Experienced ICU RN in level 1 trauma hospital. Thinking about joining the Airforce

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    Hello all-

    I am currently an ICU RN in a county level 1 trauma hospital. I am a certified CCRN and am on my hospital's heart team with IABP certs and a whole mess of other experience and certs. I am finishing my BSN in the fall. I am thinking about joining the air force but still playing with the idea. I am 27 with no kids (just pets) and a boyfriend i've been with for 5 years that is willing to move. Anyone have any adivce on what to expect when you join the air force as an experienced ICU RN? Do you love and recommend it? I know you are required to move some times....what happens if you have a house? Do they help you sell it? What about pay? I make around $26/hr now and am wondering if I have to take a major pay cut. I'm really considering this field but really want some real life adivce from current air force RN's. I've already spoken to a recruiter but he wasn't and had never been in the medical side of the air force. Any adivce, comments or suggestions would be really helpful and appreciated. Much love!!
    Last edit by kandace168 on Jun 19, '13
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  4. 0
    You'll need a health professions recruiter, not an enlisted recruiter. Health profession recruiters will know what the Air Force needs, when the boards will be, and how to put together your application. You can use: Contact Us: Find a Recruiter - airforce.com to find a recruiter in your area.
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    First you got to understand that the military will put you where they need you regardless of experience.
    The pay goes by time in. So you and a doctor can get the same pay. I worked with a nurse who was a Major & she got paid more then the Doc because she was higher ranking.
    There are pay charts you can look at make sure they are officer charts not enlisted.
    Like the other poster said go to a health profession recruiter, the recruiter you went to should have told you that but you gotta be careful with some recruiters they can be deceiving just to make quota.
    They don't not help you sell your house if you buy one. I live in a military community where houses will go from selling to renting because they can't afford to pay 2 mortgages.
    But it's a good opportunity especially since you have no kids. Some ppl love it but its not for everyone.
    You do move but lately it's been mellow or at least here it has. Before it wax every 2 years but they've cut back. I've seen ppl that have been on one base for 6yrs others longer.
    I know a nurse who has never left Texas & is almost retiring. Every time it was time to pcs (move) it was to a different department or base around here.
    Talk to a health recruiter ask questions & DON'T SIGN ANYTHING!!
    Ask about sign on bonuses (some branches are still giving bonuses).
    Good Luck!!
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    Not sure about the moneh question (i think after ten years my husband is making about that including benefits depending on where we are stationed and what the housing allowance is) but you wont move sometimes you will move all the time. Average is 2-3 years unless you are lucky.

    No they will not help you sell your house. In fact its not even recommended you buy a home unless you know you will be at a station long enough to break even or you are willing to rent it out. They will move your house hold goods for you though.

    You will deploy even in the air force even as a nurse.

    Look into officer options.
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    Even though you are a CCRN with years of experience at a Level 1 Trauma center, you will start out as an O-1 because your experience has not been with a BSN.
  8. 0
    Quote from donteyeballme
    Even though you are a CCRN with years of experience at a Level 1 Trauma center, you will start out as an O-1 because your experience has not been with a BSN.
    Really? I thought only the Navy did it that way. The Army counts all time as an RN, not only time spent as a BSN-prepared RN, and I seem to recall the Air Force was similar. I thought certification made a difference for the Air Force, too.
  9. 0
    I'm sorry, I'm speaking for the Navy, not Air Force.
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    I am currently applying with the Air Force, boards are Sept 2. After your BSN, they take half of your time that you have been an RN and give you credit for it (up to 6 years). For example, even if you have only had your BSN a month, but have been an RN for 3 years, you will have approx 1.5 years of "seniority" when you sign up. You will then be that much closer to an O-2 rank. Current pay is approx. 2876/month with 660 for housing and 240 for food making it about 3770/month. This is as a single with no dependents. When you get married, have kids, rank up, spend more time in the AF, your pay will dramatically increase - which will NEVER happen for civilian nurses. They also offer loan repayment and sign on bonuses. Like others have said, they wont help you sell your house, but will move everything for you.

    Definitely talk to a health professionals recruiter. They are the only ones that will know whats going on and how to do your application - which is a very lengthy process.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!
    lindarn likes this.
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    If you go to military.com they have the pay scales listed. It is based on rank and years in service. The base pay is all that is listed on the scale - this is your only taxable income. add to that the basic allowance for housing - for me it's about $1500, based on rank/dependents/location. add also a couple hundred for food allowance. You probably won't be facing a pay cut. Also, you don't pay any copay for your medical at all.

    Your CCRN will serve you well in the boards. You should know that there are bonuses for having your certification, but if you take the sign on bonus, you won't be eligible for the incentive pay while under sign on bonus time period. For CCRN in AF right now (always potential for change without warning!) there is a $20000/year bonus for signing for CCRN bonus for 4 years. I don't qualify since I'm under the sign on bonus still. I don't know that I would have risked the $30000 sign on bonus to hope for the 20k a year risk though.

    There are many of us that have houses in other cities. I can't sell my house in Phoenix. It is rented out. Housing is not something the military will help you with.

    Also - with pay. you will not be paid by the hour (I know a bunch of us are laughing at that concept upon reading it!!). You get your pay the same every month regardless of how much you work. And they can work you 12 hours a day for 7 days a week if the need is there. Luckily most of us work 7 12 hours shifts every 2 weeks. On deployment, I did have 1 whole month with no a single day off - my pay did not change. lol
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    Things they are a changing in the Air Force. Experience is nice, but it doesn't mean you will get into the Air Force any time soon. They are accepting fewer and fewer and boards are being cancelled, people are made alternates. Just a big old mess! The economy has made the armed services much more attractive and also the drawdowns have cause much fewer needs in the military. So you end up with a bunch competing for only a handful of spots.

    Also, coming in with experience can be a frustrating as the great majority of AD nurses lack experience and clinical decision making. However, they want to come to work and put forth effort I never witnessed on the civilian side.

    Pay? I never think about it and if that were my sole driving force I would still be a civilian making much more money and having more control over my life. The hours are not bad and you just do not work nearly as hard as a civilian nurse. Our ICU has techs and are ratios are cake. We can be on call, but we get loads of down time as well. Extra duties, but none are even difficult. Also, the higher you move up the ranks the less time you spend at the bedside. This can be good and bad! Also, take into account all the benefits you receive as AD vs Civilian. Free med and dental, tax free BAH and 30 days leave a year with all sorts of additional days here and there (Bday, PT, low census, admin days).

    the comment earlier about moving every 2-3 years is not happening. The majority will stay on station 4 years and with threats of canning PCS it may turn out to be longer. I have seen nurses extend but you will not stay in one base over 5 years.

    buying a house is a decision that has become more difficult with this economy. Back in the good old days members would PCS, buy a house and sell it for a profit when they moved. Now some people are forced to rent out their homes, sell at a loss or short sale their homes. Most of us now seem to either live on base or rent, but if I was stationed in a location I wanted to retire in I would buy maybe rent it out and return to later.
    lindarn likes this.


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