Student Considering Air Force Nursing - page 4

Hello Everyone, I am a nursing student trying to decide whether joining the Air Force is the right way for me to begin my nursing career (graduation may 2006). I have found this discussion very... Read More

  1. by   kep1014
    Hello my name is Mike and am currently in the process of entering the AF as a qualified mental health nurse. I have been an RN for 2 years now and have had jobs in inpatient mental health and PACU nursing. My primary concern about joining the AF is that because I will be going into the Air Force as a qualified mental health nurse I will be stuck within this specialty and not have the opportunity to branch out and gain experience in other settings such as med-surg, ER, ICU, flight nursing. I love mental health nursing I just dont know if it is something I can do for 20 years (plan is to retire from AF). I just do not want to see myself getting away from the medical side of nursing and that type of patient care that goes along with it. Would I be pigeon-holed into staying in a mental health specialty or be forced to get out? Or would the AF offer opportunities based upon one's desire to broaden their nursing scope. If anyone could help me with this question it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Mike
  2. by   tg982
    Quote from maverickgirl73
    I am looking into the Reserves or Guard as a nurse. Does anyone know if they still attend the same 10 week Nurse Transition Program as Active Duty?
    I spoke with a Reserves Healthcare recruiter recently and she said that reservists don't go through the NTP. They instead require 6 months experience before joining- non negotiable.
  3. by   tg982
    Quote from tiagoba21
    hey there,
    what did you end up doing? did you join the air force after you graduated? also i had a question open to all. i'm getting married and i'll be going to nursing school soon, i'm 23 and was thinking about joining the air force so they could pay for my schooling. how would it work?
    from my experience (active duty af enlisted), you would not be able to enlist in the af and do nursing school. nursing school is a full time committment and the af comes first and is also a full time committment. i had to get out in order to go to nursing school. as far as paying for school, you could enlist for like four years in what ever job and then have the gi bill for schooling afterwards but since you are already ready for nursing school i don't know if that is a good option. i have heard that the military does have loan repayment programs if you wanted to join when you graduate but i'm not sure if those still exist.
    would i have to enlist and go trough basic training (my future wife wouldn't like that idea) ? basic training is what you would go through if you enlist and cot or otc is what you what you would go through if you commissioned to be an officer- which is what you would do if you were an rn. if you don't have a degree then you have to enlist. basic training, i think, now is like 9 wks. it was six weeks when i went through, and it is totally doable. from my understanding it is the easiest between all the services.
    would i go to cot?
    is cot like basic training or do i have weekends free? don't know much about cot.
    what other training will i have to go trough? and can my family be with me for the extra training?
    i looked it up on the af web site and it has a pay scale for offices o-1,o-2,o-3 and so forth what do these mean and how often do you get promoted? this is the pay scale for would you would get paid montly as an officer depending on how many years you had in. i'm not exactly sure on how officers get promoted. i think it is a little different than how enlisted members get promoted.
    when you are accepted into the af nursing what kind of office are you?(given the ones mentioned before.) as a new nurse and no prior military service you most likely come in as an o-1 second lieutenent.
    what is the difference between af reserve and active duty? does a year in the reserve count as a year in active duty? there are pretty big difference between ad and reserves. with active duty, your committment is essentially your entire service obligation you sign up for. if you signed up for 4 yrs then for four years the military is your job for 40-60hrs per week and you can deploy and have committments outside your job. when you are reserves you have an obligation of one weekend per month and two weeks per year where you have to do military stuff/ your job, training, what ever. but outside those time frames you are basically a civilian. one year in the reserves is not equal to one year active duty. they have a pretty complex way of figuring out how reserve time goes into a military retirement and i don't fully understand it.
    where would it be better to live, on base or off base? that is kind of a personal preference. depends on where you are located and your own preference. i know a lot of people that do not like living on base because either a they can make more money living off base and getting bah- basic allowance for housing, or b they don't like how it is on base- having to keep your grass cut really short or dealling with neighbors. some people like it off base more because they work on base and they just want to get away in their off time.
    what are the chances that my first base to be outside the united states? as a nurse not sure but i would assume it is possible. there are nurses stationed overseas so i don't know why not.
    do i have to be a citizen to join or is the green card good enough? don't know, i think citizen.
    if i do join how often do you have to change bases as a nurse? you don't really have to change bases. when you fill out your dream sheet at whatever base your at, you will put down the bases where you would like to be stationed at and if they happen to have openings for your job and rank then you may go there. nothing is guaranteed. i had an empty dream sheet because i was happy where i was at and i spent 6 years at the same base but i could have gotten orders to pcs (change bases) at anytime. i just increased my odds of staying put because the station where i was at was what i put on my dream sheet.

