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.