Senior Operational Opportunities for Summer 2016

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Here are some new opportunities.  If you are interested, contact your Detailer:

1. CTF 76 Surgeon – Medical representative to admiral’s staff currently located at White Beach, Okinawa. The medical staff includes a Medical Planner (O-4 Billet), a Task Force IDC (E-8 Billet) and a Medical Inspector (E-7 IDC based in Sasebo). Responsibilities include being ISIC for the ships within CTF 76. There are 9 total (1 LHD, 1 LPD, 2 LSDs, and 4 MCMs based in Sasebo and 1 LCC in Yokosuka). CTF 76 Surgeon is Medical OPCON to all amphibious ships transiting through the 7th Fleet AOR and aid in any MEDEVAC issues that develop while ships are transiting the AOR. The CTF 76 Surgeon is responsible for monitoring the ships’ Medical Readiness and acting as clinical supervisor for the SMOs, GMOs and IDCs. CTF 76 Surgeon has a significant role in the planning and execution of the medical aspects for wartime contingencies, Pacific theater exercises, and in the event of natural disaster, the planning and execution of the medical portion of HA/DR.

2. OIC FST-7 – FST 7 is a 16 member surgical team that deploys aboard USS BONHOMME RICHARD (BHR). The team consists of 1 Surgeon, 1 Nurse Anesthetist, 1 OR nurse, 1 ICU Nurse, 1 Family Practitioner, 1 MRCO (Medical Regulating Control Officer) and 9 Corpsmen. The OIC is responsible for the credentialing, evaluations, fitness reports and training of team members. When not underway on the ship, FST 7 is ADDU to USNH Okinawa in order to maintain their skills and proficiency in their areas of expertise. There is usually a Spring Patrol (~2 months), a Fall Patrol (~3 months) and every other year a Summer deployment to Australia. This year the Summer deployment will role into the Fall Patrol with a number very exciting port visits in between. FST7 provides emergent and resuscitative surgery for Surgical Emergencies (i.e. Acute Abdomen, Trauma, etc). With FST7 aboard, BHR acts as a Level 2 trauma center and provides ICU care and stabilization for medical as well as surgical cases.

3. CPR11 Surgeon – COMPHIBRON11 is the afloat Amphibious Ready Group Commander usually embarked on the BHR. The CPR11 Surgeon is the Senior Medical authority afloat for all ships OPCON to CPR11 as well as the embarked Marine Forces (usually 31st MEU). While aboard the BHR, CPR11 Surgeon attends operations and
intelligence briefs, and provides daily updates to the COMMODORE and MEU COMMANDER on the medical status within the ARG. The FST is TAD to the BHR and reports directly to the Ship’s SMO who in turn reports to the CPR 11 Surgeon. Often while underway the CPR11 Surgeon provides medical advice for the junior GMOs and IDCs aboard the ships within the ARG. The CPR11 Surgeon with the MRCO coordinates all MEDEVACs from ARG Shipping. CPR11 has a busy deployment schedule and participates in many 7th Fleet exercises to include PHIBLEX (Philippines), COBRA GOLD (Thailand) and Talisman Saber (Australia).


FY16 Special Pays NAVADMIN Released

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Per the BUMED Special Pays website (

8 Sep 2015:  The FY16 Medical Special Pays NAVADMIN 212/15 has been released.  FY16 Special Pay requests can now be submitted in accordance with OPNAVINST 7220.16.  Submit requests no earlier than 60 days prior to, and no later than 30 days after the effective date.   Send ALL requests and questions to the email address listed below.

Templates for submission can be found here, although your Special Pays person in PSD usually can do this for you:

Here is the NAVADMIN.  If I’m interpreting it correctly, all amounts remain the same from FY15 and can be found here, FY15 MC-DC Special Pay Implementation Guidance.

2nd Step to Financial Freedom – Get Properly Insured

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Having adequate insurance is a fundamental part of your overall financial plan and the 2nd step to financial freedom after establishing an emergency fund (perhaps it should even be 1st). It is also something that most people struggle with, as there are innumerable types of insurance with many options to choose from. At it’s most basic, insurance is a method to transfer risk from you to an insurance company, and you should only pay to transfer risks that you are not willing or able to shoulder. While insurance companies are happy to insure everyone and everything, in general you should only insure against large losses. Below is one man’s attempt to treat insurance with a “KISS” (keep it simple, stupid) approach. This post will discuss insurance that you probably need, insurance you might need, and that which you probably don’t need.


