AF or Navy Flight Nursing?

by Aswanb Aswanb (New) New Student

Specializes in EMT-B, CNA, CPT, CET.


I am currently a nursing student, and I am looking into joining the military after I graduate. My goal is to end up as a flight or trauma nurse (I know you don't get to start there straight out of school, but I'm hoping to end up there someday). I have a couple of questions:

1. What is flight/trauma nursing like in the military vs the civilian world?

2. Which branch is better suited for each of these careers?

3. How much extra time do you have to spend working if you pursue higher education (masters, extra certifications, etc.)?

Thank you!


Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 52 years experience. 1,187 Posts

Decide now, enlist now, and get the service to pay your tuition. 
I have a colleague who was Air Force and retired as a Lt Col with a nice pension and benefits. She outranked the docs, too, which made it easier for her to determine good care. Traveled the world, earned an MN on the USAF nickel with time off to do it, learned a lot of good leadership skills that served her well in civilian life. Good luck!



Specializes in Critical Care Transport. Has 15 years experience. 2 Posts

1. Flight/trauma nursing with the military you get to serve your country, in civi land you serve your community. Many nuances to each…. If you’d like greater detail feel free to reach out further.

2. I can only speak to Navy Nursing where we were taught to be able to care for and transport a patient by air, land, sea, donkey….by any means available really. And you’ll develop expert trauma nursing skills by working with the Marines, or green side as we call it,  and training our Corpsmen.

3. I have a BSN, and with flight,trauma, critical care, er….all have specialty certs you can gain easily while employed. I've not sought advanced degree. It is entirely possible to be a strong leader and expert in your field as an active operational nurse. However, I believe to move up in rank as an officer, an advanced degree is quite necessary and the military has programs to help you achieve that. You get paid to go to school full time basically. Pretty sweet deal if you want to climb the ladder.



Specializes in EMT-B, CNA, CPT, CET. 6 Posts

Thank you so much for responding! What is the lifestyle like in the Navy as a Flight nurse? Do you know what the process would be if I were coming straight out of school and joining as an officer? 



Specializes in Critical Care Transport. Has 15 years experience. 2 Posts

Navy “flight” nurses are called “Enroute care nurses”. It is u subspecialty attached to an already established ER, Trauma, or Critical Care Nurse and utilized during combat deployments. You attend a specialty school through the Army. You can however be assigned to one a very very few fleet surgical teams where you hop from ship to ship with a corps group medical folks taking care of ships crew.

Once you have your BSN, talk with a medical/nurse recruiter and they will set you on the right path to becoming a military nurse. Navy only takes BSN prepared Nurses and all enter as Officers.



Has 15 years experience. 64 Posts

Good Morning, 

I am an Army Nurse Corps, CPT, 7 yrs Reserve, prior Navy Corpsman, 7 yrs active (total 14 years in service).   Experienced ED / OR Nurse in civi land.  Checking the option of AF Flight Nurse vs Navy Flight nurse.  Any insight will be appreciated.  Thank you.


Has 20 years experience. 33 Posts


I'll share what little I know. My mother served from 1961-1987 with the air national guard starting as a flight nurse until I was born. She then became a hospital nurse in the air guard and retired as a Lt. Col.

Look into reserves, especially air guard. It's like a small family and doesn't deploy as often (at least from my mother'sexperience). It depends on what you want out of your military service.