Sailor of 2025 Talent Management Initiatives

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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

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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.

Retirement Planning – The Easy Way

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Here is the latest of my financial planning articles from one of our specialty society newsletters:

Retirement Planning – The Easy Way

Here is the text as well:

The previous installment of “Dollars & Sense” reviewed the principles of investing for retirement, and this article discusses an easy way for physicians to plan for retirement. It isn’t necessarily the best way and certainly isn’t the only way, but it is a plan that will likely lead to a very successful and potentially even early retirement.

Step 1 – Calculate How Much You Need to Save for Retirement

Total up your household’s gross (pre-tax) income for the year. Include all sources of income, literally all the money you make from anywhere. Multiply that number by 20%. That is how much you need to save annually for retirement. While the traditional recommendation is that you save 10-15% of your income for retirement, saving 20% (or more if you can) will ensure you save enough and have the option of an earlier retirement or the freedom to cut back on your workload at some point.

As an example, let’s pretend your household makes $300,000 annually before taxes. Multiple that by 20% and you’ll see that you need to save $60,000/year for retirement.

Step 2 – First Fill All Your Tax-Advantaged Retirement Accounts

You likely have many different retirement accounts available, so here is the order in which you should invest. Start with the first action and move down the list.

1. Contribute to any employer-provided retirement account up to the maximum that your employer will match. This is free money you can’t afford to leave on the table.

2. Maximally fund any tax-deferred retirement accounts you have, like your 401k or 403b. If you are self-employed you may have other options like a SEP-IRA or individual 401k.

3. Fund an IRA for both you and your spouse/partner, if applicable. If your income renders you ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA but you still wish to do so, use the “backdoor” Roth IRA approach.(

4. Put any remaining retirement funds into a taxable mutual fund.

You may have other options, such as funding a Health Savings Account as a “stealth IRA.” Some believe in using life insurance as an investment, but I don’t recommend that. In general, after you’ve maxed out the contributions to all of your tax-advantaged accounts, you’ll have to put the rest in a regular, taxable investment account.

For some of the options above you’ll have to decide whether to pursue a Roth option (pay taxes now) or use the traditional tax-deferred approach (pay taxes when you withdraw the money in retirement). That decision will depend on your individual financial situation, current and anticipated future tax brackets, and what options your employer offers. There are many on-line calculators to help you decide this.

Using our $60,000 example from above, you would contribute $18,000 to your 403b, and then fund $5500 toward an IRA for both you and your spouse, leaving $31,000 to put into a taxable investment account. If your employer contributes to your retirement, you could also count that amount toward your $60,000 total contribution.

Step 3 – Invest Your Retirement Savings in Low Cost, No Load, Index Mutual Funds

You will have to take a look at the investments offered by your various plans and select from that menu. The principles that should guide you:

1. Favor index funds over actively managed funds. You’re investing for the long term, and over that time frame almost no actively managed funds will beat index funds. In addition, because past performance does not predict future performance, there is no way to predict which funds will beat their indexes.

2. Favor mutual funds with low expense ratios that do not charge a load. The expense ratio should be less than 1.0, preferably less than 0.5, and optimally less than 0.25. If you want to keep this really easy, just invest in Vanguard index funds as all of them meet these criteria.

3. Realize that in order to beat inflation over the long haul, you’ll likely need to invest some of your portfolio in stock index funds. What percentage you invest in stocks will depend on your time horizon, risk tolerance, and individual situation. A number of guidelines from trusted references are below:

  • Malkiel & Ellis suggest this as a conservative asset allocation:
20-30s 75-90 25-10
40-50s 65-75 35-25
60s 45-65 55-35
70s 35-50 65-50
80s+ 20-40 80-60
  • They suggest this as a more aggressive asset allocation, which is my personal favorite due to the security offered by my inflation-adjusted military pension:
20-30s 100 0
40s 90-100 10-0
50s 75-85 25-15
60s 70-80 30-20
70s 40-60 60-40
80s+ 30-50 70-50
  • John Bogle suggests, as a conservative asset allocation rule, that your percentage of assets in bonds should equal your age. In other words, at age 30 you should have 70% in stocks and 30% in bonds. A more aggressive version is to subtract 10 from your age, so at age 30 you’d have 80% in stocks and 20% in bonds.

