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Posted: 10/29/2006 6:30:11 AM EST
Hello all,

I'm currently a college senior in a pre-medical program, and I've been accepted into medical school starting next year. I have sufficiently high grades and MCAT scores to qualify for an Air Force scholarship, which will pay all my tuition and fees and give me a monthly stipend. Once I'm a fully certified doctor (after residency, which I can perform in either a civilian or an Air Force hospital), I'll owe four years of service. I want to go into surgery; I'm currently leaning towards orthopedics or vascular work, although that may change, as I still have several years before I must make a decision.

I've heard consistent opinions that the Air Force treats its people better than the other branches, which is why I'm looking at them instead of the Army/Navy (and the Marines don't have their own doctors).

The benefits would be no student debt, no malpractice insurance, less meddling with overhead concerns, and the very important (to me) factor that I would be working on people who deserve 100% of everything I could do for them, as opposed to working in the civilian sector, where I would be obligated to help heal worthless gangbangers who've been shot by other gangbangers (on the taxpayer's dime, naturally). I'd also be "putting my money where my mouth is" by joining the service, as opposed to supporting them without having been in the military myself. The money is not an all-important factor, nor even the most important factor; I will get through medical school, scholarship or not.

The downside, obviously, would be that I wouldn't be able to get out once I've gotten in, until my contract is fulfilled. I tend to work well in ordered, structured environments, but it's still a big decision to make.

What are your opinions on this? Which way would you go, if you were in my position? I have to decide quickly, else all the scholarships will be gone.

(Also, do Air Force bases allow you to own personal firearms? Do they have open range times? Do you bring your own ammo, buy theirs, or is it provided?)
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 6:31:49 AM EST
Of course you should do it.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 6:39:52 AM EST

Originally Posted By Kylaer_:
Hello all,

I'm currently a college senior in a pre-medical program, and I've been accepted into medical school starting next year. I have sufficiently high grades and MCAT scores to qualify for an Air Force scholarship, which will pay all my tuition and fees and give me a monthly stipend. Once I'm a fully certified doctor (after residency, which I can perform in either a civilian or an Air Force hospital), I'll owe four years of service. I want to go into surgery; I'm currently leaning towards orthopedics or vascular work, although that may change, as I still have several years before I must make a decision.

I've heard consistent opinions that the Air Force treats its people better than the other branches, which is why I'm looking at them instead of the Army/Navy (and the Marines don't have their own doctors).

The benefits would be no student debt, no malpractice insurance, less meddling with overhead concerns, and the very important (to me) factor that I would be working on people who deserve 100% of everything I could do for them, as opposed to working in the civilian sector, where I would be obligated to help heal worthless gangbangers who've been shot by other gangbangers (on the taxpayer's dime, naturally). I'd also be "putting my money where my mouth is" by joining the service, as opposed to supporting them without having been in the military myself. The money is not an all-important factor, nor even the most important factor; I will get through medical school, scholarship or not.
The downside, obviously, would be that I wouldn't be able to get out once I've gotten in, until my contract is fulfilled. I tend to work well in ordered, structured environments, but it's still a big decision to make.

What are your opinions on this? Which way would you go, if you were in my position? I have to decide quickly, else all the scholarships will be gone.

(Also, do Air Force bases allow you to own personal firearms? Do they have open range times? Do you bring your own ammo, buy theirs, or is it provided?)


If money isn't a factor, then go for it
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 6:47:07 AM EST
Do it.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 7:14:00 AM EST

Originally Posted By raven:
Of course you should do it.


Absolutely!!!.........I had the chance and didn't...........I've regreted it every day since!!!
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 10:41:12 AM EST
Just remember that no matter what they tell you; Motrin doesn't really cure anything.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 10:56:56 AM EST
Financially, you'd probably be better off NOT doing it. Just do the math; figure out the difference between incomes in the Air Force and private practice (for ortho or vascular) over four years vs. the amount of loans you'd have to take out for school and living.

