Army Reserve to Active Duty

  1. Hello all!

    I am looking for any information from current Army Nurses (or anyone knowledgeable on this subject) who could shed some light on a couple of questions I have about joining the Army Nurse Corps.

    My goal is to commission into the Army as a nurse and serve on active duty. However, when I talked to my local AMEDD recruiter, I was informed that the Army currently does not take in nurses for active duty unless they have a certain amount of hours in paid nursing experience (I am currently a BSN student with one semester left) or if they went through ROTC. He mentioned that I could join the Army Reserve as a 66H and transfer to active duty later on. This brings me to question, is this highly possible? Or would it be a pain in the rear end? I am currently enlisted in the Army Reserve and have previously served on active duty during my first contract. I am aware how recruiters usually say things to acquire numbers and also aware that not everything in the military is ever simple.
    Also, I would like to change specialties to 66S (critical care). How would I go about doing this? Would it be beneficial to work as a critical care nurse at a civilian hospital while serving as a 66H in the reserve before transferring to active duty?

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I would love any additional input/recommendations that you have as well!
    Last edit by DustinLH on Jun 9
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    About DustinLH, EMT-B

    Joined: Dec '15; Posts: 65; Likes: 7
    U.S. Army Reserve Medic; from TX , US
    Specialty: 4 year(s) of experience

    13 Comments

  3. by   Pixie.RN
    Historically it is very difficult to transition from Reserves to AD. If your goal is AD, you might be better off getting experience in a specialty after you graduate and then seek AD commission after a couple of years. The Army is still pretty full of nurses on the active side of the house, so there is no guarantee that you would ever be able to transition from Reserves to AD. I hate to be the fly in the punchbowl, but I have known excellent nurses in the Reserves who cannot get picked up for AD, as well as critical care AD nurses who were involuntarily separated from AD just a couple of years ago because they were that overstrength.
  4. by   DustinLH
    Oh, wow! I did not realize how over strength the Army is. In nursing school we are taught how big of a shortage there is of nurses so I assumed the Army would be hurting as well. Thank you for the information!
  5. by   Pixie.RN
    Definitely pursue it, because if you don't ask, the answer is always no. But it's not the smooth transition from one to the other that it was years ago or that they would sometimes like you to believe.
  6. by   broughden
    Quote from DustinLH
    Oh, wow! I did not realize how over strength the Army is. In nursing school we are taught how big of a shortage there is of nurses so I assumed the Army would be hurting as well. Thank you for the information!
    Dustin,

    1. Try the other branches. Your enlisted experience will still give you a pay bump as an O1E, O2E, etc etc. They might not be as full.
    2. Look into the commissioned National Health Services program. You wear navy uniform and are considered a military commissioned officer with equivalent retirement benefits.
    3. Look into working as a civilian nurse for the DOD or other agencies. Where your military time will count toward retirement.
  7. by   Have Nurse
    I have served in both the army reserves and active duty. I agree that you should pursue your civilian training and experience first. NEVER EVER TAKE WHAT A RECRUITER SAYS AS GOSPEL. GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING AND MAKE SURE HIS NAME IS ON IT AS WELL AS YOURS.

    When it is time for you to serve, unless the rules have changed, be prepared to attend Basic Training as well. After all. Not only are you serving patients, you are also dealing with the military and you need to know the protocols. Best to you!
  8. by   DustinLH
    Thank you Broughden and Have Nurse for your input. I have looked at other services and what draws me to stay with the Army (other than serving 8 years in this branch already) is the fact that I have a greater chance of getting pushed to a CSH or Forward Surgical Team. Does the Navy do the same for Marines?
    Also, my current enlisted contract is about to be up and would rather not have a break in service. That's also why I was contemplating commissioning in the reserve if I had to.

    Loving the information from everyone! Definitely helping!
  9. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from Have Nurse
    When it is time for you to serve, unless the rules have changed, be prepared to attend Basic Training as well. After all. Not only are you serving patients, you are also dealing with the military and you need to know the protocols. Best to you!
    Officers do not attend the same basic training as enlisted. We have our own "officer basic" that is quite different. This is not new.
  10. by   DustinLH
    Pixie, thank you as well. If I did happen to go reserve as 66H. Would I be able to volunteer for certain "missions" that would place me on AD orders?
  11. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from DustinLH
    Pixie, thank you as well. If I did happen to go reserve as 66H. Would I be able to volunteer for certain "missions" that would place me on AD orders?
    It's my understanding that when Reserve units do mobilize, you would serve in an active capacity, yes. But my time in the Army was active, so I am not well versed in the Reserves side of the house or how you might volunteer for specific deployments.
  12. by   DustinLH
    Another question. Would I be going to MEPS for the Chapter 2 commissioning physical? Or, since I'm still enlisted, could I complete it at a MTF on a base near me?
  13. by   jeckrn
    Whenever you are on orders greater than 30 days you are considered to be on active duty and receive all the benefits as active duty.
  14. by   jeckrn
    You will get "E" status for pay if you have the equivalent of 4 years plus one day of active duty or 1461 points.

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