Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USU)

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The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) was founded to be "America’s medical school for uniformed physicians." Located in Bethesda, Maryland, USU looks for aspiring medical students with a passion for service who thrive in a collaborative environment.

Since all USU students are active-duty service members, their education is paid for by the U.S. government, and they receive a military salary and benefits, including a housing allowance. The USU accepts both civilian and military applicants for commissioning into the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Public Health Service.

Life at USU - Our school of Medicine

Listen in as USU students share their experiences at America’s Medical School.

Life at USU - Our school of Medicine

Listen in as USU students share their experiences at America’s Medical School.

BURNHAM: when I think about what it means to be a student at USU it comes back to this idea of like a shared purpose and a shared mission. It's a really welcoming place and I’ve made a lot of really awesome friends and it really does kind of have that kind of like home feeling with all of our classmates and we hang out in the student lounge, and we study together in the library and definitely a very like community feel. It's a really driven group of people so everyone's you know working very hard and also having a lot of fun. [Music] HARPER: Everybody here has a different walk of life that they came from. Myself I came from prior service as a lab tech where I kind of just worked in the lab but i've met people who have gone to nepal and spent years there living amongst the people there and really speaking the language and getting a chance to really understand the cultures and what they learned there they bring back and I learn it helps me to be more empathetic for patients that i don't understand or cultures I don't understand. We have students from Hispaniola that I never even thought about is you know coming from here being that it's the dominican republic and Haiti at the same time which you have a culture that's mixed and you get a chance to just understand different things about different people and how how they lived how they got here and it kind of helps motivate you and understand that your story is just as important as the next person's story. We're a team here when everybody succeeds we the whole team succeeds if one person is struggling, we're going to make sure that they catch up and and they succeed as well with us. [Music] BURNHAM: All of your professors and all of your classmates are very much here for you and here to help if you need anything so it feels like a collaborative um push to like learn and and to figure things out and to really kind of like understand how the human body works and how being a doctor works and they are making sure that we have like the skills and the like emotional competencies and capabilities to really be exceptional providers because we're going to be the ones treating not just them but like their families. When I go to the library to study it's not just so that I can learn this so that I um you know can get a test score. It’s so that I can learn this so that I can be a better doctor that I can you know serve my country and serve um people who are making incredible sacrifices every day of their life and I think that sense of vision and mission and collaboration is really like permeates everything we do at USU. [Music] HARPER: Any support that you're looking for regardless of your ethnicity your background your family situation you're going to find it here. The military is a family, and we really mean that so when you sign that paperwork here you're joining a family not join not just joining a medical school. [Music]

School Curriculum

Unlike Health Professions Scholarship Program HPSP students, you will immerse yourself in the military lifestyle right away. You will not be pulled away from medical training for deployments, but you will wear a military uniform to class, and you will be on active duty through all four years of school. Most lectures are recorded and optional to attend while all labs and small group discussions have mandatory attendance.

The USU was founded with a curriculum designed to advance health and science education for students as they prepare for the challenges of military medicine. In 2012, the school revamped its curriculum using a systems-based model adopted by many other medical schools. The current coursework design is called “Molecules to Military Medicine.” This curriculum connects basic and clinical sciences to military leadership and training over a four-year period. After 18 months of on-campus academics, students also benefit from clerkships that begin after the first 16 months of instruction, which help strengthen their knowledge and leadership skills in actual hospital settings.

Operation Bushmaster: Teaching Leadership

Catch fourth-year USU students in action during Operation Bushmaster.

Operation Bushmaster: Teaching Leadership

Catch fourth-year USU students in action during Operation Bushmaster.

NARRATOR: In some form or another all graduating medical students and now our graduating advanced practice nurses have performed during Operation Bushmaster. (screaming) It's a combination of being an excellent clinician, so they have to know the medical part of this, but they also have to have kind of a more subjective feeling of being able to lead and lead their peers which is a very difficult thing to do sometimes. They all switch out in their leadership roles and so they're not always in a position where they're the ones making the big decisions, but they're always going to be in a support role within the battalion and the platoon. "We got more people." "Help." "We got three." "Please help." "You need to speak up." USU is the only Medical School in the country that has a department of military and emergency medicine. Bushmaster is the only exercise of its kind, not only within the military medical community, but really within the Department of Defense. Nothing really comes up to this level of complexity in this level of depth of knowledge that we expect out of our students.

Tuition + Pay

Your USU education is paid for by the U.S. government, and you will receive the same active-duty pay and benefits as are given to a second lieutenant in the Army or Air Force or an ensign in the Navy. You will be paid on the first and fifteenth of every month. The current pay in the fiscal year for 2019 to 2020 in the greater Washington, D.C., area is over $70,000 yearly. If you have any questions about your pay, you should contact the USU Office of the Commandant.

Specialized Officer Training

During the first 18 months of training, you will be taught by a mix of civilian and military instructors, and you will participate in classes, lab work and medical field exercises. Then you will embark on 12 months of rotations at military, civilian and veterans affairs (VA) medical facilities. Your last 18 months of rotations will help guide you toward a residency and auditioning for programs that you prefer. During this time, you will also have the opportunity to train at military treatment facilities around the world, including on humanitarian missions.

Application Checklist

  • Determine if you are eligible to apply.
  • Apply to USU through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), the centralized application service for medical schools, using designation code 821. Learn more about how to apply to medical schools with AMCAS.
  • Once USU receives your primary application, you will be asked to fill out a secondary application which includes personal essays and checklists regarding your past coursework and required information not included in your primary application, including a personal statement form and checklists regarding your past coursework.
  • After receiving your completed AMCAS application, secondary material and letters of recommendation, the admissions committee will choose which students they will interview.
  • The interview trip involves in-person interviews and a tour of the campus, including a visit to the USU Wide Area Virtual Environment, which immerses students in a 3D battlefield medical scenario.
  • During the interview trip, applicants will also rank which Services they would like to join if they are accepted by USU. Learn more about the different Military Services.
  • If offered an interview, applicants are required to obtain a physical exam through the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board and meet all medical qualifications before they matriculate.

Note: If you are an active-duty commissioned service member or in the Reserve officers Training Corps (ROTC) or a Service academy, your application process will be the same as for civilians, except you will need to request a letter of approval (LOA) to apply to USU from your Service branch. If you are an active-duty enlisted service member or officer, you will also need an LOA from your commander. Finally, if you are in the Reserve, you will need to request permission from your commanding officer.

If you have any questions, you can turn to the USU Office of Recruitment and Admissions at admissions@USU.edu.

Learn More About USU

Ear Inspection

Interview Process + Tips

It is important that applicants consider and can clearly articulate their genuine motivation to embark on a career in military medicine with concrete examples and reasons for this decision. Applicants should also understand what it means to not only be a physician but also a commissioned officer in the Military or U.S. Public Health Service. Applicants should also have a personal awareness of their own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities to work in teams with others. Above all else, be honest and genuine with your answers.

Service Commitment

After USU students finish their residency, they serve on active duty for seven years. Your specific role will depend on your training and the Military's needs. Another option for fulfilling your service commitment involves becoming a general medical officer (GMO) after you receive your license. In this position, your role would be similar to that of a general medical practitioner, except you are attached to a specific unit, air wing, ship or submarine. This position is open to service members in the Navy and Air Force.