Military Medical Education programs
After chatting with my fellow non-military residents about post-graduation financial obligations, I realized that, as well as being proud that I served my country, I am also extremely fortunate to NOT have an insane amount of educational loan debt to repay. For the benefit of those of you who may be considering the military medical scholarship program to offset the ever-increasing cost of medical education, I want to share my experience.
Facing Financial Reality As a Medical Student
First of all, I never in a million years thought I would be in the armed forces… that was until I discovered my medical school tuition alone was $32, 000 a year.
I have a healthy fear of debt, and that was just too much to comprehend. I explored various programs to help with the cost, and found the military most appealing. I found that the, AND paid a living stipend to boot. I was single, mobile and didn’t hesitate to apply.
After a rigorous background check and physical exam at my local recruiting station, the next thing I knew I was “signing my life away” as a brand new Ensign in the US Navy. As far as I know, there are no restrictions on what school you can attend as long as it’s an accredited osteopathic or allopathic program.
Starting Military Training
The first two years of med school required absolutely no military obligation. Between my 2nd and 3rd year, however, it was time to learn how to “be in the military.” This was accomplished by a six-week course entitled “Officer Indoctrination, ” which was held at a training base in Newport, RI. (The course length has since been shortened).
It was there that I learned how to wear the uniform, how (and whom!) to salute and the basics of military history and decorum. I should also mention the daily physical training — those of you not exercise-inclined should weigh this fact heavily. “Fit to fight” isn’t just a motto. It’s a lifestyle.
After that time, I continued with my clinical duties as required by my medical school. I did elective rotations at two of the three primary Naval hospitals that had the surgical internship in which I was interested. The military match is very similar to the standard match, except the results are generally released in December. It’s nice to get that out of the way! Of course, you can apply for a “Full Time Out Service” exception, which allows you to train in a civilian residency. But it will depend on the needs of the military weather that exception is granted. I ended up doing my surgery/orthopedic emphasis internship at Portsmouth Naval Hospital and was very happy with the experience — tired, but happy.
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