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Civilian PA school to Military?

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I will beginning PA school at the end of May and am currently looking into going into the military upon graduation. I am specifically looking at Navy HSCP at the moment and have reached out to a recruiter, but would like to consider other branches as well. I would love any input/experiences you all have and would love to know why you chose a particular branch, your experience so far, etc. Thank you in advance!!

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Congrats on your acceptance into PA school (was it Texas Tech?) - that's a significant accomplishment.

Really glad to hear that you have an interest in serving our nation as a PA.

Per your question, I won't speak too much to pros or cons of one service vs another, but can at least speak to how it went for me going from a civilian PA program into the Navy on a (HPSP) scholarship:

I thought about where I wanted to live and work (beach), what specialty I wanted to practice in (emergency med or orthopedics), what types of patients I wanted to take care of (not the type I was seeing on my ambulance). I determined the military was where I would rather be, so I looked at the different services. Navy looked best. So I called a Navy recruiter. This person didn't seem to know what they were talking about. So I called a Navy medical recruiter. That person was very helpful and guided me through the process.

Essentially, the Navy would only pay for 24 months of school, so I set things up for me to Commission (not enlist) as an officer 3 months in to my 27-month PA program. Filled out all the paperwork (lots of it).

Started PA school and let the school's registrar know that 3 months later the Navy would be picking up the rest of the bill.

3 months into school, I raised my right hand and was sworn in as an Ensign in the Navy Reserves. The day of graduation, I promoted from an Ensign to a Lieutenant Junior Grade. I was required to pass my PANCE before I could go to officer development school (boot camp for officers). On the day I started ODS I became Active Duty (vs reserve). Finished those 5 easy weeks in Rhode Island, and drove from ODS to my first duty station (Chicago) where I started practicing as a PA immediately, and stayed to work 3 years. After that I moved to my next duty station (Coastal North Carolina) with Marine Corps Special Operations, and then after that 3.5 years in the White House in Washington, DC directly providing health care to two different presidential administrations.

In that time, I've deployed only once for 6 months to Afghanistan. Was a truly rewarding experience and I've been trying to get back since (see April 2012 JAAPA for my typical day out there). I've gotten to travel a good deal with the military (Afghanistan, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Morocco, New Zealand, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, etc).

I viewed the initial 3-year service obligation less as an unwanted commitment and more as a guaranteed first PA job. Clearly I've stayed beyond that time period. The longer one stays in the Navy as a PA, the more the job includes leadership responsibilities and administrative work. This is a great opportunity. There are also expanded clinical opportunities. For example, I recently began an 18-month doctoral fellowship for PAs in trauma surgery and critical care at an Army hospital which is a level one trauma center in Texas. Similar fellowships exist in the Navy for emergency medicine, orthopedics, and flight medicine.

I still work for the Navy because I appreciate working for something bigger than myself or some investors' bottom line. The US still does a great deal of good in the world and I can believe in supporting it even though political winds or the zeitgeist may change. There is a great deal of camaraderie around this. On a more practical dad-to-day basis, I really like my patients. One can't ask for a better patient population. Really enjoy taking care of our Marines and Sailors and their families.

Just another plug: Navy bases are on beaches. Hopefully that helps.

R/

Ari

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It was an easy decision for me, prior Navy Corpsman, so I picked HSCP. I agree with @Navy_PA. Navy are located mostly at the coast. If you are a beach person then it is a no brainer. 

One point though, If you are not planning to stay in for 20 years, or even after the first 3 years of obligatory service, look into HPSP. That would be a better deal financially. 

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On 3/19/2020 at 11:35 AM, Navy_PA said:

Congrats on your acceptance into PA school (was it Texas Tech?) - that's a significant accomplishment.

Really glad to hear that you have an interest in serving our nation as a PA.

