Flight Nursing in Air Force Reserves

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elise.barker

elise.barker

4 Posts

Hello- just curious if anyone can tell me about IMA positions vs TR? I’m currently enlist Air Force intel reserve IMA. On the civilian side I work as an RN on a Neurotrauma IMC step down. I would really like to find an IMA position as a critical care nurse. I was told it’s possible to get a spot but does require the unit to be willing to cover the cost of OTS. I’ve been checking RMVS for vacancies but I only see a few advance practice listings. Anyone have any experience finding an IMA position?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

RobdRN

RobdRN

Has 15 years experience. 65 Posts

On 6/2/2021 at 9:16 AM, jfratian said:

I think you're looking at an inter-service transfer.  You essentially need for find a healthcare recruiter for the Air Force Reserves to start the process.  That person will put you in touch with the chief nurse in charge of the aeromedical evacuation squadron in your area; that person is the hiring authority...similar to a civilian job.  You will still need to go through a length medical screening process (flight physical) too.

I looked into this for the Navy at one time, and I believe one downside of the inter-service transfers is that your time in grade (TIG) resets.  That may be rough for a senior O-3...which seems to be when everybody makes these switches for some reason.  It might be worth it to wait to until you promote if you're close.

You may already know this, but there are 2 main types of Air Force 'flight nursing.'  You'll have to decide which is right for you before you really dig into this process, because they are in completely different squadrons.  CCATT (critical care air transport team) and AE (aeromedical evacuation).  CCATT are ER and ICU nurses that take care of critical care patients in flight and focus solely on patient care; they do not get wings and are not considered flight crew.  AE nurses may have an ER or ICU background, but focus on plane safety, personnel management, mission planning, and logistics...not really patient care.  AE nurses are considered flight crew and get wings.  

 

 

Just got good news from my recruiter.  My medical just got approved.  Recruiter said next step is to schedule for interview with the chief nurse.  One step at a time. Crossing my fingers...

RobdRN

RobdRN

Has 15 years experience. 65 Posts

Just got good news from my recruiter.  My medical just got approved.  Recruiter said next step is to schedule for interview with the chief nurse.  One step at a time. Crossing my fingers...

Dantastic_

Has 1 years experience. 49 Posts

12 hours ago, RobdRN said:

Just got good news from my recruiter.  My medical just got approved.  Recruiter said next step is to schedule for interview with the chief nurse.  One step at a time. Crossing my fingers...

Awesome! Let us know how it goes. ?

nerd_up, BSN, RN

Specializes in TNCC, CCRN - Surg/Trauma ICU. 6 Posts

On 6/2/2021 at 9:16 AM, jfratian said:

I think you're looking at an inter-service transfer.  You essentially need for find a healthcare recruiter for the Air Force Reserves to start the process.  That person will put you in touch with the chief nurse in charge of the aeromedical evacuation squadron in your area; that person is the hiring authority...similar to a civilian job.  You will still need to go through a length medical screening process (flight physical) too.

I looked into this for the Navy at one time, and I believe one downside of the inter-service transfers is that your time in grade (TIG) resets.  That may be rough for a senior O-3...which seems to be when everybody makes these switches for some reason.  It might be worth it to wait to until you promote if you're close.

You may already know this, but there are 2 main types of Air Force 'flight nursing.'  You'll have to decide which is right for you before you really dig into this process, because they are in completely different squadrons.  CCATT (critical care air transport team) and AE (aeromedical evacuation).  CCATT are ER and ICU nurses that take care of critical care patients in flight and focus solely on patient care; they do not get wings and are not considered flight crew.  AE nurses may have an ER or ICU background, but focus on plane safety, personnel management, mission planning, and logistics...not really patient care.  AE nurses are considered flight crew and get wings.  

 

 

Hey jfratian,

Look like you've been a flight nurse for the AF since 2017 & I noticed you have your MSN.

If you don't mind me asking, did you gain your MSN before, during, or after joining AF Flight Nursing? I'm wondering this because I'm currently in the process of waiting for my flight physicals to join flight nursing (Washington or Travis), except I'm conflicted with how it's going to work when I apply for grad school (CRNA) in 2-3 yrs. Recruiter says the hours required for the job shouldn't conflict with school by the 3 yr mark & that AF will try to work with my school schedule. I'm having a hard time believing that. I do plan on quitting my civilian nursing job in 2-3 yrs, leaving me with only AF Nursing. Do you have any input on this or know of anyone who tried doing an intense grad school program?

Recruiter also says I will not have a commitment contract since I'll be going in as an officer. Also don't believe that because they're offering a $20k-$30k sign-on bonus in 3 yrs. How would that work? Does that mean I'm only required to stay with AF for 3 yrs ?

I feel like I'm being fed a couple of white lies or half-truths.

jfratian

jfratian, MSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 1,514 Posts

Are you going active duty or reserves? 

