If you are contemplating joining the military to help aid you in paying for medical school, there are many things that you must consider. This is a big decision and at first glance, it can seem like an excellent idea, but once you take a closer look, you will see that it is actually much more complicated than that. Medical school is expensive and it is only becoming harder to get student loans. Currently, students cannot get a loan consolidated below 6.8% and the tuition costs are only increasing. Still, does this mean that you should join military medical school?
Many people have thought about joining the military for this very reason and in fact, the military promotes this decision. Some students go into the military to help pay off their debts after college. The most common way of paying off medical school is through a HPSP Scholarship. This scholarship is known as the Health Professions Scholarship Program and it is intended for potential military members in the medical field. Essentially, the military will pay for your medical education if you are willing to become a commissioned medical department officer.
For some people, this immediately draws them to this idea, but you must take a step back and look at this with fresh eyes. The first thing you must consider is the debt that you have to pay back. While it is unlikely, let’s say that you have absolutely no debt because of this scholarship and you end up finishing medical school in four years with an extra 3 years dedicated to a lengthy residency program. Because of the scholarship you have acquired, you must now dedicate at least 7 years of your life as a commissioned medical department officer. According to the rules of the HPSP, for every year that you are studying at medical school, that is one year that you must work for the military. In that scenario, you would have just given up 14 years of your life to become a doctor.
Civilians typically have cheaper medical school payments, cheaper loans, and a higher paying specialty. While military physicians typically have more expensive medical school payments, a lower paying specialty, and then they will have prior military service. Both routes have their positives and their negatives. The military lifestyle is much more directed and though you may get most of your loans paid off, you will be paying for them with years of your life.
If your only goal is to become a doctor, this option may not be for you. If you do not wish to serve your country and dedicate your life to it, it is most likely a much better option to simply go the traditional route. If, however, you are already planning on joining the military, this option could be perfect for you. Ultimately, you should not join the military for financial needs. Only do so if you truly wish to join and serve your country. However, at the end of the day, the choice is yours.