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 such as the attitudes of those... Read More

  1. 0
    LOL tara...It's always the one who judge who want to say something...READ THE POST BEFORE YOU RESPOND WITH UNNECCESARY COMMENTS!...Tara you in me are in the same boat, we are both Prior Enlistees aka Veterans. So we ALREADY know what the military (army for me, airforce for tara) is about. She just wants to know what nursing is like in the military compared to civilian NOT military life since we ARE veterans. If any airforce/army nurses can respond to the NURSING IN THE MILITARY factor then please respond. Everyone knows that you have to be serious about the military who doesnt? (I know I've been deployed and shot at!). Thanks for any SERIOUS replies.

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 0
    Quote from Cherish
    LOL tara...It's always the one who judge who want to say something...READ THE POST BEFORE YOU RESPOND WITH UNNECCESARY COMMENTS!...Tara you in me are in the same boat, we are both Prior Enlistees aka Veterans. So we ALREADY know what the military (army for me, airforce for tara) is about. She just wants to know what nursing is like in the military compared to civilian NOT military life since we ARE veterans. If any airforce/army nurses can respond to the NURSING IN THE MILITARY factor then please respond. Everyone knows that you have to be serious about the military who doesnt? (I know I've been deployed and shot at!). Thanks for any SERIOUS replies.
    ditto and your welcome.
  3. 1
    Very well....to answer your original question, I was a nurse before I joined the Navy. I can't speak for life in the Airforce or the Army because I've only run into Airforce/Army types occasionally thru different tri-service functions.

    As best I can, generally speaking, the major difference in military nursing and civilian nursing is economic. From the civilian aspect.....you will be paid more....but your patient load is high. However you will have some diagnostic ancillary services available such as cath labs, CT machines, ultrasound and access to a whole host of specialty doctors that you won't have in the military. Your facility will also be fairly updated with relatively modern equipment and depending on where you work, cutting edge developments may be going on there......LiCox monitors, fluid ventilation, stuff like that. If you work in the ICU, your patients really will be trainwrecks. If you work in the ER, you may see a lot more trauma than you will in the CONUS military facilities. Navy medicine is very conservative....the Army and especially the Airforce, less so.
    Remember that the military has to spend part of their budgets, not on medical supplies, but on bombs and planes and podiums for mobile command centers and such therefore the medical facilities are slower to update things than the civilian side. Before the airforce pipes up, yes, Wolfert (Wolpert?) Hall in San Antonio is pretty modern with decent equipment.
    On the military side, you have the rank structure (which you are familiar with) and a system for regular promotion thru that structure. You get no pay for overtime, tho and you will put hours over and above your 40/week just like your civilian counterparts....you just don't get paid for them. In order to progress past O4 at least in the navy, you need to get a master's degree, too.
    In the military, you have medics and corpsmen who have, at least some degree of medical training, although how well they perform at work depends on you and you will be sent the corpsmen fresh from school. They will still initially require a lot of training and supervision. In the civilian world, you'll have PCA's or techs who probably have less training and can't give meds or start IV's and dissappear every 5 mins to go smoke and can't lift heavy patients because of their bad backs and call into work a lot.
    In the military, your corpsman will try all same things...but they've got to get a chit first
    That being said, I worked on a pulmo-tele ward when I was a civvie, my patient ratio was 4-6 tele patients with at least 3 being total care types. A lot of times, I had no tech to help me. I worked my butt off just to provide the basics of care.
    In the military, I've worked in on a gen surg ward and the ER. My surgical ward patient ratio was 9 during the day with upt to 12 at night with usually 2 corpsman. Many nights I relied on them to hang my abx, give PO meds and check v/s. My ER ratio is currently 6 to 9 patients of all types (cardiac, peds, medical, trauma etc). In the military you will get no hand-holding. You must be ready to hit the ground running because you will be thrown to the wolves. Course, they did that to me when I was a civvie so maybe it's just nursing.
    You will also get deployed in the military and I know 2 navy nurses who were wounded in battle on the mad dash to Baghdad. So you can get hurt. Deployment terms are growing ever longer....and you will be sent to one of the hottest, most worthless, smelly, ****** places on earth. The airforce had airconditioning, cable, and hot-tubs in their tents (that's what I heard!!!!)
    Lastly, in military nursing, there are nurses who've become officers and there are officers who've become nurses. The first variety are far more valuable than the last. If you're going to nursing school because you think you'd look good in khacki, don't do it. If you're going to school because you like taking care of ppl and you think blood-n-guts is cool then welcome aboard. This can be a dilemma for priors who've become nurse corps officers and then discover that it's not about getting saluted and that they have to work just as hard as when they were enlisted.
    On the other hand....your patients by and large can't sue you. You do get to do cool things like ride in helicopters and humvees and carry a 9 MM. You also can get an incredible amt of training for free from the military. I've got a string of certs now, half a page long, that would have cost me thousands of dollars if I was a civilian. The benefits if you can stick it out 20 years are pretty good and you become experts at getting free MAC flights to different places. 30 days paid vacation (leave) ain't bad either.
    Absolute last word of advice....if you're considering nursing.....DO NOT GO BACK IN WITHOUT A BSN!!!!! Why, if you were enlisted, do you still want to be enlisted again? Go get your BSN and go back in as an officer.
    I hope that helps.....PM me for any specific questions.

    You're an army of one when you cross over into the blue and accelerate your life (grin)
    krick2aliza likes this.
  4. 0
    Thanks for the information Calfax. That's the sort of comparison I was hoping for.
  5. 0
    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
  6. 0
    [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

    PG

    PS Didn't read end of Zman's post before posting this
    Last edit by Passin' Gas on Jun 8, '04 : Reason: ps note
  7. 0
    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.
  8. 0
    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...


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top