Best Branch for Military Nursing?

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    Hi Everyone,

    I will be graduating with a BS in Nursing this coming August. I am thinking about joining the military, but am unsure of which branch would be best. I'd like to get more information on which branch would offer me the most and what my day-to-day life would be like as a nurse in the army or air force. I was leaning toward the air force, but heard the army may have more to offer. I am very interested in specializing in Emergency/Trauma nursing.

    My biggest concern is that I a female, 27, single/never been married and I don't have any children. When the time is right and I do find someone to raise a family with, I want to have kids. I'm afraid joining the military may hinder this. Should I be worried about this?

    Do they have loan re-payment programs for loans already taken out? Are there sign-on bonuses? If I am single with no children, what are the living arrangements like?

    Thank you!

    Jenn
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  3. 25 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Hi there. Congratulations on graduating soon. I can't speak to how life as a nurse would be, but I can certainly tell you about life in the military. I served as a Helicopter mechanic in a special operations squadron for 4 years of the 6 I served in the Air Force. It was demanding, and it was time consuming, and I was TDY (temporary duty in another country) all the time.

    I cant imagine it would be any different for a trauma nurse. You would have a BA so you would be accepted as an officer, and would arrange your own living accommodations where you're based, but they will give a housing stipend to help. I know there are programs by the military to pay back your loans in exchange for serving so many years.

    I loved the experience, but I got out because I knew there was no hope of having a healthy family in that lifestyle. When you're in- you're a Serviceman/woman first, a human being second. My recommendation is to know if you're going to join- family life will not be healthy or perfect or easy in any manner. But you probably would get all your loans paid off and have Tuition assistance to pay for any masters degrees. Also know that the military-- any military-- will put you where they need you first, then maybe where you want to be. So you might not be a trauma nurse. You might be a rehabilitation nurse, or a burn nurse. Wherever they need you.

    Go Air Force over Army. I spent 8 months on an Army base to learn my job, and they have the worst food. I didn't much care for how they simple teach people to follow orders and not use any measure of critical thinking. It makes it a real pain to problem solve with many of the soldiers.

    Cheers
  5. 2
    I completely agree with Gregoryt9. My brother served in the Army (4yrs) and I served in the Air Force (6yrs). He had more deployments but he was with a special ops group. I was assigned to weapons attached to a special ops unit and traveled a lot less. The food was definitely better in the Air Force and I feel that they are more geared to a family lifestyle, BUT country definitely comes first.

    I would never suggest the military for anyone who wants to start a family. I didn't know of ANY marriages that lasted longer than 5 years. It was sad. My niece, however, is now married to a military man and she is at the 5 year mark and still going. But I honestly consider that a rare thing.

    The Air Force usually has better living arrangements, better hours (more like a typical job), and less travel. The Army might have better school benefits (i.e. kickers). Both would be a great experience, but I would suggest only signing up for 4 years. In the grand scheme of things, that is not very long. It will fly by.

    ANOTHER THOUGHT- the Army Reserves is offering a $30,000 sign-on bonus to RN,BSN for a 4 year commitment. They have good education benefits (just shy of $2,000/mo) and its only 1 weekend a month/ 2 weeks a year.
    parker86 and nurse2033 like this.
  6. 0
    Thank you very much for both replies! I appreciate the advice. I'm disappointed to hear that you don't recommend joining if I want to raise a family.

    I spoke to a Navy recruiter today and have to say that I wasn't too impressed with how the conversation went. I told him I graduate from nursing school in August and am interested in joining as an RN. He was a bit rude and said that I should think about doing something else in the Navy because the medical field is full. I am excited about joining the military as an RN, so this really let me down. I am hoping it was just his personality and will try calling another recruiter for the Navy. How realistic is it that the healthcare positions of each branch is full? I'm starting to get discouraged because it has taken me a long time to decide to talk to recruiters and now have my mind set on this! Thanks in advance.

    Jenn
  7. 0
    Recruiters lie (or at least bend the truth). Not all of them, but most. Sorry. Not trying to burst your bubble. The military really is a good thing and I am glad I joined. But you may have to do a little research on the websites too. I doubt the Army Reserves would be paying a 30,000 sign-on bonus for RN's if there was such a surplus.
    Definitely talk to the Army and Air Force recruiters, but take what they say with a grain of salt. They are the salespeople of the military, but don't be afraid to talk to them. Remember- you can always say no.
  8. 2
    While the experiences given here are applicable to the military in general, they are not accurate accounts of life as an officer, let alone a medical specialty officer. I would never put down anyone's service for our country, I am simply trying to give another perspective. I spent nearly seven years as an officer in the Marines, I've done research into military nursing, and I worked closely with officers in the medical community (flight doctors and nurses).

    1. Life as a nurse in the military (any branch) will be very similar to being a nurse in the civilian world, except that you will have a bit more autonomy. They are very relaxed when it comes to military customs and courtesies, and you'll work similar hours to your civilian counterpart. You won't live on base unless you want to.

    2. The easiest way to get the specialty you want is to be the best in your class or go for a specialty that no one else wants.

    3. There are lots of military marriages that work just fine. You would be signing up for a minimum of about 4 years: do you think you will find someone, get to know them, get married, and have children in that span? Eh, perhaps. But you don't get in trouble for having a social life, getting married, or getting pregnant.

    4. Forget about the quality of food on base. You don't have to eat there, you just show up for work. What you should be concerned about is the location of the bases. The Army and Air Force put their bases where no one else wants to live. The Navy puts their bases on the water (score).

    5. A recruiter can't tell you the first thing about being an officer. They don't recruit officers. You need to look up your local Officer Selection office for each of the services. Your school's ROTC instructors can help guide you there. Also, you can google Army/Air Force/Navy nursing.

    Good luck!
    Joe33 and Jules A like this.
  9. 0
    AutoRotate: Thank you so much for your response. It is very helpful information. How did you narrow down your decision to the Marines? The pros and cons for each branch seem to put them all at the same level! This makes it too hard.

    I would LOVE more information on experiences as an officer in the military - specifically nursing or the healthcare field!

    Again, thanks soo much!
  10. 0
    I've been entertaining the same thoughts Jennifer. Hopefully me hijacking your thread will yield some answers for you as well!

    I will get my MSN and FNP in 2013 and was wondering if the military branches would have need for FNPs? I am thinking they are looking more specifically for critical care or the nursing fields along those lines over a nurse geared towards family practice. Additionally, would I technically start off as a a 2nd Lt?
  11. 0
    Haha - you are more than welcome to highjack my thread.

    I would think they would be in need of FNPs, as well. If you think of all of the bases throughout the world - the veterans and their families need the care. That's just my impression. I'm sure you will get additional feedback.

    Goodluck!
  12. 0
    I am currently an RN with a BSN and I spoke with a Navy recruiter today and they are almost full for RNS for this fiscal year but the new fiscal year starts in October. Is the Air Force offering sign-on bonus or student loan repayment???


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