View Full Version : Wannabe Physician...

05-24-2009, 23:08
Well I'm a high school student who has had his sights set on the medical side of the military for quite a while now. I'm doing very well in High School and will be taking almost all AP and Honors courses next year. I wrestle and I consider myself in pretty good physical shape (need to work on running a bit). I've admired the whole Special Ops and especially the 18D medical side of the house but I think I would have a more enjoyable career being a PA or Physician. I know there's a couple of routes to get there... the HPSP and USUHS.

Which would be a better (and cheaper being that my family isn't made out of money lol) route to take to become a doctor. I come on this board asking this because I know there's a lot of guys that have dealt and know about military medicine. I've heard and read many positive and negative things about it. I'm a military brat and have no problem whatsoever with the military lifestyle of moving around and getting deployed (maybe I will when I have kids but I still got plenty of time before that). How does the military determine what sub-skill you get e.g. trauma surgeon, neurosurgeon, dentist, etc

I searched and didn't find any threads answering exact questions I had in mind so I decided to go ahead and post a thread on it hoping other peoplez my age had the same questions.

*braces self*

Whoops, just found out I posted this in the wrong sub forum. I meant to put this in the General Medical forum.

05-25-2009, 02:47
I don't think it's a bad thing to be ambitious and keep your goals in sight, but look now to the 25 meter target before deciding where you'll be going to medical school. Get good grades, go to college and get good grades, and finish your premed requirements in the first 2 years. Though med schools require a 4 year degree, the basic prereqs (physics, chem, bio, ochem, and english, +/- calculus or statistics) can be finished in the first 2. Distinguish yourself academically and personally. Only about 1/3 of med school applicants get in.

You would do well to drop some of the common vernacular from your writing if you wish to succeed in the fields of medicine or special operations, and particularly when posting here.

Also figure out what you want to be: PA, or physician, and pursue that. They are not the same thing, and PA is not a "fall back plan". In fact, the prerequisite coursework for PA is more extensive than that for medical school.

As far as a route to go to get to med school, I cannot speak to what is best for you. Only you know that. There are many physicians in special operations who were enlisted warriors long before med school, and they make capable, focused med students, then return to special operations as physicians. Others come to special operations after med school as a GMO or residency trained physician. Being a physician in special operations does not mean you are running around with an M4 shooting bad guys in the face and performing thoracotomies with a pocket knife and 550 cord. If you want to be a "special operator", enlist as a soldier and earn your title like the Quiet Professionals on this site. To that end, you will find ample of solid information on this site, and I am unqualified to advise you on that point.

Specialty is determined by the student, though there are limited slots in the military for some specialties, and the number of "points" you have for things like prior service, GMO time, awards, etc. will help determine where you end up for residency. In the civilian world, you apply to residencies (typically all the same specialty) and rank them in order based on your preferences. A computer compares your list with the lists of the programs, and matches you with a residency slot.

The military will be happy to pay for your med school, just know what you'll give in return.
USUHS: Pros: you get a salary while in med school, which is good. You get better plugged into the military system and meet and greet the people you need to know to get some of the more unusual assignments. Several programs like TCCC, C4, Airborne, and others are part of the regular med school curriculum.
Cons: payback time is longer, on the order of 7 years after residency instead of 4. Specialty choice can be limited by the number of military slots available in that specialty. You can get a deferment to go to a civilian residency of your choice, but don't bet on it.

HPSP: Pros: you can go to a civilian med school of your choice while Uncle Sam picks up the tab for tuition, books, fees, and equipment. You will pay back 4 years AD after residency, and will emerge from that debt free.
Cons: Specialty choice may be limited. If you want something competitive, you may be beat out by someone who has done GMO time and has more points than you, leaving you in a residency you may not want. You get about $1000/month stipend, which isn't much to live on.

FAP: Pros: You can go to a .civ med school and match in whatever residency you choose, just like all the .civ folks. US pays you a stipend through residency, but nothing for you in med school. Payback is 1:1 for each year of residency.
Cons: You still gotta come up with the financial aid to pay for med school.

STRAP: Pros: Like the FAP, only payback is 2:1 in the Reserve rather than 1:1 active duty. If you want to work with combat arms, you'll have a tough time doing it from the Reserves.

The answers to many of your questions about medical school are probably better found over on studentdoctor.net.

Good luck to you.


05-25-2009, 10:13
Doczilla has provided you excellent information from the physician side.
The other side of your option coin, and it is truly an "other side" is the PA route.
Special Forces Medic is a completely different animal and will in fact be an entirely unrelated career path for many years should you choose to do that initially and pursue a professional medical career later on in life.

Though PAs work in many fields as physician extenders, and do about 80% of what physicians do, we are by no means doctors and your focus needs to be clearwhen you begin your training. All PA's are trained as general practitioners. They tend to specialize while on their job; i.e. a PA who gets hired for a vascular service will primarily do vascular stuff and assist in vascular surgery. A PA hired by an Ortho service will mainly do Ortho stuff, etc... PA's are medical professionals, but very different from physicians. We are different to the point that I, as a PA, cannot go back to school for a couple more years and become a physician. So it is neither a fall back, nor is it a stepping stone.

