Navy versus civilian nursing- pros and cons

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I was recently accepted into an accelerated nursing program (BSN)- which is only a year long, and I need to make the big decision on whether to be a Navy or civilian nurse. I served as a Supply Corps officer for 5 years, so I know what the Navy is all about. Being a suppo on a ship and parts and warehousing just really weren't my cup of tea, so I got out in 04.

    My question is for Navy nurses out there, how would you rate your job satisfaction? Are you glad you became a Navy nurse? What would you say are the major pros or cons? What is the latest word on Iraq tours (how often, how long)? I know about all the monetary benefits, retirement etc. but want I want to know is- do Navy nurses like their jobs? If you could do it all over again would you go Navy or stay civilian?

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    About sdcalichan

    Joined: Jun '06; Posts: 2


  3. by   DanznRN
    I have been a Navy nurse for 9 years and I'll give you my opinion as I answer your questions.

    My question is for Navy nurses out there, how would you rate your job satisfaction?
    It all depends on the day.

    Are you glad you became a Navy nurse?
    Wouldn't change a thing.

    What would you say are the major pros or cons?
    Pro: get paid better than most civ staff nurses. Guaranteed raises every year. You remember the benefits. Paidd for certs.
    Cons: getting deployed if you have a family.

    What is the latest word on Iraq tours (how often, how long)?
    In a 3 year tour at a stateside command, expect to go at least once maybe twice for 6 months at a time, subject to change without notice.

    I know about all the monetary benefits, retirement etc. but want I want to know is- do Navy nurses like their jobs?
    That's a pretty broad question, I'll elaborate below.

    If you could do it all over again would you go Navy or stay civilian?
    Actually, I have done both. I was a Navy nurse for 5+ years, wanted to see what civ life was like, spent 11 months as a civilian before coming back to active duty, make your own conclusion.

    Alright, so I addressed some of your questions above, but I'll shed somemore light now. You asked if Navy nurses were happy, you will find all type of satisfaction levels in the Navy Nurse Corps, same for civ land. You can't generalize it like that. For me, I'm in the Navy as a nurse to ensure that when my kids get to be my age they don't have to worry about some of the stuff kids in other countries do. Is every day the best, no, but it wasn't in the civilian world either. What I will tell you, is that my opinion as a nurse is valued more in the Navy. When I make a suggestion to a doc or help guide patient care in the Navy, I get listened to. In the civilian world, they are just worried about how much money they can squeeze out of your patient and don't want to hear about what barrier you have to prevent them from doing it even if it's in the patient's better interest, don't have to worry about the monetary gain of the doc here. In the Navy you have more opportunity to continue your education and at little or no expense to you. I'm being sent to grad school by the Navy, my first semester bill is $11,500 not including books. Not only do I not have to pay that, but I still receive my regular pay and benefits while in school, talk about AWESOME!!!
    I wouldn't trade my experiences in the Navy for the world. Currently, I am finishing my 3 year tour in Italy. While here I have seen Ireland, England, Spain, France (bought a condo there), all of Italy and did it for next to nothing because I am so close to these areas. I've got about 10 more to go and then I retire at the age of 45, who in the civilian world can do that? If you know someone who has done it, let me know. I hope this helps, if you have other specific questions, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

    LT Dan
  4. by   sunnyjohn
    So 6mon. to a year out of three deployed? Not bad.
  5. by   DanznRN
    Keep in mind, like I said, subject to change without notice. The operational tempo has been stepped obviuosly in the past few years. The admiral of the Nurse Corps told us it wasn't going to change either anytime soon. Just giving it to you straight.

    LT Dan
  6. by   joshuaclay
    the whole concept of a navy job without a ship/shore rotation blows my mind. navy nurses have sea-duty on a volunteer only basis?
  7. by   SueBee RN-BSN
    Go Navy! Stay Navy!

