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Intial Officer Rank with MPAS + additional master's degree

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I was recently accepted into the HSCP with the Navy. I’m currently at an E-6 paygrade while in school. Upon completion of PA school, it is my understanding that most grads will start out with the rank of 0-2. However, my recruiter mentioned that there is a possibility that I may commission as an 0-3 because of a previous master’s degree that I also hold.

 

Do any of you know about the officer commissioning structure based on years of education? If not, could you give me an idea of where to find information about it.

 

Thanks

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The only Officers I have heard getting commissioned to O3 are Doctors and Dentist. Everyone else I believe start at O2. I am curious as well on how the recruiter came up with this. I wonder if there are other ways to get commissioned to O3 besides putting time in (I believe automatic O2 to O3 in 3 years)

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I admit that it did sound like a long-shot, but the recruiter thought 2 years of a PA master's program + 2 years from a previous master's program would equal = 4 years of a doctoral level degree and thus rank as an 0-3. At any rate, I'm not getting my hopes up.

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I doubt it. Main ways to start at O3 is to have experience in the field you are commissioned for (i.e. a nurse for 7 years may start as an O2 instead of O1), a higher degree (masters start at O2 and doctorates start at O3, even audiologists and PhD if degree in their field), or prior service at a that rank (though sometimes you can drop back in the case of an army O4 I knew who became a PA and returned as an O3). You automatically promote from 02 to O3 in 2 years.

i knew one person who came in as an O5. He was in my ODS class. A general surgeon with something like 25 years experience. I’m unsure how he met the age cut off. It was hilarious seeing an O5 with only a national defense ribbon. He did pretty much whatever he wanted at ODS.

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From what I understand, you will commission as an O-2, no matter how many master's degrees you hold. Your recruiter may not be intentionally misleading you, but the truth is that they are not always the most informed. If the terminal degree is a doctorate-level - MD/DO, DDS, DPT, JD - you will commission as an O-3. I guess a DNP must do as well, although I haven't met any that were direct entry.

As previously mentioned, you can also be advanced (I think the max is O-5) for previous civilian experience, although it is usually extensive, and in a critical wartime billet (i.e., trauma surgeons).

Personally, I don't think you'd be doing yourself any favors coming in as an O-3, especially with no prior military experience.

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Thank you all for the replies. I agree with you HMtoPA, I do not believe my recruiter has set out to be intentionally misleading, she just may be uninformed. 

I was also hoping that some of you could answer my questions regarding my first duty stations. Do all newly-graduated PA's get stationed state-side, or is there a chance at going to an overseas base if you request it.

Personally, I'd like to go to Sigonella, Naples, Rota or Souda Bay. I'm not sure if I plan on staying in the military after my commitment ends, but I'd like to stay long enough to be stationed in Europe for a time.

 

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In general, Rota is considered a highly desirable billet, and difficult to get. I don't know how much truth there is to that - I went to Rota as a corpsman, but obviously there are lot more HM billets than PA billets at any given duty station. When I was in Rota (2008-11), there was one "regular" PA billet and one Ortho PA billet. I think Sig and Naples probably have one general PA billet each, not sure about Ortho billets. I've not heard about a PA billet at Souda Bay, but I guess it's possible. I was offered a billet in Sigonella as my second duty station (after a tour with Second Marine Division), but I'm not sure how difficult any of these billets would be to get on your first go around. Honestly, being willing to go overseas is always a plus, because you'd be surprised how many people would prefer not to deal with the hassle, but generally I've found that billets in Japan are less competitive than the European billets. Really, it comes down to timing more than anything else. With so few PA billets, relatively (essentially, one per MTF), it's really a matter of what is available when you're up for orders.

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Are there any more PA billets in Europe other than the one's you mentioned? Are there any with the Marines? On the the Navy medicine webpage there is a map that includes Germany, Belgium, & Hungary, but I don't see any entries listed for these countries facility tabs.

Also, are there any other PA billets in Asia/Pacific other than Japan/South Korea?

Map2016.jpg

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@donricardo , @HMtoPA, @LT_Oneal_PAC and all.

I have this same question for a different branch - Ariforce and Army. Does the same rule apply with previous master's degree not helping you commission as an O3? Also could it be a case where the previous master's degree is not much needed in the military branch? 

I have a degree in public health can I see that there are Public health Officers position and I will also be starting PA school in the fall this year.  

My other question is, is it best to join the military as I start my PA school or it doesn't make any difference if I decide to join 1 year into the program. I have read that joining when one is about 6 months to graduation can prevent on from commissioning right after school and may require one to get civilian PA experience for up to 6 months to 1 year?

How true is this? 

