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.