promotion

FY23 O4 and O5 Promotion Board Opportunities

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Here are the FY23 O4 promotion opportunities:

-Medical Corps – 95%

-Dental Corps – 89%

-Medical Service Corps – 90%

-Nurse Corps – 75%

Here are the FY23 O5 promotion opportunities:

-Medical Corps – 90%

-Dental Corps – 80%

-Medical Service Corps – 60%

-Nurse Corps – 70%

You can find these on the 2nd page of the recently released FY23 promotion board convening orders, which are below:

FY23 O6 Promotion Board Precept, Convening Order, and Promotion Opportunities

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Now that the O6 board is over, the promotion opportunities can be found on page 2 of this convening order:

They were:

  • MC – 95% (the highest since FY10, which is as far back as I have data)
  • DC – 92%
  • MSC – 50%
  • NC – 50%

Here is the historical picture for the Medical Corps:

 FY10FY11FY12FY13FY14FY15FY16FY17FY18FY19FY20FY21FY22
O680%80%80%60%60%60%50%70%80%90%81%91%90%

Here is the precept as well:

Congrats to RDML(s) Matt Case (MSC) and RDML(s) Guido Valdes (MC)

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As per the Senate Confirmation page:

2022-01-31 PN1724 Navy

The following named officers for appointment in the United States Navy to the grade indicated under title 10, U.S.C., section 624: Capt. Matthew Case, to be Rear Admiral (lower half) Capt. Guido F. Valdes, to be Rear Admiral (lower half)

You can see the specific nomination here.

How to Be Considered for Promotion if You’ve Been on Active Duty for Less Than 1 Year

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The FY23 promotion board NAVADMIN was released this month. If you are in-zone or above-zone for an upcoming promotion board but you’ve been on active duty for less than 1 year, you should read #7 from the NAVADMIN, which says (I edited out the line only portion and focused on staff corps relevant content only):

7. In-zone and above-zone eligible officers in the grades of chief warrant officer 2/3/4, lieutenant, lieutenant commander and commander, whose placement on the Active-Duty list is within one year of the convening dates of these boards, are automatically deferred unless they specifically request to be considered. The officer may waive this deferment and request consideration for promotion, in writing, emailed to NPC_Officer_SELBD_Elig_Waivers.fct(at)navy.mil or mailed to:

Commander, Navy Personnel Command (PERS-802)
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-0000

For in-zone and above-zone eligible staff corps officers in the grade of commander, in-zone and
above-zone eligible line and staff corps officers in the grades of lieutenant commander and lieutenant, and in-zone and above-zone chief warrant officers, the request must be received by PERS-802 not later than 2359 CST 30 days prior to the convening date of the respective board. Specifically:

Selection To Convening Date Due Date / Time
Staff Corps Captain 8 FEB 22 8 JAN 22 / 2359 CST
Staff Corps Commander 2 MAY 22 1 APR 22 / 2359 CST
Staff Corps Lieutenant Commander 2 MAY 22 1 APR 22 / 2359 CST

What does this mean and why would it apply to you? Maybe you had prior service, you went to medical school, and now you’re a senior LT who is in-zone for LCDR right away. Maybe you did a civilian NADDS residency and you are in-zone right away for LCDR. There might be other situations that would put you in this position, like getting time-in-grade credit for other experience.

If you believe you are in this position, here is what I’d do:

  1. Confirm you are in-zone or above-zone. How can you do this? The easiest way if you are MC or DC is to read Chapter 2 of the Promo Prep. Or you can read this post that explains how zones work for the various corps.
  2. If you wish to be considered for promotion to LCDR, CDR, or CAPT, do what it says above. Send the letter simply requesting this. It can probably be a very short letter. There is no need to be verbose.
  3. Also, here is a great article on this topic from the August 2018 Medical Corps Newsletter:

Do you know about OPT-IN requirements for promotion?

Are LT Medical Corps Fitreps Important? TL:DR = Yes

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Someone recently e-mailed me because they were having problems convincing their LTs that their fitreps mattered. Trust me, they matter.

