Military nurses, recently become civilian nurses?

  1. I was wondering if anyone could share their civilian experiences vs. military experiences. I am at a crossroad to decide if I should stay in the military or get out. I have been in for only 5 yrs, so it would be easy to leave. Most of my civilian friends love their jobs and truly I am not so hot about mine, but I like the military in general. I was wondering what other ex military nurses thought when they changed to a civilian setting. Any thoughts?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Sekar
    Quote from Ms.Nurse
    I was wondering if anyone could share their civilian experiences vs. military experiences. I am at a crossroad to decide if I should stay in the military or get out. I have been in for only 5 yrs, so it would be easy to leave. Most of my civilian friends love their jobs and truly I am not so hot about mine, but I like the military in general. I was wondering what other ex military nurses thought when they changed to a civilian setting. Any thoughts?
    Having retired from the Army in 1996, as a Nurse, I can tell you that you must be prepared for a very different type of nursing. Your scope of practice in the military is much greater than it will be in the civilian world. But the hardest thing I had to adapt to was worrying about a patient's ability to pay their bill. It just flat is NOT a concern in military nursing and you'd be surprized what a burden it becomes when you have to think about it. Having to account for supplies used, having patients not take medications because they couldn't afford to buy them, were all very foreign concepts to me. I still like having these concerns. I much preferred it when I only had to worry about providing the best nursing care I could, without the patient's financial status coming into play.
    If you like it in the military, why not stay there? Good nurses are needed in the military as well and you'll be getting gobs of great experience.
  4. by   sjoe
    Quote from Sekar
    Having retired from the Army in 1996, as a Nurse, I can tell you that you must be prepared for a very different type of nursing. Your scope of practice in the military is much greater than it will be in the civilian world. But the hardest thing I had to adapt to was worrying about a patient's ability to pay their bill. It just flat is NOT a concern in military nursing and you'd be surprized what a burden it becomes when you have to think about it. Having to account for supplies used, having patients not take medications because they couldn't afford to buy them, were all very foreign concepts to me. I still like having these concerns. I much preferred it when I only had to worry about providing the best nursing care I could, without the patient's financial status coming into play.
    If you like it in the military, why not stay there? Good nurses are needed in the military as well and you'll be getting gobs of great experience.

    Well said.
  5. by   LT Dave
    As a reservist in the Navy I say stay active. In 15 yrs you are done with a nice pension and still only 41. You can do anything then. In the military you will see more interesting things and not work your a$$ off. I work at a VA Hosp, which is very much like a military hosp. Civilian hosp are the pits! :imbar
  6. by   Ms.Nurse
    I have been in the Navy now for almost 4yrs, and honestly I am very disappointed. I feel like the training that I was given (as a new nurse) is far less superior to the new grad programs that my civilian friends had experienced (even though people say the opposite). My preceptor at my first job had only been a nurse of 6 month - come on. I am having difficulty as they say "finding your nitch" because I keep getting slotted for labor and delivery, and quite honestly, I think if I labor another patient I will just scream (always having the remember the needs of the Navy). Not to mention that my friends all seem to enjoy their jobs very much.

    I have had a FEW nurses who I did admire and learned a lot from, but the majority of senior officers seem to be thinking of how to get to the next promotion vs. being a mentor and a true leader.

    I would like to stay in the Navy, but I feel that the limitations - things out of my control, are seriously putting a damper on my attitude and overall happiness - such as job assignments.

    I have been considering all the pros and cons in regards to retirement and such, but I am not too sure that I am willing to be in a job that I don't like for the next 16 yrs. One things people always tell me is, this is only one duty station, things will be different at your next command - do I want to take the chance?

    What is so bad about civilian hospitals? What makes the military better? Because right now I don't see how the military is all that better, except for retirement. Please help shed some light.

