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Considering the Air Force as an NP, Advice?

iangood iangood (New) New

Specializes in FNP, CNS, CEN. Has 7 years experience.

I am considering going into the Air Force as a Nurse Practitioner. I just contacted a recruiter last week and filled out a pre-qualification sheet. I'm waiting to hear back.

A little about myself: I did an RN to NP MSN and have 7 years experience. 4.5 years as an ER Staff Nurse, 2.5 years as an ER Nurse Practitioner and 2.5 years experience as an NP in Urology at the VA. I also have 10 years of prior service experience in the Air Force, 4 years active duty as an SP (MP) and 6 years in the Reserves as a medical technician. I got out in 2004.

I have a great job now. I love the patients (vets), the pay and the benefits, and my colleagues are great. But .... I'm 37 and single and am starting to feel wanderlust. I always loved the military. I'm in great shape and have no medical problems or other issues. I know it is a long process, that is why I want to start now looking to enter by 2012. I'd prefer to stay Air Force since I have experience there, but would consider Army or Navy.

I would like to hear from anyone who is (or was) an NP in the Air Force.

I would especially like to hear from anyone (RNs or NPs) who went in at an older age (35+) and those who were prior enlisted.

Any experiences or advice would be greatly appreciated.


Specializes in ICU, ER, OR, FNP.

your time adds to 9.5 years of license time unless i misunderstand what you wrote. with that, read the pay chart and use the o3e; that's where you’ll start with your experience.

i'm curious what job they offered you. are you acnp? about all we use in their real trained capacity are fnp, pnp, and crna. all of the others are get used as cns and make out schedules, write oprs, etc.

forget about urology, surgery, etc. pas can do anything in the usaf, but that discrepancy has been discussed to death and won't change as long as nurses are in charge of nps. i’m sure there are plenty of threads on why rns should never be in charge of a np – so i’ll leave it at that.

i’m prior enlisted and came back in at 36 for np and retirement. so, obviously, i think coming back in is a great idea.


Specializes in ED. iCU, now add on PICU. Has 19 years experience.

I'm not a NP, but an ICU RN. I'm prior service army. Commissioned this year into the AF at the ripe old age of 42.

Nothing is stopping you. Go for it! (just remember how long the paperwork process takes).


Specializes in FNP, CNS, CEN. Has 7 years experience.


Thank you for your reply and advice. I just started to explore going back into the Air Force. I have not sat down to speak with the recruiter yet, I will on Monday. I've just done the initial paperwork to "pre-qualify."

Even though my nursing and NP experience is mainly in the ER and Surgical areas, my training was as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and I am board certified as an FNP by ANCC.

I would be looking to come in to the Air Force as an FNP.

You sound like you have gone through what I am contemplating, I would love to get some more info from you if you have time.

-What type of NP are you working as now?

-Where are you stationed? Was the place you are stationed at one of your choices?

-Can you give me an idea of what your average day is like?

-How long ago did you go to COT?

-What was it like to go through COT from a prior enlisted perspective?

-How long did the process take from the time you first spoke with a recruiter until you were at COT?

Any answers you could give would be greatly appreciated.


Specializes in FNP, CNS, CEN. Has 7 years experience.


Thanks for your reply. It is nice to hear from someone with a lot of experience.

If you have a few minutes, I'd like to ask you a couple of questions:

-If it is not too personal, why did you decide to go into the Air Force at this point in your life?

-So far, is it about what you expected it would be (lifestyle, colleagues, peers, job)?

-Was there anything you wish you would have known before you went in?

-How was it going through COT?

-How long did the process take from the time you first spoke to the recruiter until you were at COT?

I know it's a lot of questions, but it is always helpful to hear from some one who has been down the road you are contemplating taking. Thanks for your time.


Specializes in ED. iCU, now add on PICU. Has 19 years experience.

Where to start...

There's actually alot of us in this same place at this time in our lives. We are not unique and you won't be the only one who took a roundabout way to get here.

I love the military and serving (most of the time anyway). I didn't really want to get out the first time. I got out for my husband and kids. I never thought they'd go along with me if I stayed in. Now my kids are old enough and my exhusband is a friend. It was just the right time for me.

The one thing I think was the hardest for me that I wasn't expecting was the civilian way of looking at pay. I worked 36 hours a week and if I worked more, I got paid more. Forget that now! They can work me everyday for no more money. I used to know that, but was civilian too long and just didn't think about it. I'm over it now, thank goodness. Being on my own in a new place and traveling were things that I expected. I'm alone alot, which is new, but ok.

It took me 12 months from the first contact until I left for COT. And that was with no waivers or setbacks. I don't know how the NP's go through the boards. Do ensure you have a healthcare recruiter - not the guys in the mall.

Going through COT was worse than basic training for me. But I was student group commander of 289 new officers. I had intended to blend in and not get noticed. Instead I had a huge target on my back. I lost my good attitude by the end of it, due to exhaustion. lol. Seriously, 4 hours of sleep was my norm. I loved the caffeine pills I had in my bag. COT is the easiest way, I think, to enter the military in any way. But basic training as enlisted was way more fun. lol.


Specializes in FNP, CNS, CEN. Has 7 years experience.

Thank you midinphx for your thoughtful reply and advice!

I'm still waiting to talk to the Health Professions Recruiter. I talked a bit to his colleague today, but I keep playing phone tag with the actual recruiter I have been assigned. I get the feeling they are not short manned right now, since they are not working very hard to "sell" me at this point.

I figured it would take me about 12 mos. from the start to actually going to COT. Apparently, I just missed the suspense for the Nurse Specialty Board coming up in 2 weeks. The next board is in June. I'm not in any hurry as I still really like my job, but like you just really miss the military and am ready for a change.

I hope you don't mind if I ask you some questions in the future when I am further along in this process. Thanks again.


Specializes in Pediatrics/Emergency Medicine/NICU. Has 17 years experience.

I am currently applying to the AF as a CPNP with 17 years of experience (13 as RN, 3-4 as NP). I am going to need a waiver with my age, but am also in great shape, and would feel honored to be part of the Air Force! My healthcare recruiter mentioned to me that the next commissioning is in late June, with COT's in July and August. These are the last of 2011 that I know about. I have all of my information turned in. I have an interview in two days with my recruiter. My family and I want to be stationed overseas, but realize the needs of the AF come first. I would appreciate any information you have regarding potential timelines, etc.

I am looking into joining the AF or PHS. I am uncertain as to which to choose, but I am applying to both of them. I am in a PhD program now. Are degrees considered as far as rank is concerned? I have a total of 13 years experience as a nurse. 9 - RN- 4- FNP.

I am in the process of filling out my application and deciding on assignments. I have three children, so I would love to pick a base that is in a city with a great school system, low crime, etc.

Does anyone here know the best assignments for FNP in the US/overseas?

Additionally, what questions should I be asking my recruiter? I have no prior experience in the military so I am pretty much clueless on the process.

Is anyone by any chance still linked to this feed? I'm also prior AF and was also in Security Forces. I did a bridge program and am a FNP. I"ve been practicing for 2 years and am looking at applying to go back into the AF. I was just going to see if I could get any feedback from anyone who is or has served as a NP in the AF or other branches. I'm also 37yo... so similar internal conflicts :) Thanks! Amy


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