I'm actually finishing my first year of CRNA school right now.  My current job for the last year has been in patient staging not flight; flight nursing is a bit more involved.  My wife is a flight nurse, so I can probably still answer your questions.

I did my first 7 years in the active duty Air Force as a nurse in a variety of jobs ending with ICU; I earned an MSN in management during that time.  When I transitioned to the Reserves for CRNA school, I picked my current job to be the easiest one possible for retirement and healthcare purposes. 

You certainly cannot do a civilian CRNA school while on active duty.  If you join as an active duty ICU nurse, there is a program to send you the military's CRNA program full time.   Let me know if you're interested in that.  

Your situation will be harder.  Reserves flight nursing, especially when you're new, involves a lot of training.  Even once you're trained (at 2 months of COT, 1 month of SERE+ECAC, 3 months of flight nursing), you'll still have a minimum number of flying hours that I don't see you being able to get as a full-time student in demanding program.  I don't know anyone who does flight and CRNA school.

Since you're an ICU nurse, I would recommend you look into CCATT instead.  It's still aeromedical evacuation, but it's more patient focused than plane focused.  You won't get your wings, but you won't have anywhere near as many requirements (I.e. no SERE, no flight nursing course).  I opted to take an even easier job (ERPSS), but I know several people in my unit do CCATT and CRNA school.

As far as commitments, reserves work differently.  Our bonuses are generally only paid out after you earn them.  For example, reservist CCATT nurses right now get $15k per year only after each year is complete (and you did all your drill weekends).  I'm not sure what the sign-on bonus is for; are you looking at active duty? 

In general, when you take money up front there is a commitment associated with it.  Most contracts are 3 or 4 years active followed by 4 or 5 years in the inactive ready reserve.  My situation is different from yours, because I completed by initial contract on active duty.  I actually have no contract and could quit tomorrow if I wanted.  I'll have to ask someone in my unit who started in the reserves how those contracts work and get back to you.

 

Edited by jfratian

nerd_up, BSN, RN

Specializes in TNCC, CCRN - Surg/Trauma ICU. 6 Posts

19 hours ago, jfratian said:

Are you going active duty or reserves? 

I'm actually finishing my first year of CRNA school right now.  My current job for the last year has been in patient staging not flight; flight nursing is a bit more involved.  My wife is a flight nurse, so I can probably still answer your questions.

I did my first 7 years in the active duty Air Force as a nurse in a variety of jobs ending with ICU; I earned an MSN in management during that time.  When I transitioned to the Reserves for CRNA school, I picked my current job to be the easiest one possible for retirement and healthcare purposes. 

You certainly cannot do a civilian CRNA school while on active duty.  If you join as an active duty ICU nurse, there is a program to send you the military's CRNA program full time.   Let me know if you're interested in that.  

Your situation will be harder.  Reserves flight nursing, especially when you're new, involves a lot of training.  Even once you're trained (at 2 months of COT, 1 month of SERE+ECAC, 3 months of flight nursing), you'll still have a minimum number of flying hours that I don't see you being able to get as a full-time student in demanding program.  I don't know anyone who does flight and CRNA school.

Since you're an ICU nurse, I would recommend you look into CCATT instead.  It's still aeromedical evacuation, but it's more patient focused than plane focused.  You won't get your wings, but you won't have anywhere near as many requirements (I.e. no SERE, no flight nursing course).  I opted to take an even easier job (ERPSS), but I know several people in my unit do CCATT and CRNA school.

As far as commitments, reserves work differently.  Our bonuses are generally only paid out after you earn them.  For example, reservist CCATT nurses right now get $15k per year only after each year is complete (and you did all your drill weekends).  I'm not sure what the sign-on bonus is for; are you looking at active duty? 

In general, when you take money up front there is a commitment associated with it.  Most contracts are 3 or 4 years active followed by 4 or 5 years in the inactive ready reserve.  My situation is different from yours, because I completed by initial contract on active duty.  I actually have no contract and could quit tomorrow if I wanted.  I'll have to ask someone in my unit who started in the reserves how those contracts work and get back to you.

 

The way it was explained to me is that I would be a reservist but would have to be placed as active duty for the 10 months of flight training, then revert to reserves. These reserve flight nursing positions apparently have a $20k-$30k sign-on bonus for 3 yrs. I don't mind the 3 yrs but I want to make sure I'll be free of that commitment by year 3 & be able to apply to CRNA by year 2, at least. You think that would be possible?

Are the required flight hours you mentioned only required within the 3-year commitment?

Yes, please, if you have any input from you reserves friends/colleagues, that'd be much appreciated more than you know.

I asked my recruiter about CCATT, if I'd be able to join CCATT after my 3-year commitment, but he didn't even know what that was. If you know nurses that are doing CCATT, while in CRNA, that would be ideal scenario for me in 3 years, if I decide to do flight nursing first. I've only been an ICU nurse for 1.5 years.