That said.... it's still not a bad choice to join, especially if you think it's something you might enjoy. First of all, you'd be serving the country which is highly commendable. Also, four years isn't *that* long of a time, during which you'd still be making a relatively generous salary. Also, there's a lot to be said for the peace of mind of not having loans hanging over your head, especially when they're usually paid back over 10 years.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 11:54:25 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 3:47:16 PM EST by DocH]
I would NOT do it, for many reasons too numerous to list here.

I am a former Navy physician who resigned my commission as an O-6 select 18 months ago.

The military medical system is badly broken, and is spiralling the drain. It will take some kind of major scandal or similar disaster before the idiots wearing stars get their heads out of their asses and fix the system. Or maybe not. It may take Congress and a new SECDEF.

Before your sign anything check out this (and other) threads in the Military Medicine Forum on the Student Doctor Network Forums:

AVOID MILITARY MEDICINE IF POSSIBLE

Read, and be forewarned....

Doc H
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 12:05:11 PM EST
Yes sir(How's that sound;). Then when you are out you will have the prestigious title of doctor. Gotta serve your country if you appreciate the life you have. I, for one, think all able males should have a mandatory two year tour with any one of our beloved branches. AF works for you.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 12:28:21 PM EST
An alternative:

Join the USAF right now through ROTC and get commissioned when you finish under-grad and then see if you can write into your contract to have the USAF pay for medical school. You'd be earning 2LT pay while in med school instead of the stipend.

Talk to your local AFROTC cadre about this option to see if it will work.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 2:28:56 PM EST
Get med school and a residency while on active duty. Mant civilian docs did the same and got out later with no student loans and a specialty.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 2:30:59 PM EST

Originally Posted By Mazeman:
Financially, you'd probably be better off NOT doing it. Just do the math; figure out the difference between incomes in the Air Force and private practice (for ortho or vascular) over four years vs. the amount of loans you'd have to take out for school and living.

That said.... it's still not a bad choice to join, especially if you think it's something you might enjoy. First of all, you'd be serving the country which is highly commendable. Also, four years isn't *that* long of a time, during which you'd still be making a relatively generous salary. Also, there's a lot to be said for the peace of mind of not having loans hanging over your head, especially when they're usually paid back over 10 years.


Plus you can "moonlight" in your off time off base.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 2:36:32 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 2:37:29 PM EST by raven]

Originally Posted By DocH:
I would NOT do it, for many reason too numerous to list here.

I am a former Navy physician who resigned my commission as an O-6 select 18 months ago.

The military medical system is badly broken, and is spiralling the drain. It will take some kind of major scandal or similar disaster before the idiots wearing stars get their heads out of their asses and fix the system. Or maybe not. It may take Congress and a new SECDEF.

Before your sign anything check out this (and other) threads in the Military Medicine Forum on the Student Doctor Network Forums:

AVOID MILITARY MEDICINE IF POSSIBLE

Read, and be forewarned....

Doc H


What about the USPHS?
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 2:57:27 PM EST
Better read the fine print. In the military medical corps your service committment doesn`t begin until you complete your residency.. With an ortho or general surgical residency of six years and a service obligation of four years, you`re talking about a total committment of ten years.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:02:54 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 3:03:51 PM EST by GySgtD]
The first step in your journey would be to learn how to spell "corps".

pet peave peeve (sp?)
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:15:39 PM EST
The Marines do have their own doctors. I met an eye specialist at the President's military hospital. "Dont worry son...thats just a birth mark inside yer eyeball.....come back every year and well take pictures of it to see if it grows"

Stupid Marine Doctor.

Ask your wife if you have any common sense. If she says no....then by all means become a military doctor. Nobody can sue you for malpractice.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 3:54:48 PM EST

Originally Posted By 2fewtoys:
The Marines do have their own doctors. I met an eye specialist at the President's military hospital. "Dont worry son...thats just a birth mark inside yer eyeball.....come back every year and well take pictures of it to see if it grows"

Stupid Marine Doctor.

