The Nuts and Bolts of the Health Professions Scholarship Program

The Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program is the primary means for the Navy to “hire” our physicians.  In fact, the approximately 200 scholarships offered each fiscal year dwarf the numbers of positions available for those who wish to affiliate with the Navy while in residency (9) or are already fully licensed and board certified (10).  This post provides details about the features and benefits of the program.

FULL TUITION PAID- This is the biggie, the attention getter, the heart and soul of the program.  Tuition is paid directly to the school of your choice and is good for any accredited school in the country.  It doesn’t matter if the school is allopathic or osteopathic, in state or out of state, if you are accepted; tuition is covered.  In addition to tuition being covered, so are all required textbooks.  Other students “on a budget” may have to look at textbooks as way to cut costs.  They will ask around to find out if a book is legitimately REQUIRED, or if the word required is more of a recommendation.  HPSP recipients don’t have this problem.  Required means you’ll get the money for the books. You will have everything you need to succeed!

SIGN ON BONUS OF $20,000-  BAM- Twenty grand (less taxes) deposited right into your bank account!  Use this for anything you want! Many put it towards reliable transportation and/or moving expenses but it’s yours to be used any way you like.  This payment is processed by Navy Finance Office once school starts, so it usually deposits into your account in mid-September and provides a great financial boost as you begin your matriculation.

MONTHLY STIPEND-  The money keeps rolling in.  In 2013 the stipend is set at $2,122 and provides money for you to live on.  Many typical medical school students take out loans each semester to cover their tuition as well as living expenses.  This can mean a pretty bare cupboard as the money starts to run out.  HPSP students can count on a steady deposit of funds each month.

Taken together the three points above (Tuition/Bonus/Stipend) combine to ensure the HPSP medical school student  not only survives medical school, but provides the means to do so worry free. HPSP enables you to graduate free of any medical school debt.

OK, what’s the catch? This is a common question when benefits seem almost “too good to be true”.  Well, the catch is, you must serve in the Navy as an Active Duty Physician once you graduate.  So the “catch”  is you already have a job after graduation. The benefits listed above are essentially our way of “hiring” you four years ahead of time. What’s even better is that you’ll make a lot more money as a Navy Resident than you will as a civilian resident.

How long must I serve? Service payback time following graduation is a minimum of a four year requirement, though there are some caveats.  Payback time does not include time that you spend in a training program, so RESIDENCY TIME DOES NOT COUNT for this. Since you need to do at least one year of residency in order to take your final USMLE test and become board certified, the actual minimum time in the Navy is five years. The best way to look at it is this way; the Navy hired you to work as a doctor and therefore the payback time only counts if you are doing a job as opposed to training for a job. When taken from that perspective it makes a lot of sense.

Will I have to do any Navy stuff while in medical school?- It’s important to remember that the Navy is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in YOU, so your success in school is the ultimate goal of the program.  HPSP is designed to produce awesome doctors.  This is why the Navy impact on your life during medical school is very minimal.  HPSP students report that many times they only remember they are in the Navy when they look at their bank account.

While there are a couple of Navy requirement, they are designed to either have no impact on your studies or to provide a specific benefit to your time in medical school.  Again, your success in medical school is the intent of the program.

You will be required to attend 5 Weeks of Officer Development School (ODS) during the summer between your first and second year.  You do so at this time because it’s really the only summer you have off.  The school is in Newport, R.I.  At ODS you will learn the basics of how to be a Navy Officer.  You will learn how to wear your uniform, US Navy customs, courtesies and traditions, as well as other essential leadership and management skills.  You will also be required to pass a Navy Physical Fitness test.

During your time in medical school you will technically be commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy Reserves. As such, there will be a few times that you will be paid for active duty service time.  Sometimes this is done as “school orders” in which you remain at school and continue your studies, but other times it can be a more tangible benefit.  For example, in conjunction with your school many students may choose to do an elective rotation (usually done during third and fourth year of school). All students may have this opportunity but HPSP students can do this at a Navy Hospital and get paid to do so.  This is also a great way to make name for yourself at an institution where you may want to do a residency.  Interested in doing a surgical residency in San Diego? Do a surgery rotation out there as part of medical school.  Think of it as an extended interview……with pay (much more than the stipend amount, by the way).

