How to Become a Trauma Surgeon in the Military?

Trauma surgeons are always on demand in the military. Soldiers are in danger of injuries in the usual cause of their duties, and having people who can treat them effectively embedded in their ranks is imperative. If you have the requisite qualifications, there will always be vacancies for trauma surgeons in the military. Vacancies are even more assured in militarily engaged countries such as the US. It takes quite a bit of training to become a full-fledged military trauma surgeon. Those who go through the training are a class of remarkable people who will always be in demand.




You will need to go through the entire process of becoming a surgeon. After high school, you need to go through a pre-med program which requires you to undertake a four-year degree program related to medicine. This can be biology, anatomy, or other courses. You can always check with universities for their recommended pre-med programs. You will then need to take an MCAT which is mandatory to pass before getting into medical school.


At this point, you can choose to join a private or government medical school and seek to join the military as a trained doctor. In this case, you have to pay your tuition, often with student loans. This may be the only option in some countries, but not the US.


In the United States, you can join one of the two paths for medical training scholarship in the military. The paths include the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, also known as the USUHS.




Under HPSP, you join the medical school and study in your field of choice much the same way as you would in a civilian school. Of course, there is a significant difference that the government will pay for your fees. You will get basic military training in the second year of medical school. The third and fourth years of your training are known as clinical years. You can get an opportunity to work in various military medical facilities to gain hands-on experience. The trainee doctor is, at this point, said to be on active duty.


Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences


Training under USUHS is entirely free like HPSP, but you will be training as a soldier on active duty. You will also be on a 2nd Lieutenant's full salary and housing allowance, which will be your rank. Unlike HPSP, you will not have the right to decide where you attend medical school. The military will have the right to post you wherever they want because you will be their employee then.


Once you graduate, the army and the air force will promote you to captain while the navy will make you a Lieutenant. You will also get an opportunity to choose your specialty, and this is the point at which you choose to be a trauma surgeon. Trauma surgery is one of the deployable specialties, and the military will always allow those who seek to pursue it to proceed.


Specialties that can't be deployed, such as gynecology, pediatrics, etc., are allowed, but the slots are limited.  

jay johannigman Cincinnati

Dr. Jay Johannigman

Trauma Surgeon

Jay Johannigman, M.D. is a Cincinnati-based trauma and critical care surgeon with over 40 years of experience.  Visit Website.