Allowing Corpsman to Become Nurses


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5,345 Posts

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Trauma Rapid Response. Has 16 years experience.
Watching the Presidential debate tonight and a statement by Obama made my head turn. He was relating a story when a corpsman was stating that he has treated wounded soldiers but when he became a civilian he could not use his training or experience to count towards becoming a nurse (unknown which kind). The corpsman was upset that he had to start his education/training from the beginning.

Obama stated that the requirements to be a nurse (assumed licensure/NCLEX requirements) should be changed to allow corpsman to become nurses (did not state which kind).

Any thoughts?

*** Apperently that corpsman is not a member of Allnurses or he would have known corpsmen and medics CAN be nurses. Thyere have been a number of discussion about this here. I got out of the army, challenged the CA LVN boards after 6 weeks of study. Then moved to Wisconsin and did LVN to RN in 9 months.

CA requires the medic/corpsman to have certain experience in the hospital. I took the requirements to my boss in the army and asked if it coud be arranged that I get this experience. My chain of command arranged that I rotate through specific units in the army hospital. I can't remember what the requirments were since it was a long time ago. I knew from an army buddy that Wisconsin technical colleges had just combined their LPN and RN programs into a singe 1 plus 1 program and were allowing LPNs to walk into the second year of the ADN RN program. I called several of the technical colleges. One of them told me they had plenty of room in the second year of their program for LPNs. That was on August 14th. I jumped in my truck and headed to Wisconsin. By August 26th I was sitting in class and graduated the following May with my ADN RN. I had never spent a day in college prior to that and didn't have a single college credit to my name. I used CLEP to meet the non nursing requirments like English, chem, sociology, etc.

The Wisconsin technical college ADN programs have no college class pre-reqs. What are pre-reqs in most other states are co-reqs here. (Required Courses) Total cost of the program was about $2600. After graduation I took a job in a 9 month critical care nurse residency program for new grads going directly into the SICU of a large teaching and trauma center hospital. I got great training and that lead to several other higher paying jobs. Now I make well over $100K as a full time Rapid Response RN at a large teaching hospital, a job quite similar to my combat medic job with the infantry in the army. I got a BSN 100% free on my employers dime.

Not all states are equal when it comes to vets. For example Wisconsin bends over backwards to help and accomadate us. For example my AARTS transcript from the army (army vets get your transcripts here: Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS) Home Page ) was all accepted for transfer credit. It was like 45 college dredits they accepted. For example my recomended 2 credits in marksmandship listed on my AARTs trascript was accepted as 2 credits of elective credit. This compaired to Minnesota next door where an army medic with lots of training and experience will be lucky to have 3 credits of physical education accepted for transfer credit.

The vet needes to be his/her own advocate and do the leg work to find these things out. I was able to learn all this on my own and take advantage. It won't due to sit back and wait for somebody else to make it happen for you. This is the 3rd or 4th time I have explained this here on AN and have done so many other times on vet blogs.


5,345 Posts

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Trauma Rapid Response. Has 16 years experience.
I was wrong I guess, I think I assumed nurses worked in military hospitals and corpsman took care of hurt soldiers and whatnot.

*** I was a medic with the army infantry doing the job that you were probaly imagining military medics doing. However after that I went to work in a large army hospital and functioned in a roll similar to an LPN. At my request I rotated through a number of departments including L&D, CCU, SICU, ER, med-surg and some others. I did assessments on patients and passed them on the nurse corps officer (RN) supervising me, passed PO meds, placed IV & NGs and lots and lots of other normal nursing jobs. Lots of medic and corpsmen work in hopitals.


377 Posts

Has 1 years experience.
I remember the President's remark very specifically. The tone of the statement was what caught my attention. Mr. Obama put a strong emphasis on the work nurse; as in, "he could not [even] get a job as a [mere] NURSE! We have to change that!" Words in brackets are my additions to convey the tone of the President's comment. I believe that is what Mr. Obama was trying to convey. If you prefer, read the statement without the inserted words. What do you think? I must say, it rankled this old nurse.

If you are going to quote our president, please be accurate. your "quote" is no where near the actual text or tone of that part of the debate. Regardless of what you think he meant, we can at least be clear on what he said.

OBAMA: You know, I was having lunch with some-a veteran in Minnesota who had been a medic dealing with the most extreme circumstances. When he came home and he wanted to become a nurse, he had to start from scratch. And what we've said is let's change those certifications. The first lady has done great work with an organization called Joining Forces putting our veterans back to work.


6 Posts

Well said CountyRat!!

I agree nurses need to be proud and need to be respected; I also feel that life experience in invaluable.

Not just with nursing school but with other career paths in life I don't think we are allowed credit for what we know or have learned the hard way.

Everyone needs to prove a level of competency on a given topic to be considered proficient, sure, fine, perfectly ok with that. I simply do not see a measureable way to do it, therefor we all end up having to take classes and learn things we already know. Sure there are a ton of differences being in a war zone compared to a med/surg floor. But a foley is a foley, and an IV is an IV, Lungs are in the same place, and so are the other organs.


215 Posts

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry, Cardiac/Renal, Ortho,FNP. Has 14 years experience.

