Final FY19 Promotion List is Out – What is the Obligation for Accepting Promotion? What if You Don’t Want the Promotion?
The final FY19 promotion list is out (with my name on it), so it seemed appropriate to answer a few promotion related questions:
Question: What is the obligation for accepting promotion?
Answer: There is no obligation if you end up resigning. If you want to retire, though, the additional obligation is:
- 2 years for LCDR
- 3 years for CDR and CAPT
This can all be found on page 5 of OPNAVINST 1811.3A. Or you can read one of my other posts called “You were accepted for promotion to O5 or O6 – should you accept it?” where I break it all down for you.
Question: What if you want to decline the promotion? The promotion NAVADMIN tells you how to decline it in paragraph 2:
2. If a selected officer does not decline promotion in writing prior to the
projected date of rank (noted above in paragraph 1), that officer is
considered to have accepted the promotion on the date indicated. An officer
who chooses to decline promotion must submit the declination in writing to
COMNAVPERSCOM (PERS-806) within 30 days of the release of this NAVADMIN.
You can see the whole FY21 board schedule on this page, but here are the medically relevant ones:
- Active O-8 Staff – 11-Sep-2019
- Active O-7 Staff – 16-Sep-2019
- Medical Service Corps In-service Procurement – 9-Oct-2019
- Reserve O-8 Staff – 30-Oct-2019
- Reserve O-7 Staff – 4-Nov-2019
- Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP) – 6-Nov-2019
- Nurse Corps Duty Under Instruction (DUINS) – 4-Dec-2019
- Active O-6 Staff – 4-Feb-2020
- Reserve O-6 Staff – 25-Feb-2020
- Reserve O-5 Staff – 25-Feb-2020
- Active O-5 Staff – 24-Mar-2020
- Active O-4 Staff – 12-May-2020
- Reserve O-4 Staff – 8-Jun-2020
- Medical Dept Career Milestone Screen – 22-Jul-2020
- Medical Dept Command Screen – 22-Jul-2020
- MSC DUINS – 16-Sep-2020
Here are the statistics for the recent LCDR promotion board and some notes from BUMED:
- 4 in zone individuals were auto-deferred due to having been on active duty less than a year.
- 90.5% of the in zone group were selected; the vast majority of those who were not selected had approved resignations.
- There were 6 above zone and 18 below zone selections. 7 of those 18 below zone selects were in General Medical Officer, Flight Surgery, or Undersea Medical Officer billets.
UNCLASSIFIED// ROUTINE R 071400Z AUG 19 FM SECNAV WASHINGTON DC TO ALNAV INFO SECNAV WASHINGTON DC CNO WASHINGTON DC CMC WASHINGTON DC BT UNCLAS ALNAV 058/19 MSGID/GENADMIN/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC/-/AUG// SUBJ/FY-20 ACTIVE-DUTY NAVY LIEUTENANT COMMANDER STAFF SELECTIONS// REF/A/DOC/SECNAV/11JAN19// AMPN/REF A IS THE FY-20 ACTIVE-DUTY NAVY LIEUTENANT COMMANDER STAFF PROMOTION SELECTION BOARD CONVENING ORDER.// RMKS/1. I am pleased to announce the following Staff Officers on the Active- Duty List selected for permanent promotion to the grade of Lieutenant Commander. 2. This message is not authority to deliver appointments. Authority to effect promotion will normally be issued by future NAVADMINS requiring NAVPERS 1421/7 preparation and forwarding of the document to PERS-806. 