New to Navy, ODS, Portsmouth-need any help?

  1. Hi there,
    I've been a nurse since 2010 and graduated from University of Portland, Oregon. I worked in mental health and with the red cross for a year before applying for the Navy. 13 mos later I found myself at Officer Development School and graduated this February. I'm stationed at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth now and living in Norfolk. I wanted to offer myself as a resource to any of these topics since I felt like I was at a loss for information prior to coming in. Feel free to ask anything about the nursing, the Navy, the application process, duty stations, ODS, Norfolk, etc. Good luck to you and thank you for considering service in the US military.
  2. Visit Sw88tpea profile page

    About Sw88tpea, BSN

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 152; Likes: 47


  3. by   GuelnRn
    I am an NCP applicant and my kit is about to be reviewed by the board soon. From youir experience, did the Navy work well with you in giving you your station preference. Also, did you get commissioned through NCP or direct accession?
  4. by   littleluvbugnavy
    I can answer one question, having just gone through the process myself. When it was time for me to talk with my detailer and get my orders it went like this:

    I called him and sent him emails for a week
    He finally called back, he's a very busy man, super nice though
    When he called me, he was pulling up my duty preference sheet and I had listed 1. San Diego, 2. Portsmouth and 3. Bethesda, he said the only openings he had were in Portsmouth but if I was interested in staying on the West coast, he had Camp Pendleton available. He could only send me where there were openings, but was pretty flexible about where I could go. I chose Camp Pendleton and will be going to ODS this summer!

    Hope that helps!
  5. by   Sw88tpea
    I was Direct Accession. I didn't know about NCP, nor was I prepared to make my choice to serve when I started college. I received my first pick. I chose big though. I would always recommend speaking directly to the detailer. I only went through my recruiter but others were able to speak directly to the detailer how can tell you where the openings are, when they come up, and how many.

    I also want to add THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ODS:
    1) Move all HHG before you go to ODS. Orders may say that there 10 days between ODS and your duty station but there isn't. Make your move before going to ODS. This is a huge disconnect between recruiters and ODS.
    2) Plan on spending $$$ at ODS. The uniform cost on the website is hugely outdated. Uniforms cost $2,500. Uniform allowance is $400. And that's the way it is. You start getting paid roughly 2-3 weeks into training and pay your bill the last week of training.
    3) Be in shape ahead of time. Being in regulations when you show up is huge! It's on the internet-your height/weight reqs. It's no secret and it makes life easier to start off right. Be prepared to be on your feet all day-up to 18 hours. If you are within regulations you should be fine. Know that you will be running on pavement and if you need to strengthen your ankles/knees do that before you go. Prevent injury nurses!
  6. by   Sw88tpea
    From private message to thread so we can share the wealth!

    Hi Sw88tpea!

    Congrats on surviving ODS. I just had a few questions for you if you don't mind! Do you have any tips for surviving ODS? What was the hardest thing for you? What was the best? As far as the swim wear goes, are they really strict on a solid black suit or can it have some white piping on it? How about women's hair...any suggestions for taming the lion? Is the sock bun the best way to go?
    How long did you go not being able to contact family/use your cell phone?

    Anything else for a rookie? What's it like transitioning to your first duty station? Do you feel like a newbie or part of the team?

    Thanks for any info and your time


    In addition to what I said earlier-the top three things to know, everything in ODS was easier than I expected. I was planning on and looking forward to a tough boot camp environment-I planned for the worse. The physical, mental and emotional stress was there but for others, and me just when it was getting bad it was over. For example, we had to ‘get on our face’ and do push-ups but just when I thought it was getting tough it was over. The stress of being constantly told what to do was more intimidating than the physical toll. I was honestly a little let down by it but you have to remember that they do not want you to fail, they want you to come work as a nurse.

    -The most stressful part of ODS was being in the dark. You are purposely placed in the dark in regards to the entire day, most of the expectations and requirements and meant to be clueless and mess up. It’s annoying but certainly a learning experience and a humbling experience for those who need it.
    -The best part was the camaraderie! Everyone is in the same boat. So though we didn’t even know each other’s first names for the first week, we knew how to keep each other squared away. You will make long-lasting friendships here.
    -The number one way for a company to be successful at ODS is peer-peer correction. Keeping each other in line, helping each other out, looking each other over, etc.

    In regards to ladies, I went out and bought a new black speedo because mine was bright blue. Black or navy is required but if it has some white is on the straps it was not a problem for my company. Note you will wear the swimsuit 2-3 times total.

