Civilian RN considering going military...

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    Hello All,
    I have been an RN, BSN for 5 1/2 years. I have always been interested in nursing in the military and find myself at a point in my life that this could be possible. I am just wondering if there are others on here who did civilian nursing first and then went into the military and how the experience has been and what the differences may be. I understand everyone has their own reasons for wanting to serve in the military, but I'm interested in how the day to day nursing job is different. I have read through many posts on here, and hope my question is not too repetitive, but I have mainly found posts of new nurses commissioning right out of nursing school and would like to hear from some nurses who have had experience in both worlds and how they have compared. Do military nurses (not deployed) work normal shift hours (like 3-12hour shifts a week?) I did see another post where someone said they worked 5-6 12s a week and I'm wondering if this is a standard thing or if this was when deployed or what? (I do realize that when deployed it's pretty much non-stop work). I do understand that the pay is less than in the civilian world and there is no overtime pay, etc. I guess I would just like to know how nurses who have left the civilian world have felt about their military nursing experience. It is a major transition and life decision as you all know and any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I am currently leaning towards Navy and Air Force, but welcome any information I can get. Thank you!
  2. 7 Comments so far...

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    Depending on where you work things will vary. For the most part you will work 7 12 hour shifts in a 2 week period if you are on a floor. Clinics 5 8-10 hour shifts per week. As far as pay for the first couple of years it is very compareable to the civilian world. Presently between my base salary & housing I am making around 35% more before taxes and 40-45% more after taxes, benefits etc. then civilian job which I am on military leave from. One thing to consider is the free medical, commisary, and tax free housing. Also one thing to consider is the cost of living where you are at, $25 an hour in one town is equal to $15 in another. The military housing allowance varies by location.
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    I private mailed (PM) you
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    Thank you for the replies! jeckrn, what area of nursing do you work in? Are you a Reservist, or is your civilian job holding your position the whole time you are on Active Duty? How has your military nursing experience been compared to your civilian experience? Have you deployed? Are you glad you made the change? Sorry for all the questions, and I hope not too personal. Feel free to PM me if necessary. I'm just trying to get as much info as I can and hear personal experiences of others and if it was what they expected. Thank you in advance for anything you can help me with, I greatly appreciate it!
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    Quote from akrn907
    thank you for the replies! jeckrn, what area of nursing do you work in? are you a reservist, or is your civilian job holding your position the whole time you are on active duty? i am on active duty and on military leave for 5 years from the erie va. how has your military nursing experience been compared to your civilian experience? hard to say because when i was a civilian nurse i worked in the ed, & home health and now i work in the or. have you deployed? i have deployed as a reservist and on active. are you glad you made the change? yes, it is allowing me to live in parts of the us that i would have never done if i had stayed a civilian. sorry for all the questions, and i hope not too personal. feel free to pm me if necessary. i'm just trying to get as much info as i can and hear personal experiences of others and if it was what they expected. thank you in advance for anything you can help me with, i greatly appreciate it!
    no problem.
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    Oh wow, that's interesting, I am also thinking of switching to OR (mainly because I am not sure I have found my main niche in nursing yet, and the Navy currently has a "critical need" for perioperative nurses, so have been looking into it). I currently have med/surg and some ED experience. When you signed on, was it to change to OR, or is that something you did after you got in? Did they put you through an OR training? How long was the training? How do you like the OR compared to what you did before?
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    When I came on to active part of my contract was the perioperative school. The Army's perioperative course is 16 weeks long. I like the OR, nice only taking care of 1 patient at a time, not having to work weekends & holidays. When I deployed the nurses in the OR worked a lot less then the rest of the nurses. Which can be good or bad depending how you are handling the deployment. For the most part I like it better.
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    Thank you jeckrn for all of the information, it has been very helpful!


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