3. Frocking is not authorized for any officer listed below until specific authorization is received per SECNAVINST 1420.2B. 4. For proper alphabetical order read from left to right on each line. The numbers following each name to the right indicate the relative seniority among selectees within each competitive category. Note: An (*) by the name indicates the selectee was merit reordered to the top of the promotion list in accordance with reference (a). Members are directed to verify their select status via BUPERS Online. Medical Corps Algiers Timothy James 0129 Allan Elizabeth Jean 0135 Anderson Christine Lee 0127 Anderson Erik Lundberg 0054 Annis Heather 0040 Awodele Elizabeth Ann 0018 Baldeshwiler Mark J 0089 Banaag Shanley Hughes 0209 Barnett Patrick M 0137 Barrett Laura Danielle 0200 Beale Peter Alexander 0061 Beck Justin Lee 0210 Beckmann Robert C 0053 Beer Joshua Robert 0217 Berner Sara Beth 0012 Bessolo Andrew Michael 0132 Beyer Patrick Thomas 0172 Bianchi William David 0227 Biberston Jeffrey D 0138 Bond Emily Alison 0214 Booth Gregory James 0184 Bowen Michael Patrick 0058 Bradley Anthony S Jr 0023 Brawner Christopher M 0056 Brown Gary Orian 0192 Buel Katie Lauren 0190 Cannon Kathleen Ann 0083 Cayce Thomas Elliott 0049 Chauvin Meagan G 0201 Checchi Kyle Douglas 0047 Chece John Thomas 0006 Childers Benjamin Alan 0150 Clerc Jacqueline Gail 0078 Cole Jacob Henry 0252 Collins Jeannette R 0204 Cooper Ryan Thomas 0149 Cordes Mitchel F 0032 Costantoth Camille B 0097 Dear Thomas Augustus 0105 Decicco Joseph Daniel 0033 Desantis Kristin Marie 0126 Devore Charlotte E 0029 Deyoung Tracey H 0242 Dimond Leilani Lee 0088 Dombroski Eric Frank 0101 Donoughe John Scott 0008 Doudt Alexander Daniel 0087 Drayer Sara Marie 0240 Dugar Brandon Campbell 0072 Earley James Patrick 0151 Elliott Emily Jerniga 0243 Erdle Nicholas James 0106 Ernstsignore Elizabeth 0102 Eubanks Joshua David 0080 Ewing Christopher Kane 0017 Fang Ashley Lynn 0216 Fayos Zane Allyn 0142 Fehringer Adam Joseph 0236 Fenton Ronald C 0146 Fernicola Stephen D 0177 Fiore Benjamin Dylan 0130 Ford Alexandra Laine 0090 Fortner Grady A 0107 Freund Brin Etan 0016 Gambrell Justin Blake 0229 Garrett Andrew Robert 0235 Geddes Cody Michael 0231 Geurin Joel Preston 0206 Goold Michael Prince 0093 Gorman John Dunham 0232 Gosselin Michelle M 0024 Gosztyla Carolyn Emma 0114 Gould Allison Anne 0164 Grady Derek William 0144 Graf Andrew Clifford 0118 Granda Christopher S 0228 Gray Carrie Nicole 0073 Greenwald John Addison 0156 Griffis Clare Ellen 0128 Grim Andrew Ward 0079 Grounds Benjamin Eric 0179 Gurley Jessica Anne 0185 Gutierrez Lino A III 0022 Hamilton Ross Michael 0094 Harris Christopher W 0159 Harrison Kathryn Mary 0125 Hasson Ryan James 0136 Heig Todd W 0007 Held Jenny Michelle 0062 Heller Johnathan M 0034 Hendy Dylan Michael 0021 Hildreth Amy Follmer 0020 Hill Steven Michael 0085 Hill Susan Elena 0140 Hornacek Michael W 0123 House Tyler Bernard 0178 Houskamp Daniel John 0043 Hru Jessica Mahela 0113 Hughes Charlotte K 0121 Hughes Chase Andrew 0239 Hurdiss Sean Michael 0041 Hyman Leslie Jared 0213 James William F III 0038 James Kay Louise 0152 Johnson Andrew Steven 0050 Johnson Cody Reid 0202 Johnson William Rainey 0247 Jones Brendan Adam 0195 Jones Heather Louise 0092 Joseph Shane Paul 0133 Kim Cecilia Jung Ah 0175 Kitz Robert Joseph 0109 Kopp Jason Allen 0031 Kosmach Sterling N 0188 Kramer Todd Raymond 0193 Krepela Alyssa Leigh A 0173 Kucera Walter Bailey 0181 Kurth Benjamin James 0168 Landvater Jeremy Ray 0212 Lane Kelsey White 0064 Lavin Shane Thomas 0165 Lecourt Amarateedha P 0103 Lesko Joshua David 0246 Liddell Daniel Patrick 0244 Light Michael Lee II 0158 Lindsey Matthew C 0011 Litwin Aileen Joanna G 0067 Long James Owen 0111 Lovoi John Edward 0082 Lowery Matthew Joseph 0211 Mackey Meagan Orourke 0015 Madison