Promotion Boards

FY16 Courses, Updated Promo Prep, and MC Career Roadmap

Posted on

Here are 3 documents of interest to MC officers:

  1. From BUMED – FY16 Navy Medicine Leadership Course Information
  2. From BUMED – Medical Corps Career Roadmap
  3. Updated promo prep document that contains #1 above, Joel Schofer’s Promo Prep Guidance – 18 AUG 2015

Sailor of 2025 Talent Management Initiatives

Posted on Updated on

There are some exciting and interesting initiatives underway to modernize the Navy’s personnel system.  There have been many articles on this in Navy Times.  Here is one article recently released by the Military Officers Association of America.

In addition, here are some slides that describe this initiative:

PERS-4 Fleet Engagement

The changes that physicians should be aware of, some already finalized and others representing potential changes, are:

  1. Pay and bonus changes that would reward individual talent rather than treat everyone the same.
  2. A removal of promotion zones.  No longer would records be stamped as below-zone, in-zone, or above-zone during promotion boards.  This would switch to a system that rewards talent and milestones rather than longevity.  It would allow those that progress faster to promote faster and no longer have to “wait their turn” as well as remove the stigma that some feel is associated with being above-zone.
  3. Expansion of opportunities to diversify your career.  Examples include an expansion of the career intermission program and fellowships providing officers with the opportunity to spend some time in civilian industry so that they can bring best practices back to the Navy.
  4. An information technology (IT) investment in a new, more transparent personnel management system.  Ideas I have heard mentioned include eliminating all of the various computer systems that exist and consolidating them into one so that you don’t have to update your record in 20 different ways.  An assignments system has also been mentioned that would allow officers to see all the billets available and apply for the ones that they want, giving commands the ability to pick which officers they want.
  5. Improved co-location policy.  I have no details on this one, and right now I feel the detailers do a pretty good job co-locating dual active duty couples, but others may disagree.
  6. Changes to the physical fitness assessment/body composition assessment (PFA/BCA), which were detailed in this NAVADMIN.  This includes expanded fitness center hours.
  7. Changes to the maternity leave policy, detailed in this NAVADMIN, and expanded child development center hours.

Keep in mind that while some of these changes have been released already, like the PFA/BCA and maternity leave policies, the rest are works in progress.  I think it is interesting, though, to see that the DoD and Navy leadership are interesting in modernizing our personnel system and management.  As a detailer who writes orders on a DOS-based system, I can assure you that modernization is sorely needed.

FY16 O5 Promotion Board Takeaways

Posted on

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.

FY16 LCDR Promotion List Released

Posted on

Congratulations to the following officers who were selected for promotion to LCDR:

Medical Corps

Abitria Richard R            0003  Afuhleflore Chantal Na       0044            
Aleid Haydar Mohali          0034  Algert Daniel B              0104            
Algert Lesley Paz            0068  Anderson William Charl       0198            
Armstrong Cody Chance        0015  Aukstuolis Kestutis An       0139            
Aurigemma David F            0073  Aurigemma Kristen Dian       0097            
Bailey Mary Mercedes         0191  Baker Neal Jordan            0150            
Baquir Angelo B              0087  Bauer Matthew Paul Per       0148            
Bayly Terrence D             0083  Benjaminson Jeremy Eva       0178            
Bermudez Daniela Janel       0157  Bilbao Michelle Cifone       0170            
Boni Benjamin Daniel         0177  Boucher Jeromy Travis        0028            
Brandon Elise Cooper         0137  Brock Marie Elizabethn       0149            
Brown Taylor Adam            0055  Bruce Timothy Peter          0197            
Buckley Kerry L              0053  Buckley Ryan Thomas          0041            
Buckley Sarah Basha          0152  Bullard Susan Ashley         0036            
Burbanodelara Patrick        0138  Burgess Matthew Daniel       0037            
Butler Nathan Henry          0102  Butler William Jason         0029            
Buttolph Amelia Harris       0205  Bylund William E             0084            
Carter Kristopher Ever       0115  Cassleman Kristi Linne       0188            
Chang Allen Duanhsu          0162  Chi Benjamin B               0096            
Cochran Grant K              0063  Cole Geoffrey John           0057  
Corrado Richele Lynn         0027  Cripe Paul                   0079  
Cruz Chris Albert            0146  Darling Nicholas Andre       0200  
Davis Christopher Alan       0108  Dean Daniel Joseph Jr        0174            
Deboer Derek Lee             0082  Degeus John Benjamin         0094            
Delacruz Andrea Faye         0156  Derevianko Victoria Ma       0105            
Digeorge Nicholas Will       0169  Douglas Brigham Lee          0193            
Elek Steven IV               0172  Engkulawy Jennifer Kar       0163            
Evans John Keith II          0180  Faught Sara Kathryn          0144            
Fiaseu Kaycee Rose           0204  Filipescu Radu               0020            
Flowers Lynn Morrissey       0155  Fofi Stephanie Marie         0145            
Frasier Samuel Dennis        0208  Gage Michele M               0086            
Ganacias Karen Gayle         0192  Garciasalas Alejandro        0093            
Gaylord Bethany Kay          0117  Generoso Judith Cather       0130            
Gillespie John W             0075  Gilman Luke Anthony          0132            
Gower Jonathan Robert        0066  Graham Jennifer Nicole       0107            
Greene Tatiana Morales       0186  Gutweiler Alex August        0025            
Haight Sean Patrick          0175  Hall Kent Michael            0190            
Hamersley Erin Rae Spa       0206  Hastings Todd Glen           0154            
Hauck Heather Noelle         0095  Hauff Niels M                0050            
Healy Mae Wu                 0129  Hemerly Nathan James         0173            
Henebry Andrew D             0046  Henry Sadie Mar              0004            
Hodell Evan Mel              0014  Hoffman Marshall Mathe       0062            
Hogan Patricia Elisabe       0142  Holleman Kevin Troy          0168            
Holzhouser Jamon Aaron       0016  Jain Ankush Kumar            0171            
Jardonaites Michelle D       0090  Jaskiewicz Jennifer Ly       0185            
Jing Ling                    0006  Johns Michael Wayne          0045            
Karris Bianca Cabrera        0133  Khoo Di                      0052            
Kilimentmihaileanu Iul       0021  Kuckel Daniel P              0035            
Kunkel Scott Alan            0196  Lafferty Casey Elizabe       0176            
Lagrew Joseph Edward II      0099  Larsen Eric Christian        0012            
Lawson Scott Michael         0122  Le Joseph An                 0141            
Le Tuvien                    0195  Lee Blair C                  0120            
Lehmann Benjamin John        0143  Lewis William A              0030            
Lipscomb Kathryn Ann         0118  Lomeli Matthew Charles       0164            
Lopez Lance Anthony          0140  Lopreiato Joseph O           0128            
Love Christopher Scott       0010  Mak Heather Kimberly         0136            
Maliakel Paul G              0064  Mancusiungaro Andrew E       0043            
Manosalva Rodolfo Enri       0158  Marquardt Joseph Phili       0165            
Marshall Michael Thoma       0060  Maruszak Mary Brigid         0187            
Mathew Manoj                 0026  Mathurin Jean Gilnord        0024            
Mattingly John C             0072  McClure Robert Ian           0007            
McCullough Jeremy Davi       0189  McDonnell John Carroll       0167            
McPeak Lesley Armbrust       0061  Melzer Jonathan M            0089            
Meunier Nicole Jean          0069  Michel Eric Brian            0121            
Michel Shannon Scully        0127  Monson Michael James E       0166            
Munoz Beau Jeffrey           0031  Myles David Eric             0201            
Naff Jessica Lynn            0011  Navarro Carlos Alberto       0048            
Nelson Mikal John            0042  Nieves Maria Lizette         0005            
Obrien Brendan Stephen       0077  Oladipo Olamide Johnso       0135            
Olson Erik Joseph            0051  Osborne Todd Graham          0013            
Overbey Jamie Kathleen       0147  Owens Steffanie Michel       0100            
Pannier Aaron Granvill       0092  Partovi Christopher Re       0032            
Perrinez Phillip Rober       0113  Perry Alexandra V            0088            
Peterson Brandon Rober       0119  Powers Michael F             0159            
Prokop Michael Aaron         0184  Reynders William Josep       0116            
Roberson Nolen F             0080  Roden Christopher Dona       0183            
Ross Warren Leslie           0111  Russell Matthew Craig        0008  
Ruttenberg Todd Michae       0101  Santiago Gabriel F           0049  
Sardina Jonathan Micha       0181  Sasovetz Scott Joseph        0059  
Schonau Jesse Taylor         0207  Scully Stephenie Ashle       0058  
Seeger Daniel Bradley        0123  Shanahan Erik Edmond         0071  
Siebenaler Joseph Fran       0179  Siegel Joseph Aaron          0039  
Simmons Brett Patrick        0112  Singer Jacob Emerson         0040  
Skeehan Christopher Do       0134  Smith Jennifer Lauren        0085  
Snow Ryan William            0161  Solis Ana Lidia              0023  
Sone Peter Lee               0056  Songer Adam G                0081  
Speicher Matthew Vanst       0199  Staeheli Gregory R           0047  
Stange Christopher Jam       0203  Stanila Vlad Vasile          0022  
Stapleton Robert Edwar       0202  States Leith Jason           0182  
Steele Helen Marie           0194  Stein Loretta Lindsay        0125  
Stonegarza Kristi Kim        0009  Stratton Michael Slade       0151  
Stromberg Ines Haruni        0131  Talise Paul C                0076  
Taylor Jacob Marshall        0038  Toupin Brian                 0103  
Trevino Ruth Ann             0124  Uber Ian Chauncey            0067  
Valadao Jason Matteo         0018  Wagner Kari Lynn             0110  
Wagner Scott C               0106  Waite Kenneth Barry Jr       0126  
Wallace James D              0078  Walsh John C                 0074  
Waterman Adam Thomas         0070  Westbrook James Wesley       0017  
Wheelan Ann Victoria         0019  Wildi Jonathan Douglas       0160  
Wilson Jessica Ann           0098  Wilson Kevin F               0114  
Wolf Michael E               0054  Wooldridge Bryan Edmun       0109  
Zelinskas David John         0153            