If you cannot afford the costs involved in any life scenario, then you should probably insure yourself against it.

Disability Insurance

While an emergency fund and the Navy’s disability policy can “self-insure” you against short-term disability, you may need help in the event of a long-term disability unless you are wealthy enough that you can make up the difference between your military pay, including all physician bonuses, and your disability payments, which will not reflect the higher pay of a physician. Most physicians probably rely on their higher pay, and would be pretty disappointed with the Navy and VA payments in the event of 100% disability, in which case you’d get approximately your annual/monthly basic pay.

Typically, you should obtain enough coverage to replace 60-70% of your income up to the age of 65 in the event of total disability. Ideally, the policy will cover your specific specialty as a physician, what is called “own occupation,” and will not rely on you finding alternative means of employment, such as working in a different specialty. You will also want coverage if you can only work part-time. Key components of the ideal policy include:

  • Non-cancelable – they can’t cancel your policy or raise your premiums
  • Guaranteed renewable – no medical exam is required to renew
  • Residual benefit protection – pay you part of your benefit, or “residual benefits” if you are partially disabled
  • Cost-of-living allowance – the amount you are paid is adjusted for inflation

If you think the Navy/VA disability payments would be inadequate, look for a private policy, which may be expensive and difficult to find as an active duty physician. After years of searching, I was able to get up to $2500/month of supplemental coverage from the American Medical Association. In addition, a private company called was able to get me the level of coverage I needed, although it was pretty expensive (but not as expensive as being under-insured in the event I’m disabled).

Try to reduce the expense by lengthening your “waiting” or “elimination” period. The waiting/elimination period is the amount of time you have to wait after becoming disabled until your disability payments begin. If you have a substantial emergency fund, you can lengthen your waiting/elimination period and lower your premiums. In addition, I figured it would take at least a year for the Navy to separate me if I was significantly disabled. If you don’t have a large emergency fund or you feel the Navy will move fast in the event you are disabled, you may need a shorter waiting/elimination period and will likely pay higher premiums.

Homeowner’s Insurance

You need homeowner’s insurance to protect the structure of your house, its contents, and to insure against injuries to other people or damage to other people’s property. Make sure that the contents of your home are covered for “replacement cost” and not “actual cash value.” For example, replacement cost coverage will give you $800 to replace the 3 year old laptop that was damaged, while actual cash value would only give you the $200 it is worth after 3 years. In addition, you will likely have to purchase a “floater” to cover any high-value items, such as jewelry or expensive art.

Renter’s Insurance

If you rent, you’ll need renter’s insurance to protect your belongings, but it also offers liability protection, similar to homeowner’s insurance.

Auto Insurance

You need auto insurance in case you have a serious accident and damage your car, injure yourself or others, or damage someone else’s property. Lower your rates by having a deductible on the policy that is as high as you can comfortably afford, and carefully evaluate how much collision and comprehensive coverage you need. If you are driving an older vehicle that is not worth a lot of money, paying for this coverage may not make sense.

Umbrella Liability Insurance

Umbrella liability insurance protects you in case you get sued and adds liability coverage on top of your homeowner’s, renter’s, and auto insurance. It will come in handy if your dog bites someone and they develop necrotizing fasciitis, the mailman slips and falls on your front porch and can no longer work, or a neighborhood child drowns in your pool. It is typically sold in $1 million increments and is relatively inexpensive. A $1 million dollar policy will typically run $150-300 per year. As a physician, you should have AT LEAST $1 million of coverage, and should consider up to twice your net worth.

What if you are early in your career and have very few assets? You should still have umbrella liability insurance as future wages can be garnished in some judgments against you.


Professional Liability Insurance

If you are practicing medicine outside of the Navy (moonlighting), you need professional liability insurance. (If you don’t moonlight, you don’t need it.) This insurance will cover attorney fees, expert witnesses, court costs, costs of gathering evidence, and settlements in the event you are sued.