Devo19

Devo19, BSN

Specializes in Surgical Intensive Care. Has 8 years experience. 169 Posts

2 hours ago, nerd_up said:

The way it was explained to me is that I would be a reservist but would have to be placed as active duty for the 10 months of flight training, then revert to reserves. These reserve flight nursing positions apparently have a $20k-$30k sign-on bonus for 3 yrs. I don't mind the 3 yrs but I want to make sure I'll be free of that commitment by year 3 & be able to apply to CRNA by year 2, at least. You think that would be possible?

Are the required flight hours you mentioned only required within the 3-year commitment?

Yes, please, if you have any input from you reserves friends/colleagues, that'd be much appreciated more than you know.

I asked my recruiter about CCATT, if I'd be able to join CCATT after my 3-year commitment, but he didn't even know what that was. If you know nurses that are doing CCATT, while in CRNA, that would be ideal scenario for me in 3 years, if I decide to do flight nursing first. I've only been an ICU nurse for 1.5 years.

Well, after the 10 months to 1 year of being on active duty orders, you still have to complete 15 days of AT (Active Training) days per year while completely the minimum of 2 hours every 90 days which won't keep you qualified. Many individuals had to resign their commission when going to CRNA school. 

The bonus won't be given to you until after completing school and becoming a qualified flyer. Example: Commissioned 5/16---Qualified Flyer 5/18 

nerd_up, BSN, RN

Specializes in TNCC, CCRN - Surg/Trauma ICU. 6 Posts

8 minutes ago, Devo19 said:

Well, after the 10 months to 1 year of being on active duty orders, you still have to complete 15 days of AT (Active Training) days per year while completely the minimum of 2 hours every 90 days which won't keep you qualified. Many individuals had to resign their commission when going to CRNA school. 

The bonus won't be given to you until after completing school and becoming a qualified flyer. Example: Commissioned 5/16---Qualified Flyer 5/18 

Thank you so much for this information Devo19!

Sounds like everything is pointing me more towards CCATT then. It sounds  like a more sustainable job with my civilian one & will be more realistically manageable whilst doing CRNA school in the future.

jfratian

jfratian, MSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 1,514 Posts

Look, just tell your recruiter you want to only apply for a 46N3E position in an ASTS (aeromedical staging) squadron.  Their system doesn't say 'CCATT.' Technically, that job code is for ICU nurses and does include other jobs.  To the best of my knowledge, all 46N3E jobs in reserves ASTS squadrons are for CCATT.  You will be interviewing with the chief nurse for the ASTS squadron in your area and can confirm with him/her that they have CCATT jobs available.  If they don't have CCATT jobs available, I'd apply as a 46N3 (clinical nurse) in the same ASTS squadron and wait for a CCATT job to open up.

Just so you know for CCATT the requirements are:   You generally have to go to a 5 day APES course (patient staging), 2 weeks of CCATT initial and 2 weeks of CCATT advanced.  You then have to re-certify with 2 weeks of CCATT advanced every 2 years I believe.  This is in addition to your 14-15 days each year and 2 days each month that all reservists have.

RobdRN

RobdRN

Has 15 years experience. 65 Posts

Hello jfratian,  

I had my paperwork being process for AF Flight nurse but I was told by the recruiter that I have to have flight physical first before I can have an interview with the Chief Nurse.  But Flight physical are so behind and have 2 years waiting to get an appointment.  Recruiter recommended to join as Clinical nurse and can be schedule for interview sooner.   Is this something I should do and work my way to flight nurse once I attached to a Unit?  Need your insight.   Thank you

Edited by RobdRN

jfratian

jfratian, MSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 1,514 Posts

Yes, you can change nursing jobs in the reserves somewhat easily.  There is additional paperwork (and of course training), but you could join as a clinical nurse and switch over to flight nursing afterwards.  This would allow you to get things like the 8 weeks of COT (officer basic training) out of the way while you're waiting on your flight physical.  Flight nurses are in the AE squadron and clinical nurses are in either the AMDS or ASTS squadrons; that will add extra hoops to jump through.  I would highly recommend you do ASTS as a clinical nurse; it's in the same squadron as CCATT if you decide to go that route.  AMDS basically handles all the pre-deployment physicals on reserve weekends and don't deploy; unless you like clinic nursing I'd steer clear.

Since you are a new accession, you do want to check what your contract commits you too.  Make sure you do have the ability to cross train after a year or two.  Double check with both your recruiter and the chief nurse you interview with.

Also, just know that typically there are not accession bonuses for general clinical nurses in the reserves.  But, you wouldn't get any money until you were a fully qualified flight nurse anyway.

I'm not sure what your background is clinically, but if it's ICU or ER you could also do critical care air transport team (CCATT).  It requires a flight physical but you can fill the spot without a flight physical.  See my earlier post in this thread.  Tell your recruiter you want a 46N3E job in an ASTS squadron.