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Air Force/Navy nursing?

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by Dreamchaser95 Dreamchaser95 (New) New

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Hi. I'm a current nursing student in my second year working towards my ADN. I am hoping to complete my degree by the end of next year then transfer to a RN to BSN program. I have become interested in military nursing lately, mainly the Navy and Air Force. I've researched all across this forum about Navy nursing and I think I know a good bit about it but I haven't really seen that much about Air Force nursing. I was wondering if anyone could tell me about some of the differences/similarities between the 2 and which one in your opinion is better. Also I was wondering more of what the application process is like with both? Is it easy to get into a specialized area when you first sign up? I would like to work in the NICU or at least somewhere in Peds. Would it be easier if I had about a year of experience before signing up? Also would it be wise to go ahead and start talking to recruiter or should I wait until i'm in the RN to BSN program? Thanks. Sorry about all the questions.

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jfratian has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in ICU.

1,388 Posts; 12,429 Profile Views

Make sure your BSN program is acceptable to military (in United States, regionally accredited, and proper nursing accreditation).

I don't think it's ever too soon to talk to a recruiter. You can't really start applying until about a year out from your graduation date.

You generally will be doing post-partum or med-surg for the first few years in any branch. The only way to get around that is to get civilian experience in your desired specialty first.

Military nursing is pretty similar in all branches. Often, you work together in the same facility. I take care of people from all branches regularly. There are differences with regards to culture and special assignments. A lot of the flight nursing is handled by the Air Force. A lot of the hard core macho training stuff is more Army; I know a brigade nurse who had to be certified to jump out of planes. The ship assignments are all Navy. As a NICU Nurse, your day to day life will be largely the same in any branch.

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Pixie.RN has 12 years experience as a MSN, RN, EMT-P and specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

8 Followers; 32 Articles; 13,369 Posts; 130,718 Profile Views

Also I was wondering more of what the application process is like with both? Is it easy to get into a specialized area when you first sign up? I would like to work in the NICU or at least somewhere in Peds. Would it be easier if I had about a year of experience before signing up?

It's great that you want to serve your country in this capacity. :) Just so there are no illusions, you don't just "sign up" for military nursing. Commissioning into the military as an RN is a long and competitive process, and relatively few are selected. All branches of the service are full of nurses, with many experienced nurses vying for positions - often with hundreds of applicants for comparably few slots.

As you complete your ADN program and start your BSN (ensure it's accredited, as jfratian mentioned), make sure you keep your grades high - GPA matters to the military. You will also be assessed for physical fitness and be screened for any disqualifying medical conditions, so your health and fitness are important as well.

A healthcare recruiter can definitely give you updated information and tell you about the current recruiting climate, so reaching out now is not a bad idea. Just make sure you speak with a healthcare recruiter - the regular recruiters aren't well versed in matters involving the nurse corps.

One more thing: peds and NICU are pretty small specialties, numbers-wise. Very tough to get into those!

Best of luck in the rest of your school! :)

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3 Posts; 439 Profile Views

Make sure your BSN program is acceptable to military (in United States, regionally accredited, and proper nursing accreditation).

I don't think it's ever too soon to talk to a recruiter. You can't really start applying until about a year out from your graduation date.

You generally will be doing post-partum or med-surg for the first few years in any branch. The only way to get around that is to get civilian experience in your desired specialty first.

Military nursing is pretty similar in all branches. Often, you work together in the same facility. I take care of people from all branches regularly. There are differences with regards to culture and special assignments. A lot of the flight nursing is handled by the Air Force. A lot of the hard core macho training stuff is more Army; I know a brigade nurse who had to be certified to jump out of planes. The ship assignments are all Navy. As a NICU Nurse, your day to day life will be largely the same in any branch.

Thanks for the reply. How much experience would you recommend that I have?

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3 Posts; 439 Profile Views

Thanks for the reply. I was wondering does the GPA from the ADN program matter as much as GPA from the BSN program? I had a few issues last year and I know my GPA is not where it needs to be, I only have about a 2.0. Also, do you know what kind of medical conditions would be disqualifying? I went to the doctor towards the end of last month and they said that I have low iron so I now take iron pills. They also said that when I gave blood the first time that I was showing signs of prediabetes but they haven't said anything else about it so I don't know what's going on with that. Would skin conditions be disqualifying?

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Pixie.RN has 12 years experience as a MSN, RN, EMT-P and specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

8 Followers; 32 Articles; 13,369 Posts; 130,718 Profile Views

I had to submit transcripts to the Army for both ADN and BSN, but I am not sure what the other branches require. It is likely they will need to see both. With it being as competitive as it is, you would need to pull your GPA up - they were looking for people with a 3.5 when I was selected.

You can do a Google search on "military medical disqualifying conditions" and find info like this: Medical Standards for Entry Into the US Armed Forces or Certain Health Issues Can Make It Hard To Join | Military.com

It is possible to obtain waivers for some conditions, but waivers would be difficult to obtain in the current recruiting climate - there is an abundance of applicants already who don't need any.

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Meriwhen is a ASN, BSN, RN and specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

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Also, do not fall into the misbelief that as a nurse, you'll always work your term in a cushy base hospital and will not be required to move around the country, won't be deployed on a ship/unit, won't get sent to a war zone, or won't be stationed overseas. ANY of the above can happen to you. When you sign up for the military, you go wherever the military needs you. If you are not willing or able to deal with this possibility, then you seriously need to rethink your decision to join the military.

I had a friend who joined the Navy right after nursing school. After she finished OCS (officer candidate school), she was immediately sent on an unaccompanied tour to Iraq...her very first tour--and first nursing job--was in a war zone. Other nurses got sent to Africa for a year to work at the Joint Command. So this can and does happen.

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jfratian has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in ICU.

1,388 Posts; 12,429 Profile Views

I can't speak for other branches, but the Air Force requires 1 year of full time experience in your specialty to enter with the AF specialty designator (ICU would be 46N3E or ED would be 46N3J...etc). That doesn't mean you would necessarily be competitive with a bad GPA and 1 year of experience. You might need a little extra experience and board certification in your specialty if you GPA sucks.

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