    Quote from LT Dave
    As a reservist in the Navy I say stay active. In 15 yrs you are done with a nice pension and still only 41. You can do anything then. In the military you will see more interesting things and not work your a$$ off. I work at a VA Hosp, which is very much like a military hosp. Civilian hosp are the pits! :imbar
  7. by   LT Dave
    HEllo Ms. Nurse, I hear such similar stories from other young officers. Its the young inexperienced nurses who seem to do all the work in the hospitals. Since this is your 1st command you should wait till your next duty station. From my experience in civilian hospitals you are just another worker, no better then house keeping. Everyone feels they are more important then nurses. Its all about insurance and money. the goal is money not patient care, How to do it as cheep as possible. The respect you recieve is laughable as a civilian. You are lucky to get 2 weeks off a year. They work you to death! Patients are treated as numbers, care is based on re-embursments. You will not travel to other locations to work. They will laugh at you when you want to take a class for education. You will work till your 65 yrs old or have an MI, then retire on social security and a tiny pension- if one at all.
    My buddy retires from the USN this year as an O3 over 20. He was enlisted a long time. At his "old" age of 42 he will collect 50% of his current pay for the rest of his life! He will get a civilian job, but now all he has to do is part time, with his current experience level he is in demand anyplace he wants. Feel free to email me rizangler@yahoo.com I will be happy to help a fellow officer.
  8. by   Sekar
    Quote from Ms.Nurse
    I have been in the Navy now for almost 4yrs, and honestly I am very disappointed. I feel like the training that I was given (as a new nurse) is far less superior to the new grad programs that my civilian friends had experienced (even though people say the opposite). My preceptor at my first job had only been a nurse of 6 month - come on. I am having difficulty as they say "finding your nitch" because I keep getting slotted for labor and delivery, and quite honestly, I think if I labor another patient I will just scream (always having the remember the needs of the Navy). Not to mention that my friends all seem to enjoy their jobs very much.

    I have had a FEW nurses who I did admire and learned a lot from, but the majority of senior officers seem to be thinking of how to get to the next promotion vs. being a mentor and a true leader.

    I would like to stay in the Navy, but I feel that the limitations - things out of my control, are seriously putting a damper on my attitude and overall happiness - such as job assignments.

    I have been considering all the pros and cons in regards to retirement and such, but I am not too sure that I am willing to be in a job that I don't like for the next 16 yrs. One things people always tell me is, this is only one duty station, things will be different at your next command - do I want to take the chance?

    What is so bad about civilian hospitals? What makes the military better? Because right now I don't see how the military is all that better, except for retirement. Please help shed some light.
    Why don't you try this one? Go moonlight at some civilian hospitals. Take some leave if you need to, it will be worth the time. Then you will have first hand experience to compare. The extra bucks won't be bad either. Why plan in a vacuum? Don't take our word for it, go find out for yourself. Just be prepared, that old saying of the "grass being greening on the other side of the fence" is VERY, VERY true. I've worked both, gee that was a rather obvious statement wasn't it, civilian and military environments and I'll take the military hands down.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    The retirement can't be beat! My hubby (not a nurse) is retired from the Air Force - he retired with 23 years enlisted in 1995 - we have a beautiful home with lots of equity, all our bills are paid off, we go on cruises and vacations (like to St. Thomas - I love the warmth) and we do very well. I'm an ER Case Manager and hubby is high school teacher. Good luck...
  10. by   klgann
    Listen to LT Dave, every Naval Hospital is a bit different in their opportunites for advancement/leadership. I have been lucky in my 12 years as a Navy Nurse to do the following:
    Med-Surg (10 months)
    ICU (2 1/2 years)
    Night Supervisor (not weekend duty) (6 months to fill a vacancy)
    Division Officer for Outpatient/Inpatient Endoscopy. (9 months)
    (sounds great doesn't it? Just myself and an LPN. )
    Ship's Nurse, Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier (1-RN:5,500 Sailors) (best three years of my Naval Career)
    Cardiothoracic/Cardiac Intensive Care (1 year)
    Staff Education and Training (Resuscitative Skills and Computer Based Training) (2 years)
    Post Anesthesia Care Unit (10 months)
    Medical Intensive Care Unit (6 months- Sorry PACU nurses, I had to get back to more of an intensive care setting)