Kristan E 0154 Maldonado Paul Anthony 0208 Manners Jody Lynne 0180 Marinides Zoe Olga 0183 Mcdevitt Joshua M 0234 Mcdowell Caroline M 0009 Mcevoy Christian S 0153 Mcguire Morgan Michael 0245 Mciver Ian James 0205 Mckinley Joseph Landon 0010 Mcneese Safiya D 0161 Mellor Thomas Edward 0169 Meyer Charles Deblois 0027 Mikals Kyle Arthur 0134 Ming Gerald 0124 Moon Patrick Sung Gook 0131 Morgan Lisa Lin 0241 Mullinix Patrick C 0057 Murnan Sean David 0248 Murphy Erin Alexis 0224 Myers Ryan Christopher 0037 Myers Shawn Michael 0221 Naymick Stephen A II 0207 Nguyen Alexandre D 0116 Nguyen Tuongvi Dang 0098 Nichols Christina E 0112 Noritake Alana Rae 0074 Norris Emily Ann 0060 Oliver David Scott 0249 Olsen Meredith Lutz 0187 Olsen Aaron Arthur 0197 Paloian Russell Joseph 0191 Park Jesse Aaron 0052 Paul Lauren Ashley 0220 Peacock Andrew Pringle 0115 Pelka Bryan Michael 0120 Perry Nicholas Peter J 0160 Pesqueira Jason M 0039 Peters John Daniel 0199 Petersen Kevin Thomas 0026 Pickett Maryanne Louis 0066 Pinches Helene Marie 0176 Plyler Sarah Elizabeth 0084 Porter Ian Michael 0048 Preston Ryan Kelburne 0095 Quacinella Michael A 0233 Rauschnot James C Jr 0225 Ray Mary Elizabeth 0059 Remick Stephen Robert 0025 Robinson Sara L 0155 Rose Thomas J 0100 Ross Heather Anne 0077 Rubado Eric Chad 0030 Salazar Alexander J 0071 Sanders Henry Sinclair 0003 Sanders Terrel 0065 Sarran Lauren C 0186 Schiavone Kaitlyn M 0219 Schwan Rory Daniel 0222 Schwer Ryan Peter 0145 Sears Stephen Carver 0108 Serpico Eric Joseph 0171 Shiv Erin Nichole 0163 Short Tyler Kent 0237 Sikes Michael Andrew 0035 Sing Derek Cheng Yung 0117 Slama Richard Eugene 0226 Smith Benjamin Thomas 0194 Spellman Kelli Rae 0070 Stark Michael David 0119 Stclair Jesse W IV 0198 Steele Clarence E 0143 Stefanowicz Jessica A 0189 Stockton Jon David 0046 Stottlemyre Morgan G 0148 Suggs Laura Caitlin 0215 Syski Andrew Lawrence 0081 Taillon Carolyn Edson 0157 Tam Tiffany Joy 0162 Teruya Kara Keiko 0086 Thomas Matthew Scott 0174 Tingzon Marlon Q 0230 Tompkins Brett Lowell 0091 Trainer Donald Ray 0036 Trentacosta Robert J 0253 Underbrink Troy P 0099 Verga Jared Michael 0218 Voss Ashley E 0196 Wackowski Gillian R 0223 Waggoner John Patrick 0005 Walker Karrie Anne B 0238 Wannemacher Nicholas Q 0096 Wasmund Joshua Brandon 0203 Weber Christopher Joel 0166 Weber Michael Conrad 0051 Weipert Michael James 0004 Weiss Merissa Ida A 0042 Weisse Angela Marie 0045 Wiemholt Edward B III 0141 Wiles Brittany Lynne 0182 Williams Barbara Jean 0122 Williams Jason Tyler 0028 Williamson Ryan Alan 0139 Wilson Davida E Y 0075 Wilson Benjamin Tsuba 0110 Wilson Matthew James 0063 Winslow Andrew Warren 0014 Wong Joshua Bryant 0055 Wray Jason 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0007 Mcmahon Christopher C 0005 Portzer Joelle C 0026 Preis Ann Vodhanel 0034 Rausa Nicholas Joseph 0008 Sadhwani Alvir Ashok 0012 Santamaria Frank R 0027 Schwartau Jennifer H 0017 Scott Andrew Joyce 0031 Siladi Jonathan F 0038 Smith Adam Christopher 0009 Smith Karen Malia 0021 Solis Spenser Daniel 0040 Sonson Vincent Joseph 0019 Stamper Lucianna H* 0002 Wooten Sara Jane 0015 Nurse Corps Aclese Ashley A 0070 Aranas Leonard N 0010 Argoncillo Kenneth B 0060 Barba Michelle 0066 Bartle Samantha L 0087 Beatty Stephanie Ann 0093 Bene Amy Lynn 0038 Boeder Katherine Mae 0018 Bonair Lauren E 0092 Braiotta Danielle M 0050 Caltagirone Megan Ann 0034 Carter James Nolan II 0057 Chiong Marie Frances N 0075 Clardy Katelin E 0067 Connell Christopher C 0020 Coronado Calina