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Pursue medicine in army, alumnus urges

Bridget Keating | Friday, February 9, 2007

With medical school tuition steadily increasing, graduating medical school students now have the highest average debt of any professional education.

But there’s a solution, army and non-commissioned officers told students Thurs-day – join the military.

Notre Dame alumnus Brig. Gen. Philip Volpe, the recipient of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, delivered a lecture in DeBartolo Hall Thursday night. He was joined by Maj. Doug Muscott, 1st Lt. Bob Schlau, aide de camp to Volpe, Sgt. 1st Class Bill Hill and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Vanover.

All the officers encouraged students to pursue a medical profession while serving in the military, citing the advantages of full-tuition payments, world-class training, camaraderie and intangibles such as the pride of serving one’s country.

“More people should explore such options,” Hill said. “Eliminating this major financial burden is something I personally highly recommend.”

Muscott discussed the perks of life as an Army medical student. In addition to free tuition, students receive full pay with benefits and are promised no deployments while in school or residency, he said.

Military doctors also escape the insurance, business operation and administrative costs involved in operating a private practice, he said.

Muscott said that while a military income might seem comparable to a civilian practice, the military pay includes comprehensive benefits, discounts and tax opportunities – making the two figures very different indeed.

Volpe, who graduated from the University in 1977, incorporated some Notre Dame memories into his talk. While he was an undergraduate, Volpe coached Flanner Hall to a victory in the Interhall football championship and had enough foresight to hire a student named Charlie Weis as his assistant coach. He also recalled visits to legendary spots on campus.

“The Grotto works,” he said. “I passed all my exams.”

Another former Flanner resident, Al Bucci, listened to the lecture and called Volpe “as great an American hero and Notre Dame man as he is a soldier and a caring doctor with the values of Notre Dame.”