Despair through pretty graphs

February 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm (Military medicine)

I recently wrote an article about some of the misconceptions that medical students have regarding military medicine. I want to drive home the point about having a lifetime net loss of income by taking the HPSP scholarship, working for four years as a flight surgeon, and then getting out to pursue residency training. I created the pretty graph below to illustrate just how much money you will lose by taking this scholarship.


Don’t blow off money as if it’s no big deal. Many of the premeds who read this blog are 21-years-old or younger, single, and have been living in student poverty for the past few years. Granted, $95,000 a year as a flight surgeon will enable you to do pretty well if you’re single and living in an area like Texas where housing is cheap. If you’re married to a housewife, have two children, and are stationed in San Diego, $95,000 a year isn’t going to get you very far. Realize that many things change during medical school and residency. Your priorities at the age of 21 are going to be vastly different than your priorities at the age of 27.



  1. Robert said,

    What’s the difference between annual income of $1 million and of $2 million?

    Money is important, true. When it reaches a certain point, though, it’s just a number in the bank. Perhaps a good analogy is to liken money to gasoline: you definitely need gas to run the car but you don’t really drive around worrying about how the petro is burned by the engine. Money alone makes a pretty poor motivator in a long run.

    Are there other yardsticks and/or motivation for military medicine? Adventure perhaps?

    Half M.D.: I said those numbers are for a lifetime difference in income, not annual. And how would you know that there is no difference between a $1 million and $2 million salary? Have you ever had either?

  2. Mike said,

    granted hpsp might not be great for medicine, it is definitely worth it in dentistry.

  3. Elaine said,

    Half MD, are military medicine officers paid differently than other officers? Namely: officer pay is adjusted for cost of living, and you also receive a generous housing allowance for your duty location. Are you sure these aren’t just the base salaries? Once can generally add on about $25 to $40K for all the free salary add-ons, PLUS retirement after 20 years, for life, that cost adjusts as one goes.

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