When discussing why they failed to promote, one of the more common reasons that officers give is that they were unable to get a leadership position. When I ask them how they prepared themselves for these positions and what they did to improve their chances of getting one, they often don’t have much to say. Frankly, they didn’t do anything “extra” or above and beyond their normal duties to prepare for and get a leadership position.
Don’t be one of those officers.
The recipe for promotion is fairly simple. Superior performance in leadership positions leads to early promote (EP) fitreps, which leads to promotion. As promotion gets more difficult, the competition for leadership positions is likely to increase, and officers need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the crowd, increasing the chance they’ll get leadership positions. Obtaining a master’s degree can be one of the things that will distinguish you from other physicians and can dramatically increase the chances that you are competitive for career advancing positions.
What Kind of Degree Should You Consider Getting?
This depends on your career goals. If you want to become a leader in research or global health engagement, an area of increased focus in the Navy, you probably want to get a Master in Public Health (MPH) or similar degree. If you want to become a residency or fellowship director, a master’s degree in adult or medical education would fit the bill. If you want to become an operational leader, attending a war college would make sense. And if you want to become a clinical administrator or pursue executive medicine, obtaining a management degree, such as a Master in Business Administration (MBA), Master in Medical Management (MMM), or Master in Healthcare Administration (MHA), would make sense to me.
How Can You Get a Master’s Degree While on Active Duty?
There are many ways you can do this, but the most common include:
- Complete a fellowship that includes a master’s degree. Some fellowships either include or have the option of obtaining a MPH, such as the Global Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Fellowship. I also know of multiple officers who asked the Graduate Medical Education Selection Board for an additional year of fellowship to obtain a degree or simply for permission to obtain a degree alone. What are the chances this will be granted? Well I’m sure the chances change from year to year, but they are zero if you don’t ask.
- Complete the distance learning Executive MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School. This is how I got my MBA for the cost of books alone, and I think the program is excellent. You have to go to Monterey for 1 week at the beginning of the 2-year program, but after that all classes are held on-line.
- Apply for the Navy Career Intermission Program and take time off to get a degree.
- Attend a war college. Intermediate colleges are for officers who are O4 or below, while senior college is for O5 and above. If you’re interested, contact your Detailer.
- USUHS offers a Master in Health Professions Education.
- Pay for it yourself and do it in your free time on-line or in person. One program to look into is offered by the American Association for Physician Leadership (https://www.physicianleaders.org/education/physicians/masters). By taking some CME you can then enroll in various patient safety and management degrees that are all physician focused. The on-line University of Massachusetts healthcare focused MBA that they offer is the most reasonably priced MBA that I could find that is accredited by the top business school accreditation body. If you want a fast MBA (but pricey), look into the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA program (http://pemba.utk.edu).
While committing to a master’s degree program will take major time and effort, that is the point. It is a well-recognized way to demonstrate to the Navy that you’ve made a serious commitment to your professional development and could go a long way toward giving your next interview for a leadership position.
BUMED recently added the Walter Reed Chief of Staff job to the list of positions available for those who are screened or planning to screen for a XO position in 2020. The details are in this document, but any Navy people who wish to be considered must follow the XO application process, which has a due date of 15 JUN 2019:
Here are all the files you need to apply for XO and CO opportunities in FY20. The deadline for applications is 15 JUN:
For those of you trying to get your Executive Medicine Additional Qualification Designator (AQD) looking for the Joint Medical Executive Skills Program website, they changed the URL. It can be found here as well as on the Useful Links tab:
The FY19 CO/XO slate came out a few days ago, but it is CAC-protected everywhere and therefore I can’t post it. It can be found in the upper left corner on this site but make sure you pick the e-mail certificate or it won’t open:
The Joint Medical Executive Skills Program website is currently unavailable, making it difficult to get the Executive Medicine (67A) Additional Qualification Designator (AQD). As a temporary fix, they can manually create your profile in their database and update any information such as: education, experience, certifications, etc.
To create your account, they will require your:
- Name (First, MI, Last, Suffix)
- Current Duty Station report date
- Projected Rotation Date
Also, here is a matrix containing information on which competencies you are required to obtain the AQD. It also contains information on how they can be fulfilled.
If you have any questions/concerns, I’d e-mail them here:
I’ve received a few questions in the last 1-2 weeks about how to get the 67A Executive Medicine Additional Qualification Designator. After tracking down the latest info, it appears that for now the website is down. They are working on revamping the criteria to achieve the AQD and working the issue, but for now there is no way to get the AQD.
Once I have further info I’ll post it.