Hi everyone! I am in my final semester of nursing school. I have been interested in Air Force nursing for the past 2 years. Unfortunately I know my GPA is not high enough to apply right out of school (I have a 3.4 and I believe the cut off is 3.5).
My final preceptorship right now is on an AFB with an active duty AF nurse. I was speaking to him about things and he advised me not to even go in straight out of school since you would have to don2 years of med surg and then apply (and not be guaranteed) for your speciality. He said if I can specialize right out of school (which I can) then he recommends I do that and then join.
My question is, how does the application process differ if you are coming in as an experienced nurse and applying for a speciality?
Typically, they accept a much larger number of applicants who have a least 1 year of experience. It does vary by need. The highest need specialties in the Air Force right now are flight (need 1 year of critical care experience) and OR (need 1 year of OR nursing experience).
In other words, your grades are less of a factor because it's not as competitive of a pool.
On the whole, the application is largely the same. For experienced nurses, I believe now they have an additional interview with an experienced nurse in the specialty that you are applying for. You also get 50% credit for full time RN experience towards your rank. If you have 4 years of full time RN experience, then you would enter as an O-2 (1st Lt) instead of an O-1 (2d Lt). Even if you only come in with 1 year, you still promote to O-2 6 months sooner than you would have otherwise.
So it really just depends how many spots per specialty? When do they typically release that? When is the time of year that it's wise to start your application? (Are these recruiter questions?)
It's never too early to get in touch with a recruiter. I think you should at least touch base with an air force healthcare recruiter (go to the AF website, use 'find a recruiter,' and select 'healthcare student or professional'). Know that at this point, they may not spend very much time with you. You should ask what the number of nurses they took in each specialty the previous year. People retire and separate with 6-12 months notice and operational needs (deployments) change on the fly. I doubt they release needs until just before (maybe a few months) the application deadline for a cycle.
Your application (assuming you just want to do the minimum 1 year) should start when you have about 6 months in your first job.
Thank you! I tried asking my preceptor about it but he was enlisted while going to school so it was different and he isn't a recruiter so he wasn't sure. But thank you for your help!
Critical care is another area the AF always seems to be short.
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