Military critical care nursing

  1. Hi all,

    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
    •  
  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    Moved to Government/Military nursing
  4. by   St.BaptistRN
    Good luck, I'm trying to do the same, going to COT next week
  5. by   jfratian
    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.
  6. by   anchorRN
    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, '17
  7. by   Jleb886
    Thanks for the good advice everyone. Good luck to you, St.BaptistRN
  8. by   Goldenmoose
    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?
  9. by   jfratian
    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%).
  10. by   Scooby-Dooby-Doo
    Quote from anchorRN
    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.
    May I ask why you left?

    I'm currently active duty enlisted stationed in Guam with my ship homeported in Guam.
    I got my BSN did some ICU and public health work and then enlisted as a gunner's mate. I spoke to the naval hospital nurses in the island and they told me that navy nurse Corps is dying for nurses and that me being 27, male and single and no dependents with some experience will be a good fit.
    I'm nearing the end of my first and last enlistment with no intention of reenlisting but have thought about joining the nurse Corps after doing what I want to do when I leave the navy for say 4-5 years and then possibly come back into nurse Corps. I thought about the sabbatical program too. How likely would I be chosen with an NJP record? I went to captain's mast for 2 ucmj articles lol.

    Very respectfully,
    GM3(SW)
  11. by   jfratian
    I'm not familiar with Navy terminology. You mean you have 2 article 15's in your permanent military record? Or, are those minor, temporary slaps on the wrist that go away with good behavior?

    If you've got serious infractions, I'd be surprised if any branch will look at you at all.

    Bluntly, I'd also ask why you want to go back into a Navy that you've run into issues with in the past? It's not going to be light-years different just because you make more money and have a different job. You're still going to be dealing with typical military bureaucratic nonsense. The person who's telling you what to do is just going to be an O-3 or O-4 instead of an E-5 or E-6.
  12. by   Scooby-Dooby-Doo
    Quote from jfratian
    I'm not familiar with Navy terminology. You mean you have 2 article 15's in your permanent military record? Or, are those minor, temporary slaps on the wrist that go away with good behavior?

    If you've got serious infractions, I'd be surprised if any branch will look at you at all.

    Bluntly, I'd also ask why you want to go back into a Navy that you've run into issues with in the past? It's not going to be light-years different just because you make more money and have a different job. You're still going to be dealing with typical military bureaucratic nonsense. The person who's telling you what to do is just going to be an O-3 or O-4 instead of an E-5 or E-6.
    Njp is non judicial punishment. It's not a courts-martial, and where did you get art. 15? I never mentioned that.
  13. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from Scooby-Dooby-Doo
    Njp is non judicial punishment. It's not a courts-martial, and where did you get art. 15? I never mentioned that.
    Your average AF person isn't going to be familiar with captain's mast. And an article 15 is NJP. To be honest, your less-than-spotless record may be a hindrance to selection.
  14. by   anchorRN
    Quote from Scooby-Dooby-Doo
    May I ask why you left?

    I'm currently active duty enlisted stationed in Guam with my ship homeported in Guam.
    I got my BSN did some ICU and public health work and then enlisted as a gunner's mate. I spoke to the naval hospital nurses in the island and they told me that navy nurse Corps is dying for nurses and that me being 27, male and single and no dependents with some experience will be a good fit.
    I'm nearing the end of my first and last enlistment with no intention of reenlisting but have thought about joining the nurse Corps after doing what I want to do when I leave the navy for say 4-5 years and then possibly come back into nurse Corps. I thought about the sabbatical program too. How likely would I be chosen with an NJP record? I went to captain's mast for 2 ucmj articles lol.

    Very respectfully,
    GM3(SW)
    I left because I joined later in life (at 34), had my fun, but was ready to settle back down and not move around every few years. I'll admit I kind of miss it now.

    Regarding your BSN - is it from an college in the USA? or is it from the Philippines? I ask because the Navy's Nurse Corps only recognizes BSNs from approved AMERICAN universities. I had many Filipinos try and get into the Nurse Corps because they had Filipino BSN's, but were not allowed entrance.

    And regarding NJP's, I'm not sure how those are reflected in your service record when applying for a commission, but I'm sure it's not something they want to see on a resume. And I disagree that the Nurse Corps is "dying" for nurses. When I left, the Nurse Corps was 100% manned and highly competitive to get in. If you had substantial ICU experience (as an RN, not clinicals in school), then maybe you'd get a better look.

    Also I'm not sure what you're referring to by "sabbatical program". Never heard of it.

close