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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Training in Two Cultures: Medicine and Soldiering


Undergrads who choose the military and attend USUHS receive free tuition, books and other supplies; hand-held devices and related subscriptions, and basic medical equipment such as stethoscopes. In addition, USUHS medical students are paid as an active-duty second lieutenant (the going rate for the U.S. Army is about $1,900 per month).

Once they graduate, military residents work in uniform at military facilities and are afforded housing allowances. The government also covers the cost of medical malpractice insurance and supports them in any litigation while they are on active service. If they complete 20 years in active service, military physicians receive a generous retirement package, including a retained 40% to 50% pension for the rest of their lives, and they can seek work in the civilian sector after their military career.

For those who choose the military from the outset, the Department of Defense offers sign-on bonuses of $20,000 and a Health Service Professional Scholarship (HPSP) program for qualified applicants. It covers all medical school costs at a civilian medical school of the student’s choice. (Recent studies show the typical medical school grad has $120,000 of school load debt; $160,000 if they attended a private school.) The caveat is that after graduation, whether from USUHS or a civilian medical school, the physician works in uniform as a military physician for a pre-determined payback period (e.g., the Army obligation is one year of service for every year of scholarship).

The military offers training programs in medical, dental, optometry, veterinary, psychiatric nurse practitioner, and clinical and counseling psychology. Training at USUHS or with an HPSP requires each student before matriculation to choose his or her preferred branch of military service for the payback period. Whichever route a student takes, USUHS or HPSP, the student will end up as a doctor and a trained service member knowledgeable about areas including rank structure, military administration, and personal physical fitness.

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