Deciding to get out of military nursing


Anybody out there that was a military RN and then decided to get out the military? If so, could you please provide some insight as to the ease or difficulty in obtaining a civilian job? How does military nursing compare with civilian nursing? Where there certain factors that helped you decide that getting out the military would be in your best interest? Was it a huge financial adjustment? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

midinphx, BSN

853 Posts

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

I went from being civilian for 14 years to being active duty AF RN. I took a big pay cut - but that depends on where you live and the economy. But then tax free deployment made up for that 2 out of 3 years. Then having unexpected surgery and 6 weeks convalescent leave to recover made a huge difference - as a civilian I would have gotten 1/2 of my base pay. Base pay would not include shift differential of 15% nor the hourly benefits of $2/h for certs; plus I would have had to take the 1st week with my Earn Time account (combo sick leave and vacation time account). So unexpected surgery as a civilian could have really been a financial crisis.

As far as work itself - I feel like I work more actually time in the military, but that I don't generally work as hard. I always had a full load with critical patients as a civilian. we had no techs to help. When you have a 250lb guy you have to turn every 2 hours and you have to get help from another nurse who needs your help on hers too, well it can be hard on a body. lol.

There's things that I miss about being a civilian. I miss privacy. The right to say no to an immunization. I miss being able to call in sick. I miss making my own schedule.

What I don't miss about civilian nursing: doctors yelling at nurses. not being able to get ahold of a doc at 2am when a patient takes a turn or needs something that I need an order for. Combat nursing with alcoholics going through dt's, heroin overdoses trying to hit you after you save them because you ruined their buzz, drug seeking manipulative people. I can go on.

Neither civilian nursing nor military nursing is better than the other. Both are thankless jobs that you have to find your own reward for, don't expect any gratitude ever (if you do get it, it's a bonus item). Not every nurse can be a military nurse, but every military nurse can be a civilian nurse! lol. I don't feel like the AF is the cat's meow. But I came in to deploy and be what I am now. And I am glad to be here in Afghanistan (at 5am before my 5th 12 shift in a row sitting in my luxurious bottom bunk with my $90 wifi)! I feel like it is an honor to be here to take care of our service men and women at a very crucial moment in their lives. I feel humbled and proud. I didn't feel this way as a civilian nurse. I'm staying in. The AF grass is greener for me right now.

Cursed Irishman

471 Posts

Lincoln & Scottsdale merged this month.


32 Posts

Thanks so much for your insight midinphx!