    Iv'e been in the navy for 15 years. Ten years full time active duty, and 5 reserves. While I enjoy the reserves, I find civilan nursing not up to the high standards of the navy. Frankly, I would tell any nurse to go navy, and stay navy for 20-30 years, full time active duty. You can't beat the education, respect, and everything the navy has to offer you as a nurse.

    You will have to work hard, deploy, and play politics, but it's worth it.
  8. by   DanznRN

    You have to remember that on a ship you have IDCs and corpsmen. In that environment they are far more usful than a nurse (i.e. suturing, minor surgery, etc.) Nurses can serve on ships, but they are the carriers and there are only 12 of them. So, you're right nurses have to volunteer to go on ship and at that it is generally LCDR or higher. However, we tagged to go to Field Hospitals all the time as well as the Fleet Surg Teams.

    LT Dan
  9. by   sunnyjohn
    So Dan, this may be a stupid question, but are you considered "deployed" in there in Italy?

    If only volunteers usually of LCDR rank or higher go on ships, where are the Field Hospitals and Fleet Surg Teams?

    Would the USN Comfort be considered a "deployment"?
  10. by   DanznRN

    A bunch of good questions. Yes, there was a time where be stationed anywhere overseas was considered "forward deployed." In other words, you were already serving away from the states and thus you weren't tagged to go to Iraq or Kuwait. That was then, this is now. Being stationed overseas no longer precludes you from be depolyed further into other areas. Currently, our hospital is tasked to provide docs to several other places around the world. We sent a nurse practitoioner out not too long ago for 6 months. They haven't hit the nurses up yet, but it's coming somewhere down the line. the way things are in the military, no place is safe for deployment. If you are joining or currently in, it has to be an accepterd way of life.

    Field Hospitals are generally that are in place out in the field of operations. When you hear about people being hurt and then "going to Lanstuhl, Germany" they went through a field hospital first. Imagine an area a bit bigger than a football field full of interconnected tents. There are canvas divider "walls," but essentially one structure. That is a field hospital and in some cases it has more high tech stuff than a regular hospital, we can do anything there short of a transplant.

    Fleet Surgical Teams are teams of about 20 people or so that hitch rides on various ships to place where there may be a greater needs for surgical services. Fleet surg teams have no real home, but bounce all over the world answering whatever call they may be asked of. So sometimes on a ship, sometimes on the ground.

    The Comfort, well that depends. The Comfort has a core group of people that make sure the boat stays afloat that all the equipment works, etc., generally no nurses on there full-time. However, when the Comfort or Mercy get activated they pull nurses and staff from all over the country to stand-up a crew to staff them. For instance, my wife is an L&D nurse, her orders read "attached to NNMC Bethesda, USNS Comfort detachment." Inother words, her "day job" is the L&D floor in Bethesda, nut if the USNS Comfort goes out and they want an L&D nurse they can tag her for it and she goes. So yes, if it gets activated it's a deployment. Currently, when the Mercy or Comfort are activated it is for humanitarian missions.

    LT Dan
  11. by   sunnyjohn
    Thanks Dan,

    That was good info. I've gotten more from that post than the Navy recruiters I've talken to on the phone!
  12. by   DanznRN
    I'm glad you found it useful. Ask anyone here, I love my job and the Navy, but I'm not going to pull the wool over anyone's eyes to get them to join. I want you in because you want to be in, so I tell it like it is. If you any other questions, please let me know.

    LT Dan
  13. by   sunnyjohn
    Thanks Dan. You and Corvete Guy have been a fount of information.

    I've wanted to join the Navy since I was 19. Fairly recently I've talked to the recruiters and military personnel. The Army health recruiters have lots of Nurse related info, but I could never get in touch with a Navy health recruiter.

    I did get a great video on nursing in the Navy, but I wanted more before I picked a branch of service.
    Last edit by sunnyjohn on Jun 17, '06
  14. by   DanznRN
    Good luck on your decision, whatever it ends up being. Again, if I can be of more help, please let me know.

    LT Dan