war college

Detailing Update – Orders, PRDs, Resignation, Retirement, a Survey, and War College

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Here are a few notes one of the Detailers sent out yesterday:

Delayed Order Release

Due to financial constraints, no orders have been released in the last several weeks. We acknowledge this is incredibly inconvenient to our constituents. Standby for more information, we will pass it as we get it.

Expired Projected Rotation Dates (PRDs)

Many officers have PRDs that are set to expire this summer. Officers with expired PRDs are attractive targets to place in high priority OCONUS and operational billets. Please get your extension requests in ASAP.

Resignation/Retirement

Officers planning to resign or retire should have their requests in 9 months prior to their requested detachment month. Requests turned in less than 6 to 9 months prior to requested detachment will be kicked back. There were several officers extended past their obligation because they did not send their request in on time.

I recommend reading CDR Schofer’s blog post entitled “How to Resign Worry Free.”

The earliest these can be submitted is 12 months prior to requested detach date.

Survey for Officers with a 2017 PRD

If your PRD was in 2017 and you accepted PCS orders or extended, please consider completing a one minute survey to assess attitudes regarding the billet assignment process among Medical Corps officers. The survey will close June 1st.

Last year we administered a survey of Navy Medical Corps officers to assess attitudes regarding the billet assignment process. We took measures to improve the process for billets assigned in 2017 and we are administering another short survey to measure improvement. The results, available at the end of the survey, will be briefed to leadership and made public. THANK YOU!

Naval War College

PERS needs people for the August 2017 Naval War College class. Applicants must have completed Joint Professional Military Education 1. They will consider breaking orders for appropriate applicants. Please see this blog post for a War College description by a current student.

Guest Post – Got JPME?

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[Editor’s Note: The POC for anyone interested in War College is the Detailer.  A cheat sheet of all the Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) options can be found here.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, contact me here.]

By CDR Lanny Littlejohn, MC, USN (Lanny.Littlejohn < at > usnwc.edu)

I rolled out of bed at 0700 this morning to finish my paper on corruption in the Ukraine. Ukraine is currently the most corrupt country in all of Europe; its corruption destabilizes it to the point that it is subject to influence from its eastern neighbor, Russia. Russia is currently in a “hybrid” war with Ukraine, a new type of warfare that Russia has been perfecting for the past decade. The Chinese are perfecting a different type called “unrestricted” warfare. Then there is ISIS. Two months ago, I had very little insight into these issues. After finishing the paper, I went to class at the Blue Plate Diner in Newport wearing jeans, flops, and sweatshirt since it is cooling off a bit up here in RI. I have not put a uniform in quite some time. This week we have “seminar” for three hours each morning (M-Th), with the afternoons, and all of Friday, off to work on assignments. While not a walk in the park, it is different enough from medicine to serve as a well deserved breather I have enjoyed so far. You should strongly consider getting your Joint Profession Military Education (JPME) on.

Programs and Prerequisites

There are two primary programs of study at the Naval War College (NWC): the junior (JPME-1) and the senior program (JPME-2). The junior program (JPME-1) is completed as a resident or nonresident. Nonresident options include the fleet seminar program, NWC online program, and from war colleges of other services. I received my JPME-1 via the NWC online program several years ago. There is also a rare opportunity for officers at the 12-15 year mark to attend JPME-1 as a resident here [limited to O4 and below]. However, medical officers will likely need to obtain JPME-1 as a nonresident.

The senior program is via the College of Naval Warfare (CNW). Officers selected have typically completed JPME-1 and apply through their detailer at the 15-20 year mark (O5 or O6). Completion of this residency program grants a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. Accreditation is via the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

For both JPME-1 and JPME-2, there are three courses: Joint Military Operations (JMO), National Security Decision Making (NSDM), and Strategy and Policy (S&P). The main difference between the two programs is that the junior course focuses on the Tactical/Operational level and the senior course on the higher Strategic level. As a resident at the NWC, you are also required to take an elective each trimester. I just finished the Political Warfare elective – super cool.

Additional Qualifier Designations (AQDs) are awarded for JPME-1 and JPME-2. Many elective pathways also result in an AQD. So that’s three AQDs you can receive if you are an AQD collector – I know you’re out there. [And promotion boards know that these AQDs are difficult to get, unlike some of the others.]

The Environment

NWC is academia at its best. Students wear business casual so that neither service nor rank are distinguished. All services are in attendance including the Coast Guard. You will find that there are several interagency (State Department, Justice Department, CIA, etc.) students and many international students as well. There may be one lecture per week with the entire student body, but most classes are in a seminar (12 students, two instructors). My seminar includes students from Greece, Lebanon, and Singapore along with two “agency” students and six other service students. Teaching is Socratic (You know, that method you thought you would be using before receiving the letter of rejection from Harvard). Exams are essay – not multiple choice. You do not have to publish, but many of the best papers are submitted for publication. This should definitely help your Google H-index.