Will the Navy tell me which residency I have to do?  No…not at all. The Navy offers over twenty programs.  Most of the residencies are offered at one of our “Big Three” Hospitals, either the joint Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, or one of our Naval Hospitals in Portsmouth, VA or San Diego, CA, though the Family Practice Programs are at some smaller facilities.

The application process is similar to the civilian match system with one difference.  The smaller size of the programs and fewer locations also means that it is administered by actual people, as opposed to a computer system.

All HPSP graduates will enter a residency program and do at least one year in order to be eligible for the final step in their USMLE board certification. Some will have a categorical match (meaning you go straight through) and some will do a two year break as a General Medical Officer before returning to their program. GMO jobs include working in operational billets as the lead medical officer aboard ships, with helicopter or jet squadrons, supporting submariners, or supporting the Marine Corps.  GMO opportunities are unique to the Navy and something that you should seek to learn about during your interview process.  Operational tours are usually the basis of a great many “sea stories” and the experiences as GMO are unique.

I’ve found in my experience that this aspect of Navy medicine may start out as a drawback to the program at first, but upon learning about it from actual physicians, it often becomes a driving factor in the decision to apply for the Navy.

Should you decide that you wanted to make the Navy HPSP a transactional relationship (as mentioned earlier), you could work for four years as a General Medical Officer and then get out to pursue civilian opportunities.  I know a few physicians that have done this for various reasons.  In each case they were happy in their ability to move forward with their careers debt free while their civilian peers were still paying off mountains of debt.

Most physicians, however, choose to complete their residency training through the Navy.  Because training time does not count as payback time, the career paths they choose drive the total number of years they are required to serve.  Residency programs do incur a service obligation (one year payback for each year in training) but the payback for the residency time is paid back AT THE SAME TIME as any HPSP obligation.  So the ability to begin paying back depends on the length of the residency. (Pediatrics is 3 year program while surgery is a 5 year program, for example)

This sounds like a lot to think about. Yes, it can be confusing at first. That’s why the best thing to do is to learn about the Navy early.  It’s also good to remember is that the length of service is ultimately driven by the career decisions you make.  One the best things about the HPSP application process is meeting with actual Navy Physicians and hearing their stories about training pipelines, GMO tours, and their experiences during their residency training.  Cultural fit is important and no one wants to feel “trapped” in any organization.  It’s been my experience that the number of physicians unhappy with the way things turned out for them is very rare and I’ve written about that here.

Understanding and getting comfortable with this process is critical to ensuring you ultimately enjoy your Naval career. To learn more about Navy Graduate Medical Education you can click here. I also encourage potential applicants to talk to current HPSP students as well as current and past Navy physicians.

The scholarship and money aspects of the Health Professions Scholarship are amazing and it is often the reason people first look into the Navy. It’s no secret that the Navy offers the big bucks as an attention getter and there is nothing wrong with that.  Once you learn the scholarship exists, though, the next thing to do is learn about Navy medicine.

The Navy is not for everybody, but it is for a lot of people, and you may be one of them.  Talk to a recruiter. Talk to an actual Navy doctor (past or present). Ask the questions. Do the research.  In the end, if you think the opportunity to travel the world is cool, then do it. If the prospect of working with an outstanding family of medical professionals as you serve our nation is up your alley, then do it. If the opportunity to make a difference on a global scale is important to you, then do it.  Apply for the Navy Scholarship for those reasons.  The money is just the icing on the cake.

For more information about Navy Medicine you can click here.  You can also use this link to locate a medical recruiter nearest you.

NOTE: Although I retired from the Navy in June of 2014 I will continue to respond to the comments section of this post.  As time goes on, my answers will likely become more and more general in nature, however.

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55 Comments

Filed under Culture, Doctor, Residency, Scholarship

55 responses to “The Nuts and Bolts of the Health Professions Scholarship Program

  1. very informative article. You have explained entire process in simple terms. I will forward this article to my daughter who will be interested. My daughter is MD. She has given USMLE part 1,2, and 3 exams. I would definitely like her to meet you in person to convince her that medical career is as challenging and satisfying in Navy as in private sector. May I have you contact no or office address? I live in Howard County Maryland. Thank you Pradip Patel pradipuma@gmail.com

  2. alexis bracken

    I’ve spent countless hours and days researching the whole process of being a Physician’s Assistant in the Navy, and I think this article has pointed me in the right direction. Thank you for explaining and describing this whole confusing topic because it was indeed a headache to understand everything. It is my dream to go around the world helping those in need while simultaneously serving our nation, and I think becoming a medical professional in the Navy is the perfect way to achieve this goal.