The most important reason that they matter is because of changes made in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Prior to NDAA 20, the Navy was allowed to promote to O4 with an all fully qualified standard. In other words, the promotion opportunity was 100%. Here is a history of the O4 promotion opportunity:

 FY10FY11FY12FY13FY14FY15FY16FY17FY18FY19FY20FY21FY22
O4100%100%100%100%100%100%100%100%100%100%100%100%95%

As you can see, the opportunity decreased from 100% to 95% in FY22.

This means that it got a little bit harder to promote to O4, and a little more competitive. In other words, your fitreps as an O3 matter.

You Made CDR! Now What?

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If you are one of the lucky people who made CDR, I have some things for you to consider:

  • The next 2-3 years of fitreps may mean very little to your overall career.  First, you are soon going to be in the most competitive group in the Medical Corps, Commanders scratching and clawing to make Captain.  If you are at a medium to large command, no matter what you do as a junior Commander, you are likely to get a P (promotable) on your fitreps.  That is just how it works for most commands.
  • This first bullet means that now is the PERFECT time to do something “alternative” (off the usual career path for a physician) or take a position that you know will get you 1/1 fitreps or be part of a very small competitive group.  Go to the War College.  Take a senior operational job where you’ll get a 1/1 fitrep.  Become a Detailer.  Apply for fellowship because the NOB fitreps won’t hurt you as a junior Commander or Commander Select.  Now is the time to do these type of things.  You don’t want to wait until you are a few years below zone for Captain.  When you reach this stage you’ll need competitive EP fitreps.
  • After you are selected for your next rank is also a great time to move/PCS.  Have you ever been OCONUS?  If not, now would be a great time to go.  You can PCS somewhere for 2-3 years and then PCS to the command where you are going to set up shop and try to make Captain.  At OCONUS commands there is more turnover of staff, so major leadership jobs like MEC President, Department Head, and Director positions open up more frequently, setting you up to get a senior position when you return to CONUS.
  • You may think I’m crazy, but it is time to start thinking about how you are going to make Captain.  As I mentioned in the first bullet, getting a job that will make you a Captain is tough and competitive.  Now is the time to do the things that will make you an excellent candidate for one of those jobs.  Want to be a Residency Director?  Maybe you should get a degree in adult or medical education.  Want to be a Director?  Maybe you should get a management degree like a Masters in Medical Management or an MBA.  Want to be a senior operational leader?  Now is the time to do Joint Professional Military Education I and/or II.
  • Here is a list of the jobs that I think will likely make you a Captain.  Read the list…figure out which of these jobs you are going to use to make Captain…and get busy preparing yourself to get them:
    • Residency Director
    • Department Head in a large MTF
    • Director
    • Chief Medical Officer
    • Officer-in-Charge
    • Major committee chair
    • Medical Executive Committee President
    • BUMED staff
    • Specialty Leader
    • Deployment requiring an O-5 or O-6
    • Detailer
    • Senior operational leader
      • Division/Group/Wing Surgeon
      • CATF Surgeon
      • Amphib or CVN Senior Medical Officer

Optimally you’ll have the time when you are an O5 to do multiple jobs on the preceding list.  For example, as an O5 I had been a Detailer, a Specialty Leader, Department Head, Associate Director, and CO of a deployed unit.  My next step was to become a Director at a major MTF, and while I was a senior LCDR and CDR I obtained a Naval Postgraduate School MBA as well as achieved certification as a Certified Physician Executive to try and make myself a competitive candidate for a Director position. Ultimately, I became the Director for Healthcare Business at NMC Portsmouth.

Congratulations on making Commander…take a deep breath…and start thinking about some of the things I mentioned in this post.  Before you know it you’ll be in zone for Captain.

2021 Update – What Should You Do If You Didn’t Promote?

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If you are particularly interested in this post, I’m sorry. You or someone you care about probably failed to promote. In reality, nowadays it is normal and expected to fail to promote to O5 and O6, so you have company. Here are my suggestions for those that fail to promote.

