Questions About Being a Reserve RN

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    Hey new member to the forum but always read old posts when I was thinking about doing becoming an RN/while I was in school. Love this site, lots of great info. Anyways I had a few questions for those who know about being a reserve RN. I'll be meeting with a recruiter soon but wanted to throw some questions out there to you guys to hear it from another side of the discussion. I'll throw a bunch out there, any answers would be appreciated. I'm on the fence about this at the moment. I'm 28 and have been an RN for a little over a year. First year I was a cardiac telemetry nurse but now I've moved over to CVICU. I've got a previous Bach in business and am working on transitioning my ASN to a BSN (done this Dec). Deployment wouldn't be ideal for me but if I join I do so knowing that it could happen and I'll be ok with that if I decided to join up. Can't reap all the benefits and perks without being willing to pay for them via active duty service. I know it's all relative and local but any info would be appreciated, TIA and I'll probably keep posting question in here as I go along this process. I've thought about joining the military at different points in my life. A combo of that and the loan repayment are the things attracting me to this move.

    1. What's the real difference b\w Guard RN and Army Reserve RN?

    2. For those who've used the loan repayment program, how does it work and what's your opinion of it?

    3. What's your typical drill like? What about your annual training?

    4. How easy is moving when in the Reserves? I'm planning on moving to Denver in the next year or two and any commitment to the military would have to be ok with that.

    5. When you have deployed, where did you go and what was it like?

    6. How are reserves and RN's in general viewed/treated within the military?

    7. Any things I should ask a recruiter when meeting with them? Things to watch out for?
    activern likes this.
  2. 13 Comments so far...

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    I can't help you much with the differences between guard/reserve because I only did Army Active and Reserve. Be very careful about the loan repayment program. I haven't met one person who actually got their loans paid back, and I served for 8 years. There's something about the fine print/loop holes that seem to screw service members who join with the hopes of having their loans paid off. Drill will depend on the unit you're in. You have USAH (United States Army Hospital), CSH (combat support hospital), and many more types. I was in a USAH most the time and a typical drill consisted of one day working in the hospital (where you're usually help the floor since you're only there once a month) and one day spent doing basic military training, ie land navigation, weapon training. This schedule would change obviously if you we're promoted and given a more "management" type position. But since you would be a 2nd Lt, you start with the basic stuff. Annual training gives you the opportunity to either advance your military training, work in the hospital, or go overseas for some type of mission. I usually had a great time doing annual training. The great thing about the Reserves is you can move whenever/wherever because you can change units. So if you're drilling at Fort Lewis but you move to Texas, they will transfer you to a different unit that's in Texas. Things are changing with deployments, so it's hard to say where or when you would deploy as a reservist. My deployment was 6 months in a combat support hospital. In my opinion, healthcare personnel are treated with great respect regardless of rank/job. I was an enlisted LPN/medic and my soldiers/patients were so grateful for any care. Healthcare is very different from other military jobs and we have a very different role in combat since we follow Geneva Conventions. People give recruiters a hard time saying they were lied to and so on, but remember they can't promise you what will happen in your military career. I would ask your recruiter these same questions and ask if you can visit a Reserve unit to further see what it would be like. If you're serious about the military, the best piece of advice I can give you is to be flexible. Being able to put up with crap will guarantee you a better military experience. Learn to accept things you can't change, understand that they can deploy you anywhere (regardless what they promise), and take every opportunity you have to further your education in healthcare because its free!
    SF_RescueNinja likes this.
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    Also, if you're moving to Denver there is a USAH in Aurora that I was mobilized with called the 5502nd. Basically, my home unit at Fort Lewis transferred me to that unit in Aurora and then mobilized me to Fort Hood. Again, being flexible makes life much easier in the army!
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    Have you considered the Air Force Reserves? I am currently active duty Air Force Major and I work in the SICU. I was selected for a civilian CRNA program, which starts Jan 2014. I will transition from active duty to the reserves so I can continue my studies full-time while still enjoying the benefits of being in the military. One thing I will say is the Air Force really does take good care of their people. I talked with Chief Nurses at several reserves units and they all have said I will be supported for my anesthesia studies and will not be deployed. Some nurses in one of reserve unit have not deployed in over 10 years. Also, deployments are optional in the Air Force Reserves. If you don't want to go, there are always other people who will volunteer to go for you. If for some reason you are in a specialty, which is critically short, such as ICU, OR, ER, and Flight Nursing, if you just happen to pop up for a deployment, you can deny the deployment and transition to the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) since the Reserves didn't train you in your specialty and you're coming in with experience, you have a lot more say versus being on active duty where they invest a lot into your training. The Chief Nurse also said if you want to guarantee not to deploy, she said I could take a slot as a med-surg nurse. The good thing is the AF Reserves are paying a $15,000 bonus/yr for a 3 yr contract for ICU, OR, ER, and flight nurses. So the extra money will come in handy for CRNA school. Active duty pays about $20,000/yr for a 4 year contract, which I am on my last year of receiving that bonus.

    You have lots of options but I think the Air Force is better. There is a guy who is a Army reservist who will be starting in the same CRNA class with me and he is currently activated to my hospital now. His tour will be finished in June and then he is going to switch from traditional reserves to the Inactive Ready Reserve so he can focus on school.

    Good luck to you.
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    The loan repayment is a big incentive for me so the trouble you've seen with it is disconcerting. I've never really considered Air Force, but I'll look into the and the Navy for that matter.
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    Does anyone know anything about being able to stay in your area of nursing in the reserves, like public health in my case?
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    If you are working on your BSN I would wait until you have completed it before you join. Deployments will be decreasing as we wind down in Afghanistan. Before you join look at all the services; Army, Navy, & AF to see which one is the best fit for you.


    If you are in the reserves they will attempt to assign you to a unit within 50 miles of your home. If there is no medical unit you will be assigned to one that is close to you. If you are assigned to a unit which is greater then 100 miles from you some units will allow you to drill with a closer unit and only drill with them a couple times a year. But, it is up to the command that you are assigned to.
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    I have had my loans paid by the Army, and everynurse that I have worked with that applied for the loan repayment has had their loans paid. Remember this is a taxable income so taxes are taken out of it before the loan is paid.
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    I have my BSN. I'm concerned if I went active, I would be placed in medsurg. In reserves, on drill weekends, do you work in an assigned hospital?
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    If you go active unless you are a OR nurse (66E), OB nurse (66G0), etc. you would not be assigned to med-surg. If you are a 66H anything there is the possiblity of being assigned to the med surg floor. With the drawdown and the small number of direct commissons accepted to active duty you might just have to take what is available and then switch to the area you work in now. In the reserves it depends on what unit you are in if you work at a hospital. I personally have never worked in a hospital on drill weekend over 6+ years in the reserves but I know others who do on a regular basis.


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