Considering - Navy Nurse Candidate Program

  1. I just recently received some information about the Navy Nurse Candidate Program. I am currently working on my ASN and plan to go straight into my BSN. I have plenty of time to decide if the NCP is for me but I would like to hear from some other Nurses or Nursing students that have experience with this program or who are considering joining the Navy.

    I am 28 yrs old women, married for 10 years and the mother of 2 girls (10 yrs & 3 yrs old). My husband has had many health related challenges over the past 6 years and we have decided that it is best for him to be a stay at home father to preserve his health and to maintain a healthy family environment. Thus my motivation to establish a strong career with opportunities for advancement and the benefits of job security, healthcare for myself and my family, retirement, additional education, etc.

    My specific questions are:

    How likely is it for a Navy Nurse to be assigned to a ship...and if assigned for what length of time are you away from your family without contact?

    With the current state of affairs in the middle east, are many Navy Nurses being sent into Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. If so for what period of time are they there?

    What is the usual length of a Navy Nurse's first assignment? I understand that you request your top three choices and will usually be sent to one of them, but for how long?

    After first assignment how much input does a Navy Nurse have in where they are assigned next. I am actually very interested in going to different places, even overseas (especially Japan), but I just would like to avoid being in a position where I could not have my family with me for an extended period of time.

    I am interested in your honest opinions and personal experiences...

    Thanks!
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   Calfax
    Quote from cbarnett2
    I just recently received some information about the Navy Nurse Candidate Program. I am currently working on my ASN and plan to go straight into my BSN. I have plenty of time to decide if the NCP is for me but I would like to hear from some other Nurses or Nursing students that have experience with this program or who are considering joining the Navy.

    I am 28 yrs old women, married for 10 years and the mother of 2 girls (10 yrs & 3 yrs old). My husband has had many health related challenges over the past 6 years and we have decided that it is best for him to be a stay at home father to preserve his health and to maintain a healthy family environment. Thus my motivation to establish a strong career with opportunities for advancement and the benefits of job security, healthcare for myself and my family, retirement, additional education, etc.

    My specific questions are:

    How likely is it for a Navy Nurse to be assigned to a ship...and if assigned for what length of time are you away from your family without contact?

    With the current state of affairs in the middle east, are many Navy Nurses being sent into Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. If so for what period of time are they there?

    What is the usual length of a Navy Nurse's first assignment? I understand that you request your top three choices and will usually be sent to one of them, but for how long?

    After first assignment how much input does a Navy Nurse have in where they are assigned next. I am actually very interested in going to different places, even overseas (especially Japan), but I just would like to avoid being in a position where I could not have my family with me for an extended period of time.

    I am interested in your honest opinions and personal experiences...

    Thanks!
    I've been a navy nurse for about 2.5 yrs now, stationed at NHJAX in Jacksonville, FL. The Navy pretty much requires you to be able to move around every 2-4 years from duty station to duty station. This is cool, if that's the lifestyle you want. You will get to travel the world this way, if you want to. But understand....that you will pack up and move every few years. The navy will pay for the move and will actually move you, so the process is not too bad.
    As far as having a stay at home husband, if he's willing to travel with you, you can do it.....since you're an RN, your duty stations will always have a hospital nearby. He can work if he wants to.....hard to get jobs overseas, tho.
    With the nurse corps, if you are stationed stateside, you will have a billet at a Navy Medicine Facility (your regular job) and you may also have an operational billet for which you may have to undergo additional training (let's go camping!)...if you're not attached to any platform ,you can be considered up for grabs for any deployable platform out of your facilty.
    As far your regular job...if you work in an inpt environment, you'll work 12 shifts....approx 15 shifts a month. Plus a few extra hours for any platform training. If you work in a clinic......9 to 5ish with weekends/holidays off. It's a hospital....usual politics apply but with uniforms.

