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Military medical officer question?

by tom44 on June 12, 2014

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Question by Eritch: Military medical officer question?
I’m a high school student, currently a junior, and I am looking at career options. I’m most likely going to do a pre-med program during college, possibly at UW Madison or the University of Minnesota. If my grades are good enough in college, and I get a good score on the medical exam (I forgot what it’s called), I think I might apply to USUHS. From what I’ve heard, it’s a good school, and military medicine is a field I want to learn more about. I know after USUHS, you become an 0-3 ranked equivalent in the army, navy, or airforce, but do you have to do an internship and residency before you serve the seven years of active duty? Also, as a medical officer, what is your role in the military? Can you progress through the ranks, and do you have the same responsibilities as a normal commissioned officer? Does USUHS give you a leg up in the military? I’m really just looking for a bit more info than the USUHS website gives, from people who have gone through the program.

Best answer:

Answer by Medical Officer
Dear Eritch,
I am a PA-C in US Public Health (also a uniformed service eligible for USUHS) but will attempt to answer your question. I am prior Navy, Army, USAF, and USPHS so I have hit most of them.
This is a great opportunity for you. Generally, you can do a residency if you care to and which the Services offer at their Major Medical Centers on a payback basis. Think San Diego (Navy) , San Antonio (Army), and DC area (Bethesda) If not, you can become a General Medical Officer without the residency and prestige. Seems to me you would want to get that done before you launch your career although with greater payback.
There has been greater emphasis on leadership opportunities within the Medical Community and Officership over the past decades as well as collaboration amongst the services. Perhaps some day it will be all-service to include the VA with personnel assigned and deployed where needed. Some examples of this have already taken place (AKA “purple suit”) Hoping we won’t be actually wearing purple !
Good luck with your future career and glad you are coming behind me and “carrying the guidon”
You may want to contact some of our folks at PHS for general and specific guidance (ccmis, links, Medical Officer will get you there) and Docs from the other services as well) Going directly to those that have done the job will be more objective than the Medical Recruiting sales pitch.
Hope this helps you get started.

Gary Cole, PA-C
CAPT, USPHS

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