becoming an Air Force RN? :o)

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    Hi, I am a RN with 3 years experience in oncology, med/surg tele, pccu, cardiac step down. I currently have my ADN and will have my BSN in June 2012. I am looking into joining the air force as a CO. I am a ex army wife my husband got out in 2002, and i miss the military life and always wanted to join but I was the mom (3 kids) and wife.. now its his turn while im still young (im27 ) lol .. I have been "stalking" this page for the last few days and have gotten some very helpful info but am still confused (mostly because i dont no the acronyms ) I have a meeting to talk with a recruiter tomorrow and made a list of questions and i thought i would also post them here and see what you all think and if its the same. Thanks for all your help!!


    1. what are the sign on incentives (money to pay back loans, sign on bonus, dif. bonus for dif jobs)
    2. do i have a choice or preference in duty station?
    3. what bases are in need of nurses (which is the best bases for a nurse)
    4. what rank will i come in as
    5. how often will i or can i get promoted
    6. how long are the terms
    7. how often will we relocate
    8. how often do nurses get deployed
    9. ho soon can i go back to school (want my crna or NP)
    10. much much tuition assistance is there for school
    11. do i get a choice in my specialty
    12. how long is training/school
    13. does my experience matter or my certs (chemo acls)
    14. how long is the process ( "enlisting" training to being stationed)


    THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!!! :nurse
  2. 15 Comments so far...

  3. 3
    Hi KMK, I've been a nurse in the Air Force for almost 2 years now, and I'll try my very best to answer your questions to the fullest, because when I was starting my Air Force career this board really helped me.

    1. what are the sign on incentives (money to pay back loans, sign on bonus, dif. bonus for dif jobs) = Depending on what is approved in the budget for the year you sign you could get a student loan repayment, and/or accession bonus (a bonus for commissioning)... after you have fulfilled your original commitment there is a list of jobs that you can get a yearly bonus for (as long as the bonus is approved for that fiscal budget)
    2. do i have a choice or preference in duty station? = For your first assignment they will want to put you at a base where there is a hospital, so you have 5 CONUS (stateside) bases that you will write down on your "dream-sheet", and your recruiter should have you write down your requested overseas bases (my recruiter told me that new recruits don't go overseas, but he was wrong, so I never put down any overseas bases on my dreamsheet).
    3. what bases are in need of nurses (which is the best bases for a nurse) = all bases are in "need" of nurses, but I would say the greatest need is in San Antonio where Lackland AFB is at, I know that Wilford Hall Med. Ctr. is in the process of transferring over to BAMC (Brooks Army Med. Ctr.), but I have know idea where they are in the process - it will be a joint medical center with Army and Air Force.
    4. what rank will i come in as = You will come in as a 2nd Lt, because your rank starts from the time you graduate with your BSN, since you already took your NCLEX (someone correct if I'm wrong).
    5. how often will i or can i get promoted = 2nd Lt - 1Lt 2yrs, 1Lt - Cpt 2yrs (4yrs total to Cpt), Cpt - Maj 8-14yrs (about 10-14yrs total to Maj; currently it is a little longer for nurses),
    Maj-LTC 5-7 yrs ( about 17 yrs total), LTC-Col -3-5yrs (about 20-22yrs in the Air Force)... The Nurse Corps has a slower promotion rate than regular officers (line side officers).
    6. how long are the terms = It is expected you will be in one place 3-4 years, but I have seen people move much faster than the 3-4 year time frame, the longest I have seen a nurse stay at one place was 5 years.
    7. how often will we relocate = Probably every 3 to 4 years
    8. how often do nurses get deployed = Just depends on what kind of nurse you are, but I think I'm on a 2 year cycle right now, and I missed my last "deployment bucket" because I just had a baby, but nurses deploy a lot, so expect to go... ICU, Surgical, and Mental Health Nurses deploy the most.
    9. ho soon can i go back to school (want my crna or NP) = After you have two years time on station (TOS).
    10. much much tuition assistance is there for school = If you don't use AFIT (the Air Force's competitive graduate school program), which is where the Air Force pays your salary, housing allowance, and tuition while you're in school... regular tuition assistance is $250 a credit hour
    11. do i get a choice in my specialty = You can always request it, if you have your certification it will help a lot.
    12. how long is training/school = Commissioned Officer Training (COT) is 6 weeks
    13. does my experience matter or my certs (chemo acls) = Everything counts, and everything helps in getting the job you want, and it also helps getting into the Air Force, because right now Air Force applications are extremely competitive!
    14. how long is the process ( "enlisting" training to being stationed) = You don't "enlist"... you "commission".... I would give yourself 6-12 months to get all the paperwork in, and to process through MEPS, COT is 6 weeks, you will move directly to your base from COT, that is if you don't have to go NTP (Nurse Transition Program) - which hopefully you won't have to go to, because you're not a "brand-new" nurse.