    The platforms consist of FST's (fleet surgical teams....attached to a specific fleet), FSSG's (Fleet Surgical Support Groups.....these are attached to Marine units and see the most deployment), CRTS (Casualty Receiving & Treatment Ships...will get deployed too...and go out for work-ups every 24 mos or so), Fleet Hospitals (Navy's version of MASH units....deployable but less common), and service on the "big twinkies" USS MERCY & COMFORT. There are also permanent RN billets on the carriers....anda couple of med-evac flight billets.
    Assignment to any particular platform...(unless you are actively trying to get on one)...is capricious and random. Your name is on a list, it gets picked and that's it. The navy does not care what's going on in your life or not and will require you to put your life on hold for the period of your deployment. That's how it works.....and no use crying about it. The only way you can get out of deployments are if you are pregnant or for specific health reasons (surgery, etc.)
    Deployments can last for a period of 6 to 9 mos usually with 2 to 6 wk work-ups prior to leaving.....you can expect, given the current situation in the Middle East, that if you are attached to an FSSG....you will be deployed. Fleet hospitals deploy less, but ours now has had a rotating deployment for about a year in Djibouti, Africa. Overseas hospitals, tho, technically count as an operational billet....and you can't get deployed out from them (not typically).
    If you are in Iraq or overseas somewhere, yes you will be shot at, and yes you can die. During the last gulf war, we've got great video of one of our docs working on a wounded marine behind a hum-vee...then lifting his M-16 and firing over the hood at the Iraqi's. You can hear him cursing in Tagalog.

    So, these are elements that you need to consider.....yes, you will have a regular billet at a Naval Hospital....but then you can also get deployed. Why would you join the military and not expect that? However, we also have billets in spain and italy....very beautiful. If you want to stay in one place, consider the Air Force....they allow "homesteading".....you can stay at a particular institution for a very long time. However, you will get deployed in the AF too...and you have to like flying. The army is always going camping too.
    Hope this helps.
    -Calfax
  4. by   fry.girl
    I really appreciate the time you put into your response...

    First of all, I totally understand that when joining the Navy Nurses that I would joining the military and therefore would consider myself a soldier. I understand that I have to move around...that is what has me interested...My husband and I both would really like that type of experience for ourselves and our children.

    I would just hate to sign up for the NCP, finish my BSN, and then be on then next plane to Iraq for 2 years...thats all...

    If I was sent to the middle east or whereever or put on a ship after I had been established with the Navy and felt confident in what I would be doing there, then I think my husband and I would both be able to handle that as long as it was not for an extended period of time (more than 1 yr)

    I have some more questions now...

    I have seen and heard the term billet and only have a contextual understanding of it...so am I correct in interpreting it to mean a "duty" or "job assignment"?

    How and by whom is a Navy Nurse's platform determined? FST, FSSG, CRTS, etc.

    Am I correct in understanding that if I for example requested an assignment in Okinawa, that I would be less likely to be deployed somewhere else than if I was stationed in Bethesda MD?

    Thanks again for your time!
  5. by   tribe0701
    Why not look into the Air Force Nurse Corps too? At least get information sent to you about it. Why limit yourself by looking at one service? you may be surprised at what you see.

    Air Force Member 13 years and still going............
  6. by   fry.girl
    Quote from tribe0701
    Why not look into the Air Force Nurse Corps too? At least get information sent to you about it. Why limit yourself by looking at one service? you may be surprised at what you see.

    Air Force Member 13 years and still going............

    I will be looking into the Airforce as well...I have heard alot of great things so far...I will need to visit their website and get some info sent...

    Thanks!
  7. by   Calfax
    Thanks for the feedback......

    Let's see a billet is the Navy term for a position or job assignment. The Navy has it's own language and culture...you'll learn it as you go.

    As to what platform you'd be assigned.....how it works: you arrive in the navy from civilian life a direct accession officer, with rank dependant on years spent as a civilian RN. Or you're part of a ROTC or NCP program...or you were prior enlisted (MECEP or BOOST) and most recently....as an academy grad (although why you'd want to be a nurse when you can run a frigate or an aircraft carrier beats me).
    During your induction to the Navy you will be assigned to a command, usually initially it is stateside somewhere. If your command has operational platforms, you may be assigned to that platform as well as to the command itself. The command supplies personnel for the ops platforms...which go out and do stuff "in other people's backyards".
    Your command's POMI office (POMI stands for....um...Planning....Operational...Medical Intelligence) has a list of all the ppl at the command and what their jobs are and what skills people have. When your orders are cut or when you arrive at the command, the POMI office may or may not assign you to a platform depending on what the current needs are. Bear in mind that your 20 y/o second cousin from miami is in charge of that list and it gets updated when he or she gets around to it. So your assignment to anything is haphazard at best. But no worries, eh?
    It's true that you do want to look at the airforce..certainly, out of the 3 services, they've got the newest and most advanced facilities. Fort Sam Houston and Wolpert Hall hospital in San Antonio, TX are very impressive. But they do get deployed (not as much as the army and navy, tho.)
    But, it's the Airforce. C'mon. You want a real job. Things you can complain about (sharks, dysentary, asbestos, port call in dry countries). Very nice ppl, tho.....shiny boots.
  8. by   tribe0701
    It's true that you do want to look at the airforce..certainly, out of the 3 services, they've got the newest and most advanced facilities. Fort Sam Houston and Wolpert Hall hospital in San Antonio, TX are very impressive. But they do get deployed (not as much as the army and navy, tho.)
    Fort Sam Houston is Army, pretty nice facilities. Wolford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio is one of the biggest medical centers the Air Force has. There are also "major" medical facilities in Northern Cali; Dayton, Ohio; Mississippi; Maryland; Illinois and some others that I am running a blank on. Yet each AF base has either a hospital, ambulatory, surgery clinic or clinic.