There are two types of policies, “occurrence” and “claims-made.” Claims-made policies only cover your liability if a claim is made before the policy ends. With this type of insurance, when you leave a job you need to purchase “tail coverage” that extends your liability. Tail coverage can be expensive, and before you take a job moonlighting you need to make sure you know who is going to “pay the tail.” Occurrence policies are more expensive (and therefore less commonly offered) because they cover your liability in perpetuity and do not require a tail.

Life Insurance

“More money is wasted on life insurance than probably any other insurance product…It cannot be overemphasized that cash-value life insurance is probably one of the biggest scams around.” – Paul Sutherland in the AMA Physician’s Guide to Financial Planning (2008)

If you were to die, would anyone suffer financially? If the answer is “no,” then you don’t need life insurance. If the answer is “yes,” then you need life insurance, and probably a lot of it until you build your investment portfolio.

There are two types of life insurance. First, there are products that combine insurance with an investment account, often referred to as “cash-value” or “permanent” life insurance. Many insurance agents and companies (including USAA in my experience) will try to sell this, but it is probably not the kind of insurance you need. It does have some tax advantages, but the downside of these policies is that the insurance agent/company who sells them collects high fees. In addition, early premiums go mainly toward sales commissions and other expenses and not into your investment account.

The second type of life insurance is “term” insurance. It provides a death benefit only and does not build any cash value or serve as an investment. This is likely the only kind of life insurance that you need, and this is the type that Servicemembers Group Life Insurance or SGLI is. To quote again from the AMA’s financial planning guide, “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sticking to simple, unencumbered term life insurance – it fits 99% of insurance needs.” It is less expensive than cash-value/permanent policies and you can take the difference and invest it in a retirement account or other low-cost investment vehicle. You don’t need an insurance agent to purchase this and should simply try,,,, or other similar websites. Both USAA and Navy Mutual Aid Association (and other companies you can find in Navy Times) offer military-focused term life policies.

When you buy term insurance, ensure that it is renewable without a medical examination. You can also consider decreasing term insurance, where the death benefit progressively decreases. As you age, the need for life insurance typically declines as dependents age and your investment portfolio grows. Eventually you will need no life insurance at all, which is why many arguments for “permanent” life insurance should fall on deaf ears.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Sometimes called “nursing home insurance,” this is usually purchased by people over the age of 50 to pay for nursing or at-home care. If you are under 50, you should probably purchase disability insurance instead of long-term care insurance.

The rates and terms of these policies are highly variable, and whether you want to get one is an individual decision. The earlier you purchase it, the cheaper it is, but the total money you’ll pay out over the life of the policy is obviously higher. If you are a successful investor, as a physician you will probably have enough assets to self-insure in the event you need prolonged care, so I would suggest that most will not need this, but circumstances and goals obviously vary, so it is something to consider. If it is important to you that your nest egg is passed to your heirs, you may want to consider this insurance so it is not passed to a nursing home instead.

Flood Insurance

Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance do not cover flood damage. To find out if your home is at risk of a flood, go to There you can also find out information about the government’s low-cost flood insurance programs.

Earthquake Insurance

If you live in an area at risk for earthquakes, you’ll need earthquake insurance in addition to your homeowner’s insurance. California’s earthquake website,, is a good place to start.


Supplemental Medical/Health Insurance

TRICARE has got you covered here, and there is no need to consider supplemental insurance until you retire.

Life Insurance for Children

While you will be sad if one of your children dies, you do not rely on his/her income; therefore you are unlikely to need life insurance for children. The same thing is likely true for a spouse/partner who does not have a job, unless you would need money to replace the childcare he/she provides.

Rental Car Collision Insurance (Loss Damage Waiver)

They always ask if you want collision insurance or a “loss damage waiver” when you rent a car, but a lot of auto insurance policies automatically cover your rental cars. In addition, some credit cards provide this too if you use their card to pay for the rental car, which is one reason you have to use your government credit card for officially authorized rental cars. Make sure you find out if your policy or credit cards have this before you step up to the rental car counter and are put on the spot.

