Life as a Navy nurse (pros and cons)

  1. Hello all,

    I've been thinking about making the Navy my new home (with my wife and 4 children) so I've contacted a recruiter and all is looking well so far. I'm 33 years old and an experienced critical care nurse. My wife is a nurse critical care nurse as well. We've thought long and hard about this move and we're going for it. We love the idea of being able to move around from time to time, we love being by the water, and the sign on bonus, benefits and retirement are very attractive. However, we want the inside knowledge before we plunge in. What navy life is like, do you move around a lot, how frequent are postings and deployments, is it better to live on base, is childcare care readily available, do kids go to school on base, what kind of hours are you normally expected to work, is it ok to moonlight, how difficult is it to move up in rank, and whatever else you can think of!

    Also, with my wife being a nurse we're trying to decide if she should join as well or just get a civy job (or Navy contract) where ever we're posted. What are the benefits of both husband and wife being in the Navy and what are the drawbacks from your points of view?

    Thank you for reading and sharing,

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    Joined: Apr '09; Posts: 1; Likes: 1


  3. by   rockytopRN2b
    After over a decade of military life, I would say that during times you aren't deployed, military life isn't all that much different than anything else. You get up, go do your job, and come home at night. The hours are pretty normal for the most part.

    As far as living on base (there are no posts in the sea services...that's an Army term , there are a lot of factors that will determine what is best, including your personal preference. Base housing has changed a lot since we first came into the service in the 90's. Most of it is now privatized to non-DoD corporations, rather than owned by the military itself. These houses tend to be much nicer than what I lived in as a newlywed (which was subsequently condemned a few years after we moved to our next duty station), but they make you sign leases, etc., now, like a normal rental, which wasn't the case 5+ years ago.

    Depending on your rank and the cost of living in the area you're stationed in, it can be more cost effective to live on base. Although we get an allowance for housing if we don't live on base, sometimes it's still difficult to find a place to rent/purchase that is within those pay parameters. On the other hand, if you live on base, there will be no escaping the lifestyle because you're going to be seeing other service members every time you look out your windows, and there is often a certain lack of privacy in base housing. Some may find that a worthwhile trade-off for the camaraderie gained living among others who understand your life. Another factor to consider is the area where the base is located. Sometimes military towns aren't the best areas, and your family may appreciate the safety of living inside a contained community. Other times, that isn't really a concern.

    Most military children will attend regular public schools in the community. DoD schools are generally reserved for those who are stationed overseas. Childcare is available. There is a often a large daycare on the base, as well as youth centers for after school care. As in the civilian community, there is usually a wait list, so if it's something you'll need, you'll want to check into as as soon as you can.

    Rank progression and job opportunities are unique to each occupational specialty. You might talk to your recruiter about that, or another Navy nurse. I do know that there are opportunities to serve on ship and humanitarian missions, but these are highly sought after. Unless you specifically seek these opportunities, you most likely will not be required to serve in these places. Navy nurses can also be stationed (and deployed) with the Marine Corps. Since the USMC has no medical service of it's own, all hospitals on USMC bases are staffed with Navy medical personnel. Personnel attached to USMC units tend to have a higher rate of deployments than those on the Navy side. To my understanding, Navy nurses who deploy overseas generally serve in field hospitals within the green zone, which isn't as dangerous as other places, but of course, still represents some risk.

    You will probably move ever 3-4 years throughout your career. Dual service couples are not unusual, but of course, present their own unique challenges (who will care for the kids if you both deploy at the same time?).

    All in all, it's a good life. I've very much enjoyed our time in the service and the opportunities it has given our family. If it appeals to you, I say go for it!!

    Best of luck!
  4. by   oldschoolgnu

    Did you make a choice? I am also 33 with 4 kids, and I am going back active now that I am a nurse and will be getting my commission. I used to be enlisted prior to nursing school. Let me know.
  5. by   my_purpose
    I also am older, 35 and I wanted to look into the Navy nurse program. I will be entering SON in the Fall and I think the program will be a great opportunity for my me, my husband and our three children. Although one is eighteen and off to college in another year.

    My husbands concern is deployment. Do all nurses deploy? If so, for how long?

