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Hello everyone,

I have a question if I were to be commissioned as a PA for the public health service.

On their website they say some join as entry level public health practitioners while others are experienced experts trained in public health, clinical specialties, or research.

" When you join the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps you become part of a diverse group of individuals who have a unique sense of purpose. Many career choices tend to lock you in to one career path. USPHS Health Services Officers have many opportunities to work in a variety of agencies and to completely change career paths, if they choose. An early career psychologist or social work officer might choose to work in the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the Indian Health Service. Many officers work in those agencies for the full course of their USPHS career, advancing to higher levels o responsibility, becoming supervisors and managers with regional or national responsibilities. Other Health Services Officers choose to move to other agencies..."

These are the description on their website: 

Allied clinical care provider officers in the Commissioned Corps have the flexibility and freedom to pursue a diverse and fulfilling career. Day-to-day responsibilities may include:

  • Providing patient care in a variety of settings and venues
  • Participating in emergency operations
  • Conducting clinical research
  • Overseeing administration, acquisitiion , and budgeting responsibilities
  • Expanding knowledge through health education
  • Shaping health care regulatory and policy initiatives

 

So from my understanding, does this mean as a PA I can work in different agencies with a sort of different type of job that is similar to a PA?? It looks like less of a clinical aspect, but it seems awesome that you have the opportunity to change to different jobs. Like I am confused when it says the ability to change career paths. Does it mean I can be researching at like the NIH even though my degree is in PA?

 

Only downside is you are pay based on rank, but heck I would I don't care if I am enjoying my job as an o2 officer being able to work in a variety of careers if I get bored.

Thanks in advance!!

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I believe USPHS still provides medical and dental clinicians for the U.S. Coast Guard.  That's going to be a fun option... if you don't mind living in Kodiak. 🙂

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Clinical, administrative in all of the federal departments (DHHS, CDC, etc).  You can be detailed to work with the Coast Guard, NOAA, ICE, and BOP clinically, or with the Indian Health Service.  You can find your own job in a federally qualified health center.  You can work in research.  Former students of mine reached the rank of rear admiral and a number reached the rank of Captain which is one below admiral in the USPHS.  Education at the doctoral level is encouraged for promotion, and the new Doctor of Medical Science and the existing DHSc and PhD programs are perfect for this.  You can retire after 20 years of service.  PHS officers are also deployed for national or international health emergencies (Ebola) or natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, etc, in DMAT units. Literally, you can make your own path.  

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Huge Bummer

I was so excited when they passed the ready reserve - then they never funded it....

 

would love to do USPHS, but now I am to old....

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10 hours ago, rpackelly said:

Clinical, administrative in all of the federal departments (DHHS, CDC, etc).  You can be detailed to work with the Coast Guard, NOAA, ICE, and BOP clinically, or with the Indian Health Service.  You can find your own job in a federally qualified health center.  You can work in research.  Former students of mine reached the rank of rear admiral and a number reached the rank of Captain which is one below admiral in the USPHS.  Education at the doctoral level is encouraged for promotion, and the new Doctor of Medical Science and the existing DHSc and PhD programs are perfect for this.  You can retire after 20 years of service.  PHS officers are also deployed for national or international health emergencies (Ebola) or natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, etc, in DMAT units. Literally, you can make your own path.  

What types of clinical, research, and administrative jobs? Can you give me examples of what kind of jobs you or anyone you know had specifically? Like can you be like a epidemiologist at the CDC or are not allowed?

For example, what position are there if you were to work at the NIH and CDC with a PA degree?

I just want to know the actual type of research or administration jobs you can get because those can be quite vague.

Also, Will the the pay will be the same based if you were to work in these jobs rather than a PA based on rank?

This is what intrigues me the most because of the diverse options you can do besides doing PA only.

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Oh also, if you are an O2, and find a job at the CDC, are you paid by rank or the GS-LEVEL that the job lists for? Like if it says GS-LEVEL (12-15) and then a salary range (example: 70k - 100k). Are you paid by that range or are you paid exactly the same as every other O2 out there?

