ARMY nursing for this new male grad? good or bad?

by brehon brehon (New) New

Hello, I am a new grad (12/2000) UIC and am considering going regular Army nursing. Im am very unfamilliar with this "specialty." Can anyone give me insight or just say Hi? I have yet to take state boards or even receive the letter outlining dates but am leaning heavily toward this at least for 3 or 4 years (max). Oh yes, I am unfortunately rather disenchanted with the private sector, too little camraderie, too much other negtive stuff I guess. I am new to this site and am still feeling my way around, thanx. Brehon (sounds like Crayon-C+B)



7 Posts

Go for it buddy!! Was an AD nurse in the active Army for over 8 years. Yes, I was enlisted, but gained so much experience about

nursing and the world in general, do not regret it in the least. You will be surprised

at how quickly 3-4 years pass. I traveled to

places not available to me otherwise. It's not all fun and games...there's a lot of hard

work. I would think however that you would

find it a great experience. Does Uncle Sam still help pay for your tuition/loans also?

Some of the places I traveled with in the

military were SC,TX,NC,Honduras,Korea,CA,and

was with the 8th Evacuation Hospital during

Desert Storm. I check this board often. Any

questions just fire away! No, I am not a

recruiter, work now in ICU in a smaller hospital. Considering travel nursing next fall as my youngest graduates from HS.




7 Posts

Forgot to ask if you have checked into the other branches of service. Like the AirForce or the Navy? I recall the Air Force had better chow halls and billeting. In the desert, they had indoor flushing type latrines, and indoor showers!!!!




5 Posts

Well, here's the breakdown. If you go into the army as a nurse, you'll be an officer, because you have a degree. You can choose to enlist if you want, but you'll get screwed even more. After you go through all your basic courses (Officer Basic Course, Army Nursing Basic Course, etc.), you'll have wasted a good year to year and a half of your life relearning (army style) all the stuff you learned in college. After that, you'll get assigned to a hospital or, if you're really lucky, you'll end up supporting a peace-keeping operation, like in Kosovo. Twelve hour days doing absolutely nothing. But hey, it's your choice. I got out of the army only a month ago. I'm doing the opposite of what you're doing. I got out and I'm starting college to become a nurse. If you go, remember this: officers have to ASK to get out of the army, and nobody has to let you out if they don't want to. Good luck.



2 Posts

Hi Jeani,

thank you a great deal for your response to my question. I do have very many questions if you don't mind. Are nurses required to perform double shifts regularly or is an 8 hr. shift pretty much the norm? Do the doctors seem to work well and/or respect the nurses in the Army? Are nurses as I will be an O-2 really in charge of anythin? Does there seem to be time to enjoy with your famaily. I am married with two small children. Are males treated fairly in your opinion. I have heard that males in nursing, like the private sector, may face extra obstacles. Were you enlisted or commisioned when you were in, I don't remember if you mentioned that. Is there good comraderie with the other nurses. Is San Antorio a good place to take children. I have been given a choice of several sites to include Walter Reed. Have you heard any negatives regarding any sites. Some background about me includes being enlisted in the Army reserves since 1992 receiving a commison in '99 (I have a prior college degree) but have not attended OBC due to being in nursing school (graduated a couple of weeks ago). ia m somewhat familiar with the army but never being active leaves many questions in my mind. The job market is really good in the civillian world, as you know, due to the shortage of RN's, but while I have done clinical rotations at some of the top hospitals in the nation including Northwestern, Children's Memorial and the University of Chicago, I am quite disenchanted with the private sector, I guess. No fun, all work. Will the army in your opinon change that? I am a male, African-american which I don't doubt contributes to my lack of bonding with peers. Few black male nurses. I know that this is quite londwinded, so I understand if you take weeks to answer. Ahead of time thank you, your insight and response is priceless.

checked the other branches out. Navy, too much of a change and the airforce is pending

Originally posted by jeani:

Forgot to ask if you have checked into the other branches of service. Like the AirForce or the Navy? I recall the Air Force had better chow halls and billeting. In the desert, they had indoor flushing type latrines, and indoor showers!!!!


brehon allen

OC_An Khe

OC_An Khe

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED. Has 40 years experience. 1,018 Posts

