USAF nurse

  1. I am a new nurse who just graduated in august with my BSN and got my license just seven days ago and need advice like no other. I currently work for the department of veterans' affairs doing medical surgical floors. I was a student nurse tech in the surgical intensive care unit for a year and did my clinical at a local trauma hospital with my preceptorship in their ICU. I am not nervous about my skills or my knowledge base. I am nervous about not knowing what to do about my future!

    I am greatly considering the Air Force for my career path. I would go in as a 2nd lt making the same as I currently make on day shift at my hospital. I think it would be a wonderful future and gain experience if I get a good base of course. The people I work with at the VA hospital think I am making a wonderful decision. My friends who work in the private sector believe I am making a massive mistake because I could make so much more money in the private field.

    I would love to hear feedback on those who are currently in the armed forces, former armed forces, those who know other nurses who were once in the armed forces, those who are nurses, and those who just want to leave feedback.

    Thank you very much!
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   lindarn
    Quote from AndYouKnowIt31
    I am a new nurse who just graduated in august with my BSN and got my license just seven days ago and need advice like no other. I currently work for the department of veterans' affairs doing medical surgical floors. I was a student nurse tech in the surgical intensive care unit for a year and did my clinical at a local trauma hospital with my preceptorship in their ICU. I am not nervous about my skills or my knowledge base. I am nervous about not knowing what to do about my future!

    I am greatly considering the Air Force for my career path. I would go in as a 2nd lt making the same as I currently make on day shift at my hospital. I think it would be a wonderful future and gain experience if I get a good base of course. The people I work with at the VA hospital think I am making a wonderful decision. My friends who work in the private sector believe I am making a massive mistake because I could make so much more money in the private field.

    I would love to hear feedback on those who are currently in the armed forces, former armed forces, those who know other nurses who were once in the armed forces, those who are nurses, and those who just want to leave feedback.

    Thank you very much!
    Will your friends in the private sector complain about having free medical care for life, and be able to retire after 20 years with health care and a pension? Yes, the military has its downsides, but like anything else in life, you give uo something to get something in return. You are not making a mistake.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington
  4. by   wtbcrna
    Quote from AndYouKnowIt31
    I am a new nurse who just graduated in august with my BSN and got my license just seven days ago and need advice like no other. I currently work for the department of veterans' affairs doing medical surgical floors. I was a student nurse tech in the surgical intensive care unit for a year and did my clinical at a local trauma hospital with my preceptorship in their ICU. I am not nervous about my skills or my knowledge base. I am nervous about not knowing what to do about my future!

    I am greatly considering the Air Force for my career path. I would go in as a 2nd lt making the same as I currently make on day shift at my hospital. I think it would be a wonderful future and gain experience if I get a good base of course. The people I work with at the VA hospital think I am making a wonderful decision. My friends who work in the private sector believe I am making a massive mistake because I could make so much more money in the private field.

    I would love to hear feedback on those who are currently in the armed forces, former armed forces, those who know other nurses who were once in the armed forces, those who are nurses, and those who just want to leave feedback.

    Thank you very much!
    Check out the military forum....I have posted lots of information on there about AF nursing... Also, your pay in general will outpace your VA counterparts very quickly.

    Check out the 2007 pay table. http://www.defenselink.mil/militaryp..._basicpay.html

    Within four years time, if you start as a 2Lt, your base pay will increase more than 2,000 a month! That doesn't even include your housing and substinence allowances.
    Also, the best piece of advice I can offer any nurse thinking of joining the military is to decide what your long term goals are, then look at all the uniformed branches that offer medical positions (including USPHS), and decide which one fits your long term goals/life style you wish to maintain.