Flight Accident Insurance

If you need life insurance, buy it. Don’t buy insurance on a whim when purchasing tickets in the off chance that your plane goes down.

Travel Insurance

This is a common credit card benefit when you use them to pay for your trip, so check with your credit card company. Even if you don’t have it, it is unlikely to be worth your money for domestic flights.

Credit Protection Insurance

This is designed to protect your credit by insuring your credit card or mortgage payments in the event you become unemployed, disabled, or dead. If you have life or disability insurance, this is probably unnecessary.

Extended Warranties

Most products that offer extended warranties are not costly enough to insure with an extended warranty. If the new TV happens to break shortly after the warranty expires, you’ll probably be able to afford a new one. Most of these offers are a waste of your money.


Insurance companies occasionally go under, so you want to make sure that you only get insurance from quality companies with strong financials and that you diversify your larger policies. You can find information on the finances of insurance companies from,,, and (NOTE: most of the sites require you to register to access their ratings). For example, if you need $2 million in life insurance, you should strongly consider diversifying and getting 2-3 different policies from various companies.

O5/O6 Leadership Opportunities for Summer 2016

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Below are multiple opportunities for CDRs and CAPTs.  The POC for anyone interested in any of these opportunities is your Detailer:

  • Multiple USMC leadership opportunities are available in summer 2016.  Requirements include at least 1 prior successful FMF tour (FMFWO preferred), a track record of successful leadership roles, and no recent BCA/PFA failures (currently meets USMC fitness/uniform standards).  Interested officers need to be eligible to PCS in Summer 2016.  Anyone interested should send their CV and military bio to their Detailer by COB September 2nd:
USMC Medical Corps Leadership
Billet Date of Position Turnover
HQMC Health Services
Deputy Director Health Services, HQMC Jul 2016
Director of Clinical Programs Jul 2016
Director of Public Health Jul 2016
II Marine Expeditionary Force
2d MLG Surgeon Jul 2016
2d Marine Division Surgeon Jul 2016
I Marine Expeditionary Force
I MEF Surgeon Jul 2016
1st Mar Division Surgeon Jul 2016
3d Marine Air Wing Surgeon Jan 2016
III Marine Expeditionary Force
3rd Marine Division Surgeon Jul 2016
1st Marine Aircraft Wing Surgeon Jul 2016
  • The Director, Defense Health Agency (DHA) requests Service nominations to fill the 0-6 level position of Chief of Staff, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH).  The position resides in the National Capital Region Medical Directorate (NCR MD) and the officer reports to the Director, FBCH.  The duty station is Fort Belvoir, VA.  The selected officer should plan to arrive in July 2016.  Selected individual is expected to serve in the position for a minimum of 2 years from date of arrival at the DHA NCR MD.  Anyone interested should send their CV and military bio to their Detailer by COB September 14th.

1st Step to Financial Freedom – Establishing an Emergency Fund

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Bad things happen to good people. Houses burn down or flood. Cars get totaled. Physicians are served unexpected divorce papers. Extended family members get huge medical bills that they can’t pay. You need to prepare for these unlikely but unanticipated events by keeping 3-6 months of living expenses in conservative investments that you can access in an emergency.

While most people recommend you accumulate an emergency fund, nothing is ever straightforward in the world of finance, and even something as bread-and-butter as an emergency fund can be controversial. Below are the aggressive and conservative approaches to establishing an emergency fund.

The Conservative Approach

There are many places you can park your emergency cushion. Savings or checking accounts are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insured and offer immediate access to your money, even via ATMs. The downside is that the historic yield on these investments usually does not keep up with inflation, so you lose purchasing power over the long haul. Money market mutual funds are the most recommended place to park your emergency reserves as they offer higher returns and allow you to write checks above certain amounts (commonly $250 or $500), giving you immediate access to the funds when you need them. Unfortunately, the yields on money funds are at a historical low and not consistent with their approximate 3% historical average that would normally keep pace with inflation. Keeping emergency money in certificates of deposit is probably not a great idea, as you’ll pay a penalty if you access the money early.