FY16 CAPT Promotion Board Statistics

Posted on

People really enjoyed seeing the FY16 CDR promotion stats and I got requests for the same stats for the CAPT promotion board.  Here they are:

ABOVE ZONE 155 11 7.10%
IN ZONE 101 39 38.61%
BELOW ZONE 164 1 0.61%


FLT SRG 0 0 N/A 9 0 0.00% 0 0 N/A
RAM 2 0 0.00% 9 0 0.00% 3 0 0.00%
ANESTH 13 2 15.38% 10 0 0.00% 13 0 0.00%
SURG 6 3 50.00% 9 0 0.00% 7 0 0.00%
NEURO SURG 0 0 N/A 2 0 0.00% 2 0 0.00%
OB GYN 4 3 75.00% 11 1 9.09% 10 0 0.00%
GMO 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
OPHTH 0 0 N/A 2 0 0.00% 5 0 0.00%
ORTHO 7 2 28.57% 10 0 0.00% 12 0 0.00%
OTO 3 1 33.33% 2 0 0.00% 8 0 0.00%
URO 0 0 N/A 1 0 0.00% 4 0 0.00%
PREV MED 1 0 0.00% 3 0 0.00% 2 0 0.00%
OCC MED 4 3 75.00% 4 0 0.00% 4 0 0.00%
PHYS MED 1 0 0.00% 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
PATH 2 1 50.00% 9 0 0.00% 5 0 0.00%
DERM 5 2 40.00% 0 0 N/A 2 0 0.00%
EMERG 8 4 50.00% 7 0 0.00% 11 0 0.00%
FAM PRAC 9 4 44.44% 28 4 14.29% 15 0 0.00%
INT MED 18 7 38.89% 10 1 10.00% 20 1 5.00%
NEURO 0 0 N/A 2 0 0.00% 0 0 N/A
UMO 4 0 0.00% 1 0 0.00% 2 0 0.00%
PEDS 4 2 50.00% 9 2 22.22% 9 0 0.00%
NUC MED 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
PSYCH 4 2 50.00% 2 0 0.00% 8 0 0.00%
DIAG RAD 6 3 50.00% 14 3 21.43% 21 0 0.00%
RAD ONC 0 0 N/A 1 0 0.00% 1 0 0.00%
TOTAL 101 39 38.61% 155 11 7.10% 164 1 0.61%

