Why is Army medic experience not valued for New Grads applying for ER jobs?

  1. 4
    I am a recent graduate from a BSN program and have been trying desperately to find an ER job in Central Ohio. I have been an Army medic for over six years including a tour in Iraq as a flight medic. I also have worked the past three years as an aid on a med-surg floor. I have done 2 interviews for ER jobs but the result was the same, "you have no nursing experience".While I'm not saying that veterans deserve special treatment, I am frustrated because I feel some of my experiences may outweigh those of any other nurse. Please let me know how to sell my army medic experience and get my career started on the right path.
    ED_Chris_RN, evansmum, jtmarcy12, and 1 other like this.

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  2. Poll: Would you hire a new grad in the ER with Army medic experience?

  3. 35 Comments...

  4. 2
    I was thinking the same thing reading this. I was an Army medic as well. Did a two year RN program after getting out and the first job I applied to was an ER job. Got a call that day to come in and interview and was hired. They are foolish not to hire you. My ER won't hire new grads unless they have military experience or are paramedic experience. I think hiring veterans is a great thing. For the most part we show up on time, do what we are told when we are told, and don't complain too much. Because treating someone in an air conditioned ER beats treating them on the street in an Iraqi city. That being said just keep applying. Don't stop until you get what you want. Some ER director will realize the value in having you on their team at some point. Good luck.
    FMF Corpsman and PrimaFacie like this.
  5. 8
    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that most civiians probably don't know what being an Army medic, especially one who has been through deployment, entails. Your qualifications and the fact that you actually have nursing experience from your delpoyment as a medic may not register in their minds as quickly as it would register in the mind of a nurse who has experience with Army medics and their function in wartime specifically.
    FMF Corpsman, Pixie.RN, jtmarcy12, and 5 others like this.
  6. 5
    Yes, not fair, but the reality. I faced the the same bias with 10 years street paramedic experience. Don't let your indignation prevent you from getting the job you need. If you have to start in medsurg, as I did, your experience will help you, and you can you use your smarts to move into the job you want. In fact, the vast majority of patient care I learned as a paramedic I applied as a nurse, but you can't change the system. Get your Gumby on and move forward. You are right, you deserve some consideration. But if you don't get it, don't let that beat you down. Keep going. Good luck. You don't have to win every battle, your career is a long war.
    FMF Corpsman, GM2RN, jtmarcy12, and 2 others like this.
  7. 2
    Veterans DO deserve "special treatment." I am not a veteran, but I have worked with some who were, and they are all awesome nurses. Maybe the previous posters are right~ they simply don't know what being an Army medic entails. You never know what goes thru some people's minds; maybe they were just jealous of your experience, or felt like you know more than them. (Just a thought.) Good luck, and "thank you" for your service.
    PrimaFacie and gypsyd8 like this.
  8. 6
    I can not specifically speak about the duties of an Army medic, but I spent 10 years in the Marine corps before I was medically retired. I am currently a nursing student and a was a combat lifesaver. I spend many hours working with navy medics giving shots and screening records. I am also the lone "no" vote as of right now. The reason for the no vote was based on my personal experience with navy corpsmen that were in for 4 years or less and not real details about yourself. I do not have enough background on you specifically to make any other judgments. People here have already listed many great things about military medics and I completely agree. I do partially think that some new grads should start in the ER over other specialties, but generally should only consist of experienced nurses. Regardless of the fact that I would rather work with you due to your veteran status over others, what made me say no is that the vast majority of lower enlisted medics that I knew during my time did little more on the medical side then hand out Motrin and tell people to drink water. After basic training and MOS school and other required training they never really had emergency experience, they spent their time at sick call dealing with minor illness and malingerers. A deployment does not tell people much, instead it leaves a ton of Rambo stuff up to the imagination. Just because a person was infantry and deployed does not mean they saw combat. How am I to know you didn't just spend your time in an air conditioned tent guarding the freezer full of water without ever leaving base without you giving details? Most medics are not line medics that deal with guys who were shot, blow up, or suffering what ever other bad thing could happen out there. Many junior medics spend more time sweeping floors and completing busy work to fill their day then actually doing their MOS. I personally know what flight medics do, and I understand the different courses you must pass to be one, but how many others know? You failed to highlight your experience in your post here, so as the person reading your applications I would question what you are bringing to the table other then a military title and lack of previous ER nursing experience. Medic and nurse are not the same even if they share some common skills, just like EMT and nurse are not the same. There is a very real reason why in the Army nurses are officers, and medics are enlisted. Even though I know the answer, explain to us and to your prospective employers how being an enlisted medic prepared you to be a nurse in the ER with no nursing experience.

    Now here are some negatives to what being prior mil bring to the table to think about. Many prior service members are confrontational, have a unique and colorful style of communication, and attitude about civilians. Many demand a higher salary due to "experience" (relevant or not) and do not desire to star tat the bottom again. Also as wrong as this is many may view you with a prejudice about being "crazy" from your deployment due to either lack of education or ideological political difference from your typically liberal medical professional verse your typically conservative military background. It is a fact that veterans have much higher unemployment rate then any other part of the population, the civilian world as a whole does not value us like recruiters and people you attended TAP class with told you. This is further exaggerated on the prior enlisted side.
    GM2RN, ec2703, Dixielee, and 3 others like this.
  9. 0
    It is not only employers that give no consideration to previous military medical experience but many nursing schools do not either. I was an Independent Duty Corpsman in the Navy for several years. That is pretty much the civilian equivalent of an Physicians Assistant. I worked without an MD present. I did assessments, decided the treatment needed, implemented treatment, decided if someone needed to be evacuated for more advanced care which meant requesting a medivac chopper and having them flown out. I wrote scripts, sutured patients, etc.

    I attribute this to most civilians not being educated about what military medical personnel actually have been trained to do.
  10. 0
    You're doing it right.

    Keep trying. Some lucky employer is going to hire you soon. The problem isn't your experience, it is that in many cases you are competing against candidates with vastly more experience than you.

    You don't deserve special treatment because you are a veteran, you deserve due consideration for your experience and service, which is considerable and impressive.

    I'd wish you good luck, but you won't need it. You'll be working soon!
  11. 0
    It has been my experience that nursing new grad programs are extremely rigid with their requirements:

    Don't have a year as an RN in the ER? They want you to do new grad program. Doesn't matter if you were an LPN for 20 years in urgent care, spent a year in a clinic, dialysis or hospice/home health, were an army medic, and in some cases, were a floor nurse for years. They are going to classify you as a new grad doing preceptorship and taking classes for the purposes of hiring which has some merits though I do think the mindset is overly rigid and should be adapted to the individual in question.

    One of our paramedics will be a new grad in our ER shortly and he will be precepting like he knows nothing but I think that's overkill. He probably (and you too) needs to learn skills like triage and TNCC but otherwise, you could benefit from an abbreviated orientation process.
  12. 4
    What some may be losing sight of is that Emergency Nursing is not just about trauma and codes. You've still got to be able to tell a STEMI from an anxiety attack, DKA from hyperglycemic, and numerous other issues. Personally, I think your background is a major plus but they might have policies against new grads in the ED. Not all hospitals are willing to percept new grads in critical care areas. Would you be willing to start out somewhere else in the hospital that you want to work at? Anything else catching your eye that you might want to do?
    ec2703, wooh, Dixielee, and 1 other like this.

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