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You are paid by rank plus housing and benefits.  Past people I have known have had administrative positions managing grants for health professions (PA and physician training), commanded disaster response, like for Katrina, for certain units,  deployed for the Ebola crisis to supervise screening of potential travelers, deployed to Haiti to work after the earthquake, commanded DMAT units,  worked as a PA on a NOAA ship exploring the Antarctic and arctic, worked with the CDC as epidemiologists or research scientists if they had appropriate backgrounds. (Additional MPH or DHSc) , supervised health units in the BOP and IHS according to rank, etc.    Literally thousands of different types of non-clinical assignments, although you have to work one day a month clinically in order to keep up your credentialling.   When I was the director of the DHSc program at NSU, we literally had 30 or 40 PHS officers, including many PAs, as students at any given time, because it gives so much credit towards promotion to “broaden” your scope.  

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I think that if you are young and meet the physical requirements, it is one of the best career tracks for PAs.  Eventually you make more than a civilian PA because of the housing, tax, and retirement subsidies, you have the prestige of rank and quicker promotions than some of the other services, a wide variety of assignments, doing good for people, and by and large not getting shot at (no more risk than working at an average medical office).  Downsides might be having to keep up some physical standards which we should all do, being subject to deployment in times of emergencies but only with non combat arms unless you want to go somewhere where the shooting is.  In general you research and bid on your own assignments so your progress and duties after the first 5 years or so are largely within your control.  

 

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2 hours ago, rpackelly said:

I think that if you are young and meet the physical requirements, it is one of the best career tracks for PAs.  Eventually you make more than a civilian PA because of the housing, tax, and retirement subsidies, you have the prestige of rank and quicker promotions than some of the other services, a wide variety of assignments, doing good for people, and by and large not getting shot at (no more risk than working at an average medical office).  Downsides might be having to keep up some physical standards which we should all do, being subject to deployment in times of emergencies but only with non combat arms unless you want to go somewhere where the shooting is.  In general you research and bid on your own assignments so your progress and duties after the first 5 years or so are largely within your control.  

 

How do you even come close to making the pay of a civilian PA?

The annual pay for an O2 less than 2 years of service is $44,388 . The annual income for an O-3 over 2 years of service is $55,212.( after benefits and taxes.)

This pay is so bad because a fresh PA out of graduate school can make $85k straight out the bat and go up to $150k+ and get covered with 401k, malpractice insurance, profit sharing, sign on bonuses, Over time bonuses, etc.

Obviously I am not in it in for the money, but these figures are looking so underpaid and that is disrespectful as a PA...

The figures that I only see that is pretty well is an O6 with over 20 years of expierence but that is only $101,688 and you have to literally stick with it if you make it that far....

When you also say quicker promotions, I find it very hard to believe for a PA officer in the commissioned corps to even reach the ranks of O6... I know a few people who have but that is a few so it is not even a guarantee and it is rare.

What rank is a good rank to be making the pay similar or from what you said, "more" than a civilian PA? How many years to expect to reach this rank?

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I don't see any USPHS PAs chiming in here, so you might want to go find one.  Call up a recruiter and ask to talk to an actual USPHS PA because you're considering that as a career; worst they can say is "no," and you're likely to get better detailed answers than the secondhand responses you're getting from us.

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On 12/2/2018 at 12:31 PM, Thelegitbrian said:

How do you even come close to making the pay of a civilian PA?

The annual pay for an O2 less than 2 years of service is $44,388 . The annual income for an O-3 over 2 years of service is $55,212.( after benefits and taxes.)

This pay is so bad because a fresh PA out of graduate school can make $85k straight out the bat and go up to $150k+ and get covered with 401k, malpractice insurance, profit sharing, sign on bonuses, Over time bonuses, etc.

Obviously I am not in it in for the money, but these figures are looking so underpaid and that is disrespectful as a PA...

The figures that I only see that is pretty well is an O6 with over 20 years of expierence but that is only $101,688 and you have to literally stick with it if you make it that far....

When you also say quicker promotions, I find it very hard to believe for a PA officer in the commissioned corps to even reach the ranks of O6... I know a few people who have but that is a few so it is not even a guarantee and it is rare.

What rank is a good rank to be making the pay similar or from what you said, "more" than a civilian PA? How many years to expect to reach this rank?

Yep, you seem to have not heard the phrase "service before self". Those who wear the nation's uniforms aren't looking to get rich. There are other non-taxable benefits, but the greatest benefit is serving your country and the American people. I've worked with many Commissioned Corps members of the USPHS I don't recall hearing complaints about pay from them. Just my $.02 worth

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I would go in as a Major 0-4 and training years count towards credible years - so i would have had something like 20 years in (4 years prior military)  pay was decent...