Not all savings accounts or money funds are the same, and if you shop around you can find a better deal. For accounts offered by banks, check As I write this, the yield on savings and money market accounts ranges from 0.05% to 1.01%. For money market mutual funds, which are not FDIC insured but are almost as safe, check mutual fund companies. Commonly recommended company websites include,,,, or (my favorite). Important things to look for are the minimum initial investment, the smallest amount you can write a check for, and the expense ratio (the lower the better). If you find yourself in a higher tax bracket, usually 33% or higher, it may make sense to use a tax-exempt money market fund that invests in tax-free state and municipal bonds. These tax-exempt funds may offer a higher after tax return, and some are targeted to the residents of particular states and offer state tax benefits as well. The mutual fund companies can usually help you decide which of their products is best for you.

The Aggressive Approach

The aggressive approach is to keep a smaller amount in reserve, 1-3 months of living expenses for example, and invest it more aggressively. You could keep 1/3rd of it in a money market fund, but the other 2/3rds could be invested in a stock or bond fund or some combination of the two that will yield a higher return. This will allow your emergency fund to grow as your income grows, possibly reaching the recommended 6 months of living expenses or more. If you need more cash than what is in your emergency fund, a physician can usually borrow the money by using a home equity loan, for example, or a credit card. Credit cards, obviously, have higher interest rates, but this is an aggressive approach and you probably won’t have to borrow any money at all.

What Should You Actually Do?

Only you can decide what is right for you. For example, as Navy physicians we all have full medical insurance for our whole family through Tricare, and have as much job security as any physician can have. I’m not getting fired (or at least I don’t think I am). As a result, my emergency fund usually resides in the low end of the 3-6 month range, as there are very few emergencies I expect to have to deal with. On the other hand, if I was a civilian and worked as an independent contractor, provided my own health insurance, and felt that my contract could be reduced or eliminated at any time, I’d probably have 6 months of living expenses (and maybe more) providing a more substantial cushion.

Whether you take a conservative or aggressive approach or somewhere in between, what is clear beyond a doubt is that you and your significant others need to come up with a plan for emergencies that makes sense for you and allows you to sleep at night.

March 2016 Naval Postgraduate School Executive MBA NAVADMIN

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I completed this degree and can answer any questions related to it. In brief, you go to class at a remote site 1 day per week for 2 years. It is free except for the cost of books, and takes about 10-20 hours/week of work in addition to class time. You have to go to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA for the first week, but that is the only required on-site time. In order to apply, you have to have 2 years of time on station left from the day you start the program. In addition, your CO has to sign a letter that indicates he/she is willing to give you the time to complete the program and that you are unlikely to deploy during those 2 years. Because of all of these stipulations, essentially you have to apply after arriving at a new duty station or just after getting retoured. If you are in a specialty with frequent deployments, you should have recently deployed. The commitment if you sign up is 3 additional years from the time you quit or complete the program. This commitment has no effect on your medical special pays. The NAVADMIN for the next class is here:

