a medical degree after 4 years and go straight to training, you will have to serve 4 years in the military as well to become an official military doctor.

Medical careers in the military can be extremely versatile, rewarding, and exciting. A military doctor provides health care to military personnel and their families and can work in a variety of settings, including hospital ships and international medical centers. Doctors enlisted in the military might take part in international relief efforts by providing care to victims of natural disasters. They also might ensure that soldiers are physically fit for duty and treat injuries during combat and other emergencies. Leadership positions might involve commanding medical units or coordinating the placement and employment of medical personnel.

The military employs doctors with specializations in common types of medicine such as pediatrics, family care, and neurology. Military physicians also might receive training and treatments pertaining to diving, tropical environments, or aerospace medicine. Military doctors need self-discipline and the ability to handle intense stress and pressure. Additionally, these army doctors must be physically fit and have exceptional critical thinking and quick decision making skills. According to Payscale.com, an army doctor salary is reported for those serving in the military with a Doctor of Medicine degree, earning between $100,000 and $275,000 as of January, 2020. The following article outlines the particular steps and options required on the path for how to become an army doctor.

Can A Doctor Join The Military

Degree Level Doctor of Medicine (completion of undergraduate, medical school, and residency)
Degree Field(s) Biological sciences or pre-med
License/Certification Licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.
Key Skills Self-discipline; ability to handle stress and pressure; critical thinking and decision-making skills; able to pass security clearance and physical requirements to contract with the military branch of choice
Annual Salary (2020) $100,000 – $275,000*
*Source: Payscale.com

How to Become a Military Doctor: Steps
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to become a military doctor is to earn a bachelor’s degree, which is necessary to enter medical school. Premedical students usually take classes in science – such as biology and chemistry – in addition to humanities and other disciplines. Students considering a career in medicine should seek out relevant volunteer opportunities in medical centers or similar environments. To strengthen their candidacy, students might wish to pursue an additional degree or more work experience before applying to a Doctor of Medicine program.

Step 2: Earn a Medical Degree
Civilians entering the military as medical officers generally need a degree from an approved medical school. While students can attend a military medical school, it isn’t necessary to have a degree from a military-affiliated school to join the military. Students might qualify for military financial aid to support them during medical school with an agreement that they join the military as a commissioned officer after graduation.

Students usually need four years to complete a medical degree. Typically, medical students take courses and have some contact with patients during the first half of the program of study. Possible course topics include microbiology, pharmacology, medicinal law and ethics. Students spend the second half of their program working in medical settings under the supervision of experienced physicians.

There are two main career paths for completing a medical degree with the goal of becoming a military doctor. These two options are the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).

HPSP: This training is fairly comparable to civilian medical training, however students receive a basic military training and are given the opportunity to become ‘active duty’ and rotate at local military hospitals. Benefits to this program include:

Choice of any medical school in the U.S.
Tuition is entirely paid for, with a monthly stipend included for living expenses
Some of the disadvantages, or things to keep in mind when choosing a program that focuses on how to become a military doctor are:

You need to payback the years of tuition by serving as a military doctor for the same amount of time it took to complete a medical degree (1 to 1 payback program)
These programs very rarely allow wide exposure to military practices, such as matching processes or drills and field exercises. Because the HPSP allows for medical degrees to be completed at any academic institution, there are often few HPSP recipients and you may feel detached from the larger military medical training
USUHS: This career option is connected directly to the military’s medical school. Depending on your personal preferences, there are many advantages and disadvantages to the USUHS career path. Some of the advantages include:

Full engagement in military training and practices. At the military’s medical school, students are fully integrated in military culture, including field exercises, but also early exposure to field practice with the option of rotating across the U.S. or internationally
Tuition is completely free, and students receive a salary of $40,000/year with an additional $20,000 non-taxable income to be used for housing
A few of the disadvantages to the USUHS program include:

No choice of location and students must attend the USUHS, which is located in Bethesda, Maryland
Students owe the military 7 years of active military service in order to payback the free tuition of the USUHS program
Step 3: Join the Military
Exact admission prerequisites will vary between different branches of the military; however, all applicants need to meet health, character and age requirements. In addition, a security clearance might be required. Doctors might need to hold a current state medical license and currently practice in the United States. All military members sign a contract that includes a minimum amount of service time.

Medical careers in the military
Career Advancement
As with all military officers, doctors can advance in rank and receive commensurate pay raises. Promotions within the military are generally based on time served and performance evaluations. Experienced military doctors might instruct at service schools or advise other military units. They also might leave the military and apply their skills to a career in civilian health care.

The Army needs doctors — and offers generous financial assistance to attract them. The American Medical Association estimates the average cost of four years of medical school to be more than $250,000] and the Army offers aid to pay for the whole package.

The pay for an Army doctor may not be as high as that of a provider in private practice. Basic pay for an Army captain is $44,543 a yearwhile the median salary of a general practice civilian physician is $119,122. But completing a residency in a qualified field can bring a $75,000 bonus Promotions, allowances, board certification and re-enlistment bring more money.

Plus, Army doctors often work shorter hours than their civilian colleagues. They enjoy regular vacations and excellent benefits. They have a guaranteed job with generous retirement benefits.

Military Doctor Program

Some aspiring physicians are attracted to the life of an Army doctor. You won’t need to build a practice or manage a business. No worries about malpractice insurance, no dealing with health insurance company bureaucracy. You’ll have opportunities to travel and to enjoy the camaraderie of the service.

But the military lifestyle is not for everyone. The bureaucracy and hierarchy of rank can be a drawback for some. Most Army doctors are deployed overseas at some point (though not necessarily to a war zone), away from their families. And keep in mind that once you enlist, it’s your superior officers who decide where you go and what you do. They will try to honor your preferences, but there are no guarantees.

About 65 percent of Army doctors are reserve officers, serving part-time when not called to active duty The rest opt for a full-time military career. Almost all medical specialties are represented. You’ll also find opportunities to do research, to teach, or to work in medical administration.

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