Follow on Assignments

Medical officers who complete JPME-2 are highly valued at the higher levels in operational medicine. This may be as a joint force command surgeon, fleet surgeon, a Pentagon tour, or in any of the various naval service operational commands. This follow-on assignment is not a requirement, however. Your Detailer and Specialty Leader will ultimately work with you on what your next assignment will be. Some have returned to the MTF after NWC only to go operational on the very next tour. Commitment after obtaining JPME-2 is two years, served concurrently with any existing obligations.

Benefits

There are several beneficiaries of a tour at the NWC. First, you and your family. Newport and surrounding vicinity is a great place to live with good schools and lots of history and activities. If you have been in the MTF for multiple tours, you may need a break so a brief sabbatical here can help recharge the batteries. You will still work hard (tons of reading and paper writing) but time structure is on your terms. Second, your specialty and our Navy. Every specialty in Navy Medicine (with rare exceptions) has elements that operationalize to support the mission of the Navy. To have the 30,000-foot strategic view of how your part comes into play is a great benefit to your specialty and service. Third, the nation needs thinkers and leaders. We all have the feeling that something has gone sideways in the last few decades. We need strong leaders who have the integrity to make the tough calls and argue for the right decisions on the national level. After you leave the naval service, this education and degree will go with you and will likely have great utility no matter how your large your future circle of influence may be.

Could a Master’s Degree Get You Promoted?

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When discussing why they failed to promote, one of the more common reasons that officers give is that they were unable to get a leadership position. When I ask them how they prepared themselves for these positions and what they did to improve their chances of getting one, they often don’t have much to say. Frankly, they didn’t do anything “extra” or above and beyond their normal duties to prepare for and get a leadership position.

Don’t be one of those officers.

The recipe for promotion is fairly simple. Superior performance in leadership positions leads to early promote (EP) fitreps, which leads to promotion. As promotion gets more difficult, the competition for leadership positions is likely to increase, and officers need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the crowd, increasing the chance they’ll get leadership positions. Obtaining a master’s degree can be one of the things that will distinguish you from other physicians and can dramatically increase the chances that you are competitive for career advancing positions.

What Kind of Degree Should You Consider Getting?

This depends on your career goals. If you want to become a leader in research or global health engagement, an area of increased focus in the Navy, you probably want to get a Master in Public Health (MPH) or similar degree. If you want to become a residency or fellowship director, a master’s degree in adult or medical education would fit the bill. If you want to become an operational leader, attending a war college would make sense. And if you want to become a clinical administrator or pursue executive medicine, obtaining a management degree, such as a Master in Business Administration (MBA), Master in Medical Management (MMM), or Master in Healthcare Administration (MHA), would make sense to me.

How Can You Get a Master’s Degree While on Active Duty?

There are many ways you can do this, but the most common include:

  1. Complete a fellowship that includes a master’s degree. Some fellowships either include or have the option of obtaining a MPH, such as the Global Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Fellowship. I also know of multiple officers who asked the Graduate Medical Education Selection Board for an additional year of fellowship to obtain a degree or simply for permission to obtain a degree alone. What are the chances this will be granted? Well I’m sure the chances change from year to year, but they are zero if you don’t ask.
  2. Complete the distance learning Executive MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School. This is how I got my MBA for the cost of books alone, and I think the program is excellent. You have to go to Monterey for 1 week at the beginning of the 2-year program, but after that all classes are held in person at remote sites via video conferencing. You have to have 2 years of time-on-station left at your current command, so you have to apply to start right after you get to a command or get a new set of orders. In addition, your CO has to sign a letter stating that you’ll get the time to attend classes once per week for 8-9 hours and that you are not slated to deploy. You can deploy once you start the program, but you can’t be on the hook when you apply.
  3. Use Navy Tuition Assistance (https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/ta_info.aspx#eligibility) to pay for a degree. The tuition rates they pay will not completely cover more expensive degrees, but every little bit helps.
  4. Apply for the Navy Career Intermission Program and take time off to get a degree.
  5. Attend a war college. Intermediate colleges are for officers who are O4 or below, while senior college is for O5 and above. If you’re interested, contact your detailer.
  6. Pay for it yourself and do it in your free time on-line or in person. One program to look into is offered by the American Association for Physician Leadership (http://www.physicianleaders.org/education/programs/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.