    Hopefully, I have answered your questions... and anybody please correct me if you have better information.
    JJTRN, superman07, and oaktown2 like this.
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    1. what are the sign on incentives (money to pay back loans, sign on bonus, dif. bonus for dif jobs)

    --depends on how long you sign on for and if you take cash vs loan repayment.
    2. do i have a choice or preference in duty station?

    --AF is getting tight plan on 4-5 years.
    3. what bases are in need of nurses (which is the best bases for a nurse)

    All and none - who knows - check with the recruiter

    4. what rank will i come in as

    --most likely a bitter bar aka 2nd lt
    5. how often will i or can i get promoted

    --2 -2 and whenever
    6. how long are the terms

    -- see recruiter
    7. how often will we relocate

    --see prior question
    8. how often do nurses get deployed

    --18 months out of the bucket ans then you go play
    9. ho soon can i go back to school (want my crna or NP)

    -- you need to apply, 2 yrs boots on base then apply with everyone else. as a newbie - it may take a while
    10. much much tuition assistance is there for school

    -- i am not sure..you will take online classes cause you will be working shift work and forget attending classes
    11. do i get a choice in my specialty

    --new nurse NO. welcome to med/surg
    12. how long is training/school

    --NTP 12 wks
    13. does my experience matter or my certs (chemo acls)
    --every nurse has ACLs
    14. how long is the process ( "enlisting" training to being stationed)
    --18months 2 yrs..
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    I just want to offer you a few words of encouragement and a few more insights.

    -Make sure when you are filling out your paperwork your recruiter gives you constructive credit for your time as a nurse. They take half of you civilian time and count that as time in grade. So you may come in as a 2nd Lt but you could get 1 to 1.5 years. This means you could make 1st Lt in six months to a year after coming in.

    - With your background experience in critical care you can apply for your CRNA after two years on station. However, in the military there is a waiver for everything and you can probably apply for a TOS (time on station) waiver after a year. You wouldn't be leaving for your program until you hit your two year mark on station anyway. Just keep yourself competitive, have a great GRE score and work hard. Let people know what you want. I have had friends that received this waiver to attend other AFIT nursing programs.

    -Additionally, if you want CRNA make sure that you come in with a critical care identifier. You may not know what that is yet but your recruiter should. Tell them you want to be a 46N3E (ICU) or 46N3J (ER). They won't touch you for CRNA school without it and you will be languishing in a clinic in North Dakota if your not careful

    - Also, more than likely you will not end up in San Antonio. There are very few places for them to place critical care nurses, and Wilford hall is basically becoming a glorified clinic, with few spots for Air Force at the new "joint" hospital. There are a few other places you can go though.

    -Additionally, until this war winds down plan on deploying every 18 months. I was in less than a year before I was getting deployed as a new nurse.