FY16 CDR Promotion Board Statistics

Posted on

Here are the FY16 CDR promotion board statistics.  After a few more weeks of reviewing records of those who failed to select, I’ll have some specific promotion board takeaways.


ABOVE ZONE 113 24 21.24%
IN ZONE 135 71 52.59%
BELOW ZONE 370 0 0.00%


FLT SRG 1 1 1 2 50% 9 2 22%
RAM 0 2 0 2 100% 10 2 20%
ANESTH 4 9 4 13 69% 23 13 57%
SURG 5 3 4 8 38% 19 7 37%
NEURO SURG 0 0 1 0 N/A 1 1 100%
OBGYN 1 7 1 8 88% 11 8 73%
GMO 0 0 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
OPHTH 1 2 0 3 67% 3 2 67%
ORTHO 3 4 1 7 57% 13 5 38%
OTO 1 0 0 1 0% 3 0 0%
UROLOGY 1 1 0 2 50% 4 1 25%
PREV MED 3 4 1 7 57% 11 5 45%
OCC MED 3 2 1 5 40% 10 3 30%
PHY MED 1 0 0 1 0% 1 0 0%
PATH 4 0 1 4 0% 8 1 13%
DERM 1 1 1 2 50% 5 2 40%
EMERG 8 3 3 11 27% 19 6 32%
FAM MED 4 10 2 14 71% 30 12 40%
INT MED 7 6 1 13 46% 17 7 41%
NEURO 3 1 0 4 25% 5 1 20%
UMO 1 0 0 1 0% 1 0 0%
PEDS 4 4 1 8 50% 14 5 36%
NUC MED 0 0 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
PSYCH 1 4 0 5 80% 11 4 36%
RAD 6 7 1 13 54% 19 8 42%
RAD ONC 1 0 0 1 0% 1 0 0%


Click on this to make it larger, if needed:

Specialty Graphs


O5 Promotion List Released

Posted on

Below this message is the O5 promotion list.  For those that were selected, congratulations.  Now that you are a CDR(s), you should strongly consider mixing your career up a little.  No matter what you do for the next few years as a junior CDR, you’re likely to get a promotable (P) on your fitreps if you are in a competitive group.  This fact makes it a great time to PCS, moving overseas or to a senior operational role if you haven’t done those tours yet.  It also makes it a great time to apply for a fellowship, go to a War College, take on a job that you will enjoy but will get you 1/1 fitreps that could hurt you later in your career, or pursue anything else you can think of that is rank appropriate.  Then after you spend a few years doing this, you can return to a command, try to get a senior leadership role and competitive fitreps, and give it your best shot to promote to O6.

If you did not promote, it is time to regroup.  See my June 21st post entitled “You Failed to Promote…Now What?”  Keep in mind, that most physicians are offered continuation until year 20 as a LCDR, so you likely have a few more chances to promote.

Once I have some time to analyze the O5 board results and get some statistics, I’ll do a more detailed post with O5 promotion board takeaways.


Could a Master’s Degree Get You Promoted?

Posted on Updated on

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 in person at remote sites via video conferencing. You have to have 2 years of time-on-station left at your current command, so you have to apply to start right after you get to a command or get a new set of orders. In addition, your CO has to sign a letter stating that you’ll get the time to attend classes once per week for 8-9 hours and that you are not slated to deploy. You can deploy once you start the program, but you can’t be on the hook when you apply.
  3. Use Navy Tuition Assistance ( to pay for a degree. The tuition rates they pay will not completely cover more expensive degrees, but every little bit helps.
  4. Apply for the Navy Career Intermission Program and take time off to get a degree.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 ( 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 (

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.