    any information will be helpful thank you!
    hope this all helps. i was enlisted but i would imagine that most of what i said is the same if you are an officer.
  4. by   AFRNtoAFSpouse
    Hi Mike,
    My husband is currently an AF MHNP. He came in as a qualified Psych Nurse. I am also a prior active duty OB nurse and from what I have seen, most Psych nurses stay in Psych. You have a different AFSC than a clinical nurse. Clinical nurses will have an identifier code, for ICU, OB, etc, but Psych is totally different. I have known 1 Psych nurse who was able to become a Flight nurse after 2 inpatient Psych rotations. That was about 8 years ago. My husband deploys with the Army...they are short MH providers, and I do not see the need for Psych decreasing any time soon. Air Force needs come first. Where has the recruiter said you can be stationed? There are not many inpatient Psych units left. The one good thing is that the Air Force paid for my husband to get his Masters degree. The AF really wants NPs, so your chances of being selected for AFIT would be really good, if you were willing to stay in Psych. Air Force nursing is great...the only reason I separated was that I didn't want to risk both of us deploying at the same time.
    Hope this info helps!
  5. by   kep1014
    First, thank you for getting back to me on this topic. I have submitted all the required paperwork, passed MEPS, and am scheduled for my chief nurse interview next wednesday the 23rd of February. I have not heard where I might be stationed yet, I have just submitted my top choices for CONUS and overseas duty stations. I don't think just because my MH experience is in an inpatient setting means that I will be confined to a MH inpatient setting in the AF. I am not opposed to staying within the field of mental health for my entire career, it's something that I love doing. Just knowing that if I desired to change career paths I might have some option on the direction of my career. If I decided to stay in mental health for my AF career I would most definitely try to get into a MHNP program. One of my nurse supervisors at Western State Hospital where I work completed his MHNP program at UW and says that he thoroughly enjoys being a MHNP.

    If you could touch on what your husbands schedule was like when he was beginning out as a mental health nurse it would be greatly appreciated. Did he mostly work 8, 10, 12 hr shifts? Does he enjoy his work? Any other pertinent information about the life of a mental health nurse would be great. I really do see the AF as the opportunity of a lifetime when it comes to career advancement, educational opportunities, a way to travel the world, and work with other professionals on a day to day basis. It's something that the civilian world cannot match.

    Thank you very much,

    Mike
  6. by   AFRNtoAFSpouse
    My husband loves the Air Force and his job. He has been an NP for about 4 1/2 years now.

    He worked 12 hour shifts on the inpatient unit: On Mon/Tue, Off Wed, Thur, On Fri, Sat, Sun, Off Mon/Tue, etc. I think most of the inpatient units use this schedule. There may be variances due to training, leave, etc. You will most likely have to attend meetings, Commander's Calls, on your day off, but that is only an hour or so, and this will not happen every day off. You will rotate days and nights most likely.

    He also worked in a clinic as a case manager, so had regular hours of 0730-1630ish, M-F. There are a lot more clinics than inpatient units, so that might be a nice change for you...more administrative duties.

    AFIT is an awesome deal. He went to grad school in Chicago, so we were "civilians" basically for 2 years with his Captain's salary. We missed the Air Force! If you have any other questions, please let me know. My husband won't be back until mid July (deployments are 6 months, more with training before you go). Psych nursing is smaller than the rest of AF nursing, so you will most likely deploy. This is only his 2nd deployment: we have moved 4 times in the past 10 years (this is not normal, assignments are usually 3-4 years), so he didn't deploy during school, or when we had an upcoming move. He had 18 months between these 2 deployments.