Ask your wife if you have any common sense. If she says no....then by all means become a military doctor. Nobody can sue you for malpractice.


Umm, the USMC does not have their own (i.e. USMC) physicians, medics (corpsmen), chaplains, dentists, nurses, or Medical Service Corps personnel. All these specialties are U.S. Navy people attached to Marine units.

Doc H.
Former Navy Flight Surgeon
VMA(AW)-224
VMGR-252
MAG-14
MAG-40
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:03:21 PM EST

Originally Posted By 2fewtoys:
Ask your wife if you have any common sense. If she says no....then by all means become a military doctor. Nobody can sue you for malpractice.



Actually, medical malpractice is a court martial offense. You don`t get sued. You do prison time, with forfieture of rank, pay, and benefits.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:35:09 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2006 4:38:17 PM EST by Kylaer_]
Hmm...From reading the commentary of people who are (or have been) military doctors on the other forum, sounds like the state of affairs is not that great. That's discouraging. Not completely discarding the idea, but I'm leaning against it now.

Maybe I'll look at it again once I've graduated from medical school (unless I entirely derail during school, but I don't think that's too likely). Perhaps the situation will have changed.


Ask your wife if you have any common sense. If she says no....then by all means become a military doctor.


Don't have a wife. I did ask my dad what his opinion was, he was against it, for the reason that once I'm in, I can't get out until my commitment is through.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 4:39:54 PM EST

Originally Posted By Kylaer_:
(Also, do Air Force bases allow you to own personal firearms? Do they have open range times? Do you bring your own ammo, buy theirs, or is it provided?)


You can own firearms, but you have to store them in the armory if you live on base.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:05:26 PM EST
Do it. You have no loans to repay, no malpractice insurance bills and you get a specialty bonus that was in the late 80's 50 to 150% of an officers base pay.


You will be repsected by people and treated well, but remember that some of the nurses will outrank you.

My wife is an RN in a civilian hospital. One of the Doctors is a retired Navy doc. He was a surgeon and lived on his Base Pay and investeted the bonus. He is quite wealthy now more so than most of his civilian counterparts. As a surgeon that is indeed saying something.

Get a commission now and got to school as a second lieutenant if they let you. Get your medical degree while serving on active duty. You then go to your residency at a military hospital also on active duty. When your commitment starts you will have had 10 years active duty more or less. At the time your commitment is up you will have 14 or 15 years on active duty and you may as well get the whole 20. With twenty years active duty then you retire with a sizable pension and family benifits at 44 years of age.

Then you go into practice at a civilian hospital somewhere like the Navy Doc my wife work with. PM Me and I will get contact info for this Doctor.


Remember that although the Air Force is very good to most people it does not mean that AF Medicine is the greatest. Drive to different AF, USN, and USA hospitals and speak to the Doctors there.


I was not nor was my wife in the medical end while I was on active duty. But this old Jarhead is rather partial to Navy Medicine.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:09:44 PM EST

Originally Posted By WooDy_the_infidel:

Originally Posted By Kylaer_:
(Also, do Air Force bases allow you to own personal firearms? Do they have open range times? Do you bring your own ammo, buy theirs, or is it provided?)


You can own firearms, but you have to store them in the armory if you live on base.


Only the enlisted guys living in the dorms. If you leave in family housing you can keep them in your house, but you have to register them with the SP's.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:11:02 PM EST

Originally Posted By Chris_in_TX:
Just remember that no matter what they tell you; Motrin doesn't really cure anything.


Link Posted: 10/29/2006 11:34:54 PM EST
Uggh,

This thread certainly stirred up a lot of bad memories....

Here’s a few of my experiences with a USAF hospital and staff.


As a USAF police commander, I and my Senior NCOs witnessed so much gross medical incompetence, we formed a pact. Should one of us get injured, the others would call 911 and transport him to the main gate so a civilian ambulance would take him to the civilian hospital. We knew this would send the wing kings into a rage, and that the USAF wouldn’t reimburse us a single dime, but it was much preferred to being a guinea pig for a bunch of dangerous medical staff.