    Good Luck,

    Capt E, USAF, NC
  5. by   RN1989
    Unfortunately, getting free health care for life no longer happens once you leave the military. Due to lack of funding, unless you are disabled when you leave active duty, you are placed farther down on the list to receive care at a VA facility once you are discharged. VA facilities also require some veterans to pay for care, usually based on a sliding scale fee. If you are emergently admitted to a civilian facility, once they find out you are a vet, they want your buns out of there because they will not receive as much money for services as they would if you had private insurance or Medicare. And if there are no VA beds available, the hospitals often will try to stick you with the remainder of what the VA doesn't pay. You also will be limited in some care. I recently had a patient needing care not provided by the VA yet the VA refused to pay for the care that my facility could provide. I've had several patients willing to pay out of pocket because both the VA and TriCare would not pay for the necessary care.

    If you retire after your 20 yrs you will be eligible for TriCare, in addition to using VA facilities if available. TriCare however can be difficult to navigate and does not always pay well enough to get all the various kinds of care a patient needs. And once you turn 65 they are only too eager to turn you over to Medicare.

    Do not count on getting health care forever as a reason to join. Veterans are getting the shaft compared to what they were promised when they joined up.

    But if you like structure, opportunity for advancement, teamwork, sometimes adventure, then the military is the way to go. You will likely have more and better opportunities for increasing your education and knowledge than you would in the civilian world. You have to enjoy moving, sometimes frequently, and be able to tolerate not always having family and friends around where you are stationed. You also must be able to take direction from others, usually without questioning or knowing the rationale for the order, and play the game of respecting superiors, even if they are inferior in their actions.

    You need to get very specific when talking to a recruiter. The enlistment numbers are dwindling and there are unscrupulous recruiters who promise much but then don't (actually can't) deliver. Research what you want, what is possible to get, and make sure you know all the ins and outs before you sign up. Like I said, it is a different world and if you aren't expecting it, it can be disappointing if not terrifying to find out that what you were told and reality is so different.


    Personally, I must know the rationale for things. I am unable to blindly follow. And if I see something wrong, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut - I want to say something and then fix the problem. Thus, I could never be in the military. But all my military family members did well if not loved their tours. And being a military wife was fun. It is very different from civilian life and you'll either love it or hate it.
  6. by   flynntastic
    Quote from RN1989
    You need to get very specific when talking to a recruiter.
    Thats very good advice. I am currently enlisted in the USAF. When im done with my enlistment (3 more years) i'll be going back to school for a BSN, and theres a chance that I might come back after a couple of years.

    When talking to a recruiter, ask all the questions you can. There is also an awesome website for OTS questions and answers. I would say most of the people on there are shooting for Pilot/Nav slots, but theres some Nurse info too (and the process is, for the most part, the same for both flying and non-flying jobs).
    http://www.airforceots.com/portal/index.php

    I dont know about you, but I would look into being a Flight Nurse. I am currently in a flying job, and have flown a good share of Med-Evacs, and it just seems like something I could fall right into (im at home in the air). Im sure the ground jobs are too, but flying missions like Med Evacs are so rewarding... (heres a little news clip from my first Med Evac http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/...n1075823.shtml). Being able to go home and see your work on the news is a cool feeling.

    Like I said, im enlisted, but have a pretty good grasp on what the AF life is like. If you have questions feel free to shoot them this way. I also have a good view on the application process to OTS, since before I decided to go into nursing I was headed in the Pilot direction (had an application and everything ready to go, but wasnt ready to sign a 10 year commitment )
  7. by   EmmaG
  8. by   wtbcrna
    Quote from RN1989
    Unfortunately, getting free health care for life no longer happens once you leave the military. Due to lack of funding, unless you are disabled when you leave active duty, you are placed farther down on the list to receive care at a VA facility once you are discharged. VA facilities also require some veterans to pay for care, usually based on a sliding scale fee. If you are emergently admitted to a civilian facility, once they find out you are a vet, they want your buns out of there because they will not receive as much money for services as they would if you had private insurance or Medicare. And if there are no VA beds available, the hospitals often will try to stick you with the remainder of what the VA doesn't pay. You also will be limited in some care. I recently had a patient needing care not provided by the VA yet the VA refused to pay for the care that my facility could provide. I've had several patients willing to pay out of pocket because both the VA and TriCare would not pay for the necessary care.

