Allowing Corpsman to Become Nurses


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Specializes in FNP, ONP. Has 25 years experience.

I think, as usual, many people are missing the larger point. Someone did allude to it earlier in the thread. He was merely trying to suggest that he would like to see easier transition for service people to the private/civilian sector. It really wasn't even about nursing per se, it was about the veterans. Good grief.


1,026 Posts

I still think that for someone to practice nursing, one must have relevant training regardless if you have already experience in treating wounded individuals.


55 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Cardiac. Has 2 years experience.

Military education really does not prepare you for civilian medical jobs. 68W army medics hold NREMT-B cards but function with the scope of a civilian medic or more. They are trained to perform the advanced procedures but do not receive adequate education to support it. This is purely out of necessity. As someone mentioned they perform trachs instead of intubations because it is easier in a combat environment. Does this mean that they should be qualified to perform them in the civilian sector? A lot of medics I worked with were vets and gripped about having to go to paramedic school since they technically were only certified as basics. They did great with trauma but were seriously lacking in everything else. In civilian EMS very few calls are young, healthy, trauma patients like seen in the military. I agree there should be some type of bridge process but IMO their experience is only worth so much.


62 Posts

I was a little disturbed by the tone of the President's response as well, but I don't think he really meant the Corpsman (or Corpse-Man as the President might have pronounced it) couldn't even get a job as a Mere Nurse. The President probably doesn't know much of anything about Nursing education, LPN vs RN issues or the training of military corpspersons. Corpsman training is significantly different from Nursing Education, but it is thorough and the military doesn't put up with those unable or unwilling to do the coursework. They have to make the grade in the military and should be able to test out of a good part of the curriculum.


1 Post

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?

As a Corpsman in the 1970s, I thought (tongue-in-cheek) that nurses carried narcotic keys and took telephone orders. Corpsman learn alot of how-to stuff. When I went to nursing school having that how-to experience let me relax when others were sweating how to place an IV, put in a foley or any number of other practical skills. But appreciating the nursing process was not something that came with Corpman training.

Go to nursing school and enjoy the advantage(s) your prior training will provide.


323 Posts

Specializes in Wilderness Medicine, ICU, Adult Ed..
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.

Thank you, Grownuprosie, for correcting my misunderstanding. You are correct; I should not have refered to the President's comment without checking my memory for accuracy. I apologize to you and any others who read my ill-advised post.


1,007 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

Some states don't recognize the Excelsior program, or any other online program, for RNs. My state doesn't recognize it and if you complete the program you can't sit for your boards. My plan through LPN school was to bridge to the RN through Excelsior so I could work and go to school, but the state changed it right before I graduated.

I had a friend in the Army as a mechanic, working not only on the Jeeps and regular vehicles, but also the big, heavy diesel equipment. When he was discharged he could NOT find a civilian job in that field outside of changing oil for car dealerships for $8/hour because he didn't have his ASE certification. You'd think that military experience could translate into the civilian equivalent somehow or another. I understand nursing is a completely different story than mechanics, but field experience should at least transfer to EMT or paramedic equivalent or part of the LPN program. I don't know how much training they get in the military (i.e. A&P, medical terminology) but the hands-on component should count for something.

midinphx, BSN

853 Posts

Specializes in ED. ICU, PICU, infection prevention, aeromedical e. Has 28 years experience.

I was taken aback by this remark as well. I'm an RN in the Air Force - it kind of hit me in the face. I took it wrong at first too.

It was mentioned on here that the President was trying to support our military members as a transition to civilian jobs. I don't think Pres Obama has any clue what it takes to become a nurse or the difference in what our military medics do - but he really doesn't need to in his position.

The medics that I work with are amazing! I relied on their skills when I was deployed - they do more downrange than LPN's do stateside. Air Force medics don't earn a license with all their education. Army medics become LPN's with their training. So that transition is already built in for army. Air Force medics can in some states take the NCLEX for LPN. But their training doesn't get as deep into theory as nursing school. They need to build up the basics, like anatomy, biology, math. Many of them take classes while they are still in the service (which has major tuition assistance).

I'm glad he wants to support the vets. We can take classes anywhere in the world. A forward planning military member gets his/her education done. I enlisted in the army at 18. I used my GI Bill and college fund to get my BSN. The opportunities are there!!

blondy2061h, MSN, RN

1 Article; 4,094 Posts

Specializes in Oncology. Has 15 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.

I couldn't really express it, but this was EXACTLY what bothered me about it too. Given how many nurses the US has, Obama needs to be careful.


19 Posts

I was a Navy Corpsman in the late 1970's. We were trained to assess patients, order tests, consult with the MD if needed, and treat patients pretty much independently, partly because a corpsman was sometimes the only medical person on board a ship (and we learned emergent dental care as well.) Our care involved a lot of training and supervision prior to our being allowed this priviledge, but we were trained to a very high level of expertise. Over the course of 4 years I trained in OB, Med/Surg inpatient care, Radiology, and lastly Emergency Care (including suturing: sewed up an eyebrow laceration on my husband--have been observing that for 32 years :) I know that some of the current corpsman who have served in our recent wars are trained to an exceedingly complex level.

After I got out of the fulltime Navy I went to nursing school (a BSN program). It was a good experience for me because it helped to fill in some of the "that's why what I do works" questions. My assessment skills and treatments were honed well, but I often did not know the chemistry and physiology of why it worked.

So my thoughts are that some additional training is helpful to 'round out' the training of a corpsman to become a nurse. But those that are working with former corpsman should realize that while you are teaching them how to change a dressing, realize that the corpsman may have done or assisted with the actual surgery that the patient had. Their experiences may have far exceeded what they will ever be legally allowed to do as an RN. There have been many days in my civilian career when I come to work and my colleagues who have former military experience say to me "Get your boots on!" and I know just what kind of day I am in for.

Lastly, God bless and thank you to those that have served our country caring for injured and ill military personnel and families!!!


6 Posts

It's difficult for me to comment on this because I don't know what their training consists of. I do know that these corps"people" are wonderful in thinking on their feet, because they have to make split-second decisions in the field. However, there is so much involved in today's nursing that I feel they would have to pass certain competencies in order to test out of maybe the first basic nursing class. After that I think the curriculum would be so much different compared to what they would've experienced in the field. For example, how many catheters do they insert? And assessing the needs of a stroke/MI? Definitely something to think about, but Obama needs to do some homework.

Psychtrish39, BSN, RN

1 Article; 290 Posts

Specializes in MDS RNAC, LTC, Psych, LTAC. Has 13 years experience.

@ CountyRat. I watched the debate and I heard that comment to however I did not take offense. He or it meant to me that there needs to be some job training and help for returning vets . I do think its unfair if a corpsman comes back and has all this experience with saving lives in terrible situations that they can't be allowed to challenge NCLEX etc. or to somehow CLEP some of the lower nursing curriculum as it stands in most states I have lived in an LPN can become an RN in one year after taking core college level classes. I did not take umbrage at the comment I was glad a sitting president even mentioned the nursing field and veterans who can't get a job. I wasn't offended. I worry more about the voucher system for Medicare being spoke about affecting nursing and the residents I care for far more than a comment about nursing or becoming a nurse in general. It does cost thousands of dollars to become a RN and I do think our country needs to help the returning vets. Just my 2 cents. :yes: