Completing a Residency

Completing a Residency Header

The military residency application process for aspiring military physicians is different than it is for civilian ones, specifically the application process, Match Day and, of course, the fact that you will be an officer with a military rank, not a civilian.

Choosing A Speciality

In the Military, all specialties are open, and you will never be forced to do a residency you don’t want to do. Even in the event that a desired residency is unavailable, you will still have the opportunity to become a general practitioner until that residency is available.

Military Residencies

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.

Jurrell Riley

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.

Day In The Life

John Trentini shows the fast-paced nature of emergency medicine during his shift at a civilian hospital.
John Trentini, M.D., Ph.D.

Emergency Medicine Resident, Air Force

Emergency Medicine Residency Overnight Shift

John's day-to-day medical service is very similar to his civilian colleagues. He goes on rotations, is mentored by attending physicians and receives on-the-spot training. During his overnight shift at Good Samaritan Hospital, John sees a patient who he puts on cardiac alert. The fast-paced, unexpected nature of emergency medicine is preparing him for a career in the Military.

More About Military Residencies

TRENTINI: Being an emergency medicine resident, we train in the most part in civilian hospitals — from the Air Force’s perspective is to train a good emergency department physician. TRENTINI: So it’s about — about ten to 11:00 or so now, so getting ready to start our night. Kind of always take a peek at all the rooms, see what’s going on in the way in. These are some of the higher-acuity rooms, so if there’s anybody that’s real sick that needs some help right away, I can always peek in, but everybody looks pretty stable right now. So we’re getting checked in and settled in here. Hi, sir. PATIENT: Hi. TRENTINI: I’m Dr. Trentini. Nice to meet you. PATIENT: Nice to meet you. TRENTINI: I’m going to just shake this hand, they’re working on you over there. What brings you in tonight? PATIENT: I’ve — chest pain. A really bad pressure right here. And I can feel it all the way down my left arm. TRENTINI: OK. PATIENT: It’s almost like somebody’s sitting on my left shoulder. TRENTINI: OK. PATIENT: Real bad pressure. TRENTINI: When did it start? PATIENT: About — about two hours ago. TRENTINI: OK. PATIENT: It started out real slow, and it just got gradually worse and didn’t go away like normal. TRENTINI: OK. Hey, Dr. Fish? FISH: Hey. TRENTINI: I’ve got a gentleman that I just put a cardiac alert out on. He is stable, but here’s his EKG. So, I mean, he’s got some ischemic changes here in V2, V3, V4. He’s probably having an anterior wall MIT. Yeah, so when you’re working with an attending, basically you’re working under their supervision, and so for me, I try to practice independently. In my mind, I pretend like they’re not there. So I’m on my own, and I need to make all the medical decisions. But in the back of my mind I know that they’re there, and they’re watching me, and they’re — they’ve got my back. FISH: His cardio back yet? TRENTINI: Not yet, we just put out the cardiac alert, so — so I’ll take a look at his chest ray, we’ll push with 5,000 to heparin, put him on a heparin drip, we’ll start him on a nitro drip, his pressures will tolerate it — his pressure’s been 190 throughout, so. FISH: Alright. TRENTINI: And then we’ll get his pain — pain under control. FISH: Alright, so we’re going to get things taken care of, alright? PATIENT: Thank you. TRENTINI: Alright. Alright, sir. I’ll come and check on you in a bit, OK? Let me go and put it — talk to Chuck and get your medicines ordered, OK? PATIENT: Thank you. TRENTINI: Alright. Emergency medicine, in my opinion, is the best medical specialty because it’s the most interesting, it’s the most fun — you’ve got to be on your toes — and you take care of people that are pregnant and take care of babies all the way up to 100-year-old patients, with a wide variety of illnesses and a wide variety of acuity as well. So it’s fun, and it’s fast-paced, and so you get to see a lot of people on a shift and you get to see a lot of different things on a shift.

Applying For Fellowships

Residents and staff physicians are authorized to apply for fellowships through the Joint Service Graduate Medical Education Selection Board (JSGMESB) utilizing the same application procedures to select residency training positions. The JSGMESB convenes in November every year to conduct the "Military Match” for fellowships. The number of Military Full-Time In Service (FTIS) and Civilian Full-Time Out Service (FTOS) fellowship opportunities are published based on the needs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force each year.

If the JSGMESB selects you for a Civilian Full-Time Out Service Fellowship, you will be authorized to apply for a civilian fellowship anywhere in the United States. As a military-sponsored fellow, you will receive your pay and benefits directly from the Military. As a result, most fellowship programs will consider accepting you as an extra fellow that they will train at no cost to the hospital. For this reason, many military physicians have the opportunity to train at some of the most competitive and prestigious fellowship programs throughout the country.