R 171519Z AUG 15
RMKS/1.  This NAVADMIN announces application procedures for the March 2016
distance learning Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program.
The program will be taught in the fleet concentration areas (Norfolk,
Washington, DC, and San Diego) and other eligible sites.
2.  The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) defense-focused EMBA is a 24-month,
fully-funded, part-time graduate program focused on resource management.  The
program prepares middle to senior grade active-duty officers, lieutenant
commander (select) and above, whose career paths do not support in-resident
graduate education.
3.  The program begins with a one-week temporary additional duty (TAD)
resident program at the NPS campus in Monterey, CA.  Official travel orders
and funding for TAD travel will be provided by the student's parent command.
If command funding is not available, students may fund their own travel and
utilize no-cost TAD orders from their command.  During resident week,
students will take a two-credit hour course in managing teams.  Additionally,
students will interact with the faculty who will be teaching throughout the
program and master the skills required to learn via distance learning
methods.  The NPS program is scheduled for the week of 22-26 February 2016.
A block of rooms have been reserved at Navy Lodge, Monterey, CA for
attendees.  Optionally, the NPS bachelor officer quarters on campus may be
utilized on a space available basis.  Transportation by bus will be provided
to and from the Navy Lodge for daily classes on the NPS campus to minimize
TAD costs.
4.  NPS faculty use video teleconferencing (VTC), internet, and other
distance learning modes to teach the follow-on courses. Students meet in VTC-
capable classrooms once a week during normal duty hours for six to seven
hours of instruction, taking two classes per quarter for eight quarters.
Students enter the EMBA program as a cohort and will take all courses
together as a learning team (minimum five personnel).  All students must
recognize that attending classes with their respective cohort is mandatory to
complete the degree requirements.  VTC instruction will begin during the week
of 28 March 2016.
5.  Eligibility requirements include an undergraduate degree from a
regionally accredited 4-year college or university, academic profile code of
245 (2.6 grade point average or higher on a 4 point scale) and 2 precalculus
courses with a grade average of B or better.  A commanding officer
endorsement letter is required to participate in the program.  Department
head or similar mid-level management experience and strong potential for
promotion are preferred. Participants must have a projected rotation date no
earlier than March 2018.  The Graduate Management Admission Test is not
6.  Graduates will be awarded an EMBA degree from NPS and the Navy
subspecialty code 3100P, Financial Management Defense Focus.  Per reference
(a), officers participating in this program must agree to remain on active
duty following completion of graduate studies for a period of three years.
This obligation is discharged concurrently with any other service obligation
already incurred.  This agreement does not obligate the Navy to retain the
officer on active duty.
7.  Officers interested in the EMBA program can visit the NPS EMBA home page
for detailed eligibility and application process information.  Deadline for
the application process is no later than 18 December 2015.  The EMBA program
homepage can be found at
8.  Point of contact is the NPS EMBA program office and they can be reached
at (831) 656-2562/DSN 756, or fax at (831) 656-3630/DSN 756, or via e-mail at
9.  This message will remain in effect until superseded or 30 June 2016,
whichever occurs first.
10.  Released by Vice Admiral W. F. Moran, N1.//

FY16 LCDR Promotion Board Stats

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Here are the overall stats.  Keep in mind that the promotion opportunity was 100%, meaning that all fully qualified candidates could have been selected for promotion:

ABOVE ZONE 11 5 45.45%
IN ZONE 212 198 93.40%
BELOW ZONE 473 5 1.06%


Here they are broken down by specialty:

FLT SRG 34 27 79.41% 0 0 N/A 115 0 0.00%
RAM 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
ANESTH 8 8 100.00% 1 0 0.00% 2 0 0.00%
SURG 7 7 100.00% 1 0 0.00% 14 0 0.00%
NEURO SURG 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 1 0 0.00%
OB GYN 4 4 100.00% 0 0 N/A 18 1 5.56%
GMO 40 34 85.00% 2 1 50.00% 96 1 1.04%
OPHTH 2 2 100.00% 0 0 N/A 5 0 0.00%
ORTHO 8 8 100.00% 0 0 N/A 10 0 0.00%
OTO 3 3 100.00% 0 0 N/A 4 1 25.00%
URO 4 4 100.00% 0 0 N/A 2 0 0.00%
PREV MED 1 1 100.00% 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
OCC MED 2 2 100.00% 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
PHYS MED 0 0 #DIV/0! 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
PATH 2 2 100.00% 0 0 N/A 4 0 0.00%
DERM 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 1 0 0.00%
EMERG 10 10 100.00% 0 0 N/A 12 0 0.00%
FAM PRAC 26 25 96.15% 3 1 33.33% 57 2 3.51%
INT MED 18 18 100.00% 2 2 100.00% 42 0 0.00%
NEURO 1 1 100.00% 0 0 N/A 1 0 0.00%
UMO 14 14 100.00% 1 0 0.00% 40 0 0.00%
PEDS 16 16 100.00% 1 1 100.00% 28 0 0.00%
NUC MED 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
PSYCH 9 9 100.00% 0 0 N/A 17 0 0.00%
DIAG RAD 3 3 100.00% 0 0 N/A 4 0 0.00%
RAD ONC 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A
TOTAL 212 198 93.40% 11 5 45.45% 473 5 1.06%

FY16 Courses, Updated Promo Prep, and MC Career Roadmap

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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

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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.