    • Alexis- One thing to note about PA programs in the Navy is that due to the number of months for the PA program not falling into a natural school year cycle, timing can be very critical. This is because it doesn’t fit “nicely” into the fiscal year budget process. You will want to talk to a recruiter early in order to establish the right timeline for the application. It may end up being a start and stop process, but it’s a great career path. (There is also a Health Services Collegiate Program that leads to a commission. It’s not a scholarship per se, since it gives money directly to you instead of the school, but it has the same end result and the application process is the same).

      Chief Wheeler

  3. This article is the most informational webpage I’ve found so far. I’m curious about the Navy training aspect after the first year of medical school. How rigorous is it? Is it the same as any other Naval officer would have to participate in?

    I’m a second semester sophomore and I am so excited to apply, I can’t wait!

  4. Darlene Paul

    I would love to know if this program still exists after sequestration. I have a daughter will be starting grad school for Occupational Therapy and was hoping to do it via hpsp. Can you point us in the right direction, if the program is still available? She really wanted to graduate and head straight to the Navy. She even thought about doing her fieldwork with the Navy if at all possible. Your thoughts? Thanks so much.
    Darlene Paul

    • Darlene,

      The Navy occasionally has slots for HPSP (or through another program called the Health Services Collegiate Program, or HSCP) for Occupational Therapists. The program would be targeted towards individuals beginning their Masters Degree in the field. Because we don’t have a huge need for OT in the Navy you can’t be sure there will be slots from one year to the next, as it’s based on projected vacancies. The best bet is to contact your local officer recruiter. You can find that number by going to http://www.navy.com/careers and inputting your zip code in the Find A Recruiter box. Make sure to contact the number for the officer recruiter, even if it seems like it’s far away. That number goes to the regional headquarters. Once you talk with them you will be put in touch with someone closer.

      Good luck.

      • Nick

        Bob,

        How’s it going brother? Happy belated 121st birthday. I’m getting ready to transition into Reserves after serving 12 years of active duty and am interested in both HPSP and HSCP. Which one would benefit more for my situation? I’m applying to a few graduate schools for physical therapy this fall. Knowing that I have to serve an additional 10 years as an officer to retire, does HSCP count toward officer retirement? Also, would I be an O1E in HPSP vice O1? Finally, would I receive my same pay currently (E-7 over 12) with HSCP? Thank you very much for your time and efforts.

        Best Regards,
        Nick

        Chief Irwin

      • Nick-

        First of all physical therapy is almost exclusively an HSCP program at this point, though it can also be offered as an HPSP program. Number of slots is very small each FY so timing can be critical. As to your specific questions:

        HSCP does count as active duty time towards retirement. It also provides Tricare coverage for you and your family. For this reason HSCP is a good deal for prior service folks. You will, however, be paid as an E6, not an E7. I’d have to check on the over 12 part, though. That’s the first time I’ve been asked that question.

  5. Kris Johnson

    Mr. Wheeler-

    New ENS here (prior service enlisted Army) looking to find more info on GMO opportunities. You highlighted subs and flight surgeon as potential opportunities. As I transition to believing that the GMO can be a great opportunity, I was hoping to see what other opportunities and locations might be available for GMO training. Do you have any resources that list these billets and their locations? Location being a specific concern, most especially with a growing family and a wife with a specialized skill set. Thanks.

  6. Easlyn molitor

    Good afternoon,

    I am currently an e-3 in the navy as a corpsman and looking to go through the MECP program to get my nursing degree and become an officer. My end goal for my career is to become an anesthesiologist. But I haven’t met anyone who has gone from the nurse corps to the medical corps. Is that even possible? Or should I get out finish my bachelors and then apply for hpsp? Any advice would be great.

  7. Christian Mpoy

    Hello Officer Wheeler,

    I am a recent graduate from University and I am preparing to take my MCAT in May. I will be applying to medical school this June. How do I apply for the Navy scholarship? Looking forward to your response. Please email me back at cmpoy23@gmail.com.