  6. by   navymaybe
    I am a former Army wife and brat as well. Right now I am about a year away from finishing up my BA in History and am considering going to Nursing school @ TCU they have an accelerated program which is about a year long and it really interests me. Like you I have children and the Navy is calling me, it has all my life as I was born in a Navy base as well, the memories gained are unique and my kids and I would not trade them for anything. Good luck
  7. by   Jmas7
    as Far as dual military goes, they make sure that one parent will always be home at all times, which may mean more time apart. But I don't think the navy nurses deploy enough for that to be much of an issue. My experience is with the usmc but both of my nursing instructors were former navy nurses.
  8. by   BLESSED916
    My wife is joining the navy at the end of the summer. Active duty side. Have you thought about the reserves? Training is only 2 weeks and you drill 2 days a month/2 weeks a year. They were offering her a 10 thousand sign on bonus but Active is much better. You have probably made your decision already but i'm pretty stoked that she's joining. Active duty side is in need of nurses right now, so i'm pretty sure that they are giving bonuses a loan repayments out like crazy =D
  9. by   harmonpa
    I was wondering if certain nurse specialities deploy more than others. I am not against deployment but am married and want to consider that as I weigh the decision! Thanks for the info in advance.
  10. by   jerS
    I have a quick question while on this subject. First off I am not a nurse my wife is, she is 23 has her BSN and is thinking of joining the Navy Nursing Corps. I am a United States Marine. I am a SGT in the infantry. What I want to know is can we get stationed on the the same base? Now the recruiter says they "will try" but it is not gauranteed. But judging from my experiences with recruiters i have a hard time believing them. i know the marines, especially the infantry, dont particularly work hard to keep spouses on the same location, because of our mission accomplishment needing to be first. does the navy work better with locating spouses together from two different branches of service?
  11. by   lifeafter40
    I can't answer your question directly, but want to add something to consider, if I may.

    I do not know what you or your wife's long term goals in the military are, but consider that the duty locations that will allow both of you to be together may be limited (I do not have Navy/Marine experience, so am not very familiar with joint domicile locations). If either or both of you are career minded in the military, there will come a time when one or both of you must take specific duty assignments in order to advance your careers. This will not be as big a deal early on, but the higher in rank the tighter the career track will become (especially for an officer). You or your wife may have to take specific assignments or sacrifice career advancement, in such a case it may or may not be possible for you both to be stationed at the same place.

    So basically what the recruiter said was true...even if vague. They will try to locate you together, but it is not guaranteed. It is just something that you both need to go into with your eyes open, and understand that you may someday have to choose between being together or advancing your career... if you have a choice at all.
  12. by   aaronracca
    i am 23 and am currently working towards my lvn however i am planning on doing a lvn to bsn bridge primarily so i may join the navy. I love medicine however i do have dreams of working directly with men on the ground i.e marine infantry, seals etc. is this at all possible? In the navy or any service is this at all possible? also does anyone have any advice as to wheather i should join after i get my lvn as a reserve or should i just wait to join until i complete my bsn? please any advice/ insight/info is very appreciated.
  13. by   jessicanursing101
    IN the Navy can you pick the shifts that you want to work?
  14. by   tertle
    Quote from aaronracca
    i am 23 and am currently working towards my lvn however i am planning on doing a lvn to bsn bridge primarily so i may join the navy. I love medicine however i do have dreams of working directly with men on the ground i.e marine infantry, seals etc. is this at all possible? In the navy or any service is this at all possible? also does anyone have any advice as to wheather i should join after i get my lvn as a reserve or should i just wait to join until i complete my bsn? please any advice/ insight/info is very appreciated.
    As prior enlisted Navy (ABE2); I will tell you if you go in with LVN/LPN you will be an enlisted corpsman and unless you get a guaranteed C School in your contract theres no telling what youre specific duty assignment will be. Im Currently Working on my RN to go back with a commission. In the Navy, wearing Khaki increases your quality of life 10 fold no matter the rate. So id hold off and get the BSN first if your dream is to go Navy.

    As far as Boots on the Ground, you can sign up for specific tours as a nurse. But if you take Orders to a Marine base or squad or whatever they call it, Your chances of going are even with theirs.

    SEALS is a special program with an Insane Attrition rate. And if you dont make it, any bonus, push button rank, school guarantee, etc goes out the window with it. They then usually give you some rate choices you can pursue that are in high demand or go what they call undesignated (Enlisted of course). As for the officer side of seals...not a clue.

    You can however get a commission in the ARMY Reserve with an ADN if thats something you would like to try.

    As for picking your shift....Ive never seen such an animal in the Navy. Could have changed or be different for Officers...But i Doubt it.