Become a Military Nurse | School and Program Info.
Military nurses fill a very unique niche in the health field. Men and women serving in the military today have medical needs often above and beyond what most patients require. Military nurses provide care both in the field and at home. Just as in civilian life, military nurses work in a wide variety of specialty areas and have a wide range of education depending on how you pursue your military nursing career. A military nurse could be helping deliver babies for military wives, helping to triage wounded soldiers, or taking the vitals of a patient to assist a physician. These nurses serve both in reserve forces and as active duty soldiers.
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In many ways, military nurses have a very similar work environment to their civilian counterparts. The United States Army, Navy, and Air Force all have their own Nurse Corps with different specialties, hierarchies, and functions. Very unlike civilian nurses, some military nurses may find themselves serving in field hospitals and both near and in combat zones. Military Nurses may face working 12 to 16 hours days, or essentially working for a six months to a full year straight if deployed for service in a military campaign.
Military Nurse College Education and Training
Those considering military nursing should keep in mind that they will be expected to be a soldier to some degree, as well as a nurse. Dealing with combat situations will be expected and you will be trained for it, regardless if the military branch you enlist with never intends for you to work for them except as a OB/GYN nurse on base. Generally, to become a military nurse you will need to already have the qualifications for at least functioning as a basic registered nurse (RN) which includes an associates (2-year) degree in nursing and a registered nursing license. Additional training in specific military nursing needs and procedures are both required and available to different degrees after enlisting in the armed forces.
The ROTC program (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) is an excellent way to become a military nurse, and have your Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) paid for by the armed forces. In some cases, those enlisting directly in the armed forces may be able to pursue nursing education and a position in the Nurse Corps after enlisting and without prior nursing education or participating in ROTC.
Licensure and Certification
The licensing and certification you'll need will vary, and will be dictated by the branch of the military you choose to serve. Some may leave you little choice as to which certifications they will train you for. Others may let you choose your licences. If you are already coming into the military with certifications and licenses, you will still have to be trained in military-specific nursing and internally certified.
Military Nursing Job Outlook and Salary
Demand for nurses in the military is very high, and is also motivated by the need for more nurses in civilian life. The Army Nurse Corps states as part of their mission to create additional nurses to go out and help alleviate the shortage of civilian nurses after military service is complete. As such, becoming a military nurse can be an excellent career path for those interested in any area of nursing, especially those struggling with how to fund their education and training.
Military nurses also receive a great deal of benefits, as they are provided with the same services, care, signing bonuses, educational grants, and other perks as their fellow soldiers. A civilian registered nurse will make an average of $62,000 annually, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each branch of the United States military states that their Nurse Corps wages are competitive with civilian nursing wages, while stressing the additionally financial benefits of military service.
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