I was browsing through the Air Force’s website for graduate medical education today when I came across a letter from Colonel Hall, the director of physician education. She states that the selection rate for medical students is as high as 75%. What that means is that 1/4 of fourth-year medical students applying to residency will not match. That’s a pretty disheartening statistic to read, especially given that more than 94% of applicants match through the civilian route. I remember being a na‹ve pre-med who bought into the lies told by recruiters that 98% of medical students enter the specialty of their dreams. If I had known then that I’m about to spend several years as a general practitioner, I never would have accepted the scholarship.
Even more disheartening is that this chief does not seem to know how competitive certain Air Force specialties are compared to their civilian counterparts. She writes, “The more competitive or popular specialties such as Anesthesiology, Radiology, Emergency Medicine, and the Surgical sub-specialties have a higher non-selection rate than some of the Primary Care specialties- paralleling the outcomes in the civilian match through the National Residency Match Program (NRMP).” Anesthesiology and emergency medicine are competitive in the civilian world? According to the data published by the AAMC, anesthesiology and EM are only moderately competitive at best. With greater than 90% match rates in both specialties, the average medical student certainly has a shot at getting into these fields.
Christ, why did I ever sign up for this?
Update: you can’t watch television or a movie these days without seeing some high school student boasting to his parents that he can get a free college ride by enlisting in the military. Historically, the Montgomery G.I. Bill has provided educational benefits to veterans in return for their service. Currently, the G.I. requires a buy-in of $100 per month for the first year of service only to provide a little over $1000 monthly in educational benefits after leaving the military. Other than community colleges and a small number of state universities, few places offer annual tuition costs at less than $14,000. Even then, the money does not cover all of the necessary living expenses, books, and equipment that is incurred as the reality of obtaining a college degree. Recently, Senator James Webb of Virginia has introduced legislation which would guarantee four years of tuition at most expensive public schools in addition to living expenses. His reasoning is that the current G.I. bill needs to be overhauled to perform its stated mission. His bill cleared through the Senate with a 75 to 22 bipartisan vote. But guess who is opposed to this legislation: Bush II and Bush III. And I thought medical students had it bad.