    • Christian,

      You will need to speak with a local medical officer recruiter and I would reach out once you have your MCAT scores and establish a connection. Starting in the summer is good, but depending on the recruiters workload he/she may not be able to really get moving on the application until August or September, which is fine as far timelines go, because your application can’t be submitted until next fiscal year (which begins in October).

      Chief

  8. Ben

    Chief,After 15 years AD I am transitioning to HPSP this summer. I understand that HPSP does not pay moving expenses. But wouldn’t I be funded the move under my separation from active duty orders?
    thanks

    • I would assume that your move would be covered, but that’s a little out of my lane, so I suggest you talk to PSD. Congrats on Med School and HPSP!

      HMC Wheeler

  9. Katherine

    Thank you for writing such an informative article! I tried to dig into which hospital has a neurosurgery residency and found that Walter Reed seems to be the main one. Since most neurosurgery residencies are 8 years, would that mean one would have to serve for another four years after that? (For the required service payback part)

    • Katherine,

      Residency time dos not count as payback, so assuming you matched into the appropriate program and went straight through, then yes your four years of payback would begin afterwards.

      The payback scenarios are often tricky because of the varying career paths people can take. One thing you’ll fins when talking to Navy Physicians is the payback scenarios are ultimately a fair deal in the minds of most if not all. As a rule you’ll never be able to step out of a Navy sponsored training program and immediately leave the service. The Navy will always want to employ you in the field you were just trained in (on the Navy’s dime) before you an leave.

  10. Michael lowry

    Can officers on active duty apply for and be awarded this scholarship?

    • Yes officers can apply, however there are extra paperwork requirements that would go into the package. If you’re interested I’d tell you to reach out to a local medical officer recruiter once you have your MCAT scores and take it from there.

  11. Andrew

    Does the Navy require osteopathic medical students to become board certified via USMLE, or is the COMLEX considered to be comparable in their eyes?

    • Andrew,

      Either is acceptable. However, I recommend that you get your recruiter to put you in touch with a Navy DO (you have to do an interview with a Navy Dr. anyway for the package). This is a great question to ask him/her as they will be able to address an nuances of the situation.

      Good luck!

  12. Alex Burns

    Thank you for the article! Does the Navy also offer fellowship programs that you can complete after residency? If so, how does doing a fellowship in the Navy affect your service time?

    • Yes there are fellowship opportunities in the Navy. Selection is based on qualifications (just as on the civilian world) as well as current and future needs of the Navy. Some specialties are always in demand, others not so much. Your local recruiter can get you in touch with actual Navy physicians during the application process. They can give you the best advice on this.

  13. Does the Navy takes Nurse Practioners?

    • Yes the Navy does have Nurse Practitioners. Each fiscal year they put out a quota of what skills sets are needed. You’ll want to talk to a local medical officer recruiter (www.navy.com/careers) to find out what “flavor” of NP the Navy us currently looking for.

  14. Kevin Hendzel

    Great read- In your opinion and based off of things you have perhaps heard, how would you weigh going to the USU vs HPSP? What do you think is the “better” option with regards to everything you just mentioned above?

    • USUHS has a longer commitment and offers even more benefits once you reach 20 years. If you absolutely know you want to be in for a career USUHS may have the edge. Under HPSP you can stay for 20 years, but your commitment could be over in 5 to 9 years depending on the residency you get accepted to.

      There are a lot more slots for HPSP each year than there are for USUHS, so anyone who applies to USUHS would be crazy not to apply for HPSP as well. Worse case scenario your accepted to a multiple schools and the decision can be made without regard to cost.

  15. Barbara Munro

    My 10th grade daughter wants to go to Physical Theraphy. Does HPSP cover this?

    • Physical Therapy is typically covered by a program called the Health Services Collegiate Program. It has a few slight differences- most notably money is paid directly to the student as opposed to going to the college and the amount is set each year so it may or may not cover the entire tuition. There are a few other differences as well that you can talk to a recruiter about.

      Also- PT is not a program in great demand as far as numbers go, so the number of slots available is typically small.

