Jump to content

Family life as a PA in the military???


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

 

I've been reading through the boards for a few days now and haven't heard much about family life as a PA in the military.

 

I was hoping to hear some opinions on how life was in terms of family while working as a PA, I'm leaning towards Army but an very open to AF and Navy so I'm interested in hearing the differences in branches.

 

Thanks everyone,

 

-Shawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking for a friend of mine here, but some information is good information I guess...He has a great set up right now (Navy). He's been deployed twice as a PA (in support of Marine units), make no mistake, you will deploy as a Navy PA, unless super specialized. Now he works normal (excellent) clinic hours, usually outta there by 1600 (aka 4pm), sometimes earlier. He has 2 kids that he does everything with, and a wife of over 20 years. They're constantly at baseball games, concerts, etc. He's in a good spot right now, but like I said, has done his time, and is a Mustang (prior enlisted). He gets all the normal holidays off, and all the leave time that comes with being in the military, etc. Its hard to summarize the family life (In general) of military PAs, because each will be different. This is just a glimpse into a Navy PA, who enjoys being FMF, and working on Marine bases.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a new PA and new to the Navy i can tell you I am usually out of the clinic by 1730 (5:30pm) at the latest. Most days 1600. The learning curve was steep at the beginning as I was basically on my own in terms of learning the EMR and the way that the Navy does things. I do most the holidays off unless I scheduled to the OOD (officer of the day). I work at a Naval Clinic on a Naval base so my experiences will differ from a FMF PA or Hospital based PA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of my best friends wife is a PA in the Army; she has had 3 children in the past 12 years. I have known her husband for 24 years and her for 13 and really respect what she says regarding her life as a military PA. Her husband was my team sergeant in Special Forces from 1989-1992; we are close and have had lots of time to discuss the good and bad of military life, especially post 9/11 changes and more recently the severe cutbacks that the military is facing that is causing many officers to leave en-masse.

 

She had the first child in PA school and gave birth to the others between deployments to Afghanistan or Iraq.... Her husband was also deployed to different countries than she was at the same time. The good news is the boys have a great relationship with their grandparents, bad news is that the parents missed a lot of their children growing up.

 

Don't let the particular service sway your decision, you can be deployed to an Army or Marine base, some in forward areas, being in the Navy or Air Force. Not 100% that will happen, but it's a possibility. As someone with 9 years of prior service, I never even considered the military after PA school. I have worked overseas as a contractor (bodyguard and medic), but not a PA. The pay was 200% more than I would have made in the military, but I did not get student loan repayment. I believe that the military is going to end up as a social program in the future, not the fighting unit that it is supposed to be, but that is my opinion and I'm not alone.

 

Think about it. Talk to as many PA's in the military as you can, each will give you a different set of experiences. Consider the best and worst and then figure out what you are willing to give up for your service. You also get a lot, I loved serving my country and don't regret it for a second, but it gets harder and harder to tell people that it's a viable option when I see the direction the military is heading and observe the absolute contempt the military leaders have for our civilian leadership. There is a valid reason for this contempt and it's only going to get worse before it gets better.

 

I will do everything in my power to see that my children do not go into the military unless we are in a declared state of war; we have too long a history of abandoning our military in their time of need and I only see this increasing in the near future.

 

1.) Think about how strong your desire to serve those that protect out nation is, 2.) decide how much you are willing to sacrifice to help them, and 3.) discuss this with family and friends.

 

If you do this, looking back you will be proud and have little if any regrets, but while you are actually doing it..... that is when you may feel that life is passing you by while you are following someone else's rules...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Hi all! I'm not in the military, so I'm not familiar with the jargon, acronyms, or length of tours. I'm currently in PA school and very interested in joining the Navy, but I'm concerned that my recruiter has been telling me everything I want to hear, I'm hoping I can get some honest answers (maybe the internet is a bad resource for this, but what the heck). So I understand, that when I sign up, the Navy has the right to send me anywhere. I'm completely fine with moving to Morocco, Japan, Virginia, or where ever, just as long as my family is allowed to come with me (quick aside: my wife is non-military, no kids yet, but we're starting in a year or so). However could someone please elaborate on how deployment works? If I'm put on a boat, how long would I be gone? If I'm in Family Practice, how much use I would be in Afghanistan or Iraq? Could I be put on a submarine? I am 6'8" and outdoorsy, so a sub would be my version of hell!

