How to Become a Doctor in the Army

An Army doctor must learn combat medicine as well as her specialty of choice.

An Army doctor must learn combat medicine as well as her specialty of choice.

If you want to become a doctor but can't stomach the thought of huge student loans, the Army might be an option for you. Army doctors typically commit a certain time to the Army in return for free schooling. There are strict requirements, but you'll have the benefit of entering the Army as an officer instead of as an enlisted soldier.

Contact an Army recruiter to begin the process. He'll help you find an appropriate college to start your pre-med work. Take the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery test to ensure you're qualified to serve as an Army doctor. The Army only agrees to pay for schooling for people who qualify by scoring high in health-services sections of the ASVAB.

Attend an accredited four-year university with the Army's approval. The Army should pay for all or most of your schooling in return for your future service in the Army -- typically, one year of college equals one year of Army service in return. Check with your recruiter about the required grade point average. If you don't maintain the grade point average, you're still obligated to serve in the Army for your agreed-upon time, but it will be in a specialty besides a doctor.

Apply with the Uniformed Services University, which is the preferred military medical school. It provides military-specific training in addition to basic medical training, including combat medical skills and how to diagnose foreign or rare conditions. Tuition is free in return for service in the Army after graduation. If you aren't accepted, apply with an Army-approved medical school and the Army's Health Professions Scholarship Program. This pays for your medical school and provides a monthly stipend for your personal bills in return for one year of service for each year of medical school.

Complete the medical school training and residency requirements, which often take four years.

Attend the Army's six-week Officer Basic Leadership Course, which doctors attend instead of basic training. It provides an overview of the requirements of an Army officer and how to be a leader among soldiers.

Report to your required duty station to begin serving as an Army doctor. Although you can stay in the Army for more than 20 years, you must serve at least as many years as the Army paid for your schooling. For example, if the Army paid for eight years of school, you are obligated to serve in the Army as a doctor for eight years.

Tips

  • Doctors typically enter the Army with a rank of captain, which is an officer position.
  • If you can't complete the medical school requirements, you can serve in the Army in other health care positions such as corpsman -- similar to a nurse -- or health administration to fulfill your obligation for any schooling the Army has paid for.
 

About the Author

Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.

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