I'm an RN with experience in critical care and cardiothoracic surgery, currently working in a CTICU in a large hospital, and looking into military options. I would be looking to join as a CCRN as a commissioned officer. Wondering if anyone has experience as a military RN, specifically in critical care? What is the recruitment process like? Any deployment experience? I am also interested in student loan reimbursement/forgiveness. My ultimate goal is to become a CRNA. Any advice or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
JL RN BSN
Moved to Government/Military nursing
Good luck, I'm trying to do the same, going to COT next week
Unfortunately, ICU in the military is pretty low acuity on average. Only one base (SAMMC in San Antonio) gets real trauma. A few others have decent acuity (level 2) in the couple hundred bed range. Deployments can be different. However, there's a lot more to military nursing that just direct patient care. Many people elect to moonlight one day a week to keep their skills.
Know that if you take loan repayment, you won't be able to apply to go back to CRNA school for 3 or 4 years. There is a great go back to school program (AFIT) for CRNA, where you get full cost of attendance covered on top of your full salary and benefits. It is very competitive.
I just did 6 years in the Navy' s Nurse Corps and separated from active duty last month. I was (and still am) a CCRN when I joined and it helped put me ahead of the other nurse corps candidates. I was almost immediately brought in due to the fact I was a CCRN and had 8 years of civilian ICU nursing. I also received a $30,000 lump sum sign on bonus and since I had 8 years of exp, I was brough in as an O2 (LTJG) and only 8 months later put on O3 (LT), it normally takes about 6 years to put on O3. I had to sign a 4 year commitment for taking the bonus. I joined in 2011 and received orders to deploy to Afghanistan within 3 months of starting at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. This isnt the norm nowadays since the op tempo has slowed. I enjoyed the Navy, there are several hospitals in the Navy with ICU's and when I put in my resignation it was made clear to me that they did not want to lose me as an ICU nurse because they were only about 70% manned in critical care (the Navy's nurse corps as a whole is 100% manned, but they do need experienced ICU nurses). The Navy brings in alot of nurses every year, with intentions of training some of those as ICU, but many do not make it through the training to become an ICU nurse, the standards are very high. So they end up with a surplus of med surg nurses and therefore a shortage of ICU nurses.
I finished out my commitment in the Navy as a Ship's Nurse on an Aircraft Carrier. It was an awesome experience but was away from home ALOT, like months at a time. In my last year in the Navy I actually spent more time at sea than I did at home, so plan accordingly. I loved the ship because being an officer in the fleet is way different than being an officer in a hospital. I found I had a much higher level of respect on the ship versus being one of many nursing officers in a large hospital.
In the Navy, CRNA school is almost a guarantee if you have the grades and the GRE score. Every year they do not have enough qualified candidates apply and usually are begging for people to do their program. I was asked many many many times to apply, but I have never been interested in that field of nursing, plus there is a lengthy time in service commitment following graduating CRNA school due to the fact it is a DNP program. In the Navy you must go to their CRNA school, no option to go to a civilian school. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.
Last edit by anchorRN on Aug 7
Thanks for the good advice everyone. Good luck to you, St.BaptistRN
What happens if you are prior service, get out to go to nursing school, and then get back in? Are you given credit for that prior service?
You get credit for prior enlisted service in the form of the 'E' on your pay grade. You essentially get more money, which you can see on google in the O1E, O2E, and O3E grades. You do need to serve 4 years plus 1 day active duty, or the reserve equivalent in points, to get the 'E.'
Also, you get to keep your years of federal service. That counts towards additional pay and quicker retirement.
You only get time in grade credit (i.e. coming in as a higher rank) for prior officer experience (50%) in another career or prior full-time civilian RN experience (50%).
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