You Failed to Promote…Now What?

Posted on

My June 13th post that discussed whether CDR is the new terminal rank and other O6 promotion board takeaways has gotten the most attention thus far. I received some questions about what happens when you are passed over for promotion and are now “above-zone.” If you ever find yourself in this position, here is what you need to do:

  1. Realize that it is not the end of the world. As we’ve previously discussed, more and more people are getting passed over, and a good number of them eventually are selected for promotion. In FY15, 36% of LCDRs who were above-zone were selected for promotion to CDR. When it comes to CAPT, the above-zone selection rate was 11% in FY14, 10% in FY15, and 7% in FY16. While those promotion rates are particularly depressing for above-zone CDRs, you have to realize that there is a significant portion of CDRs who have given up and stopped trying to promote to CAPT but are still included in the denominator of the above-zone selection rate. Because of this, I think if you try to get promoted your chances are better than the aforementioned 7-11% above-zone selection rate.
  2. If you do nothing, you will continue to get looked at for promotion boards until you retire, resign, or are forced out of the Navy. There is no limit on the number of chances you get to promote and your record will be evaluated for promotion every year. That said…
  3. You need to try to promote. At a minimum you need to send a letter to the promotion board. What do you say in this letter? First, briefly state that you want to be promoted and that you desire to continue your career in the Navy. Second, briefly explain what a promotion would allow you to do that you can’t do at your current rank. Answer the question, “Why should they promote you?” For example, if you want to do Executive Medicine you need to be an O6, so tell them that you want to screen for XO. If you are a LCDR and you want to be a Department Head at a large MTF or a Residency Director (or whatever you want to do), tell them that you need to be promoted to CDR to be competitive for these jobs. The Navy wants to promote leaders. Make it clear to them that you are a motivated future leader.
  4. Try and get letters of support to attach to your letter. These letters should be from the most senior officers who can personally attest to your value to the Navy. In other words, it is probably better to get a letter from an O6 who knows you well than a 3 star who doesn’t. If you are not sure who to ask for letters, ask those more senior to you or your Detailer for advice. Your Specialty Leader is always someone to consider if he/she knows you well and can speak to your contributions to the specialty and Navy.
  5. Have your record reviewed by your Detailer. Because of promotion board confidentiality, you and your Detailer will never know the reason(s) you did not promote, but most of the time the Detailer can come up with an educated guess. They’ll often find things that you were not even aware of, like potentially adverse fitreps, or information missing from your record. My promo prep document will help you as well, which is available at the top of this webpage.
  6. Do everything you can to get “early promote” or “EP” fitreps. This is largely accomplished by continually striving for positions of increased leadership. You need to get a job that has historically led to promotion. If you are a LCDR who got passed over for CDR, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it:
  • Assistant/Associate Residency Director
  • Department Head at a small/medium sized MTF
  • Senior Medical Officer or Medical Director
  • Chair of a hospital committee
  • ECOMS member

If you are a CDR who got passed over for CAPT, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it:

  • Residency Director
  • Department Head in a large MTF
  • Associate Director or Director
  • Officer-in-Charge (OIC)
  • ECOMS President
  • Division, Group, or Wing Surgeon
  • CATF Surgeon
  • Specialty Leader

These lists are not exhaustive and are not the only paths to CDR or CAPT, but they are a good start.

  1. Meet with your chain-of-command. After you’ve been passed over is not the time to be passive. You need to sit down with your leadership and get an honest assessment from them of how you’re doing and what they would recommend to continue to advance your career. You may not like what you hear, but it is better to find out early if they don’t think you’re doing a good job or that you are unlikely to break out on your fitreps. That way you can try and put yourself in a better situation by changing commands.