    If you retire after your 20 yrs you will be eligible for TriCare, in addition to using VA facilities if available. TriCare however can be difficult to navigate and does not always pay well enough to get all the various kinds of care a patient needs. And once you turn 65 they are only too eager to turn you over to Medicare.

    Do not count on getting health care forever as a reason to join. Veterans are getting the shaft compared to what they were promised when they joined up.

    But if you like structure, opportunity for advancement, teamwork, sometimes adventure, then the military is the way to go. You will likely have more and better opportunities for increasing your education and knowledge than you would in the civilian world. You have to enjoy moving, sometimes frequently, and be able to tolerate not always having family and friends around where you are stationed. You also must be able to take direction from others, usually without questioning or knowing the rationale for the order, and play the game of respecting superiors, even if they are inferior in their actions.

    You need to get very specific when talking to a recruiter. The enlistment numbers are dwindling and there are unscrupulous recruiters who promise much but then don't (actually can't) deliver. Research what you want, what is possible to get, and make sure you know all the ins and outs before you sign up. Like I said, it is a different world and if you aren't expecting it, it can be disappointing if not terrifying to find out that what you were told and reality is so different.


    Personally, I must know the rationale for things. I am unable to blindly follow. And if I see something wrong, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut - I want to say something and then fix the problem. Thus, I could never be in the military. But all my military family members did well if not loved their tours. And being a military wife was fun. It is very different from civilian life and you'll either love it or hate it.

    I would have to disagree with your comments on tricare. Yes, it can be difficult to navigate at times. "Free medical care for life" has never really existed not since WWI /WWII or possibly thru the Korean War; it is often quoted by recruiters whom don't have a clue to what they are talking about. Tricare overall is an excellent system.
    Most military facilities really like Medicare patients these days, since they changed the law and we can now bill Medicare as the primary insurance.
    I see retirees all the time (or at least I did before I started back to school fulltime), if anything they are too often over referred to specialists. Retirees usually like going to military medical facilities. Where else can you go and be treated by your peers (no matter what your job was in the military...medical or otherwise). Most military medical personnel treat our military retirees with the utmost respect and go out of our way to take care of them. You will never see that kinda of care in civilian or VA medical centers.
    Like every other large company/insurance tricare has its bureaucratic side, and can be frustrating to work with.
    Now as far as the VA goes it is a broken system. It should be scrapped and a whole new system started.
    Personally, I have worked the civilian side, done manning assist at the VA, and currently I am Captain & a nurse in the AF going to school fulltime on active duty for the next 2.5 years.
  9. by   wtbcrna
    Quote from flynntastic
    Thats very good advice. I am currently enlisted in the USAF. When im done with my enlistment (3 more years) i'll be going back to school for a BSN, and theres a chance that I might come back after a couple of years.

    When talking to a recruiter, ask all the questions you can. There is also an awesome website for OTS questions and answers. I would say most of the people on there are shooting for Pilot/Nav slots, but theres some Nurse info too (and the process is, for the most part, the same for both flying and non-flying jobs).
    http://www.airforceots.com/portal/index.php

    I dont know about you, but I would look into being a Flight Nurse. I am currently in a flying job, and have flown a good share of Med-Evacs, and it just seems like something I could fall right into (im at home in the air). Im sure the ground jobs are too, but flying missions like Med Evacs are so rewarding... (heres a little news clip from my first Med Evac http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/...n1075823.shtml). Being able to go home and see your work on the news is a cool feeling.

