Military medical students in the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and the Uniformed Services University of Health Services (USU) must apply to the military Joint Service Graduate Medical Education Selection Board (JSGMESB). Many students, but not all, must also apply to the civilian Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), and they must rank their residencies by preference. All military residency programs are approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
The military match takes place first in December of the fourth year of medical school, and students are most likely to be matched at that time. If you do not match into a military residency or postgraduate year one program, you will be authorized to participate in the civilian match.
If you are selected for a military residency, you will start working at a military healthcare facility as an active-duty physician, and you will be paid as a captain in the Army or the Air Force, or as a lieutenant in the Navy. Keep in mind that your time in a military residency will not count toward your service commitment, but will count toward your eventual promotion, pay longevity, retirement, and veteran benefits.
The Military may allow you to attend a civilian residency if there are not enough military slots available in the specialty you want and the Military still has a need for physicians in that specialty. Even if you believe you will be allowed to participate in a civilian residency, you must apply to the JSGMESB and enter a civilian deferred residency as your first choice. You should plan on interviewing for military residencies just in case you are not selected for civilian training.
If you do become a civilian resident, you will work at a civilian healthcare facility, and the civilian facility will pay your salary. During your residency, you will still be an officer in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), which means your time in the civilian program will count toward promotion and pay longevity. However, it will not count toward active-duty retirement. As soon as you are finished with your residency and come on Active Duty, you must begin paying back your service commitment, and you will start receiving military benefits.
In some cases, the Service branches select medical students to a sponsored civilian residency training. When this occurs, the student is considered to be on Active Duty while working at a civilian hospital, and they will receive military pay and benefits. Note that this can extend the student’s service commitment period.