In addition to the above list of things you should do, there are a few things you should not do:

  1. Do not lie in your letter to the board. In other words, don’t tell them you want to do Executive Medicine if you don’t really want to. Your record reads like a book, and if it tells a story that is contrary to what your letter says, this is unlikely to help you and may hurt you.
  2. Do not send long correspondence. Promotion boards have to read everything sent to them, and a long letter may not be appreciated. Keep it brief and to the point.
  3. Do not ask your current CO to write you a letter to the board if they’ve done an observed fitrep on you. His or her opinion about you should be reflected on that fitrep, so they don’t need to write you a letter. If they’ve never given you an observed fitrep or there is some new information not reflected on prior fitreps, they could either write you a letter or give you a special fitrep. Ultimately it is up to them whether they do either of these or none.
  4. Do not discuss anything adverse unless you want the board to notice and discuss it. This issue comes up frequently and people will ask me for advice, but ultimately it is up to the individual officer. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you send a letter to the board and discuss something adverse, they will notice it because they will read your letter! If you think there is a chance the adverse matter will get overlooked, it is probably better not to mention it and keep your fingers crossed.

Those are my tips for those who find themselves above-zone. Most importantly, if you want to promote, NEVER STOP TRYING. I personally know of people who got promoted their 4th look and have heard of people who succeeded on their 9th try!

Is Commander the New Terminal Rank? (And Other O6 Promotion Board Takeaways)

Posted on Updated on

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, it is getting harder to promote to Captain. Here are the historical promotion opportunities for O6. You don’t have to be a mathematician to notice the trend:

  FY08 FY09 FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16
CAPT 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 60% 60% 60% 50%

There are a lot of physicians who came into the Navy when it was relatively easy for a physician to promote to Captain. If you could fog a mirror, you could likely promote. Well…things seem to have changed.

This has frustrated some physicians who failed to promote and is likely to frustrate more in the future. Aside from getting frustrated, though, it would benefit all involved if they could learn from this trend and try to adjust while there is still time. Here are my O6 promotion board takeaways:

  • It is now normal when you fail to select for Captain the first time. In the FY16 board only 39% of Commanders who were in zone were promoted, leaving 61%, a clear majority, who did not. Physicians should expect to fail to select or “get passed over” the first time they are up for O6.
  • Commander is the new terminal rank for full-time clinicians, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If the thought of taking on a significant collateral duty makes you want to cringe because you want to remain a full-time clinician during your time as an O5, you have likely reached your terminal rank. Physicians get very frustrated when they fail to promote to O6, thinking that the Navy doesn’t value clinical productivity, and this is just not true. The Navy does value clinical productivity, it just doesn’t think that they need to be Captains! The Captain rank has moved from being a reward attained by most physicians who hang around long enough to a reward for those with senior leadership potential.
  • The overwhelming majority of Commanders who promote to O6 take on a significant collateral duty. Whether they were a department head at a large MTF, a specialty leader, a residency director, a director, president of ECOMS, or in a senior operational role, they all had to pay their dues in these roles in order to score the EPs on their fitreps that allowed them to promote. These roles almost always necessitate a reduction in clinical activity, which is why you are less likely to promote to O6 as a full-time clinician.
  • Having only one competitive EP fitrep before the promotion board is often not enough. At some of the larger MTFs it can take quite a while to “break out” from the pack of Commanders and get an EP on your fitrep. If you are lucky enough to get an EP but you only slide one in before you are in zone, it may not be enough. As the competition heats up, it is the people with multiple competitive EPs that will be in the best position to promote.
  • You need to demonstrate career diversity while not hurting your chances to promote. The best time to mix it up is right after you are selected for Commander. You are finally senior enough to get a decent position at an operational command, BUMED, PERS, or some other alternative command. If instead of mixing it up you stay were you are, you will be the new, small fish in the largest pond in the Navy, the Commander fitrep competitive group. No matter what you do you are probably going to get promotable fitreps for a few years. You might as well use those years to break things up, PCS (even locally to an operational command – I’m not saying you have to move), and demonstrate to the Navy that you are willing to flex for the needs of the Navy. You may get 1/1 EP fitreps but while you are a junior commander this is unlikely to hurt you. Then once you are done with that tour, you can return to a larger competitive group and compete for one of the aforementioned jobs if you have making O6 on your radar.