Perhaps the most important point of 'zilla's post was for your focus on the short term (good grades, enjoy cheerleaders, make and enjoy your friends, good grades) and be able to choose your direction for your post high school education and life.

Good luck in your choices.


05-25-2009, 10:55
Perhaps the most important point of 'zilla's post was for your focus on the short term (good grades, enjoy cheerleaders, make and enjoy your friends, good grades) and be able to choose your direction for your post high school education and life.

The above is the best advice that can be "heard" by someone in your position. I hope you listen to it. At your age and experience, you can not appreciate how difficult it will be to maintain the level of discipline needed to actually accomplish the goals you have listed. College is full of distractions and temptations that can derail your future. Make sure you come out of college WITH CHOICES.

Good grades won't cut it.... make them great.
Some extracurricular activity won't cut it..... do everything you can socially and in research and extra projects

Good luck and have fun!

05-27-2009, 20:04
not necessary and not pertinent...

06-29-2009, 16:53
You already have a great wealth of information from those above so I will only add a few things. First, I’m a newly accepted medical student so I will speak from that angle. I cannot tell you whether you should go military first or school first. That is up to you. You can wait till at least your undergrad if not medical school to decide if you want to use FAP, HPSP, or another payment route if you go straight to college.

When looking into where to do your undergrad you need to make sure they have a good pre-health professions office (if they don’t it’s by no means the end of the world, just makes it easier). If they do he/she will be able to better inform you on ways to pay and where to find health professions recruiters for the different military branches.

Make sure you excel in the AP/honors classes you are taking in high school. The key is to not only get good grades in those high school sciences courses, but to really understand. The more you question and understand in high school the easier your first college science classes will be, therefore better grades.

Good grades and several activities mean more scholarship money for undergrad which means fewer hours you have to work which further translates to more hours to study/make good grades in college.

In college you will need to focus on getting even better grades than high school (if you don’t, again it is okay, I didn’t, but worked my tail off). You need medical/volunteer experience as well as to be active in several hobbies or extracurricular activities. I would suggest shadowing doctors (or PAs if that is the route you decide) during your summer before beginning college. This is your least stressful period of time.

As for the hobbies and extracurricular activities, do not find something you think medical school will like. They can see through “fluff.” Do stuff you really enjoy in addition to the pre-med club or pre-pa club. If you like student government, then do it. If raising money for body armor is more your line of work, then go for that. If you enjoy college you will be more likely to succeed academically, but not at the cost of grades.

Unfortunately, I cannot help you passed the undergrad for the PA route, but I can recommend a book that gives charts showing average college GPAs, MCAT scores, other admission numbers, deadline dates, where students do residencies, and a brief synopsis of each allopathic medical school in the US and Puerto Rico including USUHS (Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences for anyone who is confused). It also can give information on those schools which still take undergrads who meet prerequisites since many only take graduates with at least a bachelor's. For medical admission requirements please see: https://services.aamc.org/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=Product.displayForm&prd_id=259&prv_id=318

That’s probably enough for the forum. If you or anyone else has any other questions you can PM me. The best online resource is as Doczilla said, “on studentdoctor.net”. Bottom line is, make good grades. I wish you the best of luck!


01-26-2011, 17:40

01-26-2011, 23:32
The Student Doctor Network forums has copious advice in all areas of your interest.

I used to get on that site whenever I want to make myself angry.

I absolutely HATE even reading what many of those idiots come to think of as common sense, entitlement, or how fragrant they think the stuff that usually comes from their colon is even though it is now coming from their brain to the precious digits.

Lots of stupidity there...


01-27-2011, 04:03
College is full of distractions and temptations that can derail your future.BTDT!!!!!:D

01-27-2011, 12:35
Until I was in the Army I didn't even know PA's existed and now I've been one for 23 years. I started out life as a medic and kept going from there. You've gotten some superb information here and you are the smarter for learning from those who have been there and done it. When I was considering PA vs MD a then good friend of mine who was struggling with the same decision told me what a Dr. friend of hers told her, "Being an MD is your life, being a PA is a profession." I thought long and hard about that and reflecting on my life style at the time and considering the versitility of the PA profession I went the PA route. Sitting where you are right now you're doing all the right things, gathering info and doing good in school; building your "resume" for any of the above mentioned career paths. Stay on track and you'll get to the point where the decision feels natural. Until then, keep it up.

02-01-2011, 01:17

07-12-2011, 17:04
*Two Years Later*

Well... I start college next month. Majoring in Biology.

I'm doing Army ROTC. I've been browsing around the SDN forums and what you guys have said is pretty true. My biggest worry right now is just staying focused and finding a good balance between social and academic life, but hopefully I'll find my way.