One very easy way to let someone else make this decision for you is to pick a target date retirement fund as your investment vehicle. Many investment companies offer these. You just pick the approximate year you plan to retire – that year will likely be in the name of the fund (Target Retirement 2035, for example) – and invest in that fund. Your investments will gradually get more conservative as you age without any action on your part. Just make sure that the target date funds you have access to are composed of index funds with low expense ratios. Again, using Vanguard funds makes this a no-brainer. A target date retirement fund composed of actively managed funds with expense ratios greater than 1.0 is a target retirement fund to avoid.

To close out our running example, for your 403b you invest in the target retirement 2040 fund offered by your employer’s investment firm. For both of your IRAs and your taxable account you apply the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle, open all of them with Vanguard, and select their Target Retirement 2040 funds for all three accounts.

A simple approach like this should set you up well for retirement, and is easy enough that you can use the time you would have spent trying to manage your finances to play a little golf every now and then.

  • References

Bogle, John C. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.

Malkiel, Burton and Charles Ellis. The Elements of Investing: Easy Lessons for Every Investor. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2013.

Want to Write a Guest Post?

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As this blog/website grows in popularity (4,100 hits in just over 2 months), I think readers could really benefit from other opinions than my own.  With that in mind, I’d like to invite anyone interested to consider guest posting.  The topic could be anything related to Medical Corps career planning.  If you are interested in guest posting, use the “Contact Me” tab to pitch your idea to me.  If the idea sounds promising and you’re open to a little editorial input after you submit a draft, we can get your thoughts posted to the site for others to benefit from.

FY16 Navy Medicine Professional Development Center Training Calendar Released

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Here is the FY16 Navy Medicine Professional Development Center course calendar.  The most popular course for physicians on this list is the Advanced Medical Department Officer Course (AMDOC), which is great not only because it is a service school and therefore buffs your Officer Summary Record (OSR) for promotion boards, but because it teaches you a ton of useful information.  (Disclaimer: I’m teaching at AMDOC this Tuesday.)  The Tricare Financial Management Executive Program is another worthwhile course for senior-ish officers.  It is a 3 day peek into the world of how Navy Medicine and Tricare are financed and I learned a lot of things when I attended it.

NMPDC Course Offerings for FY16

The POC for any questions about these courses is found in Appendix VI of my promotion prep document, updated yesterday and found in the tab at the top of this page and here:

Joel Schofer’s Promo Prep Guidance – 30 JUL 2015



OIC Application Deadline Extended to 8/31/15

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This NAVADMIN extended the deadline to apply for an Officer-in-Charge (OIC) position to 8/31/15:

NAVADMIN 175-15 – FY16 OIC Application

Here is the original BUMED Note that lists the positions available and gives you all the details:


FY16 LCDR Promotion List Released

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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            

Need Your Opinion on the Blog/Website

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The blog/website has been live for about 2 months now, and I’d love some direction on how things are going.  Do you like written posts or do you prefer audio/video?  Do you prefer pure audio or video podcasts?  Do you like shorter podcasts or are longer ones okay?  Are written comments essential or are audio/video podcasts alone sufficient?  Please send any comments you have to me with the “Contact Me” tab or by commenting on this post.  Please also take this poll:

Moonlighting in the Navy

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It’s July and a whole new crop of recent residency graduates can now moonlight for the first time in their Naval careers, so here is a video podcast and blog post that discusses some of the basics of moonlighting.

Should You Moonlight?

I think the answer to this question depends on a lot of things. First, do you envision yourself working clinically when you leave the Navy? For most physicians, the answer to this question is yes, and depending on your specialty you may need to moonlight to maintain your clinical skills. We don’t always get exposed to the full scope of our specialty in the Navy. My wife is a pediatrician, and when she was on active duty I thought she had a full scope pediatric practice and did not need to moonlight to maintain her skills. As an emergency physician, though, it is rare to get exposed to the full breadth of emergency medicine in a Navy emergency department. You have to make an honest assessment of your specialty, the breadth of your Naval practice, and whether you need to moonlight to maintain your skills.

