On October 16, I attended an event presented by the United States Army “The Forefront of Medicine: Life as an Army Physician” where a pediatric ophthalmologist, Maj James D Bowsher told us about his experiences as a doctor in the military.
The reason I was interested in the presentation is that I want to be a dentist, but dental school is not cheap, so I was looking for options as a freshman how I could reduce my graduate school expenses. One day I read about the HSPS scholarship that the Army, Navy and also the Air Force offers for people who are considering joining the military as a health professional. I read about this scholarship more and more, and on October 16 while I was walking to class I saw an Army stand that advertised this same exact scholarship. After some consideration, I talked to the recruiter who recommended me to go to this event which was in the evening that day. I also had some questions about ROTC, so I thought it would be a bad idea to miss out on this opportunity.
During the first half of the presentation, they told us about the scholarship in general: It pays for full tuition, books, $2200 monthly stipend, $20000 sign-on bonus, officer’s pay during fall breaks. This all looks good on paper, but I was more interested in the experiences of a current doctor in the Army. In the second half of the presentation a pediatric ophthalmologist, Maj James D Bowsher told us about the pros and cons when joining the military. He also took advantage of this scholarship when he was a sophomore in medical school. After graduation, he had to complete a basic training which he described as “fun” because doctors get less intensive training than real soldiers. Other than waking up early and doing physical training, he mostly played golf and rode his bike. Then he had to do a residency, but thankfully dentists are not required to do that, so my path is going to be a little bit different if I stick to my plan. But what is the working environment like compared to civilian hospitals? The answer is, pretty much the same, except that patients wear camo. One downside that he talked about was that the Army might send doctors to a base where they don’t really want to go, but at least they explore the world while they work as a health professional.
According to Dr. Bowsher, he did not regret his decision to join the Army, and he is still serving today. While giving the presentation, he was enthusiastic, and he seemed to have many positive experiences with the Army. After the presentation, he also taught us suturing techniques, which I thought was a very nice gesture. When the event was over, I felt more confident that I wanted to join the military sooner or later. I’m still not sure what branch I should join, but I’ll probably apply for ROTC in the next few months.