    I think you will enjoy the Air Force! You cannot beat the professionalism and dedication of the Nurse Corps. Good luck with your Chief Nurse interview!
  7. by   kep1014
    So your husband has been in the AF for about 10 years now and he is currently on his second deployment? Because MH is a smaller specialty of AF nursing in general the chances of me being deployed for six months every two years is almost guaranteed? Another thing that I think about is how frequent moving and deployments can be a stress on a family. Currently I am 25 years old and single so the thought of being deployed or moving often is not a problem. But when the times does come 5-10 years down the road to get married am I going to be setting myself up for a divorce? (sorry, this has nothing to do with MH nursing but more the AF in general) I feel kinda stupid asking this question but since you are a military wife of mental health nurse you may be able to elaborate on it. What were the four places you guys were stationed at? Is there still possibilities to get a permanent duty station somewhere in europe or overseas in general as a MH nurse. I think it would be an awesome experience to live and work in a foreign country for a couple of years.

    AFIT seems like an awesome deal; get paid your normal wage while going to school and getting that paid for too. Yeah I am excited to get this last step (Chief Nurse Interview) done and have packet ready to be fully submitted.

    Thank you,

    Mike
  8. by   AFRNtoAFSpouse
    Hi Mike,
    I think you are entering the Air Force at the perfect age...it is how old my husband was. We met at Keesler AFB, MS and he was there for 4 years, then we went to RAF Lakenheath,England (I went 6 months ahead of him)for 4 yrs, AFIT in Chicago for almost 2 yrs, Wright Patterson AFB, OH for 2 1/2 yrs, back to Lakenheath as an NP for 3 1/2 yrs and now the AF Academy in Colorado Springs, and we have been here 6 mon. He's been in 14 years. The extra moves were to Chicago for AFIT (depends on where you choose to go to school, or they now have the Uniformed School for Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD which has an Psych NP program now...they really want NPs) He has gone to Flight School, but decided against a flying assignment for the AFIT, and numerous other training. I visited almost everywhere (before kids). We loved being stationed in England and traveled everywhere. It is definitely a perk of the military.

    He deployed to Iraq with the Army and rode a blackhawk to "work" as he was assigned to austere remote bases. That deployment was difficult for me since our 3rd child was 7 months old when he left and we were in England, so family was not readily available...and I have the tendency to not ask for help. Our communication was wonderful during that deployment as well, he carried a cell phone and a laptop for charting and hospital communications, so we "saw" him almost every day, or had a phone call. He never deployed as a Psych nurse, only as an NP, but I know Psych nurses can work as clinical nurses while deployed.

    This deployment is to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany...yes, it is a deployment! Again, it is with the Army and they need help, so the Air Force fills this slot. Not as austere as Iraq, but he is on call for every flight that comes in from Iraq/Afghan. Communication is still good, but the time difference makes it difficult.(8 hrs) It is much easier for me being back in the US for this deployment. We also have our 4th child who was 9 months old when he left. The key for me is to keep busy (easy with 4 kids and a new house), and most military spouses are pretty understanding of the military...you'll see that when you come in. I think the Air Force spouse is a pretty tough job at times, but would never have noticed that when I was active duty.

    If you send your email, I can send it to my husband and he would be able to answer more in depth questions if you like...I have been out of the AF for 9 years now, so am not as current. Like I said, I think you are entering at a great time in your life!
  9. by   kep1014
    Thank you again for answering my questions, you cleared up a lot of things I had running through my head. I'll send you a personal message with my e-mail and then you can forward that on to your husband. I understand if he is really busy and is unable to respond. But I just want to say thank you again for taking the time with my post.

    (was having trouble finding how to send a private message, here is my e-mail)

    mikekepler@yahoo.com

    -Mike
    Last edit by kep1014 on Feb 20, '11
  10. by   nautticca
    Quote from rclimbr
    I have been an Air Force nurse (Married w/2 kids) for almost two years now and still like my job. My general advise to someone thinking about joining the military is that it is a lifestyle choice. There will be things that you don't want to do but will have to do. IE: come in on your day off for meetings, go places that aren't very pleasant, or don't get to transfer to a specialty area when you want to. BUT there are advantages. I live on base in a brand new house 3bed 2 1/2 bath 5 min from work, I get paid the same even if I work 2 days a week (or 6 ) all my extra training and certs are free.

