The Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program is an absolutely terrific way to not only pay for medical school but to also ensure immediate employment following graduation. The HPSP program, in a nutshell, provides 100% tuition for medical school, a sign on bonus of $20,000 and regular stipend currently running at a little bit over $2,100 per month. In return you will serve on active duty for a minimum of four years as a licensed physician. Future posts will explore the details (to include residencies and payback) of the scholarship. For now, this article will simply focus on the process of application.
Am I competitive? There are some minimum standards which can preclude you from even applying, but what I’d like to focus on here is what makes someone competitive for the scholarship. The Navy uses a “whole person concept” so there are no specific categories that you must be superior in, but the following are some very good general guidelines;
- Cumulative GPA for all courses taken after high school of 3.5 or better.
- MCAT Score of 25 is the bottom of the competitive range. Scoring a 30 or better is a great way to stand out. The Navy uses the MCAT scores as tool to predict how likely you will be to pass your board exams, so any score lower than an 8 may be concerning, and anything lower than a 6 is red flag. Remember, it’s not just about getting into medical school, or even just about graduating. The Navy is hiring a future physician and those that dole out the money want to make sure you’re a safe bet to pass your boards on the first try.
- Leadership and extracurricular activities help set you apart.
When should I start? While it’s never too early to begin learning about Navy Medicine, I believe that the best time to really begin working with a recruiter is about the time you get your MCAT results back. The Navy typically offers about 200 scholarships nationally each year (October through September). If someone is planning on going directly into medical school following their undergraduate they would typically get their MCAT scores back the spring of their junior year. By speaking with a recruiter at the end of the junior year, that would allow an applicant to work throughout the summer to assemble the various pieces of the application in order to have it completed by the fall for immediate consideration. For those taking some time off between undergraduate and medical school, the MCAT results date is still a good timeline.
You can start this process and even submit the application before you are accepted to a medical school (you just can’t get a final selection notification until you know where you’re going to matriculate). That being said, I have started to work with applicants as late as April and still gotten everything together in order for them to get selected in time for school to start that fall. Just understand the later you wait the greater the risk you run of having the boards close down.
What do I need? There are some basic documents that you will need to gather/provide your recruiter. The program is only open to US Citizens, so you will need to provide original copies of your birth certificate and social security card. (Naturalized citizens substitute that paperwork for the birth certificate). You’ll also need to be within the Navy fitness standards in order to apply. In addition we require:
- Official Transcripts from all colleges you have attended since high school
- A signed and dated copy of a current resume
- You will need a minimum of three work/instructor references (form provided by your recruiter)
- You to complete a security clearance questionnaire (tell your recruiter upfront if you’ve had any legal issues)
- A print out of your MCAT scores
- A print out of your medical school application packet (AMCAS or AACOMAS)
- You must pass a physical examination. Tips for the physical below are not all inclusive, but are helpful.
- If you ever had any surgeries or medical issues, you’ll likely need documentation about that, so it’s good to begin gathering that early.
- Tell your recruiter if you’ve ever had issues with asthma, depression, ADD, or are curerntly taking any medication. These may not neccessarily be disqualifiers, but may require extra paperwork or lab tests.
- You will be required to provide a “motivational statement” about why you want to be a physician in the US Navy (specific form for this will be provided).
- You will need to be interviewed by two Navy Physicians (usually set up through the recruiter).
- Other miscellaneous forms and statements of understanding will require your signature.
As mentioned earlier, we can submit an application before you receive a letter of acceptance to medical school, but once you receive the good news it will be included in the application along with a statement from the school you wish to attend stating that you have been accepted and are registered for classes (Known as an Academic Year Statement).
When would I know? Scholarship boards are general held each month (though not always). Your local recruiter will be able to tell you the schedule for the upcoming boards. Once your kit is completely assembled it will be sent through some quality assurance checks to make sure everything was filled out properly and then forwarded to the board for consideration. Results are typically released two to four weeks following the convening date.
Kits that do not have the letter of acceptance or Academic Year Statement may be classified as only “Professionally Recommended”. This is certainly good news, but is not a final decision. It’s the Navy saying that we believe you will make a good doctor. The “Final Selection” letter cannot be issued until everything (including the Academic Year Statement) is completed. Getting this “Final Selection” letter is the Navy officially offering you the scholarship. It is at this time that you must formally commit yourself to the Navy. Once you do that, the scholarship is yours and that’s one less the Navy has to offer for that fiscal year.
Understanding this process is important because it is possible to be “professionally recommended” but never get a “final selection” letter either because of an incomplete kit, or because the scholarships are already given out. This doesn’t happen often, but it is a possibility. This is the reason it’s always better to begin the process sooner, rather than later.
Who do I need to talk with? If you are in the Baltimore area you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If not you can click here and input you zip code to find a recruiter in your area. Often times the website will provide you with a telephone number for the regional officer recruiting station. That station can provide you with the specific contact information for a medical officer recruiter in your local area.