Try to Figure Out Why You Didn’t Promote

First, try to figure out why you didn’t promote. Because the promotion board members are not allowed to speak about your board, you’ll never actually find out why you failed to promote, but you can usually take a pretty educated guess if you talk to the right people (like me).

If any of these things happened to you, they are likely a main reason you didn’t promote:

  • 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:

  • You have not been operational or deployed at all, or you have done so much less than your peers. The FY22 O6 promotion board materials emphasized that everyone needs to be operational.
  • Coming into zone while in you were in GME.
  • Having non-observed (NOB) fitreps before the board, such as those in full-time outservice training.
  • 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 for O5 while you are still in GME, and is more of a problem if your residency is long.
  • Never getting a competitive early promote (EP) fitrep. Many officers who fail to select have never had a competitive EP fitrep in their current rank. This can be because they were stationed places without competitive groups and they get 1/1 fitreps, or it can be because they were in a competitive group and did not break out and get an EP. To me this is the #1 ingredient to promote…competitive EP fitreps. If you don’t have them, you are really up against it unless you are in a senior operational position that carries a lot of weight.
  • 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 situation 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 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.

Who Actually Promotes?

So who actually promotes to O5 and O6? In general, the officer who promotes has:

  • Achieved board certification.
  • Spent time in both a military treatment facility and in the operational setting.
  • 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.
  • No PFA failures, legal problems, declining fitreps, or potentially adverse fitreps.
  • Updated their record, and if they previously failed to select they reviewed their record with their Detailer and actively worked to improve it.

What Do You Do If You Failed to Promote?

Realize that it is not the end of the world. Based on the recent promotion board statistics (which you can get in the Promo Prep), most officers were passed over for O5 or O6, but a large number of the officers selected were from the above zone group.

If you do nothing, you will continue to get looked at by promotion boards until you retire, resign, or are forced out of the Navy. There is no limit to the number of chances you get to promote and your record will be evaluated for promotion every year. That said…

You need to try to promote. Consider sending a letter to the promotion board. What do you say in this letter? First, briefly state that you want to be promoted and to continue your career in the Navy. Second, 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 be a Department Head at a large military treatment facility (MTF), a senior operational leader, or a Residency Director (or whatever you want to do), tell them that you need to be promoted to be competitive for these jobs. The Navy wants to promote leaders. Make it clear to them that you are a motivated future leader.

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.

Have your record reviewed by your Detailer, Specialty Leader, other trusted senior advisor, or by me. Because of promotion board confidentiality, you will never know the reason(s) you did not promote, but most of the time experienced reviewers 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.

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 a promotion while keeping in mind that the new MC career path emphasizes that all need to be operational.

As a LCDR who got passed over for CDR, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it (this list is not exhaustive and these positions are not the only path to CDR, but they are a good start):

  • Assistant Program Director
  • Division/Department Head
  • Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Specialty Staff
  • Global Health Engagement (GHE) Staff Officer
  • Group/Senior Flight Surgeon (FS)
  • Medical Battalion Specialty Staff
  • Medical Executive Committee (MEC) Member
  • Regimental Surgeon
  • Senior Undersea Medical Officer (UMO)
  • Ship or Group Senior Medical Officer (SMO)
  • SMO/Medical Director

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

  • Assistant Specialty Leader or Specialty Leader
  • Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
  • Director/Large Department Head at a NMRTC/MTF
  • Division/Group/Wing Surgeon
  • FST Officer-in-Charge (OIC) / CATF Surgeon
  • GHE, Headquarters, or Navy Personnel Command (PERS) Staff
  • Group UMO
  • LHA/LHD/CVN SMO
  • MEC Chair
  • OIC
  • Program Director
  • Senior GHE Billet

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 continuing 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.

Things You Should Not Do

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Never Stop Trying

Those are my tips for those who find themselves above zone. Most importantly, if you want to promote, NEVER STOP TRYING. You can usually stay in as a LCDR for 20 years, and I personally know of people who got promoted their 9th look!