      Of course the details about the programs could change between now and when your daughter becomes eligible, Which I believe for this program is once she’s accepted to a masters degree program. I’m now retired from the Navy, so the best way to be sure is to find a medical officer recruiter in your area. http://www.navy.com/careers

  16. Nana

    Bob,
    I am currently in my first year of pharmacy school. Is the Navy scholarship program similar to what the Air Force offer? Can I still apply whiles I am already in school?
    Thanks
    Nana

    • Nana- all programs very from fiscal year to fiscal year. Programs such as pharmacy tend to very quite a bit as far as number of slots go each year. So the answer to your question is “in theory yes, but I don’t know what the numbers look like for this FY.” I suggest you contact your local medical officer recruiter for more info: http://www.navy.com/careers

  17. Heather Kellar

    If you complete a GMO tour while waiting for an opportunity to complete residency does it count as a year of service?

    • Yes- GMO tours count as service payback years. In fact it’s possible to do four straight years of GMO (once you’ve completed your internship year) and have your obligation fulfilled. Most people do not do this, but it is possible. The caveat is- residency also incurs an obligation. This obligation is paid back concurrently with the obligation from HPSP. In there are two things to remember. 1- Payback years are a bit complicated and can change based upon your career path and 2- it’s ultimately a very fair system. I recommend asking questions about this system to actual Navy Physicians during the interview stage of the application process. (Please note- I have not recruited physicians for over a year now. My thoughts are generic in nature. You should talk to a local recruiter to get the most up to date info).

      • Heather Kellar

        Thank you so much. You’ve been more helpful than you know! One more question – I read in an Internet article (written by two individuals who went through the program) where you might have to wait for a residency position at one of the Naval hospitals, thus making you take the GMO position while you wait – if you choose a private school and residency program, will you still possibly have to serve in a GMO position before completion of your training?

  18. Nicole

    Hi Mr. Wheeler,
    Thank you for your informative article. I was wondering if you knew whether the HSPS program would re-open this year for podiatric medical students. In the previous years it was closed/ not offered, so I was wondering if there has been a change. I am looking to start this upcoming fall and I’ve contacted a recruiter but have not heard back yet…

    Thank you for your time,
    Nicole

    • Hi Nicole-

      The Navy establishes its “goals” each Fiscal Year which identifies how many slots they will open for each program. Although the Fiscal Year officially started October 1st, the actual numbers may not get published until November (or sometimes even later). For programs like Podiatry this can be an issue- since there are sometimes no slots available for an entire year.

      All of this is based upon projected needs of the Navy, by the way, so it’s not just done on a whim.

      All that being said- I’m no longer in the recruiting business for the Navy (I retired in May)- so I encourage you to contact a local medical officer recruiter for the most recent info. You can go to http://www.navy.com/careers and then click on the link to “find a recruiter” it will give you the number to a regional office. Once you call them they can tell who the actual person is in your specific location that deals with HPSP.

  19. Gw med student

    Could you please clarify the residency portion: does this mean you must choose from the 20 or so naval residency programs, or you choose anywhere you want?

    Thanks!

    • This is an excellent question and all future physicians should be seeking to understand the post graduate training process Navy or otherwise.

      You must apply for (and compete for) any residency you wish. Competitive applicants will fill Navy Residency spots, as the Navy needs to maintain both its programs and its hospitals. Should there be more qualified applicants for a program than the Navy has spots, some individuals may be allowed to compete for a civilian residency program. If this is the case individuals for this are chosen based upon two factors, 1- do they want to compete in the civilian match, and 2- how qualified are they for the civilian match. Generally only very qualified individuals are allowed to compete for civilian programs, as we want to make sure they match at a program as good (or better) than ours.

      In all we have over 30 specialties available http://www.navy.com/careers/healthcare/physician.html and they are generally as competitive as other similar programs (Derm is more competitive than FP, for example). Students who do not match into their program of choice are placed into a transitional residency program for one year, and then work as general medical officer for two years. They can then reapply for either the same residency or a different one.

      What I’ve offered above is an overview. Your local Medical Officer recruiter can help you get in touch with an actual Navy Physician who will be able to answer this question a little more completely and will also be able to give you an idea of how competitive a specific program is. In the end- we want to give scholarships to those who will not only enjoy being a doctor, but will also enjoy being a Navy Physician. The more you know ahead of time, the better off things are for everyone. That’s why the application process involves interviews by two Navy Physicians. Good luck with everything!

  20. Elena

    Dear Chief Wheeler,
    Although I am not pursuing medicine, the article was informative nonetheless.

    I do have a few questions about Navy Medical Corp/HPSP as it relates to Clinical Psychology (PhD and PsyD).