 

Thanks in advance. Any information would be appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not in the military but my nephew is an officer in the Air Force and he was deployed to Afghanistan in March and comes home in October. He could not bring his wife along. He was stationed in Arizona before deployment with his wife, and prior to that they spent 2 years in Hawaii on a base there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all! I'm not in the military, so I'm not familiar with the jargon, acronyms, or length of tours. I'm currently in PA school and very interested in joining the Navy, but I'm concerned that my recruiter has been telling me everything I want to hear, I'm hoping I can get some honest answers (maybe the internet is a bad resource for this, but what the heck). So I understand, that when I sign up, the Navy has the right to send me anywhere. I'm completely fine with moving to Morocco, Japan, Virginia, or where ever, just as long as my family is allowed to come with me (quick aside: my wife is non-military, no kids yet, but we're starting in a year or so). However could someone please elaborate on how deployment works? If I'm put on a boat, how long would I be gone? If I'm in Family Practice, how much use I would be in Afghanistan or Iraq? Could I be put on a submarine? I am 6'8" and outdoorsy, so a sub would be my version of hell!

 

Thanks in advance. Any information would be appreciated!

You probably won't end up on a sub. They like to utilize IDC's for assignments like that (independent duty corpsman) that specifically train for submariner duty. You'll get assigned a duty station that your wife can move with you to, but you can still be deployable out of that. I'd count on going on deployment, and realize being attached to a support Marine unit is a possibility as well. So if that scares you, then I don't know what to say. Dont count on getting a Cush duty station as a new PA. The experienced PAs ahead of you will take all the good assignment duty stations. It honestly depends person to person where you end up, but there's a wide variety available.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting! May I ask was he in health services? Also, how long was he deployed to Afghanistan? Like I said, I'm not familiar with the military, so I don't even know how long a standard deployment is! Is it different depending on rank, job, etc?

Standard Navy/ Marine deployment is about 7 months. Army about 1 year depending... Air Force, it depends on how many rooms are available at the resort... :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great info Corpsman! It's not that I'm "scared", its just that I want to know exactly what it is I'm getting into.

 

So follow-up questions, so let's say that I got assigned to a duty station in San Deigo, then attached to a Marine unit, and let's say that unit is shipping out to Afghanistan. At this point would you say this scenario is "possible", "probably going to happen", or "pretty unusual". Next, once we arrive in Afghanistan, what am I doing there? I have no combat training beyond the 5 week course healthcare specialists, and very little ER experience. Would this be a "learn fast" kind of scenario? Or would I be working primary care at whatever base the Marine unit was assigned?

 

Thanks again, this is exactly what I want to know about, but no one seems to want to talk about. Don't be afraid to be brutally honest in your reply! I still really want to join the Navy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) probably going to happen

2) you'll most likely be in a BAS, battalion aid station, seeing typical urgent care type stuff, maybe some casualties, but most of the serious ones go to the bigger bases right off the bat. You'll have your own room, maybe shared with a roommate, hot meals and showers, Internet and phone access, etc...you won't be doing patrols everyday on the frontline I can guarantee that (unless you volunteer to do a couple like some do so they can tell war stories).

3)you'll get all the training you'll need. You most likely will carry a handgun in condition 3.

4) it's an experience, and having been green side my whole time it's a different mentality. If you're outdoorsy, you should volunteer for green side duty.

5) not sure what 5 was going to be.