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I would take that map with a grain of salt. Some of the locations, like Peru, Egypt, Cambodia, and Singapore, are research labs (Singapore is also a logistics hub). You might go there if you were an entomologist or epidemiologist, but not as a PA. There is no permanent Naval presence that I'm aware of in Vietnam, PNG, Hungary, Ghana, or Belgium. There are PA billets in Italy (Naples and Sicily), Spain, Japan (all over the main island + Okinawa), and Guam for sure. I assume probably Gitmo and Bahrain, as well. Places with a smaller Naval presence (like Souda Bay, Singapore, and Korea) only have small clinics staffed by an IDC. AFAIK, there is only a single PA billet in Germany (in Stuttgart), but it is not a junior-level billet and is in the SpecWar community.

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2 hours ago, bensexton2 said:

@donricardo , @HMtoPA, @LT_Oneal_PAC and all.

I have this same question for a different branch - Ariforce and Army. Does the same rule apply with previous master's degree not helping you commission as an O3? Also could it be a case where the previous master's degree is not much needed in the military branch? 

I have a degree in public health can I see that there are Public health Officers position and I will also be starting PA school in the fall this year.  

My other question is, is it best to join the military as I start my PA school or it doesn't make any difference if I decide to join 1 year into the program. I have read that joining when one is about 6 months to graduation can prevent on from commissioning right after school and may require one to get civilian PA experience for up to 6 months to 1 year?

How true is this? 

I can't speak with authority on what the AF and Army do, but since commissioning is sort of under the purview of Congress, I imagine each of the branches are following the same rule. Basically, your extra masters degree gets you bragging rights, and that's about it. You're not going to use it, so why would you get paid extra for it? I mean, I suppose there are places where you might use both an MPH and an MPAS, but the military is not one of those places. Besides, you'll be an O-3 automatically after 2 years, just be patient. This is part of what drives the stereotype that medical officers don't "earn" their rank.

I'd recommend getting in touch with a recruiter sooner rather than later. They probably won't take you seriously until you matriculate into a program, but I wouldn't wait too much longer after that. The quotas for how many direct-entry PAs they take change by service and year-to-year. I think many times you have to be part of one of the scholarship programs, which are competitive. The Army has ery high utilization of PAs, but they also make a TON of them in-house every year, so I'm not sure how much of a need they have for civilian-trained PAs. The other services make fewer PAs, but they also don't use them as much as the Army does. My understanding is that they only recruit PAs if there is still a need after accounting for what IPAP and the scholarship programs produce in a given year, which means in some years they might need zero. Maybe some of the scholarship guys can chime in?

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I looked in to joining all four branches of the military as a PA with non-military background. This is what I found:

The Marines: uses Navy PA

The Army: only takes PAs from their Army PA program

The Air Force: has a limited amount of HPSP scholarships. Not HSCP. I applied for this and was chosen as a 2nd alternate. No one ever told me how many scholarships were available.

The Navy: offers something like 2-4 HPSP  and 10-30 HSCP nationwide. I applied for both and was selected for the HSCP and was damn glad to get it. 

There are also 2 other students in my PA class who received HSCP scholarships. Pretty good deal if you ask me. I'm hoping I don't regret it. 

The recruiters won't talk to you until you have an acceptance letter from a PA program in your hand. 

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Thanks to you both. I have a letter of acceptance in hand. 

@donricardo I will look up the applications suggested? Is this application period over? Do you have an estimate of the length of time it took for them to get back for you in general? Thanks

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I’ve met PAs with prior MPH in the service. This will definitely not get you an O3.

the scholarship and collegiate program is actually less competitive than to do direct commission after graduating for Navy. Not sure about AF which is pretty competitive overall because it is the most appealing branch as far as nice bases, more bonuses (they give them hardship pay for staying on Navy bases!), and basically more relaxed IMO. Army has no scholarships, but has decent chances for direct commission since they are the highest utilizers. When I joined there was 1100 PAs in the Army, about 300 in the navy, about 110 in the AF.

FYI, all officers auto promote from O1 to O3. No one competes until going for O4, not just medical officers. While I was in they were talking about giving cyber warfare officers an initial rank of O6! That’s the ticket!

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I don't suspect you will make O-3.  On a side note I remembered seeing an O-5 once at Walter Reed who had the most messed up uniform and his beret was all "wonky".  I saluted him and he looked at me funny and gave back an awkward salute.  Later on I found out he had like 1 month in the Army.  He was a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon with many years of experience.  His commander was an O-3 and half his age.    

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Most PAs end up in isolated places like Fort Hood Texas and Fort Lennowood Missouri in family medicine clinics. This is even true for most FM docs. Usually only very specialized folks remain in the big medical centers.

Also, they do like PA's in Korea. It doesnt look like there will be a war there anytime soon so I guess going over there wouldnt be too bad

Edited by ArmyMedOfficerInNY

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One of the most important things in the military to learn, when someone tells you that you can not do something, ask for the instruction. Here it is...

https://doni.documentservices.dla.mil/Directives/01000%20Military%20Personnel%20Support/01-100%20General%20Recruiting%20Records/1120.8A.pdf

In regards to not using it. If you are going to move to O4 and beyond, an MPH will most definitely be utilized depending on the specialty of the degree. Do not forget, in the military you are an officer first and a clinician second, that means administrative responsibilities. If you don't like that, recognize you will not move beyond O4 and need to be ok with that.