 

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You get a bonus for being a PA plus a housing allowance that is tax free in addition to your salary.   Actually the compensation is relatively equivalent if you come in as O-3 (usual with a masters and one year of experience) and can be substantially better if you are living in a high cost area ($1500 a month).   So that’s 18K a year for a single person, say in the Boston area; tax free, and more if you have dependents.  So you end up getting about $36 K a year above the salary structure that is listed per rank and years of service.  Don’t forget that they pay you more if you have a family and cover all of everyone’s medical and dental expense.   You get paid more with each promotion and each year of service.  All of the services pay medical personnel bonuses in addition to rank pay, otherwise they would have no doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.   You can use the GI bill to get your doctoral degree and then be promoted further.  I am not a recruiter but I have worked with literally over 100 PHS PAs during my time at NSU.  They factor in retirement after 20 years at half salary, the chance to have matching funds put into a 401K type plan as well, and the ability to transfer to a comparable civilian job within or outside of government after retirement.  If they stay in government, say the VA, they earn two pensions and get creditable years of service for salaries.    Generally no one quits over salary in the PHS, they quit because they don’t like that the role can have collateral duties other than clinical, and that deployments may be mandatory and unforgiving of family circumstance.  

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OK last post on this.  Health Professions Incentive pay for non physician health professionals is $15K a year and pay for certification is $6K, my informants tell me and they are usually reliable.  So that is 21K above the usual pay rates in special pay.   Even minimal housing pay in low cost areas for a single person is about $12K a year so you are talking about 33K a year over the tables for rank and time in service, some of it non taxable.  There is loan repayment available as well for certain posts.   

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On 12/3/2018 at 3:39 PM, rpackelly said:

OK last post on this.  Health Professions Incentive pay for non physician health professionals is $15K a year and pay for certification is $6K, my informants tell me and they are usually reliable.  So that is 21K above the usual pay rates in special pay.   Even minimal housing pay in low cost areas for a single person is about $12K a year so you are talking about 33K a year over the tables for rank and time in service, some of it non taxable.  There is loan repayment available as well for certain posts.   

I spoke with a few people and heard there was a change in the incentive pay and they implemented a new special pay where it was 9k per year regardless.

 

Also, is this only if you are working as a PA or administrative jobs because the new special pay system apparently is more specific on what you are doing. Not really sure since it is new but just wondering.

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I’m seeing a lot of big numbers thrown around for the incentive/HPSP pay but I can’t find those numbers anywhere. Anyone have a source for those numbers? I uploaded a screenshot of the 2019 HPSP pay scale and here’s the link too. Am I missing something? It’s zero dollars for incentive pay annually and requires a contractial obligation for retention pay at essentially only 5k a year? Without incentive pay i don’t know how they keep PAs but I feel like I’m missing something. 

https://dcp.psc.gov/ccmis/PDF_docs/2019 HPSP Pay Tables.pdf

E5D37599-CCBC-4D34-A973-D5461FDF9830.png

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On 11/30/2018 at 8:15 PM, rev ronin said:

I believe USPHS still provides medical and dental clinicians for the U.S. Coast Guard.  That's going to be a fun option... if you don't mind living in Kodiak. 🙂

They do provide some, but Coasties have their own PAs...one was an instructor at IPAP when I was a student.

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On 12/1/2018 at 7:27 PM, Thelegitbrian said:

What types of clinical, research, and administrative jobs? Can you give me examples of what kind of jobs you or anyone you know had specifically? Like can you be like a epidemiologist at the CDC or are not allowed?

For example, what position are there if you were to work at the NIH and CDC with a PA degree?

I just want to know the actual type of research or administration jobs you can get because those can be quite vague.

Also, Will the the pay will be the same based if you were to work in these jobs rather than a PA based on rank?

This is what intrigues me the most because of the diverse options you can do besides doing PA only.

Look on USAjobs, PA series is 0603 and the specific job posting should say whether at commissioned Corps officer can apply. Pay is based on rank and years of service and locality pay (BAH) just like all other military. I do not know if commissioned corps PAs get a bonus like I did in the Army, but they likely do as these bonuses are set by DoD guidelines which cover all uniformed services whether DoD or not.  You may qualify for administrative jobs (NON 0603) if you have management experience of another degree at places like the FDA or epidemiology if you have an MPH.  I have also seen USPHS officers at military medical centers back filling for deployed service members.  Personally I think there are better options for Army and Air Force (instructor, recruiting, human resources, DsC Fellowships, PhD, etc.).  

Edited by ArmyPA

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