Marie 0021 Craft Ananda D 0097 Cross Mark Edward II 0030 Curry Candyce Marie 0102 Czarzasty Devon R 0052 Czubernat Lisa Suzanne 0026 Davis Shantel R 0023 Dougherty Shannon Lee 0071 Duarte Samira L 0037 Dunston Shaun David 0044 Ebili Patrick O 0008 Fears Burnetta F 0099 Fink Angelica Monique 0094 Fitzgerald Matthew D 0079 Foster Katelyn Ann 0078 Fowler Molly Eileen 0051 Frasure Sarah An 0059 Gallegos Tasha 0022 Gay Zebulon Daniel 0076 Giampaoli Agustin E 0054 Gibson Brandi Lynn 0025 Godfrey Chelsea R 0080 Gunter Larry Alton II 0061 Harper Kara Lynn 0007 Hays Kierstin Anne May 0040 Hendricks Michael Ryan 0082 Hennen Bryan Timothy 0077 Holmstrom Megan P 0017 Horigan Stephanie M 0058 Howell Jessica Rose 0095 Howell Krystal Mary 0064 Jackson Ruby Luz 0074 Jenkins Breda Helen* 0004 Kennovin Amanda Jill 0036 Kuelz Amanda Allison 0009 Kuhn Paul Eugene 0062 Latimer Emily Rose 0039 Lau Tiffany 0053 Lo Jennifer R 0063 Louk Sarah U 0046 Ludlow Clint Galen 0011 Mamaril Eugene E 0048 Mcgill Jesse Jordan* 0005 Mcginnis Tiffany C 0098 Miller Kathryn Ann 0072 Mix Lizetteanne C 0049 Morris Tameka Latoya 0033 Murphy Susan Ann 0029 Nguyen Billy Argus 0065 Njoroge Anthony N 0014 Oates Julianne Rose* 0003 Odriscoll Lisa Marie 0086 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Wiesman Michael Andrew 0045 Wilson Richard James 0069 Zamudio Michael Tyler 0065 Zheng Lin Lin 0040 Chaplain Corps Amora Eduardo Beritos 0013 Bayer Adam Edward 0022 Carlson Kristian L 0020 Downey David Douglas 0019 Grady Christopher R 0008 Hart Jason Ryan 0021 Hickman Joshua Wade 0016 Jean Wilking* 0002 Johnson Klint Arley 0017 Kirschenbaum Brian J* 0001 Maloney Jonathon Ray 0014 Martin David Robert 0011 Murphy Mario Kenyon 0007 Owen Jason Douglas 0012 Peterson David Aaron* 0003 Porter Jason Thomas 0023 Rodgers Paul Benjamin 0006 Russell Keith Alan 0005 Shaw Jason J 0009 Tambur David Allen 0010 Warren Yonatan Moshe 0018 Williams Roilynn K 0015 Woodard Gregory Scot 0004 Civil Engineer Corps Acosta Ramon 0021 Anderson Andrew B 0030 Berube Jonathan Paul 0033 Blauwiekel Joseph P 0029 Bly Joshua Patrick 0036 Castin Jonathan L 0023 Cotherman Andrew James 0014 Depersia Raul Roberto 0006 Durnan Patrick Emmett 0034 Eldred Daniel Robert 0031 Erwin Mark Russell 0025 Fletcher William T 0017 Greunke Justin T 0032 Hernandez Robert G 0013 Huber Elizabeth A* 0004 Huls Donald Allen 0007 Kaiser John Michael 0009 Kiel Jason Douglas 0015 Kim Jonathan J 0012 Korpi Andrew K 0024 Krushinski Kristen 0005 Laycock Ronald Barton* 0003 Mcguire Jonathan David* 0001 Mitsch Michael Gregory 0011 Painter Kevin T 0038 Palik Timothy Sean 0027 Payne Daniel Y 0026 Pouliot John Joseph 0020 Renoewick Celeste D 0010 Rovinsky Alexander Jr 0028 Sims Corinne Ann 0035 Stock Thomas Ryan* 0002 Trejo Vincent 0019 Uglow Ronald J 0018 Webb Samuel David 0008 Weber Morgan Charles 0022 White Casie Marie 0037 Yu Sen Feng 0016 Limited Duty Officer (Staff) Catanese Matthew W 0003 Glover Grant Cassidy* 0001 5. Released by the Honorable Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy.// BT #0001 NNNN UNCLASSIFIED//
When discussing why they failed to promote, one of the more common reasons that officers give is that they were unable to get a leadership position. When I ask them how they prepared themselves for these positions and what they did to improve their chances of getting one, they often don’t have much to say. Frankly, they didn’t do anything “extra” or above and beyond their normal duties to prepare for and get a leadership position.
