Joining the military as a nurse

  1. 0
    I am 35 years old and will have my ASN in May. I am interested in joining the military reserves or quite possibly the military as a career. This is all very new to me and I have very little knowledge about what I am getting myself into. What I have found out so far is that I am past the age requirement to join without my nursing degree and the Air Force requires me to have my BSN but I can join up to age 46, although I would only receive a retirement from the military as long as I join before age 40. I am already shopping around for where to transition right into a program to get my BSN. Ultimately, I would like to get my masters in nursing. The reason I am interested in the military is that I need something more. I love nursing but everything I have experienced so far is somewhat boring and that's mostly due to the rural area that I live in and the hospitals that I have done clinicals in normally ship trauma patients to the big city hospitals. I also want to feel that sense of pride that comes with being a member of the US military, the best way I can describe it is that "I want more." My kids are soon to be 16 and 17 and my husband is fully on board with this so being deployed is not an issue. I don't have any prior military experience but do have some close friends whom have retired from the military that I can talk to about this but they went in the traditional way at a young age unlike what I am interested in. I got off to a late start because I started my family at a very young age. I got a business degree and worked as an engineers assistant for a year or so and decided that I needed more. I knew that I had more to offer and I needed to feel some sense of pride about what I was doing. Working on entering information into a database all day and working with China and Japan on production of our electrical units was not it. So, now here I am on my way to being a nurse and I still find myself wanting and needing more and I think the military is going to be the key to fulfilling that. So, what I am asking for is feedback from anyone that has any experience with what I am interested in and can give me some advice about different military branches and their own experiences. Thanks in advance!

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 25 Comments...

  3. 0
    Welcome to! We moved your post to the Govt./Military Nursing forum to attract more responses.

    Unfortunately, most branches of the military are requiring a BSN degree plus nursing experience. In addition, only a handful of nurses are getting accepted every year. Read some of the other discussions in this forum to get an idea of how things are playing out. Good luck to you!
  4. 0
    Thank you!
  5. 3
    I am interested in joining the military reserves or quite possibly the military as a career.
    Both active duty and reserves are very selective right now. Most branches are requiring BSN with varying years of experience.

    The reason I am interested in the military is that I need something more. I love nursing but everything I have experienced so far is somewhat boring and that's mostly due to the rural area that I live in and the hospitals that I have done clinicals in normally ship trauma patients to the big city hospitals.
    The military has many, many, many locations that are remote and rural that you'll probably be stationed at. It isn't all big-city hospital experience--not by a long shot. Those spots are getting competitive as the drawdown starts to cut our numbers and people begin to vie for the best spots.

    Your intentions sound fairly noble, but you need to understand that the military is a lifestyle, and a very demanding one that is getting more and more demanding by the day. The budget is not going to be nice to you. You're going to face long hours, understaffing, and probably mandatory overtime as the number of DOD civilians in the nursing workforce dwindle and the system begins to pull on military nurses as the primary source of labor.

    Keep this in mind: once you're in, they own you. You WILL be asking for a pass if you want to travel beyond your mileage radius (150-250 miles around the base, depending on your hospital), even on your days off. You WILL be at their mercy for vacation (just because you have leave doesn't mean you get to use it!). You WILL go where they tell you to go and do what they tell you to do, even if it's in a tiny little rural hospital that's been staffed by the same 50 people for the past 60 years. You WILL without a shadow of a doubt find yourself mandated to work overtime, especially if we're sequestered/furloughed/the freezing hire isn't lifted soon. You will very likely find yourself with a massive burden on your shoulders because as military, you can get ordered to do something. Civilians? Not only do they not have to do what they're told, but it's extremely difficult to fire them.

    I've been in now for long enough to be able to tell you that this lifestyle worked well for me when I was single. Being married and a state away from my husband, forced to ask for a pass everytime I want to see him? Not working for me anymore.

    Seriously consider what you're getting into. The military will force you to hand over many of the decisions you're used to making as an adult. Are you willing to complete 3-4 forms (including a risk assessment and car inspection) and submit them to your command in order to take a mileage pass for that weekend you already have off?

    Make sure your kids are OK with you being gone for extended periods of time. And seriously, be willing to give up a substantial chunk of your time, energy and freedom, because they're cutting the military itself, and it's going to get fiercely competitive. The one who sacrifices the most will "win" retirement. The others will separate.
    Pixie.RN, jvacc, and TheCommuter like this.
  6. 0
    Military downsizing is a reality and at overstrength with captains. They are looking at eliminating positions. I've seen LPN's lose their MOS and get converted back to medics as a result. A good friend of mine had this happen to him.
  7. 1
    Thank you for your honesty, I really appreciate that! I truly believe I can make those sacrifices at this point in my life.
    SoldierNurse22 likes this.
  8. 2
    Not at all. I don't think it's fair that people sugar-coat the military life. If you have honestly evaluated your life and you feel you can swallow all of those sacrifices without choking, then all the best to you and I hope it goes well!
    Pixie.RN and jvacc like this.
  9. 2
    I would encourage you to speak with several Army nurses so you can get a true picture...I don't think the general public has a true perception of Army nursing and it does often appear sugar coated and all "hooah". Keep in mind LPN's aren't officers. I can't tell you how many Army nurses have shared w/ me their frustrations - little time w/ a preceptor, expectation of taking on charge nurse duties w/ minimal experience on the floor, etc. You are going to be expected to PT and pass PT/tape tests. If you are a runner, that's a bonus for you because there is a lot of running. The Army if finally having low tolerance for profiles and this is one factor they are looking at currently for making people leave the Army. There is a current state of indecisiveness regarding military hospitals, too. Yes, as SoldierNurse22 said the government is looking at decreasing GS employees and having the military take on more. The govt is looking at the feasibility/affordability of keeping military hospitals. Specialties are being eliminated at some hospitals and now the patients are referred off post. It's a really volatile time right now....not trying to spread the negativity dust....I just think you should have a true picture.
    jvacc and SoldierNurse22 like this.
  10. 1
    I will be an RN when I graduate in May just with my associate degree not bachelor. I plan on getting a job right away and working on my BSN online so I will have a couple years of experience with my BSN. I also work out regularly and enjoy running, fitness and eating healthy is a big part of my life.
    CWONgal likes this.
  11. 2
    Have you spoken to a recruiter yet?

    My SO is currently in the military (deployed) and SoldierNurse22 gave you the best rundown on what to expect. I want to emphasize what she said on selectivity. It is very hard to get in right now. They will look for any reason to turn you away because they are already beginning to downsize on current active duty and reserves.
    jvacc and Pixie.RN like this.

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors