I have a bit of insight into this, I am former army (91C, LPN) and my wife is currently a commisoned army nurse (66H8A, ICU)
1st: Is it possible to get critical care written into your contract? Sure... HIGHLY UNLIKELY THOUGH. Active duty nurses spend years in the trenches of med surg to go to a critical care course, and the entrance into these is competitive. Couple that with that the military is currently shrinking and there is less of a need for nurses. I will say your odds of going straight into a course or getting it into your contract right now would probably approach zero.
You can go the civilian route but you will need to get your CCRN first and I believe that you need 2 years of critical care experience to qualify for that cert.
The advantages of the military are the benefits (retirement and medical), I believe that the culture is much more supportive of new nurses (this is subjective and dependent on your chain of command), more room for and a more clear path for promotion. There is also the matter of pay.My wife until she hit captain (O3) made less than her civilian countercounterparts when you calculated in her base pay and bah. With that in mind figure that for the first 3-4 years you will be making less. At captain she broke even... Keep in mind that she had enlisted experience and that makes a big difference in pay so your mileage will vary. Right now though she is making significantly more than her civilian counterparts when you calculate in her bonus for being an 8A (ICU identifier). You will likely get cost of living adjustments every year, something that rarely happens any more I the civilian sector (I would almost guarantee the adjustment but it is dependent on congressional approval so...)
Last edit by DeBerham on Jan 7, '13