Air Force Nursing vs. Civilian - page 2

Hello, I would like to know the opinions of those who have been employed in nursing both in the Air Force and as a civilian. Which did you prefer and why? Please feel free to emphasize things... Read More

  1. by   TaraSC
    Thanks for the information Calfax. That's the sort of comparison I was hoping for.
  2. by   zman
    The biggest difference between civilian nursing and Air Force nursing is the acceptance that service in the AF Nurse Corps is a lifestyle, not just a job. Being on the officer side of the house doesn't make life significantly different than the enlisted. I am a Captain in a duty section of 20 officers, most of which are Captains. When we have a mandatory event, I don't tap my collar and say, "no thanks, I'll be golfing". This lifestyle has nothing to do with the Officer's Club (I've been in one less than ten times in 4+ years) and more on knowing that when the phone rings, ignorance is not an option. Whether it's a civilian calling in sick and a shift that needs to be covered on your day off or a deployment next week to Butkrakistan you are obligated to answer the call.

    The best part about AF nursing is the med techs, known in AF as 4NOs, or 'Four en ohs', who initially undergo a year of academic and didactic training before reaching their first permanent duty assignment. For the most part these are some smart, aggresive, hard working people. In our ICU they are responsable for documenting I&O, VS, accomplishing lab draws (incl central line draws) and IV insertions, assisting the docs with intubation/extubation, and a host of other activities. They work with you, the RN, not just for you. Every shift I thank my lucky stars that I have a 4NO on my wing (and the majority of the time a tech and I have two patients together).

    Patient load in the AF is at par with the civilian side or below, in my experience.

    In some ways, though, nursing in the AF is much like civilian nursing. I live off base, and come on base usually only for my assigned shifts and other training (ACLS, TNCC, etc) or unit activities (monthly commander's brief, staff meeting). I fly when I go to visit family on leave. I wear a uniform (BDUs) to and from work and work in scrubs.

    Speaking of economics, some jobs pay more than the AF, some pay less. If it was all about money we would be...

    To Calfax- at Wilford Hall Medical Center is San Antonio, our cutting edge technology includes progress notes and MARs written on 8.5x11 bonded paper (no papyrus for us!). And unfortunately the hot tubs were nixed from the mobility pallets. In all honesty, the 'good old days' have been on hold for a while, and field conditions in the AF are essentially what I remember of my days in a MASH unit in Korea. Nothing compares to the Comfort or the Mercy!

    Hope these observations help in your decision making process
  3. by   Passin' Gas
    [QUOTE=Calfax] Before the airforce pipes up, yes, Wolfert (Wolpert?) Hall in San Antonio is pretty modern with decent equipment.

    Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, Lackland AFB
    San Antonio, TX


    PS Didn't read end of Zman's post before posting this
    Last edit by Passin' Gas on Jun 8, '04 : Reason: ps note
  4. by   nrsnan_1
    I am an Army Officer so I can give you a little info. I came into the Army with 16 years of nursing experience, primarily as an OB nurse. I was given an identifier, which means a specialty area, of OB/GYN nursing. I work in a small Army hospital, lots of hours and plan on being on call 24/7. I was deployed last year and worked med/surg. I haven't taken care of men since nursing school so that was a switch. Military nursing means being constantly moved from one thing to the next so you must be very flexible. Also, the Army has a tendency to spend money on training you in a specific area then giving you a job totally outside that area. One excellent program is the CRNA program which will benefit you both in the Army (bonuses) and as a civilian once you get out. Job market is in dire need of anesthesia providers. Salary in the Army versus civilian is not even comparable. As a civilian, I was making 70+ a year. As an O-2, I make about 40K plus am working many more hours. Why did I join? Came in after 9-11 to serve a great country. I get frustrated as heck sometimes because the Army is extremely unorganized and in my humble opinion does not utilize resources well. I constantly feel pulled this way and that so if you are one who needs organization adn common sense in your life look somewhere else.

    The grass may be greener....however, the Air Force seems to be a little more realistic with its people. My husband is career Navy/Coast Guard and has had great experiences both places. He is totally blown away at how the Army treats us.

    Hope this helps.
  5. by   finally
    Just wondering what ended up happening tara...I am also curious about being an RN in the Air Force....Best of luck....fill me in on any details you've obtained...