I have been meaning to write this post for a while, and I recently got…
HPSP Student To-Do List, by Year
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions…
I get a lot of questions from people about what they should be doing. It goes something like this: “Um… I’m an M1 and I started classes a week ago… Am I supposed to be doing something to prepare for the military match?” Or this: “I’m in my last week of M3 and I didn’t realize I was supposed to have already set up my military rotations! HELP!” So, this post is going to be pretty dull and boring – it’s meant to be a basic checklist of things you should be doing and thinking about, by year, as an HPSP student. Here goes!
Before starting M1 year:
- Do something smart with your bonus – save some, use it for moving expenses, etc.
- Air Force students: If possible, go to Commissioned Officer Training before starting school, to get it off your to-do list
During M1 year:
- Get a military ID card so you can get on base
- File for reimbursement from your program for your books and other materials. The exact process varies by branch.
- Talk to your school about getting a letter for other materials – as of 2015, the Air Force will pay for scrubs, a stethoscope, lab coats, even a doctor’s bag and an otoscope/ophthalmoscope set, if your school writes a letter saying they are required.
- Arrange for summer training:
- Army/Navy: Initial entry training. The Army calls it BOLC (the Basic Officer Leadership Course), and I don’t remember what the Navy calls it.
- Air Force: Commissioned officer training (COT – initial entry training) if you didn’t do it before starting school. If you already attended COT, try to go to AMP-101, the Aerospace Medicine Basic Course. It’s a two-week course at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that is fully funded by the Air Force, including travel expenses and per diem. It’s a fun opportunity to meet other HPSP students, and to get something in your file demonstrating your “potential to be an outstanding officer” for your residency application.
During M2 year:
- Study hard and do well on Step 1.
- Keep filing for reimbursement. Reimbursement varies by branch, but the Air Force will pay for exam fees (USMLE Step 2 CK and CS) but not study materials.
- Remember that you will have to pay your travel expenses to Step 2 CS on your own – the military will reimburse for the exam fee, but not for gas/airfare, hotels, meals, etc. Find out where your nearest test center is, register early, and budget accordingly.
- Check the deadlines for completing Step 2 CK and CS – these vary by application year and by branch, but they are typically earlier than for the civilian match or your school. For example, my year you had to have a Step 2 CK score back before the JSGME board met. When in doubt, as your program manager.
- Talk to your dean. Make sure they know that you need to finalize your specialty choice early and apply for military away rotations earlier than people apply for civilian away rotations. They may be able to help you set up your third year schedule so you do clerkships in the fields you are most interested in early in the year.
During M3 year:
- June-October: Try to do clerkships in the specialties you are most interested in first, so you can make up your mind and start planning your military away rotations.
- October-Feb: Schedule your military away rotations. Try to do two away rotations. Each program has a different application timeline. Some allow you to schedule any time (meaning you can coordinate your rotation in October), while others make you wait until 1 January, or until 6 months before your requested start date. Reach out to the places where you want to rotate in September or October if you can, and find out what their timeline is.
- All year: Find people who can write your letters. For the Air Force you need two letters. One has to be from a physician in the specialty to which you are applying, and neither can be from a program director. As you go through your rotations, think about who could potentially write a letter for you, and ask them early.
- Take Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS at the end of the M3 year or early in M4
During M4 year:
- Go on your military rotations
- Interview at military programs where you aren’t rotating (in person or by phone)
- Fill out and submit your application to the military match
- Coordinate your move to wherever you’re going
- Remember to complete your re-commissioning/promotion paperwork and oath
- Check your email regularly and submit all of your paperwork on time – there is lots of paperwork
For those who have been there and done that, what else do you wish you had known to do/not to worry about? Please comment below and let us know!