The Navy Medical Corps is responsible for taking care of military personnel both at sea and on land at Navy bases around the world. As a family medicine doctor in the Navy, you get to practice medicine without having to worry about many of the challenges and complexities of private doctors. In the Navy, there's is no malpractice, no insurance billing, and no practice to set up. Furthermore, whether you're thinking about medical school or are a practicing family-medicine doctor looking to make a career change, the Navy may offer you generous benefits.
Getting Medical Training
If you aren't a family-medicine doctor but would like to become one, the Navy has programs that can help pay for your training. The Health Professions Scholarship Program pays your tuition, includes a living expense stipend, and carries a sign-on bonus. The Navy also has a collegiate program that includes a military salary, as well as residency programs to help lower the cost of getting your training after finishing medical school. In exchange for receiving Navy funding, you will have to commit to serve in the Navy after you finish training.
Your salary in the Navy depends on your rank. Typically, students and residents who are commissioned start out at the O-1 ensign rank, while existing doctors typically come in as O-3 lieutenants or as higher ranks. As of 2013, the monthly base pay for an O-1 is $2,876.40, while an O-3 starts at $3,835.50. For comparison, a family practitioner who decides to make a career of the Navy, stays in for 20 years and achieves an O-5 rank, will start earning $8,338.80 after the end of her 20th year. Remember also that it's possible to join the Navy with no student loan debt.
Military basic pay can be a bit misleading, especially for doctors. The Navy offers many different types of income in addition to basic pay. For instance, your housing and food allowance as an O-3 could be as much as $2,497.89 per month, as of 2013, assuming that you have dependents and qualify for the family subsistence supplemental allowance. If you serve at sea or in a hazardous area, you could earn more. Some of your pay will even be tax-free when you serve in a combat zone. The Navy offers additional incentives if you are board-certified. You can also receive signing and retention bonuses. Some practicing doctors that join the Navy receive signing bonuses between $220,000 and $400,000.
As a member of the Navy medical corps, you could work just about anywhere. The Navy has large medical centers in three American cities as well as two hospital ships. Medical clinics are located all over the world and on ships. You'll also be a military leader, and be trained in military procedures. The Navy gives you access to advanced technology that it develops so that you can help keep America's sailors in ship shape.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.