During one trip to the ER, after we had delivered a combative drunk for a blood test, I walked a few doors down to investigate a woman screaming at the top of her lungs. She had a severe cut above her knee, about 5 inches long, and the doctor was stitching her up like a baseball. I started to tell her to shut up and bear the pain because she was military, but the doctor explained that they had run out of anesthetics, and the only pain killer available was tylenol/codeine syrup.

There was such a high rate of complicated pregnancies, due to nurse/doctor errors, that my 18-20 year old airmen were taking out $3000 personal loans (at 12%-15%) so their wives could give birth at the civilian hospital. These guys were making peanuts, and knew it would take them several years of scrimping to pay it off.

Our base went through hospital commanders about every six months, with each one being sacked for some type of major coverup or screwup. Several malpractice victims (dependant wives) went to their congressmen, who started intense investigations, that uncovered all kinds of crazy shit, which resulted in the commander getting fired and assigned some menial job a two-striper could do.

Here’s just a few of the medical people we arrested...

1. A 1LT pharmacist for stealing drugs and selling them to civilian abusers.
2. A Major doctor for giving vaginal exams to females complaining of any minor illness.
3. A Captain for stealing large quantities of medical supplies, that the hospital desperately needed.
4. A nurse for falsifying hundreds of records to cover up work she was supposed to do but did not.
5. A LtCol for stealing expensive equipment he was going to use in private practice when he retired from the military.
6. A Lt Col for sexually molesting very young girls, under the pretense of free medical exams for indigent civilians. This was his way of “helping the community”. You have to be pretty damn twisted to pull that kind of crap.

Lots of USAF medical people failed biannual drug tests. I had access to the roster of base personnel who were under investigation, were suspended from duty, from PRP, etc, and the majority were medical people for drug related incidents. When they are removed from duty, their coworkers (you) have to pick up the extra workload.


While medical malpractice can be prosecuted under the UCMJ, it was usually swept under the rug in my experience. I’m talking GROSS malpractice, where the service member died because the doctor failed to order simple tests, or missed an obvious diagnosis, etc. In my experience, USAF doctors could kill service members with impunity. We had a surgeon who experimented on troops that complained of throat problems. He would slit their necks open from ear to ear to do exploratory surgery, despite his fellow doctors trying to stop him (interesting conversation at the O-Club one night).
One of my Law Enforcement Desk Sgts was a victim of this quack. He had a huge, horrible scar to wear for the rest of his life. The hospital eventually sent this idiot to another base, where he continued his experiments, until someone finally went public on him, after about 20 victims, some who died.


If you think being an officer and a doctor will command the respect of those around you, think again. There is a big difference between customs/courtesy and respect. Whenever I arrested a high-ranking officer, I was courteous and complied with required customs. However, through my verbal and non-verbal communication, that officer knew clearly that I thought he was a total shitbag. Anyone wants my respect, they damn well gotta earn it. Your subordinates will let you know what they think of you, in many subtle ways. You treat them poorly, they will reciprocate. Your rank doesn’t make you a better person, it simply means you have greater responsibilities to fulfill.

The USAF may treat you well, or it may treat you like old garbage (for years). You could get stuck (like me) working 70-80 hours in a seven day period, with no time off, and your leave denied repeatedly. My leave was denied for more than two years straight, and then I began losing leave. Need time off for a death in the family, tough shit. If your commander is an asshole, and many are, he can make your life pure hell. If you complain to his commander, you’ve just made your situation a lot worse. You may be a doctor and an officer, but still be assigned plenty of shit jobs, because the hospital is way understaffed, or you pissed off someone above you. Want to transfer to another base? It may be even worse than your current situation. As a military member, you give up a lot of control over your own life.

You may be determined to give our soldiers the finest medical care possible, but get stuck in a rundown dump where your commanders/peers/subordinates truly don’t care, with shortages of basic supplies, and work next to fantastically incompetent people. If that situation would frustrate you , I doubt the military is a good choice for you.