    1. What are the application Timelines?
    I am 7 months away from entering a PhD program (Start fall 2015, which is a 3 year program for courses and 1 year of Internship). The recruiter I have been working with has been unresponsive for the most part which has left me very frustrated to my questions. When is the correct time to apply? Where can i obtain the application materials to begin collecting the pieces for it (references, etc). How can I be certain my recruiter will do her job effectively and got my application on time (given her unresponsiveness to many of my questions)?
    2. What is navy medicine culture like? How different is it from the other departments? From other armed forces medical corps?
    3. What is navy psychology like? If you know, could you tell me what positions/duties psychologists in the navy hold? As in, actual work performed and populations served. I know there can be a variety of duties depending on assignments, but I would like to at least have a general idea of some of those duties. Any way I can be put in touch with former HPSP scholars who are already working for the Navy as psychologists?

    Many Many Thanks!!!
    Elena

    • Elena-

      I’m sorry to hear that you have had a tough time catching up to a recruiter. Clin Psych is one of the trickiest programs to apply for because the timelines are not as standard as say, medical or dental school. Also- there is not as great of a need so the number of slots usually fill up pretty quickly, I’m no longer in recruiting (I retired last spring) but it wouldn’t surprise me if all the Clin Psych quotas were already filled for this Fiscal Year- If that’s the case no application could be submitted again until October. This means that the recruiters would be more focused on working with applicants whose programs are still open. Again, I don;t have the details, so this is just an educated guess.

      As far as culture goes- Navy Medicine is, in most respects, just like any other medical community. I do think that military medicine has much greater family feel to it. With people moving around you quickly develop a network of mentors and other physician friends. IN regards to Navy culture vs. other services; the Navy is very proud about the expeditionary nature of the work we do. It means that as a service and in conjunction with the Marine Corps we are out “showing the flag” around the globe. Of course the exact amount of time one spends doing this can be based on your job- Clin Psych is one of the more static positions in Navy Medicine- so you’d be more likely to work in clinic and hospital settings.

      Should you get to the point of applying for the Navy you would be required to do two interviews with actual Navy mental health providers (this is set up through the recruiter). These interviews are excellent opportunities to learn about the community. The physicians you interview with are not in a “sales mode” they are typically in a “truth mode”. This is because of two main factors- 1) the program fills up each year so there is no need to twist anyone’s arm to join and 2) they are protecting their community, the know that it is stronger when their peers are happy. No job is always easy and everything has it’s tough days- Navy medicine is no exception- but if you know what’s coming you;re a lot more prepared to face the tough days. They know this- so they are very much straight shooter in the interview stage.

      As far as you’re recruiter goes I suggest that when you call her back or if you call the number to the regional office you ask specific questions about the availability of the program for this year and next year as well. Like I said this is one of the most confusing programs we have under HPSP, so if you talk to someone who hasn’t worked with these types of applicants in the past they may not really understand the nuances of the program.

      I hope this helps.

      Bob

  21. Allyson Burkhart

    Great article! I am applying for medical school this spring and was wondering, would it be best to start the HPSP application at that time as well? Or would it be better to apply in October when the next application round begins?

    • Hi Ally,

      When I recruited for the HPSP program I would typically “engage” a prospective applicant soon after they got their MCAT scores back. That (along with their grades) gave me a good indication of how strong of a candidates they would be. I would then move onto trying to get the strong candidates their physical exam at some point during the summer- as this can be one of the most logistically challenging parts of the application process. It’s also something that can eventually be a dis qualifier- so it was better for all parties involved to get past that hurdle sooner rather than later to avoid working towards a goal and then finding out the applicant had a physical issue that we couldn’t get around.

      Applicants that can get that done over the summer stand a good chance of having everything completes and submitted in October or Novemeber- which would lead to a possible “preliminary acceptance” where the only thing you were waiting on is the letter of acceptance to medical school and then deciding which school you wanted to attend (if you have more than one acceptance). That may not happen until until February or so. As you see- even by starting early in the process you may not be all the way through it until spring of 2016- but it will be a smoother process because it will go in stages. Starting early also means that you won’t be trying to get the physical at the same time you’re in school and/or traveling around doing secondary interviews. So it’s the best way to do things.

      That being said- remember that your recruiter is also still dealing with the late applicants from the final candidates in the year group ahead of you. So their primary focus during this summer will still be on getting those people “across the line” prior to the number of slots running out. So don’t take it too personal if it seems like you’re not his/her primary focus right away.