In addition, you need to figure out your motivation for moonlighting. A common motivation is to earn extra money, and that is a fine motivation, but you never want to make decisions that make you dependent on the money. You may deploy, your CO could take away your moonlighting privileges, or you could PCS somewhere where you can’t moonlight. You don’t want to be the bankrupt doctor because you bought a house you can’t afford without moonlighting.

The Navy’s Moonlighting Rules

In order to moonlight you have to get permission from your command. It is a privilege, not a right, and you can lose this privilege if you fail a PFA, don’t stay up-to-date on your training/readiness requirements, or don’t produce academically when required.

If you are going to moonlight somewhere outside of a 2 hour drive, you need to take leave. If you are flying anywhere, no matter the distance, you need to take leave. You can’t moonlight more than 16 hours/week and you need to have 6 hours of time off between clinical periods for your moonlighting job and your Naval duties. You’ll need to complete an annual attestation that says you are aware of these policies and compliant with them.

Where Should You Moonlight?

If you moonlight locally you don’t need to take leave. If you can find a clinical setting you think you’d like after your time in the Navy is complete, you can even start working toward partnership.

If you work locum tenens, you can travel and sometimes chase “the big money.” If you work enough, the locum companies will cover all of your expenses, DEA, state licenses, travel, hotel, expenses, and malpractice insurance. Because you are likely traveling to a location more than a 2 hour drive away, you’ll need to take leave.

Basic Financial Planning for Moonlighters

Moonlighting allows you to put more money in tax advantaged retirement accounts. If you’re a non-moonlighter, you’d be limited to putting $18,000/year in the TSP and $5,500/year in your IRA (based on 2015 limits). If you moonlight and get paid on a 1099 as an independent contractor, you can fund a SEP IRA or solo 401k up to $53,000/year. It is rare that you’ll hit this maximum because you can’t moonlight enough to earn the amount required to do it, but you will be able to put more away than a non-moonlighter. A SEP IRA is easier to set up than a solo 401k, but a Solo 401k allows more money to be contributed at an equivalent salary. For a great discussion on these two options, go to:

Finally, moonlighters often want to incorporate because they think it provides malpractice protection, but that is a myth. Although there may be some tax advantages to incorporating, it doesn’t protect you from professional liability or malpractice.

Contract Pitfalls

If you are going to sign a contract, you are going to need to get some professional help. You should hire a healthcare or contract attorney to review any contract you are considering. There are many issues you need to understand, including:

  • Due process or termination clauses – For what reasons can they terminate you? Are you entitled to a hearing with the medical staff before your privileges are removed or restricted?
  • Tail coverage – Does your malpractice insurance require tail coverage? If so, who is paying for it? Tail coverage is malpractice insurance that covers you after you stop working for that employer, and it can be VERY EXPENSIVE so you will want to know who is paying for it.
  • TRICARE or VA eligible patients – You can’t bill these patients as they are already entitled to your services.  This is spelled out very well in the moonlighting paperwork you will file with your command, but make sure your employer understands this.

Here are the Powerpoint slides for the video podcast below:


Basic Anatomy of a FITREP

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There is a HUGE knowledge deficit in the Medical Corps about FITREPs, which is sad when you consider that they are probably the most important document in our Naval careers.  To address this deficit I created this video podcast.  In 43 minutes you’ll know just about everything that you need to know about FITREPs.  This material is based on about 10 lectures I collected over the years and is consistent with the 2015 update of the FITREP instruction that was just released a few months ago.

Grab a FITREP to look at or start up NAVFIT98a and write your FITREP as you watch the video because it will be much easier to follow along this way.  In addition, here are the slides to download and view and the FITREP instruction:

Basic Anatomy of a FITREP

BUPERSINST 1610.10D – Navy Performance Evaluation System