Well, to Mr. Obama's surprise there still is a 10th amendment. If he wants to allow corpsman to practice as nurses in VA hospitals then fine but otherwise it is up to individual state boards which will never allow that. There IS already a pathway for corpsmen to become nurses and it's called Excelsior College. This program/pathway has been in existence long before Pres. Obama even knew how to pronounce "corpsman".

I graduated from Excelsior and there is nothing wrong with that other than some workplace stigma with online programs in general (which is subsiding). I would say if an ex-military corpsman does not know about Excelsior and the myriad of options for them then maybe they shouldn't be a nurse in the first place b/c they do not have the general skills to use Google. This isn't a secret and as a doctor with 3 college degrees I can honestly say nurses are not impressed with anyone's education or credentials outside of nursing. It's their right and responsibility to protect the profession...lowering or changing the standards is not wise.

tewdles, RN

3,156 Posts

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience.

I have worked with only 3 corpsman that became LPN and 2 RNs.

There may be more that I don't know about.

There clearly is a pathway to become a nurse with that background and experience.

It is just that the training to become a corpsman is not the same as the training and education required for nursing.


112 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, DD, Military. Has 10 years experience.

I was an Army medic, very similiar to a corpsman. I agree that the skills are very close to that of a MA, and although the skills are similiar, the education is not. The education I have gotten as an RN has gone way beyond teaching skills.

Corpsman and medics work in many different types of facilities and with different types of patients. So, the basic patient care knowledge and skill is there. When I went to nursing school I had a better understanding of certain things, but by no means was it a cake walk, as the education was greater than anything I was expected to know previously.

I agree that the skills should count for something, and I would advocate for it any day. But, it is only the beginning...

mmm333, LVN

298 Posts

To be fair, the information about how to complete a nursing degree is available to military personnel through their Educational Services Office/officer, and corpsmen can get their stuff done while serving- if they make that a big priority while enlisted. I knew many enlisted people who lauded me for taking college courses instead of racing motorcycles or drinking beer- what can I say? I'm out and successful in the civilian world, and some of them complain to me about the usual military BS that they still put up with (uniform inspections, other BS, etc) and I just silently think back to the hours I spent burning midnight oil, dreaming of enjoying the freedoms that I served one 6-year enlistment to protect! I served honorably and proudly, and got out happily! With the rise of online programs and technology, there is simply no excuse for not getting some college done while in the military. In my opinion, too many enlisted people spend FAR too much time out drinking and whatnot.

Corpsmen are not automatically = to nurses. Corpsmen are more like medical assistants, CNAs, phlebotomists, and other UAP roles combined in different and varying combinations depending on where they are assigned. Some are nurse material, and some are not. I do think many could handle SNF, but not many could jump into acute care without more training.

The biggest difference is that they are not college educated, though their military schools may give them about 5-20 units of elective college credit that will help them toward that ASN or BSN degree. There are nurses in the military who went to nursing school before joining the military, and they enter the military as RNs and serve as nurses. The military doesn't take ADNs these days, only BSN which qualifies them to take officer billets and manage corpsmen.

After thinking it over alot, I think that enrollment preference would be far more valuable to corpsmen than a faster track into nursing.

CapeCodMermaid, RN

6,090 Posts

Specializes in Gerontology, Med surg, Home Health. Has 30 years experience.

Openmouth, insert foot....."I do think many could handle SNFs but not.....acute care..."Really? Working in a SNF is no easier than working acute care. I've seen many many nurses with med-surg backgrounds not be able to make it two weeks in a SNF.You, and Mr. Obama, should both think before you speak.

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical. Has 4 years experience.

They surely can! My boss was in the military when his son was born, a corpsman (corpsperson?) attended the birth.

They kind of seem like different jobs though right? They aren't out delivering babies and taking care of kids with cancer and such. I could certainly see some type of transition program but do they have all the skills of a nurse?

Maybe I am wrong and don't know what their job as a corpsman entails.

mmm333, LVN

298 Posts

One other aspect of the military that explains why corpsmen can do things like place chest tubes in the field is that they are in REMOTE, EMERGENCY situations where there is no other choice.

This, and the fact that nobody can sue the military especially as a member of the military, whereas anyone can sue a hospital, is the reason they can have a pretty large UAP scope of practice while in the military- explains alot about why they cannot do more once they get out of the military and into the real world where people get sued, and where patients and their families are going to demand education behind their clinicians license.

Corpsman Mom

8 Posts

Interesting as an RN, BSN, MSN with son presently a Corpsman previously took care of new moms and newborns. Bloodworkon both, IV's, meds, etc., etc. I am impressed at the scope of their practice. My son is now FMF Corpsman and supersedes many RN's with his abilities and duties. Must also carry a gun/rifle with all of this.I am sorry I did not listen to the debate last night. I have a petition "Corpsman to RN" which many all over the country have signed. I gave it to my Senator and had to go through an hour or so justifying this. Next they promised me they were taking it to Washington. I figured they were politely sweeping it under the rug. Do you think I had something to do with the President mentioning this? Hmmmm I s ure hope so.