    -Hair was not an issue for me because mine is short-on my head.
    -Long hair is easily managed. Though it says don’t bring hair supplies-DO! Our class officer didn’t want to deal with strays so she allowed it on day one.
    -Hair must be out of the face. You can use bobby pins-I never saw anyone count them. The sock bun is the way to go and it cannot protrude from you head greater than 2 inches, which can be an issue for thick hair that’s down to your butt (otherwise you can do it). Short hair cannot touch your collar when in uniform (some say the top of the collar, others say the bottom, in the back). Use a button up shirt to reference.
    -The people with the most troubles were shoulder length cuts that were too short to be pulled back. They were the ones that were told to go get cuts, which we were allowed, in town, with a stylist.

    -If there is a situation with your family, your HHG, you car or credit card payment, just communicate it to your class team (your instructors) and they will help you out. Do not be deficient in these areas or things like them.
    -We earned one phone call the first Sunday and full privileges the next weekend and then after hours. Note your cell phone or any other personal belongings (besides food that’s left out) are not taken away from you.
    -This is a privilege that is earned and will depend on how well your company performs-how well they watch out for each other etc.

    The list of what to bring is largely outdated. Allow me to re-write it and post it soon.

    -Portsmouth is huge so it was an easy transition as there were many other new folks around. So I did not feel like an ugly duckling at all because people are being trained all around me (note-it’s a teaching hospital-the First and the Finest).
    -Being on the units feels like being new on any hospital unit. The biggest difference for me is greeting most people in the hallways when walking past them. Though not everyone practices this, smiling and saying good morning to people makes it a better environment. And we’re in the Navy now.
    -The nurse graduate program at Portsmouth is 8 weeks long. The one at Bethesda is 25 weeks (insane). Nurse grad program means you are demoted to being a student nurse and have a preceptor at all times and go through rotations before your final assignment (I still don’t know what mine is but I was able to put in preferences). I like it. I’m getting experience in Peds and ER for the first time. At Bethesda I can’t imagine it, it’s very inclusive but if you’re not a new grad it can be annoying. It’s also the allotted time to get all your command training done-really boring, medical/dental appointments, complete the huge orientation checklist. It’s time to collect yourself during the initial transition. It’s a good idea and I’m glad to have it.

    Again I want to focus this on finding your own sense of pride for being in the military. You will gain it at training if you care to. Always have an answer for why you joined the Navy and plan on being asked every day. When I say have an answer I mean think about it now and think about it every day. Basically, if you’re coming in, just start drinking the kool-aid day one until you discharge and be proud to BE IN the Navy. Inspire yourself as you are part of the one percent. You are part of the Global Force for Good.
  7. by   CynRN11
    Sw88tpea: Thanks for the info. I leave for ODS on Saturday, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous! That said, I am also very excited!

    I am trying to arrange my HHG transfer (wanted a pickup date of yesterday, but didn't happen), so my family will now have to help me facilitate the pickup. Is the first day or so appropriate to communicate that I am still dealing with the HHG move? My sponsor at Bethesda knows its not happening before I leave now. Did you fly into Newport? My other question is do you know when I make sure my return ticket is issued because I only have the flight details going out to Newport.
  8. by   oaktown2
    Sw88tpea - thank you so much for sharing! I am still a year out from ODS (am NCP) but it's great to see the information and makes me very excited for all that is to come!