 

Oh yeah, there's no one size fits all when it comes to duties, so this is just my general overview of what I saw. Hope it helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you do join on the Navy side of the house your first duty station since you will have no prior service will most likely be at a clinic at one of the many clinics the USN has. All of the direct commission PAs in my ODS class are at clinics right now while the prior service PAs are at greenside or Special Warfare support billets. I specifically reuqested a greenside billet but was told that it is rare for a new PA with no prior experience to go greenside for their first duty station. Deployments for Naval PAs are slowing but I would expect you will be deployed out of your first duty station and if not count yourself lucky. Let me know if you have any other questions, I will do my best to help answer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ace6foot8, absolutely not. Having a wife and kids is sometimes a consideration but never a rule of determining where you will end up. You can do "non-military" federal service. However, the Army, AF, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service Corps(don't ask me why) are all considered "military" and you aren't non-military if you "join" any one of those. Any PA can treat patients but it takes a "military-PA" to put his name on the line to be deployed into any area deemed fit by our government. This includes going to places your life will be required to be put at risk. There are contract PAs who are willing to do this, but even they have the ability to say "no" when asked to do something that crosses their comfort line. Being in the military is a commitment to not say "no" when sent to do your job in any place (with legal ramifications if you do). It's one thing to do medicine for service-members in a safe environment. It's another thing to say, I'll treat dudes and when you need me to jump out of an airplane at 1000ft AGL into North Korea, Syria, Iran, or wherever else with anti-aircarft guns shooting at the plane your flying in. That, and only to perform initial trauma stabilization on guys who can't get medevac'd to a surgeon because helicopters can't fly. Add some intermittent periods when you are learning running serpentine actually keeps you from being shot or being fired upon that you learn to dig dirt out from underneath your body while trying to get lower to avoid being shot. Obviously this is the extreme but if our government decides to do this, there are military PAs ready to answer the call (most of us are in the Army and Navy-small % supporting Marines). That said, this is why most of us join (unless looking for a loan repayment) the military. What will keep you away from your family isn't the deployments, it's the showing up at 6:30AM (5AM if you decide to get PT done and not be chastise for overweight and out of shape) to 6:00PM on good days and coming in on Saturdays and Sundays to close out notes that makes life hard. It's having a military boss(who can ruin your career) that demands to have guys deployable despite their medical situation and plan medical support for their missions without money for medical supplies in conjunction with a medical boss (who can ruin your ability to practice medicine forever) who demands that you code well, see patients like its your only job, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt just like your civilian counterparts which will ruin your family life. Deployment is the BABY and stateside life is the PREGNANCY. Take the wars away and all you have is PREGNANCY. You are asked to train guys without supplies (because the military is the only place asked to trim back for sequestration), to supervise EMT-I trained medics who are asked to perform EMT-P level tasks (cricothyroidotomies, chest tubes, supraglottic airways, morphine and ketamine administration etc.) with no formal training beyond what you do all while maintaining a 20-22 patient/day clinic. Not being deployed is like being a full time busy employed civilian family practice PA with fitness, training medics, and military operational medical support responsibilities. It's not worth the money and the deployments away from your family (even while missing them so much it hurts) somehow feel like the vacation..... Sure, a behavioral health screening is in order for this old Soldier but those who have been in my shoes will know what I say is a fact. This is a service. If you want to look into non-military service check out USAJOBS. There are plenty of civilian PA positions in the government. Those are surely not bureaucratic, administrative, and furloughed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Geronimo,

 

May I ask which branch you serve in? Also, I was under the impression that Military PA's weren't used in combat? How are we trained to do that? From reading over the training schedule, it didn't even sound like we learn to use rifles (let alone jump out of airplanes and treat trauma injuries).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Geronimo,

 

May I ask which branch you serve in? Also, I was under the impression that Military PA's weren't used in combat? How are we trained to do that? From reading over the training schedule, it didn't even sound like we learn to use rifles (let alone jump out of airplanes and treat trauma injuries).

 

I've served the last 13 years in the Army, enlisted. I am considering putting on bars after I am licensed. PAs in the Army are highly deployable, and go to War like everyone else in uniform. We are all Soldiers/Officers first, the only difference is that their mission is to practice medicine during combat operation. Being a medical provider will not exempt you from combat.

 

The training depends on the type of unit you are assigned to. If your unit is combat arms you will go where they go, if they are Airborne than so are their PAs, medics, administrative, generator operators, cooks, maintenance and logistics personnel.

