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Mil Med. 2018 Feb 6. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usx091. [Epub ahead of print]

Military Internal Medicine Resident Decision to Apply to Fellowship and Extend Military Commitment.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Infectious Disease Service, San Antonio Military Medical Center, 3551 Roger Brooke Drive, JBSA Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234.
Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Oregon Health & Science University, Mail Code L457, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97235.
Department of Infectious Diseases, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 4494 North Palmer Road, Bethesda, MD 20889.



Nationally, the number of internal medicine physicians practicing in primary care has decreased amidst increasing interest in hospitalist medicine. Current priorities in the Military Health System include access to primary care and retention of trained personnel. Recently, we have conducted a study of military internal medicine residents' decision to enter infectious disease. As part of our larger effort, we saw an opportunity to characterize factors impacting decision making of internal medicine residents' desire to apply for subspecialty training and to extend active duty service obligations.

Materials and Methods:

Questions were developed after discussion with various military graduate medical education and internal medicine leaders, underwent external review, and were added to a larger question set. The survey link was distributed electronically to all U.S. military affiliated residencies' graduating internal medicine residents in December 2016-January 2017. Data were analyzed by decision to apply to fellowship and decision to extend military obligation using Fisher's exact test or Pearon's chi-square test.


Sixty-eight residents from 10 of 11 military residency programs responded, for a response rate of 51%. The majority (62%) applied to fellowship to start after residency completion. Reasons cited for applying to fellowship included wanting to become a specialist as soon as possible (74%), wishing to avoid being a general internist (57%), and because they are unable to practice as a hospitalist in the military (52%). Fellowship applicants were more likely to plan to extend their military obligation than non-applicants, as did those with longer duration of military commitments. No other factors, including Uniformed Services University attendance or participation in undergraduate military experiences, were found to impact plan to extend active duty service commitment.


The majority of graduating internal medicine residents apply for fellowship and report a desire to avoid being a general internist. Prospective fellows anticipate extending their active duty commitment, as do those with longer commitments.


active duty service obligation; fellowship; internal medicine; military physician; resident

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