Part-Time Service Options

Applying and What to Expect Header

Serving part time means you are part of a global, highly qualified team of military physicians and healthcare professionals. You may serve in a military medical center, clinic, field hospital or community center. You could also have the opportunity to serve in a civilian facility, hospital or clinic, or a location close to your home. In any case, you will be in a learning environment where creativity and leadership skills are tested and pushed into new dimensions of care. In addition, it is important to understand that a physician’s specialty and need for that specialty may have a bearing on acceptance into a Service branch.

Medical students and residents serving part time can participate in stipend programs to help pay for schooling. Regardless of where you are in training, a part-time service commitment provides flexibility, invaluable experience and other benefits.

Capt. Ross, Reserve Physician - Continuing to Lead

Hear a Navy Reserve service member discuss how he leads and helps his peers become a functioning unit.

Capt. Ross, Reserve Physician - Continuing to Lead

Hear a Navy Reserve service member discuss how he leads and helps his peers become a functioning unit.

ROSS: This is the hardest thing for a lot of physicians to learn when they get into the Navy is that you’re a medical officer and the officer is the key. It's the anchor. You have skills that the other people may not have but you’re also expected to be a leader and to be part of a medical team, and that has actually turned out to be the most enjoyable part of my job. My first half of my career I wanted to be a physician and I wanted to spend my time with patients. When I got out, I realized that I kind of missed that the bonding that occurs with other service members and that teamwork feeling. And I could just feel it, and I wasn’t getting it in the civilian side, and so I joined the Reserves. This is kind of where I really kind of changed my career from being just a physician to a physician and leader. I started to realize that the best thing I can do is not necessarily just what I can do with my hands but what I can do to help a group of people become a functioning unit so that they’re ready to deploy forward to take care of service members. If you’re on a special mission like the Navy Reserves, we have our day jobs, but then on the weekend we put on a different uniform. We don’t put our physician uniform on. We put our military officer uniform on. That bond that you create with people you serve with is what keeps me going – you know, keeps me going back. My wife would often say when I’m calling home on Sunday on my way home that I have this brightness in my voice after my drill weekend because I’m working with people who are there because they want to be every single day, and that creates a kind of a unique group of people.

What to Expect

Joining the Military as a part-time physician includes speaking with a recruiter, who will confirm credentials and ensure you meet all criteria for service, which includes physical and mental fitness tests. Each branch may have their own unique requirements (e.g., a résumé review process to accompany your physical in the Army Reserve), so please speak with your recruiter for more information. For some branches, such as the Air National Guard, the process begins with a “unit interview” that serves as an opportunity for the branch to assess the applicant, and also as a question and answer session to determine if the applicant would like to progress further in the process.

If you join the Military part time you will be commissioned and trained as an officer, and you will be expected to drill one weekend a month and two full weeks during the year. The officer’s rank at joining is determined based on criteria such as degree(s) earned, credentials and years of experience. You also become eligible for a number of military benefits and support programs.

Col. Paul Phillips III 60

Hear from a physician about why he loves practicing medicine as a Reservist in the Military.

Col. Paul Phillips III 60

Hear from a physician about why he loves practicing medicine as a Reservist in the Military.

PHILLIPS: I think the reason why I serve in the Army Reserve is to continue to give back, not only to my country but also give back to those in need that are injured in times of conflict and I think also to be able to utilize my skills as an orthopedic surgeon where they are ever needed throughout the world it makes me a better civilian. On the side it makes me a better American, I think it makes me a better leader. I think being in the Army Reserve and having multiple deployments has allowed me to bring home techniques of of critical thinking to my private practice to my patients here. I think that every deployment I learned something new. I’m colonel Paul Philips III and I’m an orthopedic surgeon in the United States Army Reserve.

Training And Deployment

Medical training for part-time service options in today’s military is flexible, with support programs, drill schedules, and locations that can accommodate a variety of needs.

Drilling consists of training in your military medical duties as a physician. However, you will not be pulled away from medical training for deployments during your schooling, and you can participate in a flexible training program that allows you to balance your regular drill with your training.

Deployment is a temporary assignment which occurs as a part of a military operation or exercise. The requirements and frequency of deployment vary greatly based upon the specific needs of a Service branch, world events, a unit’s historical mission, and other factors. It can also include postings overseas or domestically within the United States or its territories. Questions about deployment can be answered and addressed during the initial unit interview before any decisions about service are made.

Day In The Life

Surgeon Sara Burdash explains how she strikes a balance between her civilian job and military duties.
Sara Burdash, M.D.

Field Surgeon, Army National Guard

Practice Medicine in the Army National Guard

As she leaves for once-a-month military training, Sara explains her part-time commitment as a member of the Army National Guard.

BURDASH: In the National Guard, we have two roles. We have duties both to our state and our local communities, as well as to the nation. And so, we all have civilian jobs that we work at mostly. And then, one weekend a month, and two weeks in the summer, we get to go to our National Guard training, and whether it be locally for us, or a little bit further away, like we’re going today to Camp Ripley. If we are needed, either nationally if there’s a national disaster or something like that, where they need a medical unit in this case, we’ll go assist with that. Or if there’s an international need, a peace treaty, some sort of combat mission, then we get to go to those as well. So, we have multiple purposes we can fill.

Tuition Assistance

What follows is a selection of the various financial support avenues available for students in the Reserve or Guard, including education and related finances:

The Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP)

Through this stipend program, you can enter as a commissioned officer, but you will not be pulled away from medical training for deployments while you are in school. Drilling consists of training in your military medical duties as a physician. When it is time for you to choose a residency, you will participate in the civilian Match Day and train at a civilian institution. Match Day is a widely used term that designates the day when the National Resident Matching Program releases the results to applicants who are seeking residency or fellowship positions.

In addition, when you drill, you will be paid as a second lieutenant in the Army or Air Force, or as an ensign in the Navy. When not drilling, you will receive a stipend of over $2,000 a month as a participant in the MDSSP.

Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP)

For those who have been accepted into an accredited residency program, STRAP offers a stipend of over $2,000 a month in exchange for one year of Reserve or Guard drilling for every six months that you receive the stipend

Training in Medical Specialties (TMS)

TMS is a program open only to residents in the Navy Reserve. As with all other Reserve and Guard programs for residents, you will receive a stipend of over $2,000 a month. When your training is complete, you must serve as a Navy Reserve lieutenant with an obligation of one year of service for every six months of training you received.

The Air Force Reserve Stipend Program

This program offers medical school graduates a substantial stipend each month while they are in an approved residency program. As a condition of this assistance, stipend recipients serve two months for every month financial assistance is received. The service commitment begins upon completion of the residency program.

Special Pay Incentive

Residency-trained physicians are eligible for bonuses up to $75,000 upon entering the Air Force Reserve for a three-year commitment. In addition, critical wartime specialties may also receive incentive pay ranging from $43,000-59,000 (prorated annually).

Learn About the Army Reserve

Learn about the Navy Reserve

Learn about the Air Force Reserve