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From RN to PA in the military

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by coconutzz coconutzz (New Member) New Member

coconutzz has 2 years experience and specializes in OR.

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Can a military nurse apply for PA school while in the military? I understand that commissioning into the AF as an RN means you commission into the Nurse Corps, but can you move to another Corps? Would you have to leave the military, complete school, and then try to commission back in?

Thank you!

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I think that it is possible, although my thoughts are that the nurse corps would want to hold onto you. The interservice physician assistant program mainly recruits from medics and corpsman, although I would think that if the Navy/Army/AF was offered the choice between losing a nurse vs gaining a fresh PA student, they would choose the latter. Always depends on the needs of the service.

Of course if the IPAP or HPSP program doesn't accept you from active duty nurse to active duty PA student, then you could always get out after serving as a nurse and go to PA school, then come back in later. I have nurse buddies that have/are considering this route, because PAs seem to get in more of the action than FNPs or PNPs.

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wtbcrna is a MSN, DNP, CRNA and specializes in Anesthesia.

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Can a military nurse apply for PA school while in the military? I understand that commissioning into the AF as an RN means you commission into the Nurse Corps, but can you move to another Corps? Would you have to leave the military, complete school, and then try to commission back in?

Thank you!

No not in the AF. The PA program in the AF for AD is for enlisted only. It wouldn't make any sense to go from a BSN to PA when you could just go and get your NP/MSN. The AF will send you while AD to get your NP though.

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CRF250Xpert specializes in ICU, ER, OR, FNP.

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You can go from AD USAF RN to PA. The trick is that you have to leave the USAF and go into the Army. The Army takes commissioned officers into their PA program whereas the USAF does not (as previously mentioned). From the files of “Odd, but true” - the USAF sees the kids from finance or the flightline as better PA candidates than ER nurses.

The good news is that you can also go to med school if you'd like. You just have to give up all of your rank and start over as a 2LT. I know a LtCol that chose to do so...

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wtbcrna is a MSN, DNP, CRNA and specializes in Anesthesia.

1 Follower; 51,809 Visitors; 4,997 Posts

You can go from AD USAF RN to PA. The trick is that you have to leave the USAF and go into the Army. The Army takes commissioned officers into their PA program whereas the USAF does not (as previously mentioned). From the files of "Odd, but true" - the USAF sees the kids from finance or the flightline as better PA candidates than ER nurses.

The good news is that you can also go to med school if you'd like. You just have to give up all of your rank and start over as a 2LT. I know a LtCol that chose to do so...

As of FY2008 commissioned officers going back medical school at USUHS have to give up their rank, but they still get to keep their base pay.

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.... i think a much more direct path would be to graduate with BSN, gain x years of experience, apply to PA schools and then apply to military for a commission. There are several current programs for loan repayment or for entry and delayed active duty time to serve as a PA in the navy and army - and several variants of reserves and national guard....

the time you spend as a nurse seemingly waiting to transfer to being a PA leaves a lot of things outside of your control where if you can create your own path you will have MUCH more control of the timing and location, etc.

just a thought ;) best of luck.

With a note on previous poster - if you have the full med pre-reqs done... applying to USUHS would be a great option as well.

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For the army I know they allow anyone with a BS and pre-reqs done (exception is they don't accept nursing cadets... however after you fulfill your nursing 4 years active I don't see why they would care) Reasons for people going the PA route usually include more action as a well as a more in-depth medical practice. PAs are often with infantry units out there on the battlefield acting as the first front line medical treatment after the line medic. They are often the "doc".

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CRF250Xpert specializes in ICU, ER, OR, FNP.

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As of FY2008 commissioned officers going back medical school at USUHS have to give up their rank, but they still get to keep their base pay.

well that figures. I did all of my research prior to then. The best fit was for me to stay USAF and go to an AFIT slot instead of USUHS Med school or Army PA school.

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"From RN to PA in the Military" I am a civilian RN interested in attending PA school in the near future (if all goes according to plan). I looked into joining the military as a nurse (after trying to get in as a corpsman or medic, but failing due to being a year over the age cutoff), with the intent of applying for IPAP once in uniform. I decided to remain a civilian and go to PA school on that basis. Why? Several reasons: First, rightly or wrongly, the services do not afford nurses the same set of opportunities as enlisted medics and corpsmen get. The Inter-Service Physician Assistant Program is extremely competitive, and the military will not allow one to apply as a civilian who will join the military contingent upon acceptance. If you join the army (for example) as an RN, apply to IPAP, and don't get in, you are still on the hook for your nursing service obligation. The second factor is that the nursing services want to retain personnel, and discourage nurses from attending PA school in favor of advanced practice nursing. That's the USAF practice, my sources told me. Finally, the navy (at the time I looked into this) categorically did not allow nurses to apply to IPAP. They send only corpsmen. So, my advice is to weigh your goals carefully. If your aim is to be a PA, gear your efforts towards that. If your goal is to be an RN, then orient your path that way. Switching branches from nursing to medical service corps, as you would be, isn't a sure thing. You don't have control over your destiny.

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coconutzz has 2 years experience and specializes in OR.

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Thank you all for responding, I appreciate the input!

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CRF250Xpert specializes in ICU, ER, OR, FNP.

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The Inter-Service Physician Assistant Program is extremely competitive, and the military will not allow one to apply as a civilian who will join the military contingent upon acceptance. If you join the army (for example) as an RN, apply to IPAP, and don't get in, you are still on the hook for your nursing service obligation. The second factor is that the nursing services want to retain personnel, and discourage nurses from attending PA school in favor of advanced practice nursing. That's the USAF practice, my sources told me.

Actually, the USAF practice is that you are not going to PA school while serving as a RN in the USAF - ever. That's from me, an AD USAF officer in the Nurse Corps that researched every method of obtaining an advanced degree and found that NP is the only one you're going to get if you want to stay in the USAF. Trust me, if I could have gone to PA school instead of becoming a NP - I'd have done it long ago.

The bottom line is that RN's in the USAF that are commissioned officers in the Nurse Corps are not going to get a seat in PA school; those are strictly reserved for our enlisted troops.

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