      So yes- you should start this spring. Find the right recruiter in your area. Be prepared to do as much of the work as possible yourself- gathering all of your documents, including those relative to any physical/health issues in your past. And then push to get a physical set up sometime during the summer. If you can do that- and you have a strong academic record- you’ll be golden.

      Bob

      • Allyson Burkhart

        Thank you so much!! That is extremely helpful. I go to school in New York, but I am from Virginia. Which state should I find a recruiter? I know a navy physician who is on the panel to review HPSP applications in VA, but my dad (who is in the navy) said it might be best to find a recruiter in NY instead.

  22. francis

    If a navy physician spends 4 years GMO after MD school and 1-year Internship, does the 4 years of GMO count as payback for residency which he/she will train in after GMO? Or does he have to do another payback time AFTER residency for the residency obligation, say another 3 years for family practice?

    • In the scenario you described the physician would be obligated for three years of payback time following residency.

      The best way to look at this is- under no circumstances will someone be able to leave immediately after a training program (med school/residency/fellowship). If the Navy trains you- they will want you to work in that capacity.

      So while residency obligation and HPSP obligation can be paid back concurrently- once one debt is paid off any future training incurs a new obligation. Doing four years as a GMO would give you the opportunity to either exit the Navy (debt free) and pursue a civilian residency or apply for a military residency. Although this sounds complicated and the actual length of time one physician is obligated for may be different than someone else’s due to the career paths they choose- if you ask Navy doc’s (you can do this during your interviews) it’s ultimately a very fair deal.

      Bob

  23. I’m hoping you can answer a question regarding the eligibility requirements. A friend of mine has some medical records that were lost by the HIPA holding station. Would my friend loose eligibility due to an outside agency loosing records, then withholding that information?

    • If I understand you correctly- the person has medical records that were kept at a civilian hospital/clinic and are no longer available. If that’s the case it just means that he/she may need to be reevaluted by a a physician for that issue. It will take some time- so starting the application process early is key. Remember- the physical exam isn’t just a hoop to jump through- it ensures the applicant meets the physical standards required for service as a Naval Officer.

  24. Hey Bob,

    I realize the original post was made several years ago, but I found it very helpful as I explore my options. I was curious if you had any insight into the differences between the HPSP between the branches of the military; specifically Air Force and Navy. At a glance, the programs seem similar, so what made you pick the Navy?

    Thanks!!

    • Hi Tate- since I retired 2 years ago I really don’t check this site often- hence the delayed response. As for your questions- the $$ is the exact same as it’s a DOD program. The differences in quota’s each year will have to do with number of projected needs. The Army has the most Dr’s, followed by the Navy, then the AF.

      Another difference to consider is types of duty stations available after med school- though even that is getting more and more consolidated.

      I chose the Navy because my father was a Navy Dr and since I grew up that environment I was most comfortable joining the Navy.

  25. cory

    If your not eligible to join the navy can you still apply to the HSCP program as a civilian. I like to work for the navy as a healthcare administrator.

  26. Remus Key

    Chief,
    Very informative article thank you. I am very familiar as I served 5 years as an Active Duty Hospital Corpsman. My questions are more based for ODS and once I have completed medical school. During ODS will my pay grade reflect my prior service as O1E additionally upon completion of medical school what is the beginning service grade for a GMO? Thank you for any information you may provide Chief!

    • Hi Remus- since I retired in 2014 I don’t really check this site much- sorry for the delayed response. I can say that once one graduates med school you become an O3 or O3E – I’m honestly not sure about the ODS pay question.

  27. Joanna Geneva Busarang

    hi. I am currently an incoming 4th year nursing student and a citizen of the Philippines. By the time I graduate I will be a resident of US and will move to Maryland where my family lives. I am planning to go to navy to access this scholarship. Do you suggest I become an RN in US first? Or should I enlist right after graduating?? Thankyou!!!

    • While I’m no longer in the Navy- I can say that to be an officer (to include a Nurse Corps Officer) you must be a US Citizen. Perm Resident doesn’t count.

  28. cory

    If your not eligible to join the navy can you still participate in the HSCP scholarship as a civilian because I am interested in working for the navy as a civilian healthcare administrator. Is this possible? advice?

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