Economic analysis of the military health professions scholarship program for neurosurgeons

Brian T. Ragel, Paul Klimo, Gerald A. Grant, Derek A. Taggard, David Nute, Randall R. McCafferty, Richard G. Ellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The 4-year military Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) provides funds for medical school tuition, books, and a monthly stipend in exchange for a 4-year military commitment (to receive all physician bonuses, an additional 3 months must be served). Objective: To analyze the economics of the HPSP for students with an interest in neurosurgery by comparing medical school debt and salaries of military, academic, and private practice neurosurgeons. Methods: Salary and medical school debt values from the American Association of Medical Colleges, salary data from the Medical Group Management Association, and 2009 military pay tables were obtained. Annual cash flow diagrams were created to encompass 14.25 years that spanned 4 years (medical school), 6 years (neurosurgical residency), and the first 4.25 years of practice for military, academic, and private practice neurosurgeons. A present value economic model was applied. Results: Mean medical school loan debt was $154 607. Mean military (adjusted for tax-free portions), academic, and private practice salaries were $160 318, $451 068, and $721 458, respectively. After 14.25 years, the cumulative present value cash flow for military, academic, and private practice neurosurgeons was $1 193 323, $2 372 582, and $3 639 276, respectively. After 14.25 years, surgeons with medical student loans still owed $208 761. Conclusion: The difference in cumulative annual present value cash flow between military and academic and between military and private practice neurosurgeons was $1 179 259 and $2 445 953, respectively. The military neurosurgeon will have little to no medical school debt, whereas the calculated medical school debt of a nonmilitary surgeon was approximately $208 000.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-532
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic
  • Debt
  • Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)
  • Medical school
  • Military
  • Neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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