By CDR Dustin Schuett, MC, USN
(The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.)
The FY-22 Navy Active Component Medical Corps Special Pay Guidance was released on February 12, 2022.
Notable changes in the FY-22 Navy Medical Corps Special Pays included $2,000/year increases for Navy Staff Physicians on 2- and 3-year Retention Bonuses for Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Gynecologic Surgery & Obstetrics (GSO), Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, and Urology as well as $3,000/year increases for Physicians on 2- and 3-year Retention Bonuses specialized in Pathology, Pediatrics, and Radiology. The 4-year Retention Bonus for Cardiology increased $10,000/year. This was the largest increase of any existing Retention Bonus from the FY-21 plan.
Additionally, the 4-year Retention Bonus returned for Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, GSO, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Radiology, Urology, Subspecialty Category II (IM Nuclear Medicine), and Subspecialty Category V (Fellowship in Ophthalmology, ENT, GSO, or Urology). The 6-year Retention Bonus returned for Cardiology. All of these 4- and 6-year Retention Bonuses were not in the FY21 plan.
Removed from the FY-21 plan is the increased Incentive Pay for Anesthesiologists, General Surgeons, Neurosurgeons, General Orthopedists, and Subspecialty Category Physicians on a 4- or 6-year Retention Bonus. Accompanying those changes are an increase in the 4- and 6-year Retention Bonuses for those specialties equal to the prior difference between the baseline Incentive Pay and the 4- and 6-year Incentive Pay rates. In short, the total money is the same, but more of it will be paid as an annual lump sum as opposed to pro-rated across the year.
Termination and renegotiation of existing Retention Bonuses is now allowed for Family Medicine Sports Medicine, Nuclear Medicine, and Radiation Oncology physicians under the FY-22 plan provided they are not under an Active Duty Service Obligation for medical education, training, or a Special pays Retention Bonus with additional obligation. Under the FY-21 plan, physicians in these specialties were not allowed to renegotiate Retention Bonuses under any circumstances.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law on January 2, 2021, authorized an increase in Board Certification pay for Military Physicians from $6,000 per year to $15,000 per year as well as significant increases in the allowances for Incentive Pay (from a max of $100,000 to a max of $200,000 per year) and Retention Bonus (from a prior max of $75,000 to new max of $150,000). However, while NDAA 21 authorized these increases, Congress has not appropriated any additional money. In addition, when NDAA 21 was signed BUMED was already working on the FY-23 budget. In other words, due to the way budgeting works in the DoD and Navy, there is at least a 2 year lag between any pay changes authorized and the budgeting process. In February 2022, the Navy is currently working on the FY-24 budget. (Editor’s Note – The Corps Chief’s message in the last MC magazine explains all of this in detail and can be read here.)
In summary, no specialty received an increase in Incentive pay. The 2- and 3-year Retention Bonuses went up $2-3,000 for several specialties. The 4-year Retention Bonus for Cardiology increased $10,000. 4- and 6-year Retention Bonuses returned for several specialties after not being available under the FY-21 plan.
The 2021 NDAA authorized an increase in Board Certification Pay to $15,000 from $6,000, which was not enacted.
The 2021 NDAA authorized increases in Incentive Pay or Retention Bonuses beyond the previous limits of $100,000 and $150,000 per year, but these were not enacted.
5 Specialties/Subspecialty Categories (Anesthesiology, General Surgery, General Orthopaedics, and Subspecialty Category I) had increases in 4- and 6-year Retention Bonuses, however this was a shifting of money from Incentive Pay to Retention Bonus with no increase in total earnings for Physicians on these Retention Bonus plans.
There has been no change in Board Certification Pay or Incentive Pay for any specialty including Interns, General Medical Officers (GMOs), and Residents since FY2017.