    CynRN11 - good luck at ODS and I would love to hear about your experiences!
  9. by   Sw88tpea
    -CynRN, make sure your family has power of attorney over your stuff so they can sign for you. Set this up with Yes it is appropriate to communicate this to your class team (either Sunday or Monday), communicate what your needs may be: may I check my voicemails in case something goes wrong, may I make a phone call to on Tuesday night. Note you will only have exceptional phone privileges after hours and the first week to scheduled until 2000. It's tricky but it can be done. Note your cell phone is never taken away from you. You will be punished if they see it.
    -Your sponsor in Bethesda has no... power while you are at ODS or essentially ever. They are a tool to use but you must communicate everything with your supervisor.
    -I flew there, bought a car, and drove to Portsmouth. You can set up return flights when you get there. The governement will only pay for flights to your new duty station and not flights back home. Some people use this, fly to their next duty station, then home for a cheaper ticket (ie Rhode Island to Portsmouth then to Texas). Otherwise it is out to pocket.
    -We were told that flights could be scheduled on the Friday of graduation after 1400 and that worked out just fine. Even if the government arranges the flight, double check the time.
    -Several of my friends are at Bethesda and I'm sure you will meet them when you arrive as they are in the nurse grad program. Bethesda is amazing, being there with the wounded warriors is the media-based military nursing you think of. Nice pick.
  10. by   macerhook
    How can you pack up all of your house hold goods and have them moved to your new duty station if you are still at your old home? Do they have teporary housing at the new duty station while you find a place to live?
    Also what kind and color of shoes do they allow the nurses to wear to work?
  11. by   Sw88tpea
    -Not sure if I understand you question. You are moving when you go into the Navy right? I had my stuff packed and shipped in Oregon 3 days before I left for training. It then went to my new duty station (Portsmouth) and went into storage. After training I stayed in the Navy Lodge (hotel with kitchenette that's off-base) until I found a house in Virginia (took 7 days-I was lucky). Then I scheduled my delivery date for my household goods and they came 7 days later. PS let them pack and unpack, eveything's insured, don't waste your stress.
    -In the mean time I went to Fleet and Family Services (every base has one) and borrowed an air mattress, dishes, pans, coffee maker and toaster. Awesome.
    -After training you will have to report to your duty station within 10 days (2 days unless you take leave). You get more time if you are first stationed overseas. I would say you really don't have the time to go back home. My command expected me there right away, regardless of being 'allowed' leave, I would have been set back in my training.
    -Navy will reimburse you for your hotel stay... I've heard anywhere between 5-10 days. You also start receiving BAH when you arrive.
    -Another ensign bought a house and it has taken her two months. Her kids are at home with family and she has been staying in a hotel and is now staying with a friend. She gave her family power of attorney to sign off for her goods. She will get her keys and have her goods delivered that day.
    -Let me know if you have any other questions.
  12. by   runnergirl86
    Hello everyone I just graduated from ODS in February with Sw88tPea and she is a shipmate and friend for life! I thought I might be able to add in a few other things about the transitioning process.

    It is very important that you get your HHG packed up before you leave for ODS. I moved across country and if you wait to ship your goods until after ODS you will get to your PCS (permanent change of station) before your items do. Another thing that is important to know is the Navy is not required to give you 10 days house hunting leave once you get to your PCS for your first duty station, so if you are able to find housing before or during ODS it is wise. *Bethesda is one of those places, I had to report the day after graduation (Saturday) and we began on Monday.* Sidenote: the Army DOES receive 10 days house hunting leave. Also, Bethesda base has VERY limited parking since they merged, so a majority of people take the metro, you will get reimbursed. Please keep this in mind when you are picking a place to live.

    Back to ODS; the galley food really isn't bad, but if you have allergy restrictions/personal reasons you may have problems. Make sure you bring this to the attention of your class team in the beginning as they will work with you for accommodation. I am a vegetarian, do not eat eggs, and rarely eat cheese. They always have a salad bar and a vegetarian option, but just a word of wisdom, I ate a lot of cereal for meals or side vegetables with grain.

    I have long blonde hair, make sure you buy blonde bobby pins (or your respective hair color) as you will get a hit on inspections otherwise. Also have hair ties that are close to your hair color or clear. Bring whatever products you need, you may wear 2 barrettes and unlimited bobby pins.

    Bethesda is a large base, with Navy, Army, Marine, and Air Force. The CNTP (clinical nurse transition program) is 25 weeks long, and if you have been a nurse for a few years but did not come into the Navy with a designator, this may feel like overkill. However, if you truly are motivated and competent, you may be able to shorten this orientation.

    Hopefully this helps, if you have any questions feel free to ask me here or PM me and I can get back to you.
  13. by   VentcSN
    Quote from Sw88tpea
    Hi there,
    I've been a nurse since 2010 and graduated from University of Portland, Oregon. I worked in mental health and with the red cross for a year before applying for the Navy. 13 mos later I found myself at Officer Development School and graduated this February. I'm stationed at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth now and living in Norfolk. I wanted to offer myself as a resource to any of these topics since I felt like I was at a loss for information prior to coming in. Feel free to ask anything about the nursing, the Navy, the application process, duty stations, ODS, Norfolk, etc. Good luck to you and thank you for considering service in the US military.
    Hello Maam,

    I am leaving for ODS this upcoming May and I just have to ask if they allow you to wear swimming goggles during the third swim test qualification?? Thank you, and congratulations..
  14. by   pattyipp

    I am leaving for ODS May 13 and then to Portsmouth after. Do you have a private email account to ask a few questions about the area and the hospital?! Would love to get more information!