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34 minutes ago, CorpsmanUP said:

One of the most important things in the military to learn, when someone tells you that you can not do something, ask for the instruction. Here it is...

https://doni.documentservices.dla.mil/Directives/01000 Military Personnel Support/01-100 General Recruiting Records/1120.8A.pdf

In regards to not using it. If you are going to move to O4 and beyond, an MPH will most definitely be utilized depending on the specialty of the degree. Do not forget, in the military you are an officer first and a clinician second, that means administrative responsibilities. If you don't like that, recognize you will not move beyond O4 and need to be ok with that.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with the instruction. It says you get entry grade credit "in the specialty being appointed" i.e., PA or MPH, not both. And I still say you won't use the MPH, even as an O-5 and above. Yes, your day-to-day work will be more administrative - but in a managerial sense, not as an epidemiologist or other field relevant to practicing public health.

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On 5/4/2018 at 11:19 PM, HMtoPA said:

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with the instruction. It says you get entry grade credit "in the specialty being appointed" i.e., PA or MPH, not both. And I still say you won't use the MPH, even as an O-5 and above. Yes, your day-to-day work will be more administrative - but in a managerial sense, not as an epidemiologist or other field relevant to practicing public health.

In the Army you absolutely will have the opportunity to use an MPH at the O4 level and above...in fact there are only 2 pre-approved PhDs that PAs can pursue as part of Army paid education, education and epidemiology. 

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Donricardo, first, congrats on getting your scholarship. I don't know who told you the Army does not accept PA's, but from their own program. That was not my impression when speaking with the medical recruiters I knew very well in my area as of last summer. I had been accepted into a civilian program, and we spoke at length about commissioning after graduating from a civie program. They made it sound as if it was a sure thing in my case (may have been different as I was already enlisted, but I don't know).

Long story short, I ended up in the military's program anyway, but I think someone may have misled you about the Army not accepting civilian trained PA's. Either way, from the talk that I hear during our frequent professional development sessions here, the promotion rate from 0-2 to 0-3 is high (I think in the 90% range), but not 100%. It used to be automatic a few years ago, but no more. If you spoke with a recruiter who was non-commissioned, I would augment what you're told with advice from someone currently commissioned, because these things change fairly often. Find a good mentor early on if you can, because if your goal move quickly up the chain you need to get all the best positions and best schools once you make it past O-3/O-4.  

As for the Master's degree thing, I had a Soldier who had 2 Master's, who was commissioned a year or two ago into an Army public health officer position as an O-1. The Navy may assess your degree much differently, but I wouldn't count on getting an automatic O-3 promotion. Best of luck with school!

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4 minutes ago, AdamPAS said:

Donricardo, first, congrats on getting your scholarship. I don't know who told you the Army does not accept PA's, but from their own program. That was not my impression when speaking with the medical recruiters I knew very well in my area as of last summer. I had been accepted into a civilian program, and we spoke at length about commissioning after graduating from a civie program. They made it sound as if it was a sure thing in my case (may have been different as I was already enlisted, but I don't know).

Long story short, I ended up in the military's program anyway, but I think someone may have misled you about the Army not accepting civilian trained PA's. Either way, from the talk that I hear during our frequent professional development sessions here, the promotion rate from 0-2 to 0-3 is high (I think in the 90% range), but not 100%. It used to be automatic a few years ago, but no more. If you spoke with a recruiter who was non-commissioned, I would augment what you're told with advice from someone currently commissioned, because these things change fairly often. Find a good mentor early on if you can, because if your goal move quickly up the chain you need to get all the best positions and best schools once you make it past O-3/O-4.  

As for the Master's degree thing, I had a Soldier who had 2 Master's, who was commissioned a year or two ago into an Army public health officer position as an O-1. The Navy may assess your degree much differently, but I wouldn't count on getting an automatic O-3 promotion. Best of luck with school!

Promotion to O3 is absolutely 100%, for everyone with a clean record. No DUI, didn’t kill a hooker, you’re promoted. It’s different for different branches on whether you have to be “selected” or it’s automatic on the date, but everyone who showed up and at minimum did their job will promote to O3

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10 minutes ago, LT_Oneal_PAC said:

Promotion to O3 is absolutely 100%, for everyone with a clean record. No DUI, didn’t kill a hooker, you’re promoted. It’s different for different branches on whether you have to be “selected” or it’s automatic on the date, but everyone who showed up and at minimum did their job will promote to O3

she lived, so it's ok....:)

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1 hour ago, LT_Oneal_PAC said:

Promotion to O3 is absolutely 100%, for everyone with a clean record. No DUI, didn’t kill a hooker, you’re promoted. It’s different for different branches on whether you have to be “selected” or it’s automatic on the date, but everyone who showed up and at minimum did their job will promote to O3

Haha, pretty much true, you’d need 2 DUI’s to make CSM though!

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