    - As far as educational opportunites, there are many in the Air Force. I was lucky and when I first came in I had great managers who would help me so that I could take classes in person. This meant that I had to work every weekend, but as long as you are willing to sacrifice, someone is usually willing to work with you. But we do have our tuition assistance with I think is 2500 dollars a year. I might be wrong, it could be 4500. Anyway, TUI (if you are into that type of school) is almost completely covered by TA. If you want your NP or CRNA I recommend using AFIT. This is in-residence, going to class is your job type of schooling. It covers the cost of the most expensive instate tuition of the school of your choice. So if you choose say Duke University, AFIT will cover all costs up to the most expensive public university in North Carolina. However, you do own 2 years for every 1 year of education. Except for CRNA which I think is a six year committment.

    - I hope this helps. I have been in for 5 years and love every minute of it. Just persevere and keep pushing forward, and make sure your paperwork is correct. The recruiters are generally not medical, and don't always know the answers to your questions, and they do make mistakes.
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    I've been an AF Rn for 2 years on a surgical floor. I'm stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. Big hospital with a fair number of inpatient rooms. Let me elaborate on what others have told you.Deployments: Med-surg nurses are currently on a 3-1 right now. That means 3 six months blocks at home then one potential six month block deployed. But just because you're window of vulnerability is coming up doesn't mean you'll go. We've had a number of nurses either not get tasked during their "bucket" or get tasked and then have their deployment get cancelled. I think ICU nurses are more "vulnerable" than med-surg and family birthing less vulnerable.Your time as a nurse will count toward your promotion. By the time you get through the process you may have 4 years as an RN. Take half of that and that's how many years you have to wait for promotion. I have a friend who was a nurse for 10 years before coming into the AF. She was already a captain in COT.I'm attending TUI/Trident University in their MS program. The AF will pay 1000 a class and up to 4500 a year. Trident accepts what the AF tuition assistance pays as full tuition so zero money out of pocket.I took the student loan repayment money and the sign-on bonus. So I owe the AF six years. I had 14 months as a nurse before joining. With a year or more, you don't get to attend NTP. You're considered an experienced nurse so you'll jump right into floor orientation.It's my understanding that all new nurses will go to an inpatient unit for their first assignment. We have tons of 2 lieutenants running around but I can't guarantee you'd absolutely have to go inpatient.I've been reading that the wait for a COT class is approaching a year. My wait was about 3 months.Holler if you want/need more info.1Lt Tim Brunson, USAF, NC
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    Hi babyrn. I am a NICU nurse and just wondering how difficult it was for you to be "accepted" into the air force with a NICU specialty. From what I have read here they don't hire many NICU nurses. Is that true?
  8. 0
    ". ho soon can i go back to school (want my crna or NP)

    -- you need to apply, 2 yrs boots on base then apply with everyone else. as a newbie - it may take a while"


    The 2 yrs TOS is up until you actually sit in that AFIT slot classroom. It's not two years of standing in one place on base x waiting for the Call for Candidates. One could arrive at base x in Feb of this year and apply for an AFIT slow next year since the Call for Candidates comes out in June and the schools start the following year (March for USUHS and Aug for civilian schools).

    As for taking a while - you'd be surprised how many people do not take advantage of our education system. You might be the only applicant on your base for grad school. the cheif nurse only makes sure you meet the requirements and that you're the kind of person we want in grad school and being our CRNA or NP. I say apply as soon as the math works out. Those stars align infrequently in our careers.
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    Do you guys know if the Air Force will count ADN experience or will they only consider RN experience after getting a BSN?
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    The Air Force will only accept applicants who have graduated with their BSN, and only your BSN time counts towards work experience (if you have been working as an RN you can come in with advance rank - the AF has a formula for calculating that).

    Nauttica, sorry for the super late response, but experienced NICU nurses are needed - there just isn't a lot of places you can be stationed as a NICU nurse.
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    When it comes to years o experience accepted, I am wondering if it depends on the are you are applying for. On a few threads I have read, people are saying the AF only counts years after your BSN, but in my case that is not true. I have 7yrs trauma/ER experience and I am getting 3 yrs credit. Should I get selected I will go in as an O-2. This is in writing, and was explained to me as such by the CNO I interviewed with, so, again, I don't know if this is unit dependent or a new thing just implemented. I would ultimately ask the CNO because things can change and sometimes recruiters can be left out of the loop.


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