 

The only non-combatants I've ever met in the Army are Chaplains, and at times they are more exposed to combat than some combat arms Soldiers/Officers, and they do it all without a weapon. Firing a weapon is a basic task/expectation/requirement that comes with the uniform (only exemption mentioned above). 68W (combat medics) have 16 weeks of formal training beyond BCT, and are expected to do things that would get you sued in the real world, as the good Sir mentioned above. PAs are many times the only advanced medical provider on site, so their scope of practice can go from treating Soldier at sick call, trauma, training medics, and treating foreign nationals that have never seen a medical provider in a remote village that it takes a few hours to march to, each way, on foot.

 

Thats the way it works, in the Army anyway. The mission comes first, above all else.

 

SSG Rod.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Geronimo,

 

May I ask which branch you serve in? Also, I was under the impression that Military PA's weren't used in combat? How are we trained to do that? From reading over the training schedule, it didn't even sound like we learn to use rifles (let alone jump out of airplanes and treat trauma injuries).

 

I'm in the Army. I'm a battalion PA for a Parachute Infantry Battalion. Military PAs are used wherever the unit they are assigned to is used. While deployed, Air Force PAs predominantly are used in major bases where aircraft would land. They are more secure than most. However, some AF PAs went out with Army units due to our shortage. There may be a couple PAs tied into AFSOF but I doubt they are going out. I won't speak definitively on that. Navy PAs predominantly provide healthcare on vessels which are as secure as big vessels are (not getting shot at pretty much) but they have PAs that support Marine Infantry units. The Coast Guard has a very similar mission for their PAs on vessels but those vessels are typically support vessels and not any vessel engaged in the war. The Army has units that are in the rear with the gear and they have combat arms units. If you are assigned to that combat arms unit, you go where they go. When I was on my most recent deployment to Afghanistan, I would have to put on 40lbs+ of body army with 210 rounds of 5.56mm, a helmet with night vision goggles, knee pads, elbow pads, M4 carbine with red-dot scope, a light, and a night laser all attached. Then I'd have to put on about 40lbs of medical gear, survival gear, and food/water to last me for 2+ days. Do the math. I weigh 185lbs and I stepped on the scale before I walked out the wire and I was just under 320lbs. We would walk for miles, post up a casualty collection point in a covered position while our boys cordon and searched Taliban friendly villages for days on end with distances from 5-20 kilometers. I ended up finding a fatty protein shake to take out instead of food just to cut weight. When I wasn't walking, I was in the back of a steel can truck with one of my battalion's First Sergeants as the truck commander. There are two litters back there and I would listen to the radio traffic and wait on casualties to come to me for stabilization and evac. When I wasn't on mission, I was posted up in a crappy building I used as my trauma bay on the camp of about 80 people in the middle of taliban country. If smaller missions were going on around us and someone got hurt or if we took contact on the camp they would bring their wounded to me and my team of medics to patch up and evac. These camps aren'y necessarily safe. We took 45 days of consecutive rocketing on our camp over the summer of 2012 and one struck the back door of my trauma bay kicking shrapnel into my head resulting in a brief loss of consciousness and an impromptu suturing lesson for my medics. No evac for me and my aching bleeding head to be checked out by TBI though because who's going to take care of the boys when I'm gone. I put bandages over the suture and went back to missions 48 hours later. Don't get me wrong, my experience is neither the norm nor the extreme. There are Army PAs like MAJ John Detro who shot Al Queda in the face at close distance and are running around with shrapnel in his *** from jumping on top of trauma patients when grenades were tossed in the room and there are PAs who's most difficult task of their deployed career was whether or not to get the extra shot at starbucks. The training you get is what training your unit offers you which will be partially limited due to clinic demands, what you chose to educate yourself on, what experience you have, your Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership, and a 1 week course in San Antonio called, "TCMC" that teaches you to stop people from bleeding, keep them breathing, keeping their blood pressure valid, keeping them warm, and handing them off. After 5 deployments I can tell you being away from my family was tough and I missed my wife and kids but the war was an adrenaline rush that I will never regret. What sucks the most is not being at war, going home every night, and still missing your family. This may be specific to the Army but I have an Army friend of mine who was walking around Nellis AFB, he saw one of his Air Force IPAP classmates who works there full time doing primary care. He asked her how she was holding up at her job. She hugged him in uniform in the parking lot and cried on his shoulder about how miserable it was. This guy is an a$$hole too so I consider it a fairly big deal. This whole PCMH thing in the military is tough. To essentially be a social worker for all 20+ of your daily patients and coordinate care with military specialists who get paid the same for "no surgery" as they get paid for "surgery", radiologists who will tell you they aren't running the Brain MRI you requested for your new onset orgasmic headache patient because they're busy and don't believe you, and a health plan (United) who will make basic medications such as minocycline and Duac for acne a "specialist order only" medication to save money even though there are currently no dermatologists in network will suck the life out of you. It's a service. Taking care of service members and training medics are amazing things and the participation in the wars will forever have changed me for the better. Just know being a military PA entails more than being a civilian PA working for the military.

