Now that the FY16 O5 promotion board results have been released and I’ve had a chance to review a number of officer records, here are my O5 promotion board takeaways. If you’d like to review the statistics, click here:
Promotion Board Takeaways
If these things happen to you, you are very likely never going to promote to O5:
- Any PFA/BCA failures.
- Legal issues, such as a DUI or any other legal trouble.
- Failure to become board certified.
There are other things that could happen to you that make it difficult but not impossible to promote. They include:
- Coming into zone while in GME. There were people who promoted while in GME, but those lucky few broke out in large competitive groups before or during GME. Those who have non-observed (NOB) fitreps before the board, such as those in full-time outservice training, tend not to promote.
- Spending too much time in the fleet as a GMO, flight surgeon, or UMO. This is mostly because it causes you to come into zone while you are still in GME, and is worsened if your residency is long.
- Never getting a competitive early promote (EP) fitrep. Many officers who fail to select for O5 have never had a competitive EP fitrep as an O4. This can be because they are stationed places without competitive groups and get 1/1 fitreps, or it can be because they were in a competitive group and did not break out and get an EP.
- Receiving potentially adverse fitreps. This most commonly happens when you are at an operational command and your reporting senior is not someone who is used to ranking medical corps officers, although it could happen for other reasons (like your reporting senior felt you deserved this type of fitrep). The most common thing would be if there is a competitive group of 2 officers but both are given must promote (MP) fitreps instead of 1 getting an EP and the other the MP. When both get an MP, it reflects poorly on both officers unless the reason for this is CLEARLY explained in the fitrep narrative, which it often is not. The other thing that happens is that a reporting senior gives you a 1/1 MP instead of a 1/1 EP. If you are ever getting a 1/1 fitrep, make sure you get an EP. You should consider getting a 1/1 MP an adverse fitrep. If there is no way around this, often because the reporting senior has a policy that they don’t give newly promoted officers an EP, make sure that this policy is clear in the fitrep narrative.
- Having a declining fitrep. Mostly this happens when you go from getting an EP to an MP on your fitrep under the same reporting senior. If it is because you changed competitive groups, like you went from being a resident to a staff physician, that is understandable and not a negative. If you didn’t change competitive groups, though, make sure the reason you declined is explained.
- Making it obvious to the promotion board that you didn’t update your record. The most obvious ways a promotion board will know you didn’t update your record is if you don’t have a photo in your current rank, your officer summary record (OSR) is missing degrees that you obviously have (like your MD or DO), or if many of the sections of your OSR are either completely blank or required updating by the board recorders. Remember that although promotion board recorders will correct your record for you, anything they do and any corrections they make are annotated to the board. While a few corrections are OK, you don’t want a blank record that the recorders had to fill in. It demonstrates that you didn’t update your record.
So who actually promotes to O5? In general, the officer who promotes to O5 is:
- Board certified.
- Finished GME early enough that they had time to break out with a competitive EP fitrep as a staff physician.
- Has a demonstrated history of excellence as an officer. In other words, whenever they are in a competitive group, they successfully break out and get an EP fitrep. Being average is just not good enough anymore.
- They have no PFA failures, legal problems, declining fitreps, or potentially adverse fitreps.
- They have updated their record, and if they previously failed to select they reviewed their record with their detailer and actively worked to improve it.