    By any chance are you looking to stay in Florida? If so, you probably already know there are 5 major Air Force bases there and I am sure navy bases too.

    True, the Air Force does not get deployed as much. It's called the AEF (Aerospace Expeditionary Force) cycle. In a nutshell, here is how it works:

    1. "IF" you go to a mobility base (and I stress if, you may not go to a deployable base). After you get there you enter training and get slotted to an AEF.
    2. That AEF is on a cycle. The cycle rotates every 15 months.
    3. For example: your AEF is tasked with a deployment in which it requires 6 nurses to deploy.
    -- The AEF is not only your base. The AEF is a combination of many bases.
    So, each base provides so many personnel in different AF specialities to
    go to a deployed location.
    EX: If there are 5 bases in the AEF, and 6 nurses needed, 1 base sends 2
    and all others send 1.
    4. Your particular base may get tasked with sending 2 nurses. If you have 6 nurses on your unit, then 2 have to go.
    -- The point being, they will not depleat a base totally, they take a little
    from base A, base B and so on.
    5. If you must go, then you go.
    6. You spend 90 days on deployemnt and then another AEF replaces your AEF in 90 days. Yes 90 days. There have been a few 120 day deployments, but they are mostly for special forces personnel.
    7. You return to your base and be prepared for deployment in 15 months.
    8. So 15 months rolls around and another AEF tasking is sent. The Air Force thinks logically and realizes that you went on the last deployment, so common sense tells the AF that 2 OTHER nurses will go, instead of the same as last time.
    9. Now, in essence you could go 30 months or more without a deployment.
    10. Yet, that cannot be guaranteed due to various manning issues and you may have to deploy every 15 months (worst case scenerio).
    11. Bottom line, you have to be prepared for deployment every 15 months, in reality, you would most likely not deploy every 15 months, unless you like the money deployments have to offer and like some adventure.

    I am sure your recruiter can explain this to you and validate it. They are really not all bad, just get to know your recruiter. Mine was great. Ask for the good, bad and ugly.

    Hope this helps
  9. by   fry.girl
    Thanks for details on deployment...very helpful. I have not totally ruled out the Airforce, so I appreciate the information.

    I am still weighing the pros and cons...Airforce vs Navy

    Does anyone know how Navy deployment works...?

    Thanks!
  10. by   zenman
    I was ARMY many years ago and still have friends in all the branches. Many in the Navy say it is the worse and the Air Force best. I was on a plane a few days ago listening to a Navy Seal talking about how the Navy is behind the rest of the branches in taking care of their people. Do your homework!
  11. by   Kora0880
    Quote from zenman
    I was ARMY many years ago and still have friends in all the branches. Many in the Navy say it is the worse and the Air Force best. I was on a plane a few days ago listening to a Navy Seal talking about how the Navy is behind the rest of the branches in taking care of their people. Do your homework!

    I heard the same about the Army being "not so great". . . . one branch makes the other ones look bad. . .I really don't get this crapping on other branches, although I am sure some are somewhat more "soldier friendly" than others. . .
  12. by   guitarguy2
    Hi, I am also interested in doing signing up with the Naval Reserves as a psychiatric nurse (RN). I've heard that deployment for them is mainly in Germany. I wonder if this is true, and if so, how frequent is it happening?
  13. by   PickyRN
    I became an RN last summer, and I am about to start an RN to BSN program (since I have my Associate's degree). I am planning on joining the Nurse candidate Program in the Navy as soon as I get under the weight requirements. Diet and exercise, diet and exercise.