Jeani gave you some sound advice about the other branches of themilitary. The Air Force had indoor plumbing and better billets in Vietnam also. Seriously my expirience is dated but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend military service to anyone. Plenty of male RN's and didn't see any different treatment.


traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,143 Posts

Brehon, Go for it! My husband did 23 yrs in the air force (he's not a nurse) and I was always able to work. (I did three years in the navy - not as a nurse). However, military nursing is tops. The pts are wonderful. For the most part, at least overseas, they are young and healthy to start with. So, pt teaching is a priority. The comeraderie in the military, not just nursing, is wonderful. Most of my experience is overseas (Japan, Spain, Alaska, and Korea), so can't really speak for stateside. I wish you the absolute best luck. Be kind to the military retirees. Judi



7 Posts

Well, brehon, sorry I'm so long in answering you. You say that you are married and have two small children. I want to urge you first to discuss this fully with your spouse. A supportive spouse is a MUST when you are in the military. There will be times when you will be away from your family, that's just a fact of being in the military. I was enlisted as I did not have a BSN. I had strong family support which enabled me to make the most of my enlistment. Not just a spouse, but my parents and siblings as well were very supportive. My brother in law is in the Air Force. He is a career man now making LTC two years ago. My sister is as much involved in the Air Force as he is. She was much involved in Officer's Wives, Base Groups, and most recently as the Commander's wife for his wing. In addition to this, she stays involved with my nephews' school, religious education, sports, manages finances,runs the household when he is remote, and choreographs the moves which are another part of military life...So I want to make sure your spouse is as much a part of your decision as you are. As far as taking your family with you to San Antonio: I recall some people did move their families to

Ft Sam when I was in AIT. They did not have as much time with them as they had anticipated due to the intensive amount of training that goes on. barrybender was right about that one do have to learn to do things the Army way. You may want to have them stay put or with relatives until you go to your first long-term duty station. I do not know how long the Army(or the Air Force) trains its Commissioned Nurses so may want to take that into consideration. For my own experience, I was at Ft Sam for about 4 months. As it was summer, the Reserves and NG recruits were put into classes first because the Army had "4 years to train me". Then we just went to our first duty station(Mine was WOMACK at Ft Bragg NC) where I just learned hands on. I was with a field company there, then to 43rd MASH in Korea(ER nursing)then to Ft Ord to another field hospital. The nurses that were attached to our field companies all worked at fixed hospital facilities unless we went to the field or were deployed. I think I'm babbling now!!!!

At any rate, you will find an amazing pool of people from all over. If you are an open person, you will embrace the experience and come away with some of the most outstanding memories. Remember though that people are people no matter where you are. There are always going to be some unpleasant people you'd rather not meet again. Both as a civilian and as a soldier. The comraderie as the above posting mentions is SO MUCH tighter in the military than in civilian nursing. It is like having a big family. I really miss that. Hope this helps.

HINT: "If you are riding a bicycle and an enlisted person salutes you, you DO NOT have to return the salute!"




Specializes in NICU, Informatics. Has 14 years experience. 99 Posts

I can't help you with Army nursing, but I can help you with Air Force nursing. I'm a 23 year old RN who has been in the AF now for 6 months, after doing a year of civilian nursing.

AF nursing rocks! I didn't know what to expect before I joined, but knew it couldn't be worse than civilian nursing, and I was right. As a new nurse with little or no experience you will probably, in the AF, start your career on an MSU floor or a regular Med Surg florr. MSU stands for multiservice unit. It pretty much means you will get any sort of patient that can get thrown to you that doesn't need an ICU bed. Yesterday I had a 12 month old with pneumonia, a 52 y.o S/P LOA and SBO surgery, an 82 y.o. with bilateral foot cellulitis, renal insufficency, cardiac arrythmias, a 17y.o s/p appy and ovarian cyst removal who also had C.P., and an 11 y.o s/p tonsillectomy who couldn't stop throwing up.

It was a typical day for us.

Nursing in the military seems to be more of a team sport. We only have room for 12 beds, which means I can actually have 12 patients by myself with only 1 tech. That rarely happens, mostly because, esp on day shift, your nurse manager will help as will your NCOIC (the tech's boss). It also seems that your fellow nurses want to help more. If I do get slammed, it's understood that I can call my boss at home or any of my coworkers and they will come in and help me out.

