Calling all present and former military nurses


Has 5 years experience.

Where was your first duty station? How long did it take for you to adjust from civilian to military life? And what advice do you have for those going in?


Jeckrn1, ADN, BSN

Specializes in Operating room, ER, Home Health. Has 22 years experience.

It all depends on you. Some do it quickly some not at all.

Hubby is the military one and I'm only just in the process but I'd say it depends on a lot of factors. Different branches will affect that, as well as your own personality. As mentioned, some adjust well and quick. Some really never adjust and end up getting out the first chance they get. We enjoyed the military life with hubby was enlisted many years ago but thought we wanted to be closer to home/family. Fast forward to current day and we realized the benefits of the military far outweighed us being closer to home and hubby went back in commissioned as a nurse with the plan to see if I can do the same. We enjoy a lot of the benefits the military has to offer but we are also Air Force and feel they have the nicest balance of work/family life.

As for your first duty station...that will depend on what branch you choose and what specialty you choose. Each nursing specialty will have certain bases they can be stationed at. If you're an ED or ICU nurse, there are only a handful of bases that have hospitals with those capabilities (that is actually military wide) so you'll be limited on which bases you can even go to. If you're a "clinical nurse" meaning your background is only med/surg, you can be at an inpatient setting in a hospital or you could be in a more clinic setting on a base that only has a clinic and not a hospital, so you'll have broader range of bases you could be stationed at. I say read up on these threads, ask around, and look at all the benefits each branch of the military has to offer and see how you think that will work for you. Remember things like you get tax free housing and food allowances each month, an actual pension retirement (plus a 401k option), free healthcare and then tricare for life if you make it to retirement (which you can do in only 20 yrs compared to the seemingly never in civilian life), the potential to travel/see the world, job stability (as in even when something like this covid happens and civilian hospitals lay off everyone to save $$-the military doesn't do that and you still have a job), 30 days paid vacation every year, GI bill money for college for you or can be transferred to a spouse or child/children, and so on.... Trade offs: living away from family (which may or may not be an issue for you), deployments, extra duties that have to be done on your own time because you're salary paid and not hourly, TDY trainings where you have to be away from your home/base/family for however long for training, etc...

It's really all about what your long term goals are, how these things compare to your current job/situation, and what you think you can manage in life. For us, it's been a great move. Some truly look at the negative and hate it. Only one that can make that choice is you. For what it's worth, active duty Air Force nurses make an initial 3yr commitment and if you don't take any bonuses, you're pretty much just employed and can depart when you want after that. Or you can enjoy some pretty sweet bonuses for a certain amount of yearly commitment.

jfratian, MSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 9 years experience.

You are required to give 6 months notice to separate active duty even if you have fulfilled your active duty service commitment. Even if you do your time, the 6 month notice requirement remains in order to leave.

Be aware that joint spouse (active duty couple) assignments can be very difficult and aren't guaranteed. I know an active duty nurse couple who have seen each other about 2 weeks in the last year due to their deployment schedules not lining up (one deploys, then returns home, and then the other deploys).