    Like I said, im enlisted, but have a pretty good grasp on what the AF life is like. If you have questions feel free to shoot them this way. I also have a good view on the application process to OTS, since before I decided to go into nursing I was headed in the Pilot direction (had an application and everything ready to go, but wasnt ready to sign a 10 year commitment )
    Basic Officer Training and Commissioned Officer Training School are totally different. Line officers go to 12 weeks of training. Where medical officers, lawyers, and chaplains go to 4 weeks of training. The differences are as different as medical jobs are to line officer jobs. As far as going into med-evac as a nurse from what I have been told is you have to serve one tour at an MTF before you can apply to be a flight nurse.
    The application process for COT and BOT are quite different. All someone needs to do as BSN/RN is go talk with a healthcare recruiter, and go from there. It is much easier in most cases to come in the AF as an RN than as a line officer.
    I am not trying to be disrespectful to you in anyway, but there are small differences that as an enlisted might not be readily apparent to you. It is the same for me as an officer I have a good understanding what medical techs go through (I was even a phase II preceptor for awhile), but from MEPS, to CDCs, and EPRs there are still many things I wouldn't personally understand being an officer vs. enlisted.
  10. by   NewRN2008
    I was a medic in the USAR for 6 yrs until i was injured and got discharged honorably medically and now am 70% disabled thru them. Just went thru a major back surgery from the VA system.
    I know so many ppl that do the LTC side of things, and hate it. I have not heard the "great pension and retirement" after 20 yrs. one way or another the military will sc*** u over. sorry, i may be jaded, but i have seen it happen to myself and many other friends that went in like me and are now having so many problems after the fact. I would never work for them ever ever ever again. I have never met anyone who has a good thing to say about the VA or the VA system.
    As for being in and active, it was great until i was injured. I loved being in the hospital and on the floor. but then...i saw the dark side...i live in the dark side of that system...

    Not trying to scare you, or be mean or anything, but the military IS NOT close to peaches and cream from any angle i have ever ever heard. but if you do decide to go that route, GL! and i hope you never encounter everything that we hear about.

    -H-
  11. by   flynntastic
    Quote from wtbcrna
    The application process for COT and BOT are quite different. All someone needs to do as BSN/RN is go talk with a healthcare recruiter, and go from there. It is much easier in most cases to come in the AF as an RN than as a line officer.
    I knew that COT and BOT are different, but I wasnt aware that they application process was radically different. I thought it was same/near the same, but since it meets a different board the pool of applicants is different (and thus making it easier to be accepted).

    Ive been wrong before, and sure looks like it happened again :spin:
  12. by   AndYouKnowIt31
    thank you very much for all the post. i got some useful information and i know that tri-care won't cover everything, but neither will my blue cross - blue shield that i currently have through the va system. i greatly enjoy the va system right now because everyone's paychecks come from the same place so it makes everyone feel kind of like they are on the same team. and i know several patients' that hate the system or love the system, but once again... life is what you make of it. i've seen poly-trauma kids loving life even though they have lost an arm or two. and i have seen old and new vets who just think they get bucked by the system all the time. i tend to make the best of no matter where i go so i hope my positive attitude keeps me going well in life. lol.

    i plan on staying with the va for 30 years or do the military for 20 and return to the va for another 10 or so. i just need to figure if i want the usaf or not. i'm about 90% sure i want to go. i want to see what i can do and experience everything i can in life. i'm aware i can die, but i can get shot leaving work or hit by a car at the stop light. you can't live your life in fear.

    regardless, i love hearing from all of you. i need to hear all the good and all the bad to make my decision 100% sure
  13. by   XXXXX
    DONT DO IT!

    Trust me! Its not the way to go, unless you really absolutely need to retire in 20 yrs. Stay civilian & live your own life. I would not recommend joining to anyone, but only as a last resort!
  14. by   AndYouKnowIt31
    Quote from XXXXX
    DONT DO IT!

    Trust me! Its not the way to go, unless you really absolutely need to retire in 20 yrs. Stay civilian & live your own life. I would not recommend joining to anyone, but only as a last resort!





    Why do you say this. I would like to hear examples please.

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