Don’t be one of those officers.
The recipe for promotion is fairly simple. Superior performance in leadership positions leads to early promote (EP) fitreps, which leads to promotion. As promotion gets more difficult, the competition for leadership positions is likely to increase, and officers need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the crowd, increasing the chance they’ll get leadership positions. Obtaining a master’s degree can be one of the things that will distinguish you from other physicians and can dramatically increase the chances that you are competitive for career advancing positions.
What Kind of Degree Should You Consider Getting?
This depends on your career goals. If you want to become a leader in research or global health engagement, an area of increased focus in the Navy, you probably want to get a Master in Public Health (MPH) or similar degree. If you want to become a residency or fellowship director, a master’s degree in adult or medical education would fit the bill. If you want to become an operational leader, attending a war college would make sense. And if you want to become a clinical administrator or pursue executive medicine, obtaining a management degree, such as a Master in Business Administration (MBA), Master in Medical Management (MMM), or Master in Healthcare Administration (MHA), would make sense to me.
How Can You Get a Master’s Degree While on Active Duty?
There are many ways you can do this, but the most common include:
- Complete a fellowship that includes a master’s degree. Some fellowships either include or have the option of obtaining a MPH, such as the Global Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Fellowship. I also know of multiple officers who asked the Graduate Medical Education Selection Board for an additional year of fellowship to obtain a degree or simply for permission to obtain a degree alone. What are the chances this will be granted? Well I’m sure the chances change from year to year, but they are zero if you don’t ask.
- Complete the distance learning Executive MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School. This is how I got my MBA for the cost of books alone, and I think the program is excellent. You have to go to Monterey for 1 week at the beginning of the 2-year program, but after that all classes are held on-line.
- Apply for the Navy Career Intermission Program and take time off to get a degree.
- Attend a war college. Intermediate colleges are for officers who are O4 or below, while senior college is for O5 and above. If you’re interested, contact your Detailer.
- USUHS offers a Master in Health Professions Education.
- Pay for it yourself and do it in your free time on-line or in person. One program to look into is offered by the American Association for Physician Leadership (https://www.physicianleaders.org/education/physicians/masters). By taking some CME you can then enroll in various patient safety and management degrees that are all physician focused. The on-line University of Massachusetts healthcare focused MBA that they offer is the most reasonably priced MBA that I could find that is accredited by the top business school accreditation body. If you want a fast MBA (but pricey), look into the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA program (http://pemba.utk.edu).
While committing to a master’s degree program will take major time and effort, that is the point. It is a well-recognized way to demonstrate to the Navy that you’ve made a serious commitment to your professional development and could go a long way toward giving your next interview for a leadership position.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
So who actually promotes to O5 and O6? In general, the officer who promotes is:
- Board certified.
- 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.
So what do you do if you were passed over and 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) 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.
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/Associate Residency Director
- Department Head at a small/medium sized MTF
- Senior Medical Officer or Medical Director
- Chair of a hospital committee
- MEC 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)
- MEC President
- Division, Group, or Wing Surgeon
- CATF Surgeon
- Specialty Leader
- Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
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.
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.
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!
Throwback Thursday Classic Post – Is Commander the New Terminal Rank? (And Other O6 Promotion Board Takeaways)
(2019 Note – This is one of the most popular posts on the blog and helped put it on the map. Since the FY16 O6 promotion opportunity of 50% when it was published in 2015, we’ve seen an uptrend:
- FY17 – 70% promotion opportunity – 34% in zone selection rate
- FY18 – 80% – 37%
- FY19 – 90% – 41%
- FY20 – 81% – 51%
That said, much of what I said in 2015 is still very true. Enjoy!)
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:
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. (Only FY20 got over 50%, and barely at 51%.)
- 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 obtained 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 where 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 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.