    My workday
    ( Before I was charge nurse)
    Max pt's = 4
    3 if one was a pediatric or was an intrathecal ortho pt
    most of the time I had my own tech

    Life is good
    And I live 7 miles from the Las Vegas Strip

    If any one has specific AF nurse questions feel free to PM me.
    Hi, I too am married with 2 kids. I am in the beginning stages of joining the air force. I have already experienced the waiting game. Just wondering what your process was like
  11. by   jones723
    Quote from AFRNtoAFSpouse
    Hi Mike,
    I think you are entering the Air Force at the perfect age...it is how old my husband was. We met at Keesler AFB, MS and he was there for 4 years, then we went to RAF Lakenheath,England (I went 6 months ahead of him)for 4 yrs, AFIT in Chicago for almost 2 yrs, Wright Patterson AFB, OH for 2 1/2 yrs, back to Lakenheath as an NP for 3 1/2 yrs and now the AF Academy in Colorado Springs, and we have been here 6 mon. He's been in 14 years. The extra moves were to Chicago for AFIT (depends on where you choose to go to school, or they now have the Uniformed School for Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD which has an Psych NP program now...they really want NPs) He has gone to Flight School, but decided against a flying assignment for the AFIT, and numerous other training. I visited almost everywhere (before kids). We loved being stationed in England and traveled everywhere. It is definitely a perk of the military.

    He deployed to Iraq with the Army and rode a blackhawk to "work" as he was assigned to austere remote bases. That deployment was difficult for me since our 3rd child was 7 months old when he left and we were in England, so family was not readily available...and I have the tendency to not ask for help. Our communication was wonderful during that deployment as well, he carried a cell phone and a laptop for charting and hospital communications, so we "saw" him almost every day, or had a phone call. He never deployed as a Psych nurse, only as an NP, but I know Psych nurses can work as clinical nurses while deployed.

    This deployment is to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany...yes, it is a deployment! Again, it is with the Army and they need help, so the Air Force fills this slot. Not as austere as Iraq, but he is on call for every flight that comes in from Iraq/Afghan. Communication is still good, but the time difference makes it difficult.(8 hrs) It is much easier for me being back in the US for this deployment. We also have our 4th child who was 9 months old when he left. The key for me is to keep busy (easy with 4 kids and a new house), and most military spouses are pretty understanding of the military...you'll see that when you come in. I think the Air Force spouse is a pretty tough job at times, but would never have noticed that when I was active duty.

    If you send your email, I can send it to my husband and he would be able to answer more in depth questions if you like...I have been out of the AF for 9 years now, so am not as current. Like I said, I think you are entering at a great time in your life!
    Hi AFRNtoAFSpouse.I am a single, 23yr old student nurse considering joining the active duty Air Force. I will be graduating in December of this year. I have been a member of the Air Force Reserves for 5yrs as a medical technician. I am currently completing my annual training at the AF Academy. Are you and your family still stationed at the AF Academy in Colorado Springs? I am hoping you can share your experiences as an AFRN and civilian RN. Can you tell me some pros and cons of both? I am having a difficult time deciding where I would like to work once I become an RN. Should I reenlist as a commissioned reservist and wrk as a cilivian nurse or active duty commissioned nurse ? Did you complete the AF nurse transition program? As a new grad nurse, which job is more beneficial? Any response will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
  12. by   AFRNtoAFSpouse
    Hi Jones723,
    I thought I replied to your message last week, but I don't see it....sorry!
    I just want you to know that I have been out of the AF and nursing for almost 10 yrs. now! Today I started a Nursing Refresher Course just to get back in to nursing. I have an out of state license, but in order to obtain my CO license, I had to take this course. I'm looking forward to it....plus no NCLEX to worry about. Anyway, if you are at all interested in active duty military nursing I suggest you start now. If you read over many of the threads, you will see that it is really competitive. I think that it is to your benefit that you are currently serving in the Reserves as a med tech, but definitely not a guarantee that you will be selected. You have an advantage in that you can see what nurses in the military do...although, I am not sure where you were assigned at the Academy to work
    I prefer military nursing to civilian nursing only because I love the camaraderie. I did not feel that when I worked at my civilian job. As a new grad, I worked for 6 months at the civilian hospital, then did the NTP program. From what I have read, the NTP program has changed alot. The cons of course are separation from family and sometimes feeling as though you cannot make future plans! Please don't hesitate to ask more questions and I will answer them the best that I can. Good luck this semester!
  13. by   Deanna2004
    Hi, I have a similar question as well. I'm currently in a LVN-BSN program (2 years), I called a recruiter probably one month into the program and he told me to contact a year before graduation. Now it's actually one year to graduation and I left an email, yet I have had no reply in a couple of weeks.. what should I do?

close