How to Become a Military Doctor in 3 Steps

How to Become a Military Doctor

A career in the military is exciting. You get to train in special skills and see the world when you are deployed in offshore locations.

This is especially true if you aspire to become a military doctor.

A military doctor provides healthcare to military personnel and their dependents. They are required to work in various situations, including onboard hospital ships or at international medical centers.

Military doctors are often called to action in international relief efforts during global or regional disasters. They are also responsible for keeping military personnel fit for duty and treating injuries during combat or other emergencies.

When you advance in this career, you may even have to command entire medical units or coordinate the placement and deployment of military medical personnel.

Who Should Choose to Become a Military Doctor

A career as a military doctor sounds incredibly exciting but is not meant for everyone. Let’s take a quick look at some aspects you need to consider before deciding whether you want to pursue a career as a military doctor.

Lower salary range

On average, a military doctor earns anywhere between $40,000 (25th percentile) to $118,000 (75th percentile) per year (depending on the rank) and also includes several benefit packages. (1)

On the other hand, a civilian doctor who offers primary care to the public may earn significantly more, with neurosurgeons and orthopedic specialists earning twice or thrice more than that.

So, if a significant salary is your major criterion, you should consider pursuing a career as a civilian doctor instead.

Rigid practice location

Military doctors often have to work and live in unpredictable conditions. The military decides where you are needed and deploys its medical personnel accordingly.

You can also be deployed anytime once you complete your residency training. There are also additional risks when serving as a military doctor in active war zones.

Thus, if you are looking for flexibility and options for practicing medicine, you might consider a career as a civilian doctor.

If you think you can handle these factors well, you can choose to become a military doctor.

How Do I Become a Military Doctor

Here’s a simple step-wise guide to help you achieve your dream of becoming a certified and experienced military doctor:

1 – Get your bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is a must-have for admission to medical schools. You should ensure that your coursework includes science topics, especially chemistry and biology.

Additionally, you must show initiative in enhancing your hands-on experience alongside coursework by volunteering frequently at medical centers or primary healthcare providers.

If you have an additional degree or work experience in relevant subjects, your application has a higher chance of admission into reputed US medical schools.

2 – Earn your medical degree

Aspiring candidates looking to become military doctors must attend a certified or military medical school.

Often, you might also get the option to pursue your medical degree at a military medical school if you join the armed forces as a commissioned officer once you earn your medical degree.

Earning a medical degree normally takes around four years. During the first half of medical school, you take courses and get significant hands-on experience handling patients.

Some topics taught at medical schools include pharmacology, microbiology, medicinal law and ethics, etc.

During the second half of the medical degree, you would frequently work in medical settings under the supervision of an experienced doctor.

There are two main ways that you can earn a medical degree to become a military doctor –

HPSPHealth Professionals Scholarship Program is a training program comparable to civilian medical training but includes basic military training. Once you earn your medical degree, you can become active and start your rounds at local military hospitals.

The major benefits of choosing HPSP to become a military doctor include:

  • Getting admission into your choice of medical school within the US
  • Paid tuition with a monthly stipend for living expenses

USUHSThe Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is connected directly to the military medical school.

Some of the major advantages of choosing USUHS to become a military doctor include:

  • Complete engagement in military training and exercises during medical school so you are steeped in the military culture and have experience being deployed at local and international bases.
  • Free tuition for medical school and receiving a base pay salary, along with an additional non-taxable housing allowance. (Source

3 – Join the military

The application process for joining the military varies from branch to branch. For instance, the criteria for becoming a military doctor in the Navy vary from that of the Air Force.

However, every aspiring candidate must fulfill the mandatory health, character, and age requirements. In addition, a security clearance is also required.

As an aspiring military doctor, you may also have to provide a current state medical license and practice actively in the US. Every armed forces member must sign a contract stipulating the minimum service tenure.


Military doctors are brave, bold and life-savers. A career as an army doctor is extremely exciting, dynamic and satisfying.

If you have a passion for healthcare and want to serve your country best, you should join the armed forces and become a military doctor.

See Also

Alternative Sources of Income for Doctors

Non Clinical Physician Jobs

Current Version
September 17, 2023
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
April 20, 2020
Written By
Shubham Grover
April 26, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.

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