Per your question, I won't speak too much to pros or cons of one service vs another, but can at least speak to how it went for me going from a civilian PA program into the Navy on a (HPSP) scholarship:

I thought about where I wanted to live and work (beach), what specialty I wanted to practice in (emergency med or orthopedics), what types of patients I wanted to take care of (not the type I was seeing on my ambulance). I determined the military was where I would rather be, so I looked at the different services. Navy looked best. So I called a Navy recruiter. This person didn't seem to know what they were talking about. So I called a Navy medical recruiter. That person was very helpful and guided me through the process.

Essentially, the Navy would only pay for 24 months of school, so I set things up for me to Commission (not enlist) as an officer 3 months in to my 27-month PA program. Filled out all the paperwork (lots of it).

Started PA school and let the school's registrar know that 3 months later the Navy would be picking up the rest of the bill.

3 months into school, I raised my right hand and was sworn in as an Ensign in the Navy Reserves. The day of graduation, I promoted from an Ensign to a Lieutenant Junior Grade. I was required to pass my PANCE before I could go to officer development school (boot camp for officers). On the day I started ODS I became Active Duty (vs reserve). Finished those 5 easy weeks in Rhode Island, and drove from ODS to my first duty station (Chicago) where I started practicing as a PA immediately, and stayed to work 3 years. After that I moved to my next duty station (Coastal North Carolina) with Marine Corps Special Operations, and then after that 3.5 years in the White House in Washington, DC directly providing health care to two different presidential administrations.

In that time, I've deployed only once for 6 months to Afghanistan. Was a truly rewarding experience and I've been trying to get back since (see April 2012 JAAPA for my typical day out there). I've gotten to travel a good deal with the military (Afghanistan, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Morocco, New Zealand, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, etc).

I viewed the initial 3-year service obligation less as an unwanted commitment and more as a guaranteed first PA job. Clearly I've stayed beyond that time period. The longer one stays in the Navy as a PA, the more the job includes leadership responsibilities and administrative work. This is a great opportunity. There are also expanded clinical opportunities. For example, I recently began an 18-month doctoral fellowship for PAs in trauma surgery and critical care at an Army hospital which is a level one trauma center in Texas. Similar fellowships exist in the Navy for emergency medicine, orthopedics, and flight medicine.

I still work for the Navy because I appreciate working for something bigger than myself or some investors' bottom line. The US still does a great deal of good in the world and I can believe in supporting it even though political winds or the zeitgeist may change. There is a great deal of camaraderie around this. On a more practical dad-to-day basis, I really like my patients. One can't ask for a better patient population. Really enjoy taking care of our Marines and Sailors and their families.

Just another plug: Navy bases are on beaches. Hopefully that helps.

R/

Ari

Ari, how did you travel to all of those countries with the Navy? (Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Morocco, New Zealand, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore? Was it through deployments? I am a current HSCP recipient who graduated from PA school last week and scheduled to complete ODS next month. I'm asking, because I'd also like to travel as much as I can while serving as a PA in the Navy. Of the countries you listed, I know that only Spain, Greece, and Japan, and Singapore have Naval installations. What can I do to increase my chances of being able to go to the places you did?

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Joining the Army Reserves was a great experience as a PA I ran a level 1 in Afghanistan and dealt with a lot of trauma. No Physicians around me and a few Combat Medics. Luckily, I am an ER PA in Civilian world so it came easy for me to apply emergency medicine on the Battlefield. Prior to being an Army PA, I was en enlisted Soldier for 6 years and after PA School went to Army OCS. I've been to Haiti, EL Salvador, Bahamas and Afghanistan. I re-appointed again to the Army for a Special Operations PA position and Coast Guard PSU position. Whoever, picks me up first.. I'm back in! 

I recommend Reserves and maintaining a Civilian Job.  Definitely consider the VA for a regular job. I now practice Emergency Medicine at Miami VA. It makes the PA  / Military Career Awesome....  GET PAID from both. 

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I have applied in the Navy after PA school but the recruiter at that time told me they only accepted PAs trained by the Navy. So instead of signing with them I looked in the US Public Health Service. Now I only have have 7 more years until my 20. I know a lot of PAs have been happy taking this route. USPHS is under the Uniformed Services, so same benefits as the other sister services.                                                         

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