If you do choose the AF, right out of school, they will send you to a nurse transition program that lasts a few months. If you do have experience, they will just send you to Officer's Training School, which for medical staff is only 4 weeks, not 13.

I can't stress to you enought how much better it is here when you are a new nurse as opposed to one on the outside. It's not without it's problems, but it's better than anything else I've seen.

Oh and the AF only accepts RN's with their BSN.

Hope this helps.



23 Posts

From a 14.5 year Air Force nurse corps member, I have to say that military nursing is definately a good choice, esp. for the reasons you cite for not being excited about the civilian world. While I was in my BSN program, two Navy nurses said go Air Force if you join. I never considered the Army-the field stuff isn't my idea of fun and I look better in blue!

I joined initially for a couple of reasons, 1) heard too many "I wish I would have" from co-workers, 2) didn't feel like working for "Community General" for the next 20 years waiting for someone to die to move up the food chain, 3) just wanted to do something different. It was only a three year commitment (back in 86) and I figured if I didn't like it I could get out and have VA benefits for the rest of my life.

Now, the good and bad.


1.You're always being challenged and advanced. You cannot be a staff nurse in the military for 20 years.

2.You move into a new job every couple of years without losing benefits.

3.I truly feel military nurses are respected more by physicians-the rank structure helps.

4.There are more male nurses in the military, and people won't look at you like you're weird.

5. Continuing education is emphasized and supported.

6. You won't be working with nurses who are only in it to pay for new appliances-the level of commitment is higher- more career minded nurses.

7. Opportunties you'd never get in the civilian sector i.e. learning to use a hand gun!

8. Travel

9. Tuition assist/GI Bill for grad education

Negative aspects

1. Assignment selection can be iffy

2. Staffing is an issue-we're constantly having to do more with less and less and...

3. You can't fire lousy support staff without tons of paperwork


5. Potential of going into war zones

I keep up with the civilian nursing world, and I don't plan on returning to it after I retire. The military has it's problems, but I think the civilian world has more. At least I feel I have job security.

Guess I've rambled enough-hope some of it was helpful.

Good Luck




219 Posts

Actually, I feel Nursing in a combat zone is a plus to military nursing. Combat is one area where there is far less superfulous idiocy. I got out after 16 years. 4 short of retirement. The military and your Congress has opted for a health prgram called TriCare. On active duty we called it Try and get Care. The military has taken all that is wrong wiht managed care and concentrated it into one program. The real losers are the veterans. Yes the civilian health care situation can be bad. But the military, especially a peace time military can always make things worse.



6 Posts

Hello Brehon

I am a Regular Army Major in the Army Nurse Corps, currently attending UIC in the Ns - Midwifery program under the Army's Long Term Health Care Training program.

I have been in the Army for 14 years and believe it, as with all other professions, has its good and bad points.

One of the strongest reasons I remain in the army is the amount of empowerment the nurses enjoy within the Health Care System. As I outrank most of the physicians I deal with and am considered an expert in my field, I am able to impact on the conditions and care delivery of my unit. In a big way.

Army Nurses are hospital commanders in about 6 facilities - a traditional physician role.

Other reasons include the experiences I've received, from setting up a 500-bed hospital in Egypt (2 months of eating sand), to learning about tropical medicine in a classroom in which the air-conditioning failed. In Texas. 100+ degrees outside. Appropriate topic for the conditions tho...

The health care system it self is relatively good, but aimed at the active duty soldier. Every hospital is JCACHO certified, usually at 98-99 % - civilian hospital ave is around 92%

90% of the physicians are board certified (required) - as opposed to most civilian hospital physicians at 65%

I noticed one person disliked the new civilian Tricare HMO system which is doing a lot of the Army's health care - fortunately the system bugs are starting to be eliminated.

19% of the ANC is male, as opposed to about 9% in the civilian world.

Some of the drawbacks include getting deployed - and having to be away from your family for months at a time. The frequency of deployment depends on your specialty and station. Some get deployed a couple of times in their career, some a couple of times a year. You heed to have a self sufficient spouse.

Other drawbacks include the tiny line on your contract "according to the needs of the army" - you may not get to do quite what you want. However, the career coordinators in DC are interested in retaining personal, so work to give you the specialty training and jobs you desire.

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