    I considered both Air Force and Navy nursing. I called both branches and had conversations lasting over an hour each with recruiters. What it came down to for me was the fact that the Nurse Candidate Program is a much better incentive than anything the Air Force is offering. Also, I come from a Navy family (two Navy grandfathers in the South Pacific, Dad and all uncles Navy in Vietnam, plus my brother and sister are currently active duty Navy enlisted) so I would be pretty much disowned if I joined the Air Force.

    Anyway, here is the information that I have gotten about deployments. Whether it is true or not, I can't say, because it is from recruiters from both branches.

    The USAF recruiter (a sergeant in communications, not even health care) told me that they have what's called the AEF. This is where every 18months that you are on active duty, your name gets "put into a hat" and you may or may not be deployed. He said that what happens is that the USAF nurses who are working overseas get "deployed" as flight nurse or something "frontline", and then you would get deployed to go work at the hospital they got deployed from while they are off doing frontline stuff (if that makes sense). ANyway, the USAF recruiter told me that it's a totally random thing as to whether you get deployed or not, and the deployments last 3 to 6 months.

    The USN recruiter (who was an actual USN NURSE) told me that if you work as a nurse in the Navy that you will be stationed at a naval hospital, and there are approximately 70-100 "deployed" nurses in the navy at any one time. Half of these are deployed on ships and half are deployed in MASH type units or at Marine bases (Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune). He said that the shipboard deployments are highly sought after, since they are very "career-enhancing", and basically, if you don't want to serve on a ship, you aren't going to serve on a ship since there are always more people wanting to be on a ship than there are postings. The other deployments, he told me, work on a volunteer/mandate type system. In other words, they say, "Ok guys, we have a need for navy nurses deployed to the following places, who wants to go?" If all the postings are filled with volunteers, they don't "force" anybody to go. But if the postings aren't filled, then they pick people to go.

    I don't have any problem being deployed. Since I have a family and young children, I don't think I will be trying for a shipboard posting. I'm not going to complain if I get deployed, after all, that's what service to the country is about, right? A sacrifice for the good of the country.

    PickyRN
  14. by   lcbradley
    Quote from PickyRN
    I became an RN last summer, and I am about to start an RN to BSN program (since I have my Associate's degree). I am planning on joining the Nurse candidate Program in the Navy as soon as I get under the weight requirements. Diet and exercise, diet and exercise.

    I considered both Air Force and Navy nursing. I called both branches and had conversations lasting over an hour each with recruiters. What it came down to for me was the fact that the Nurse Candidate Program is a much better incentive than anything the Air Force is offering. Also, I come from a Navy family (two Navy grandfathers in the South Pacific, Dad and all uncles Navy in Vietnam, plus my brother and sister are currently active duty Navy enlisted) so I would be pretty much disowned if I joined the Air Force.

    Anyway, here is the information that I have gotten about deployments. Whether it is true or not, I can't say, because it is from recruiters from both branches.

    The USAF recruiter (a sergeant in communications, not even health care) told me that they have what's called the AEF. This is where every 18months that you are on active duty, your name gets "put into a hat" and you may or may not be deployed. He said that what happens is that the USAF nurses who are working overseas get "deployed" as flight nurse or something "frontline", and then you would get deployed to go work at the hospital they got deployed from while they are off doing frontline stuff (if that makes sense). ANyway, the USAF recruiter told me that it's a totally random thing as to whether you get deployed or not, and the deployments last 3 to 6 months.

    The USN recruiter (who was an actual USN NURSE) told me that if you work as a nurse in the Navy that you will be stationed at a naval hospital, and there are approximately 70-100 "deployed" nurses in the navy at any one time. Half of these are deployed on ships and half are deployed in MASH type units or at Marine bases (Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune). He said that the shipboard deployments are highly sought after, since they are very "career-enhancing", and basically, if you don't want to serve on a ship, you aren't going to serve on a ship since there are always more people wanting to be on a ship than there are postings. The other deployments, he told me, work on a volunteer/mandate type system. In other words, they say, "Ok guys, we have a need for navy nurses deployed to the following places, who wants to go?" If all the postings are filled with volunteers, they don't "force" anybody to go. But if the postings aren't filled, then they pick people to go.

    I don't have any problem being deployed. Since I have a family and young children, I don't think I will be trying for a shipboard posting. I'm not going to complain if I get deployed, after all, that's what service to the country is about, right? A sacrifice for the good of the country.

    PickyRN
    A friend and classmate of mine from high school has been in the Navy since we graduated in 1993 and she told me the same thing. She also recruits for the Nurse Corps. I am almost done with my application packet for the nurse candidate program and I am really excited about this opportunity.

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