Air Force ER nurse

  1. Hello all!

    Ive been wavering about becoming an AF nurse for a few years now, and I just can't stop thinking about it. I would love to become an AF nurse. I have a total of 3 years nursing experience with 1.5 years in a trauma level 3 ER. I have two trauma certifications, my BSN, and multiple other certifications. I am also married and have four dogs. I am just trying to get info on Air Force nursing in general and just anything anyone would love to offer!

    Thanks,
    Lindsay
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Pixie.RN
    Do you have your CEN? What was your GPA for your BSN?
  4. by   lbwilliams
    I do not have my CEN but I have TNCC and ENPC. I graduated with a 3.3 in my BSN but I am currently in school for my FNP (it's my masters and AF requires a doctorate) and I have a 4.0
  5. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from lbwilliams
    I do not have my CEN but I have TNCC and ENPC. I graduated with a 3.3 in my BSN but I am currently in school for my FNP (it's my masters and AF requires a doctorate) and I have a 4.0
    If you want to be competitive, you will really need your CEN, especially if your BSN GPA is less than 3.5. It's very competitive to receive a commission. They will probably only care about completed degrees and those GPAs, not degrees in process. You should contact a health care recruiter to assess the current recruiting climate. Good luck!
  6. by   jfratian
    You should really look into the DNP vs. MSN thing with a recruiter. My understanding is that the AF prefers the DNP, and they only send internal (military) NP students to DNP programs. However, they still do not have enough external (civilian) applicants with DNPs to only accept DNP trained NPs.

    Not to downplay your experience, but the level 3 ER thing does not work in your favor either...get level 1 experience if you can. As Pixie said, your 4.0 after taking a couple of MSN classes won't cancel out your BSN grades. The CEN matters more than the TNCC or ENPC; most hospitals require any nurse that works in the trauma bay to have those certs anyway.
  7. by   lbwilliams
    I don't think I have enough time to get a job at a trauma level 1 hospital if I would try to join the military. I do however see level one traumas and mainly level two traumas. I was thinking about studying for my CEN so I hope that helps. I'm a year into my masters for FNP so I'm almost halfway through.
  8. by   jfratian
    What is the rush? The military application process is certainly not quick. If you contacted a recruiter today you would probably not start basic officer training until a year from now if you got accepted the first time you applied.

    I think you should get the CEN, get a level 1 ER job and work a few months, and then start the application process. You would have nearly a year of level 1 experience before you started your military career.

    This would help you get in, because you could say I have 2 years of ER experience and I currently work in a level 1 trauma center with a CEN. Also, the knowledge you gain from working in a level 1 trauma center and studying for the CEN will help prepare you for a deployment as an ER nurse.
  9. by   lbwilliams
    I would like to join the AF as soon as possible. It's something I have wanted to do and I want to get started! If it really takes that long then of course I will get level 1 experience
  10. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from lbwilliams
    I would like to join the AF as soon as possible. It's something I have wanted to do and I want to get started! If it really takes that long then of course I will get level 1 experience
    Where does your FNP fit into all of this?
  11. by   lbwilliams
    Quote from Pixie.RN
    Where does your FNP fit into all of this?
    I'm hoping when I go into the Air Force I can advance my education and become an NP that way because they pay for it and I can just go for my doctorate instead of my masters. I have about a year and a half of schooling left for FNP but I will put that on hold in order to join the AF
    Last edit by lbwilliams on Nov 5
  12. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from lbwilliams
    I'm hoping when I go into the Air Force I can advance my education and become an NP that way because they pay for it and I can just go for my doctorate instead of my masters. I have about a year and a half of schooling left for FNP but I will put that on hold in order to join the AF
    A couple of things to consider (and jfratian, please correct me if I'm wrong - you are pretty much the AF subject matter expert in this forum, I'm just a former Army nurse who pays attention, haha). If you become an NP while you're in the AF as an RN and you do it on your own using tuition assistance, you won't be able to work as an NP while you're on active duty without jumping through a lot of hoops, if at all. It's not like in the civilian world where you can easily step out of one role and step into another. You are also at the mercy of your unit, who will essentially control your life 24x7. Your schedule might not be conducive to getting your clinical time in, for example. I actually started an FNP program while on active duty (Army), and it was challenging. I also had to interrupt my other MSN degree (nursing informatics) for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. I ultimately switched from FNP to nursing education because I had a realization that I had no urge to be an FNP, but I was out of the Army by then.

    If you are thinking of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) program to advance your education by attending FNP/DNP on the Air Force's dime, it requires a significant time commitment before you can even apply - I think you have to spend 2-4 years at your first assignment, then apply for the program (which would add something like 4 to 6 years onto your active duty service obligation [ADSO], depending on the length of your program). As you might imagine, AFIT is also extremely competitive - probably even more so than getting into the AF in the first place. You have to have great GRE scores and a competitive BSN GPA.

    It might be a good idea to check with a health professions recruiter regarding if the need for a DNP vs. "just" an MSN (ha!) is a hard requirement. If not, I would say you might consider finishing the FNP, getting the required amount of FNP experience (I think it's 6 months?), and then joining. I don't know how old you are, but the current age limit is something like 47.

    Just more food for thought! The military is a tough nut to crack these days.
  13. by   jfratian
    Everything Pixie said is correct, including the age limit for active duty AF nursing of 47 and the difficulty in switching jobs simply due to new education that you complete.

    I personally know an OR nurse who went to school part time (on his own---no AFIT) and became an FNP several years ago. He is still working in the OR as a bedside nurse to this day. The AF told him 'No you're going to stay an OR nurse. The Operating Room is 70% manned Air Force-wide and FNP is 90%.'

    If FNP is ultimately what you want to do, then you absolutely need to finish your degree prior to joining. There are opportunities to further your education full time (AFIT) and part-time (tuition assistance). However, there are no guarantees. You current job can always hold onto you. Who knows if the ER will be critically manned when you are ready to apply for AFIT.

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