Military looking to recruit med. students
By Anton Vidgen
With rising tuition fees and crippling student debts, many
medical science students are looking to alleviate their problem;
and with the army's help, financial freedom is but a boot camp
The Canadian Armed Forces are looking to fill a number of
vacant family doctor positions and are offering big signing
bonuses and a steady salary to attract current and graduated
medical science students, said Lt.-Col Jim Kile, the Forces'
senior staff officer in charge of medical officer retraction
Students and graduates are being courted with different signing
bonuses, ranging from $40,000 for students in their second
year of medical school up to $225,000 for fully-licensed practicing
family doctor, Kile said.
In addition, students can start receiving a steady salary
in their second year at approximately $40,000 and when fully
licensed and enlisted in the army as a captain medical officer,
they can expect to receive over $100,000, he added.
Though this may seem like a large sum, Kile acknowledged that
licensed doctors can demand much higher sums outside the Canadian
Forces. "Compared to our civilian counterparts, it's not
as much as they could make," he noted.
But Kile said the attractions of the job are a varied and
exciting lifestyle, a great pension, health and dental benefits
and the ability to travel overseas, adding many current army
doctors are serving in Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Golan Heights
in the Middle East. "We're trying more to become an employer
of choice." Once a student fills out an application, they
are committed to serve in the army for four years following
their Residency Two certification, Kile explained. Before that,
however, every applicant must undergo basic officer training
-also known as boot camp- to prepare them for active duty in
The Canadian Forces is currently experiencing a doctor shortage,
with 55 vacant positions out of 151, Kile said. "As it
stands right now, we have 96 [doctors]. We are significantly
understaffed," he said.
"I think it's attractive," said Jim Silcox, vice-dean
of education at the faculty of medicine and dentistry. "I'm
really pleased they upped the ante in terms of dollars." Silcox
said increasing numbers of students are graduating with significant
debt loads and are desperately looking for financial relief.
He acknowledged, however, the job with the Canadian Forces "isn't
for everybody." Silcox said many medical science students
prefer to specialize as opposed to becoming a family doctor. "It's
not high on the list of their priorities," he said.
"It's a sweet deal, I'm just so not disciplined," said
first-year medical student Andrea Covelli.
"I know I want to work on a salary," said first-year
medical student Ramzy Galil, adding he will apply later this
year to the program. "I think it's the best way to make
a difference overseas while still young."
Signing bonuses offered by the Canadian
In terms of months away from full family doctor certification.
0 mos. -$225,000
< 12 mos. -$180,000
12-24 mos. -$150,000
24-36 mos. (4th year of med school) -$110,000
36-48 mos. (3rd year) -$75,000
> 48 mos. -$40,000
2nd year med school -$40,044
3rd year -$43,176
4th year -$46,368
Residency 1 -$51,732
Residency 2 -$52,752