The Military isn't looking for just anyone to treat its service members and their family members. Aspiring military physicians must distinguish themselves mentally and physically, and always push themselves to be the best.
To join the Military, you have to be at least 18 years old (17 with parental consent). As for the upper age limit, it depends on the Service and the program:
- Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP): 36 (for the Navy, you can be no older than 42 at the time you enter Active Duty, following your degree completion — unless you were granted an age waiver when you were recruited)
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine: 36
- Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard: 42
- Navy and Navy Reserve: 42
- Air Force: 48
- Air Force Reserve: 47
- Air National Guard: 47
Age waivers are available, but they depend on your skills and the Military's needs.
Since all military physicians serve as commissioned officers, you must be a U.S. citizen in order to apply.
Grade-Point Average (GPA) + Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Scores
In general, an applicant for the HPSP or USU should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a minimum MCAT score of 500. A competitive applicant should have a GPA of at least 3.6 and an MCAT score between 506 and 509. The Military also factors in volunteer work and leadership.
Degrees + Licensing
HPSP and USU require all of its applicants to have baccalaureate degrees from accredited programs in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico. Also, in order for the HPSP application to be final, applicants must be accepted to, or enrolled in an accredited physician of medicine (MD) or physician of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree program in the United States or Puerto Rico.
If you hope to enter the Military as a full physician, you must have a degree from an accredited MD or DO program from the United States or Puerto Rico.
If you hope to enter the Military as a full physician, you must have a degree from an accredited MD or DO program from the United States or Puerto Rico. Accreditation must come from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association.
Physicians with degrees from foreign medical schools must also:
- Pass either the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in the Medical Sciences or hold an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates certification
- Be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties
- Complete GME1 in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico
- Be licensed to practice in the United States and its territories
- Be currently engaged in a clinical practice
Finally, physicians need to have completed one year of graduate medical education, must have a valid state license issued by a state, territory or commonwealth of the United States or the District of Columbia, and should be board certified or board eligible.
Physical + Moral Standards
Regardless of your age, you must have a physical to indicate that you are healthy enough to serve in case you are deployed. Where you take your physical depends on the program you want to enter. HPSP applicants will take a physical at a Military Entrance Processing Station near them, and USU applicants will take their physicals through the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board. You are also required to pass a security investigation and demonstrate the high moral standards expected of a physician and a military officer.
Waivers are available on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the program, you may want to apply early to give the Services enough time to approve your waiver.
Prior Service + Prior Military Commitments
Those with prior service or prior military commitments can apply to be military medical students, residents or physicians, although some individuals may need to fill out extra applications. For example, Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets must be approved for an educational delay because of their existing military commitments before they apply to HPSP or USU. Likewise, cadets and midshipmen in Service academies and ROTC must be approved by their respective Service before accepting admission to medical school.
If you are an active-duty service member, you must receive permission from your Personnel Command to leave your current assignment and apply to medical school and scholarship programs. In that case, any preexisting service obligation for your military education and training will be added to any obligation related to your participation in a medical scholarship program.