Today, we will start with the basics: setting up an ADT rotation. All members of HPSP are required to do at least 1 ADT rotation during their 4th year. This rotation is designed to give you exposure to the specialty on a military base, exposure to the base and the surrounding areas and to give program directors a chance to evaluate you and your fit in the program. You may have heard of these rotations referred to as auditions or sub-internships.
Deciding on a Speciality
The one downside to an early match day is that everything else if moved forward as well. I remember calling in to a HPSP teleconference in November of my 3rd year and was stunned when we were informed that we should’ve already contacted the programs we were applying to. I was only on my 5th rotation and had no idea of what specialty I wanted to do let alone where I’d like to live. Although I had always thought I wanted to do surgery, my surgical clerkships weren’t until my last 2 months of third year. In a panic I set up an audition rotation in Internal Medicine. Never in my life did I want to do medicine but I figured it was the best option and in a time crunch I wanted to set something up fast!
Well it didn’t take me long to realize that I never envisioned myself being a medicine doctor. I enjoyed my OBGYN rotation so I thought that might be a more suitable calling given it’s OR time and abundance of procedures and so I cancelled my IM audition and scheduled my alloted 2 ADTs in OBGYN. It wasn’t until I was halfway through my surgical clerkship when the surgeon I was working with pulled me aside and recommended I pursue a career in General Surgery. He was right, OBGYN wasn’t my passion, surgery was! So in May of my 3rd year I cancelled my upcoming OBGYN ADT and was able to secure a spot in General Surgery at Nellis. It wasn’t until I was at Nellis with my 2nd OBGYN ADT starting in a couple of weeks that I finally was accepted to a General Surgery ADT at Keesler AFB.
So other than showing you how indecisive I am, the point of this story is to highlight that it is okay to change your mind! I apologized profusely to the staff of the AFIT office every time I had to change or cancel an ADT. They informed me that they are happy to do so because in the long run they want all of the HPSP candidates to find a job in a speciality they will be happy with. After all happy doctors are more likely to stay in the job, versus quitting to pursue something else after their time is served.
With that being said, do your best to weigh up your speciality options. You have far more options in terms of ADT locations/dates if you apply early. You also save a lot of stress and headaches for everyone involved if you pick one speciality and stick to it.
Applying to Clerkship
Okay so you’ve decided on a speciality, great! Now you have to research where you’d like to do your ADT rotations. While the official list of all the programs including the number of residency spots available won’t be released until June of your 4th year, there are many resources out there that list the clerkships available (contacting other HPSP members at your school, reaching out to the Military HPSP Facebook page )
For Air Force students you can view an Air Force GME powerpoint presentation from a few years ago that published the locations of each specialty. Navy Students you can find all the residencies and fellowships here, and Army students you can find more information here.
When deciding on where you’d like to do an ADT, make sure it’s a base that you could see yourself living at! We are in the very fortunate situation as HPSP members that we actually have some say over where we go and what base we are stationed at. I’ve heard from countless program directors that you are most likely to end up at the base that you auditioned at. Do not be discouraged if the base you want to do an ADT at is full, all the program directors talk and if you do well and order your rank list based on the locations you would like to end up there is a good chance of matching where you want to be.
Okay so now you’ve picked your speciality and you’ve picked your bases, how do you actually schedule the ADT??
First things first, research on the webpage of the program you are interested in applying to. It seems all bases and all specialities vary in how they would like students to begin the process. Some require you send in an ADT Request Form (more on that later) to start the process, some have you apply through VSAS, and others may have a more intense vetting process requiring a personal statement, CV, and clerkship grades.
Submitting a Request for an ADT
Yay, you’ve been approved by the GME office of your selected base and speciality! Now you have to submit an ADT request. For Air Force folk, this can be found on AFIT’s CIP page. After you log on you will see the ADT request form listed on the right hand side menu. For my Army friends, you can find the ADT request form on the MODS website.