    Selected for CRNA program and start school 01 June in the Navy Nurse Corps Anesthesia Program. 2 1/2 years of free schooling, and I will be close enough after my committment is over to retire soon, if I so choose.
    Where in the civilian Nursing world can you find those opportunities and still get 30 days of paid leave a year?
    Have I had some poor managers over time? Hell yes! Very many? Nope. And if you get a bad one, they will either leave before you or you before them.
    If you have some inclination of staying in, please don't make your decision based on your first duty station (listen to LT Dave). Take an operational or overseas command and get a change of scenery. And, between you and I, if I had known that L&D was such a big business in the military, I would have had second thoughts about it.. and you can see I have managed to steer a course away from that rocky shore!

    Good luck with your decision, feel free to contact me at navynurse@bigfoot.com
    LCDR Kelly Gann, NC, USN
    I am a male, I am a Nurse, Yes, I am OK.
  11. by   gerry79
    Not a nurse, but a Hospital Corpsman (in nursing school), remember, time will pass regardless of being a civilan or a Naval Officer. Think hard about leaving the Navy as I have heard many regret that decision years later (due to the lost retirement). I retire from the Coast Guard in 3.5 years and as a CPO my retirement will be in the neighborhood of $3000.00 per month, as an Officer yours will be a hell of a lot more! I have had my share of lousy duty stations in my 22 years, but it has flown by! Please think about the long term ramifications before you make your final decision. The grass may seem like its greener on the other side, but it still needs to be cut!
  12. by   traumaRUs
    Hey Gerry - I don't know about the $3000 retirment per month. My hubby who was an E-7 with over 23 years in gets about $1500/month.
  13. by   gerry79
    Well I dont retire until 2008, and at that point I will have 26 years in and according to the retirement calculator provided by the military compensation branch, my retirement will be 2,910 per month. That is factoring in a 4 percent pay raise per year for the next 4 years, and longevity pay increases. If the pay raises are higher my retirement will be more, lower it will be less. Since the longevity raises at years 24, and 26 are quite substantial, that boosts the retirement a bunch, also you get 2.5 percent more a year in retirement past 20 years as I am sure that you know. That 2.5 percent a year increase in retirement makes a huge difference between years 20, and 30. Your husband retired in 1995, the pay for an E7 has increase alot since then. An E7 with 23 years in today makes $3,500 per month, back in 95 I am sure it was substantually less. So in closing the pay for E7 with 26 years should be about $4500 per month in 2008 (based on 4% per year pay raise), and 65% of the high 3 total is $2910.00 Well they dont call me wind bag for nothing, sorry for the loooong dissertation.
    Last edit by gerry79 on Apr 28, '04
  14. by   BlueTang
    Quote from Ms.Nurse
    I was wondering if anyone could share their civilian experiences vs. military experiences. I am at a crossroad to decide if I should stay in the military or get out. I have been in for only 5 yrs, so it would be easy to leave. Most of my civilian friends love their jobs and truly I am not so hot about mine, but I like the military in general. I was wondering what other ex military nurses thought when they changed to a civilian setting. Any thoughts?
    I'm not a military nurse, but do work in a military clinic as an RN. After reviewing some of the other responses I have to tell you, don't necessarily count on continuing to do things without accountability to the bottom dollar. Times are changing; and the surgeon general himself just confirmed the military will start to run more like a professional business...watching the bottom dollar, watching military and civilian referrals by primary care providers to care outside of network to avoid unnecessary costs, watching supply costs, etc. In addition, although I've worked at another military clinic and some of the military nurses did appear to avoid hard work if possible, at least the clinic I work in now, the military nurses do have initiative and work hard as in the civilian world. Finally, watch the big picture in the world on the budget and what the future holds where there's an opportunity to cut costs in how business in conducted, whether military or civilian; those funds are increasingly needed for higher priorities. I know I'm probably not helping to make a decision but do advise a bit more research on some of the advice given here.

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