What would you do when you know a fellow doctor is abusing patients, or is incompetent to practice? A very real possibility. Do you keep your mouth shut and watch soldier after soldier become victims? Or do you try to solve the problem, and probably be destroyed financially and careerwise by a vindictive USAF officer corps. I initially tried to correct the problems I saw, but quickly realized that the corps would refuse to even admit there was a problem. The USAF considered itself the greatest military service on the planet, problems did not exist, and anyone who said differently was a vile traitor, to be punished quickly and severely. I saw several careers ended because someone tried to “do the right thing”.

If you think the Inspector General would help your cause, think again. During my tour, when the IG received a complaint, it was turned over to the offending unit for investigation. Of course, the unit commander did a “thorough” investigation and found nothing wrong, and the case was closed. Except for the witch hunt, to find whoever filed the complaint. That person would be found and destroyed. I once walked in to my commander’s office, to find him in a furious rage, red-faced, swearing like a sailor, and swinging his ceremonial sword around like a crazed kamikaze. In front of female Airmen, he yelled, “When I find the fucking bastard that filed that complaint, I’m going to cut his balls off and shove them down his throat.” Just another day at the office for me. Would it bother you to work for someone like that, for several years? This man absolutely destroyed the lives of several military members, mainly for spite.

After you sign that contract, you may find that you absolutely hate the corps, or the military lifestyle, or your SOB commander, and then you are seriously screwed. Life can seem like a prison sentence when you’re stuck in a miserable situation for the next several years.
I knew a boatload of officers who hated their jobs, but had invested 8 or so years, and decided to invest another decade of their lives being miserable, just for that stinking pension. A few others decided to bail, despite having 16 -18 years in service. A few took another route, suicide. I remember reading several suicide notes, that stated their commanders/supervisors had made life so unbearable for these people, they preferred death over remaining in their current situation. Destroying people was considered a sport by many commanders. I used to sit in Wing Battle Staff and listen to them brag about how they “tightened up”, or “stomped” someone who displeased them. That person could be anyone, from a junior Airman, to a full bird Colonel.


If you go USAF officer, here’s the one single most important piece of advice I can give...

TRUST NO ONE.

and cover your ass 24/7. Use a micro tape recorder, written logs, computer, etc. on a DAILY basis. Sooner or later, you’ll get caught up in an incident, and the guilty parties will be more than happy to make you the fall guy. Out of a hundred or so officers I dealt with, I think maybe five actually had any measurable amount of dignity and integrity. The others were just scoundrels in a nice uniform, who would pat you on the back just before they stabbed you in the back. “Duty, Honor, Country” meant absolutely nothing to most of them.

The USAF officer corps was the sorriest excuse for a professional organization that I have ever had the misfortune to be associated with. It was a huge disappointment for me. I had spent a decade preparing for a 30+ year USAF career, but after only two years active duty, I finally had to admit to myself it would be a huge waste of my life.

Go visit your local USAF hospital and make friends with a few lower ranking people, enlisted or officer ( not the lifers), they will tell you what the life/job is really like. You need to put a price on your happiness. Determine the financial gains a military career has over a civilian career. Assume a worst case scenario, and decide if that money is worth being completely miserable for 20 of the most productive years of your life. Assume your misery will impact the lives of your family as well. Of course, you could also experience a best case scenario...



but I seriously doubt it.


Good luck with whatever route you choose.
Link Posted: 10/30/2006 1:30:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By 2A373:

Originally Posted By WooDy_the_infidel:

Originally Posted By Kylaer_:
(Also, do Air Force bases allow you to own personal firearms? Do they have open range times? Do you bring your own ammo, buy theirs, or is it provided?)


You can own firearms, but you have to store them in the armory if you live on base.


Only the enlisted guys living in the dorms. If you leave in family housing you can keep them in your house, but you have to register them with the SP's.


I was not able to do that when i was at Holloman. Must be different at every base.

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