I am currently a civilian RN/BSN working at Duke Hospital. I have 3 years of experience, with 2 years of CT-ICU experience. I am getting ready to apply for CRNA school, and should have closer to 3 years of ICU experience by the time I will actually start school. Additionally, I'll be taking (and passing) my CCRN in a few weeks, and I've gotten alot of great training in critical care and mechanical assistance (i.e. LVAD, IABP, CVVHD, and soon to get training on ECMO) at Duke. I still need to take the GRE, I'm planning on doing this in late March/early April since Duke's CRNA application deadline is in May.
However, the cost of going to school at Duke is tremendous. I am currently still paying off my undergrad student loan. I have been working the past few years to pay off my car and my credit cards. My car is paid off, and my credit cards should be paid off by the time I'm ready to start school. And my plan was to defer my undergrad loans while in school. Luckily my fiancee is also an RN is will be working while in school. However, I'm really worried about how much money I will get for assistance from FAFSA and such. Even with government assistance and doing some kind of Duke contract, I think I will need to take out a sizeable loan. It's true I could look at cheaper schools, there are plenty around here. But part of the reason I moved to NC and started at Duke was because I wanted to go to a top notch CRNA school.
So with that said, I recently began gathering information on civilian to military CRNA school. I already knew that the Army CRNA school was always in the top 5 for schools. And prior to doing undergrad had considered joining the military. But, I'm a little hesitant to completely sign my life away to the military. I worry about frequently being relocated to different bases, especially for my fiancee. It's true she is a nurse too and can find a job anywhere, but she recently transferred to an ICU to get experience for going back to NP school in a few years. I'm hesitant to jeopardize her experience if I'm having to constantly be reassigned. Same with getting deployed, I'd like to get more "real" information about this from people who are actually military CRNA's.
I've been browsing the forums and the threads and got a good deal of information, but the most recent was dated Jan 2010. So if possible, I'd like to get more current information and possibly find out how those who were in school, are doing now as practicing military CRNA's. I've already contacted an Air Force rep and will do a FTF session next week, but I'd like to get as much information as possible from experienced persons.
So a few questions:
1. What type of loan/tuition assistance did you receive from your branch? What are the terms of service to receive these benefits?
2. For CRNA's that went from civilian RN to military CRNA school: What types of difficulties did you face in applying to military CRNA school, aside from the usual difficulties in applying to any CRNA school.
3. For active CRNA's, how often have you been deployed and what was the length of your deployment? How stable would you say your position is at your current place of practice, aside from deployment?
4. What is your average yearly salary as a military CRNA? I know I might get lots of flak about this, and I know the base pay is roughly 50k, but I am talking about "your" average, with living/food/bonuses and deployment pay. I am not super concerned about taking a pay cut because I do understand that the military pays less than civillian, with the benefits of military health care, tax/duty free, no malpractice insurance, free tuition etc. But I'd just like to get an idea to compare so that I know that it is roughly equivalent.
5. For civilian to military: How was your general transition from civilian life to military life? Any significant others/families who are civilian? How did they take the transition? Any advice?
Ideally, if I do end up doing this route, I would probably get married sooner so that my S.O. could move and live with me. Luckily, she has a job that allows her to do that *wink*. It's definitely something we will have to discuss once I get more information about whether or not this is a route I would consider. Depending on my experience in the military and from gathering other military CRNA's experience, I would consider continuing the military CRNA career into retirement.
Thank you to anyone who is able to provide insight into this! I appreciate all honest comments as this will allow me to make a sound and informed decision. Thank you to all for taking the time to read my post. I anxiously look forward to hearing from anyone.