Air Force ICU Nurses - Post your Experiences

  1. 0
    I am currently working in a level 1 neurotrauma ICU and am 1 year away from my BSN with 3 years NTICU experience. I am seriously considering becoming an Air Force Officer, however, I'm concerned about getting pulled away from the ICU during my time in service.

    Upon joining, am I likely to stay in the ICU (at different bases) over my tenure, or am I likely to get pulled away from the ICU to go to other areas such as LND, PACU, OR, ER, NICU, etc. Civilian or not, I want to focus my efforts in an ICU and this is the one doubt I have in my mind to joining the Air Force.

    Any military ICU nurses out there wish to share their experiences? Also, would having my CCRN help my chances of staying in an AF ICU? Thanks - Julia

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  2. 6 Comments...

  3. 0
    JTrauma,

    I'm in an AF ICU right now. Even though I just started, it seems that there is always a shortage of nurses in every area, especially in an environment where people are deploying all the time. There are several Level 1 Trauma Centers in the AF. The one I'm in is at Lackland in San Antonio, and there are several ICUs (MICU, SICU, and PICU). No NT ICU, but the units can /do support neuro trauma. As far as floating is concerned...sadly, everyone floats to other areas, but it's usually for a shift here and there. The catch for you is to make sure your recruiter and your interviewer (Active Duty nurse who interviews you to become an AF Nurse) both understand that you are only interested in ICU nursing...and with experience and CCRN under your belt you shouldn't have any problem. Hopefully, they can give you full credit for all the time you've been registered, not just the time where you would have been a BSN. Your recruiter will have to look into that. Good luck with the decision and the application process. Be sure to ask the recruiter about signing bonuses, especially if you have school debt. Let me know if you have any other questions.
  4. 0
    Quote from Shimano0606
    JTrauma,

    I'm in an AF ICU right now. Even though I just started, it seems that there is always a shortage of nurses in every area, especially in an environment where people are deploying all the time. There are several Level 1 Trauma Centers in the AF. The one I'm in is at Lackland in San Antonio, and there are several ICUs (MICU, SICU, and PICU). No NT ICU, but the units can /do support neuro trauma. As far as floating is concerned...sadly, everyone floats to other areas, but it's usually for a shift here and there. The catch for you is to make sure your recruiter and your interviewer (Active Duty nurse who interviews you to become an AF Nurse) both understand that you are only interested in ICU nursing...and with experience and CCRN under your belt you shouldn't have any problem. Hopefully, they can give you full credit for all the time you've been registered, not just the time where you would have been a BSN. Your recruiter will have to look into that. Good luck with the decision and the application process. Be sure to ask the recruiter about signing bonuses, especially if you have school debt. Let me know if you have any other questions.
    I have been in the AF for over 6 yrs and the only Level I trauma center that I know of in the AF is Wilford Hall. Most AF hospitals are fairly small, as is Wilford Hall by civilian Level I trauma center comparisons. Keesler was the 2nd biggest hospital in the AF and it is still not back up to pre-Katrina levels.

    The best way to stay in your speciality field (ICU) is by picking up/applying for your nursing speciality identifier. ICU speciality identifier is an "E" identifier. It pretty much guarantees that you will fill an ICU slot somewhere in the AF, but it is still up to the chief nurse at each base how they utilize your skills. It is very rare as an AF nurse with your E identifier not to work in critical care.
  5. 0
    I originally had in mind Andrews, Kessler, and Wilford Hall. Looks like Wilford Hall is the only Level 1.
  6. 0
    Quote from Shimano0606
    I originally had in mind Andrews, Kessler, and Wilford Hall. Looks like Wilford Hall is the only Level 1.
    Right now, I don't think Andrews even has an ICU up and running. There is talk about getting one back up and running, but I haven't heard of anything for certain yet.
  7. 0
    Quote from wtbcrna
    Right now, I don't think Andrews even has an ICU up and running. There is talk about getting one back up and running, but I haven't heard of anything for certain yet.

    Do the services cross staff? Like Air Force Nurse working at Army hospital?
    I know that it's done with some of the other career fields just not sure about medical.
  8. 1
    Quote from JDCitizen
    Do the services cross staff? Like Air Force Nurse working at Army hospital?
    I know that it's done with some of the other career fields just not sure about medical.
    Actually, Wilford Hall will be merging with Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio. So, yes it does happen. There is also opportunties to work at Landstuhl in Germany. I currently am working/doing clinicals at the National Naval Medical Center near D.C. It is becoming more and more common to share medical assests.

    I need to tell you that:
    1. You are almost certain to get placed in an ICU when you join the AF.
    2. Working in an ICU is only one part of being in the military, and you need to think of the whole picture not just where you are likely to work....i.e. Does the base deploy a lot? Can I advance my education while I am here? Is this a good place to get picked up for an AFIT slot? Will I be able to make rank eventually if I stay here? Is this a good place for kids/spouse/dependenets? What type of command is it (AETC etc. I personally don't like working at training bases, like AETC, because there is more politics involved).

    Try to come up with a list of every possible thing you want in your 1st base and then see which bases w/ ICUs come the closest to meeting your goals and then make your choices from there.
    JDCitizen likes this.


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