 

BTW, I have 59 safe exits out of aircraft while in flight :D and my most recent patient was a guy who's parachute who collapsed at about 600ft on a drop-zone here stateside. Mid-shaft femur fx, spinal compression fx at T1 and T8, bilat kidney lacs, spleen lac, bilat pulmonary contusions, and a scapular fracture. We treated him out of the back of a WWII style ambulance and evacuated him on a random national guard helicopter that happened to be in the area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.adn.com/2013/06/04/2927034/operation-spartan-reach.html

 

The second pic in this string is me and my medical team treating this guy. I am standing on the top left side of the pic as you see it lining up the spine board while one of my Sergeants holds c-spine and other is cutting him out of his harness. I saw the Soldier walking into the clinic the other day for some lab work. There's also a pic of us loading him up in the helicopter.

 

Geronimo!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting! May I ask was he in health services? Also, how long was he deployed to Afghanistan? Like I said, I'm not familiar with the military, so I don't even know how long a standard deployment is! Is it different depending on rank, job, etc?

 

He is not in health services and it is a 6 month deployment. My niece is married to an Army doctor and he was deployed to Afghanistan for a short time...I think less than 6 months.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in the Army. I'm a battalion PA for a Parachute Infantry Battalion. (brevity edit) When I was on my most recent deployment to Afghanistan, I would have to put on 40lbs+ of body army with 210 rounds of 5.56mm, a helmet with night vision goggles, knee pads, elbow pads, M4 carbine with red-dot scope, a light, and a night laser all attached. Then I'd have to put on about 40lbs of medical gear, survival gear, and food/water to last me for 2+ days. Do the math. I weigh 185lbs and I stepped on the scale before I walked out the wire and I was just under 320lbs. We would walk for miles, post up a casualty collection point in a covered position while our boys cordon and searched Taliban friendly villages for days on end with distances from 5-20 kilometers. I ended up finding a fatty protein shake to take out instead of food just to cut weight. When I wasn't walking, I was in the back of a steel can truck with one of my battalion's First Sergeants as the truck commander. There are two litters back there and I would listen to the radio traffic and wait on casualties to come to me for stabilization and evac. When I wasn't on mission, I was posted up in a crappy building I used as my trauma bay on the camp of about 80 people in the middle of taliban country.

 

Geronimo, I have to ask with all due respect...why does the Army send out their PAs like this? This sounds exactly like an FMF Corpsman's duties (attached to a Marine Infantry unit). Wouldn't they want to protect their investment? As a Corpsman, I understood that I was expendable goods to an extent. But a PA with the same description of duties (and battle rattle) that I had, in country, seems absolutely ridiculous. Just curious, not trying to provoke any inter-service rivalry or pissing contest here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another opportunity for the naval side of the house is in "non-military" federal service. A local PA that I run in to on occasion is a naval officer and works with Indian Health Services. He has also done stints with ICE, the VA and PCHS. While he misses sea/shore duty, he also says the ability to have his kids in a school close to home and be 'detached' from some of the stupidity of military life makes his choice to go into the Navy a good one. Food for thought.

 

Are you sure this is a Naval Officer and not a Commissioned Corps Public Health Service Officer? Oh yes PHS Officers can and do deploy.......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to the Physician Assistant Forum! This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More