Options and Advice for Army Doctor


May 25, 2009
Hey all,

I am a 2LT on nondeployable reserve status in Army AMMED. I just recently accepted an HPSP scholarship and am attending medical school till May of 2013. This all being said, I want to know my options as a doctor for the elite combat units in the Army. I love medicine and health but I also have a desire to practice medicine in a setting outside of the hospital. To what extent are doctors allowed to participate. Further, are certain specialites ( ie. emergency medicine, or ortho surgery) more conducive to SF assignment? I am looking for more information than it is possible.. as told me by my AMEDD recruiter. Thanks for the help in advance.
I am not an M.D. but I served with P.A.'s,and M.D.'s in a light Infantry unit. P.A.'s and M.D.'s can be assisgned to Airborne, Ranger and I believe (not sure) S.F. units. They practice out of a forward aid station ( at least they did when I was in), sick call, trauma medicine and the such. The "combat" slots are held for the enlisted medics. While I was @ Ft. Bragg, our Batt. surgeons (P.A.'s and M.D.'s) also did time @ the Airborne troop clinic (as did we the enlisted to gain knowledge on exams/medical issues). There are more recent people on here that can elaborate more on this. Hope thos helps.

Thanks for your reply. Do you know if the physicians go through the same training as the main members of the units or exactly what type of training do they receive outside of the medical training and officer leadership training?
Get through medical school first. My understanding is there are a lot of units you can serve with, but you are not going to be a doorkicker. But that's 4 years down the road for you, at least. Figure out what kind of doctor you want to be and don't fail out of medical school first.
can't add much to what was said. best thing you can do, is bust your ass in med school, then see what you can do from there. as far as ops go, you'll be in the FAS/BAS/MAS almost the entire time, and occasionally go on missions with civil affairs to do hearts and minds shit. but the Doc and the PA are too valuable, and, let's face it, too damn expensive to allow them to go kick doors and hunt the bad guys. the closest, in my experience, that you can get to actually doing the line dawg work, without being a medic, is to go into aviation medicine after residency. then, at least you can go on MEDEVAC missions and go help out close to the action. unfortunately, if your desire is to go with the grunts and patch them up when they need it, I hate to tell you - you shoul have been a medic. it can be a thankless and redundant job, and definitely not an easy one, but a necessary one that I dearly love, and the experience i have i wouldn't trade for all the beer in Germany, all the tea in China, or all the 'tang in Thailand. that said - best of luck in medical school. if there are any docs with differing opinions, please speak up - I'm by no means an expert.
Thanks for the Posts

I appreciate your replies. I may have mistated what my expectations are as a physician. I am not looking to kick down doors or be the first one in or anything along those lines. My hopes are that I can practice medicine near the lines and not exclusively in the a hospital or clinic setting. I desire to go through the training because I believe that an important part in the doctor-patient relationship is respect and trust. Through talking with friends and friends of friends who have served, I have gathered the impression that doctors are often viewed as being in the way of the soldiers and also not respected due to the direct commision and lack of field training. They are essentially outsiders. I don't think this type of relationship is beneficial to good medicine. Further, I am just looking to gather as much information as possible. I am admittedly, very ignorant about the U.S. Army, this is something I am looking to change. I was just hoping to learn as much as possible in the time I have before I am activated as well as keep as many options open as possible at this point. I apologize if I presented myself in another light with my previous posts.
then in that case, Doctor Doom gave the best advice here. get through medical school, and do the best you can. and don't worry, the Army will do the rest. you'l get your chance to practice medicine in austere locations, and trust me, the soldiers you care for won't think of you as an outsider, so long as you take care of them.
be top of your class and do good at your initial assignment. You'll put a packet in if you want to go to school and you'll have to pass Ranger school if you want to be a Battalion Surgeon.

You will do a little CQM, marksmanship training. Not a whole lot compared to everyone else since your time will be taken up with other things, but you'll do way more tactical training and even medical training than anywhere outside the SOF community.

And, you'll have access to basically anything to get the job done within reason.