The Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) offers prospective military physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, optometrists, psychologists, pharmacists, and veterinarians a paid medical education in exchange for service as a commissioned medical department officer. Programs are available in the US Army, US Navy, and the US Air Force. Prospective students compete for scholarships that cover some or all of their school tuition. Upon graduation, the students are promoted to the rank of captain in the Army and Air Force, or lieutenant in the Navy, and graduates may be placed on active duty if matched for residency in a military hospital. The incurred service obligation is generally one-for-one for every service-paid year of schooling, with a minimum of two years for physicians and three years for other specialties. Additional time required for certain postgraduate programs, such as lengthy residencies, can result in longer service obligations. Fulfillment of the obligation begins only after postgraduate training is completed.
We interviewed Kailey and here was what she had to say about the application process and the opportunity:
“I was commissioned into the US Air Force as of December 9th, 2020! Currently and while I am still in pharmacy school, my rank is O-1 Second Lieutenant. Once I graduate, I will be sworn into Active Duty and be promoted to rank O-3 Captain.”
Explain the application process:
“The application process was very thorough, to say the least. After doing some of my own research, I got in contact with a health professions recruiter around January 2020. I completed some preliminary paperwork in the Spring of 2020, passed a few physical assessments, and, after finishing my P2 year, I began gathering and completing necessary documents for the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).
As part of the application, I was asked to provide evidence of strong academic performance via college transcripts; I also gathered letters of recommendation from faculty within the College as well as my Pharmacy Manager at my current place of employment. After that, I wrote out answers to various questions about my wishes and desire to pursue a career in the United States Air Force. My application was finalized just before classes began in September 2020. The board meeting for which my application would be reviewed took place in October. I was told that the HPSP scholarship, especially with regard to the pharmacy profession, would be very competitive. There are many applications submitted each year and I was told I probably would not be notified of a definitive answer for about 30 to 60 days. Much to my surprise, I found out that I was selected for HPSP 8 days following the date of the board meeting.”
How did you decide to apply for the HPSP? Did you know you wanted Air Force from the beginning or how did you choose which branch?
“I first became interested in military pharmacy toward the beginning of my second year in pharmacy school. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of our amazing professors, Dr. Susan Morley, who has previously served as a pharmacist in the military (Navy). After talking with Dr. Morley and also doing some of my own research, I was pretty set on applying.
My motivations for joining the Air Force are numerous, but (1) my great grandfather served in the Air Force, (2) there’s a big sense of pride in providing care and support for our servicemen/women, and (3) it’s a great opportunity to broaden my horizons and explore different places around the country.”
Looking forward, what do you envision for your pharmacy career which now includes the Air Force?
“I’m looking forward to being an integral part of patient care and having the ability to work directly with patients as well as with an inter-professional team. I’m also excited for the opportunities to manage pharmacy operations and oversee and aid in administrative work.
Pairing my career interests with the military is even more appealing because you are a member of a much larger team all working toward a shared goal. Having a meaningful impact on your nation and providing care to your fellow service members and their families are things that I will be proud of.
I feel very blessed to have been awarded this scholarship and am very proud to represent Oregon State University as a future PharmD in the United States Air Force.”