Non-nurse wanting to join Air Force as CNM through HPSP-- help please!

  1. Hi Everyone!

    This is my first post I have always been in civilian service positions (non-profit, education, etc), and I come from a service-oriented family (Mom works in Social Security; Dad is an Army Colonel; Brother is a Marine Corp Major; sister is a Fire Dept. Captain; and my other sister is a Physician Assistant). I want to continue this legacy of service!

    I have been reading and found various forums on here regarding folks who have become Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) as civilians OR have joined the military through the Nurse Corps; but I am interested in changing careers to become a CNM (non-nursing background with a college degree), and would like to join the Air Force and use the HPSP (Health Professions Scholarship Program) to cover the cost of the bridge program to become a CNM. Has anyone taken this route before (specifically joining using HPSP as a non-nurse)? It seems many people use the HPSP for medical school, but I know it can be used to train CNMs. I would love if anyone has some guidance on the following:

    1. What is the HPSP application process/what does it require?
    2. What is the timeline of the Boards? How do they base their decisions on who gets selected for an HPSP?
    3. Any positive and/or "wish I had known" experiences to share as an Air Force CNM?
    4. What are examples of additional leadership responsibilities that are expected from a CNM Officer?

    My goal is to finish pre-reqs by this summer (2018), and apply to midwifery programs this year for a June or September 2019 start date. Hopefully I can go to COT between March - May, before school starts? Thoughts?

    I'm excited about this journey! Thanks in advance for any help and advice anyone can provide!
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  2. Visit vsan1515 profile page

    About vsan1515

    Joined: Sep '17; Posts: 10

    9 Comments

  3. by   vsan1515
    Oops, I forgot to add: Any info on when I might need to take AFOQT during this process? Thank you!!
  4. by   jfratian
    Medical people (nurses, doctors, etc) don't take the AFOQT. That's for line officers, such as pilots.

    You'll need to be accepted to the CNM program before you can apply to the AF's HPSP. The direct entry CNM thing is fairly new. You need to be absolutely sure that the Air Force will accept your degree. There are accreditation requirements and I believe your program may need to be a DNP program. You need to get in touch with a Air Force Health Professions recruiter on the AF website and find out for certain before you start applying to programs.

    You don't go to COT until you start active duty...i.e. after you graduate from your CNM program.
  5. by   vsan1515
    Thank you so much for your response @jfratian! I have heard of medical students with HPSP going to COT before they start med school, or in between year 1 and year 2, and that they would be considered Reservists at that time (but still complete 45 days of active duty each year). Perhaps that is only for med students, since they have additional years of residency to complete after graduation?

    I have also started to hear some folks talking about the change to a DNP program in the AF (versus MSN), but so far, it seems the AF website still states MSN is the requirement for CNM. The confusion may be that many direct entry programs are now set up to prepare MSN students as CNM/Women's Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNP) (and they can become Board Certified in each field by taking two separate Board Exams). The AF separates these two professions; in which case, a WHNP in the AF is required to have a DNP (as per the AF website). But you're correct--it would be best to contact an AF Health Professions recruiter to confirm! (When I conducted a search on the AF website it populated a HP recruiter in Orlando, FL, which is approximately 3.5 hours from me...does that sound right to you? I know they are designated by region, so perhaps that is the person assigned centrally to work throughout FL?)

    @jfratian, are you military as well? I'd love to hear more about your own path to becoming an RN! Is anyone else in a similar boat as me? Either way, I hope this post helps someone!

    Thank you!
  6. by   jfratian
    Medical students have a different path and different rules than the nurse corps. Medical students will commission as O-1s (2nd Lts) around the time they start medical school. They then auto-promote to O-3s (Captains) when they graduate from medical school and become residents.

    You cannot be in the nurse corps without a properly accredited bachelor's or higher degree in nursing. Hence, you can't go to COT or commission prior to graduation.

    Yes, healthcare recruiters usually cover broad geographic regions. 5 years ago when I was applying, my recruiter had all nurse applicants for North and South Carolina.

    I'm an active duty AF ICU nurse. I've been in for 4 years. I joined after school and with about 2 years of prior RN experience. I did not do HPSP.
  7. by   brap740
    (Read this as neutral and not aggressive)

    You have a degree in __________.

    You want to be an advanced practice nurse in the Air Force...?

    How is it that an accredited college will accept you into a CNM program without a "bachelors in nursing" ?

    Are you sure it's accredited...sounds fishy to me. With nursing it's kind of stupid. I know a nurse that has an associates in nursing. And a bachelors in education. Wants to be a nurse educator and teach nursing education but since she doesn't have a bachelors in NURSING education she's a no-go.

    I would question this school (and maybe you did) and make sure you're not going to get screwed. A lot of pop up nursing schools are expensive and lose accreditation-when that happens you're stuck with a useless non-useable degree.

    Every nurse midwife I know was a nurse first in peds, picu or labor and delivery before they went back to CNM.....just be careful and make sure you aren't getting screwed.....

    Again I read through this and it could be mistaken for an aggressive and demeaning tone but I assure you I'm just looking out for you and not trying to be a jerk)

    as far as joining the military....get yourself a good recruiter. Feel them out. I inquired about the military in 2013. My recruiter saw gaps in my resume and experience. Steered me in the right direction. Checked in on me in 2014 to see if I was meeting milestones. I was. He repeatedly checked in on me and kept a file up until 2016 when I checked my last box off and started the paperwork and MEPs process. And finally in 2017 I commissioned in the army. Your medical recruiter will make or break you. And it's a LONG process. You sound like me in 2012. Which is fine. Grab that degree, get the experience and serve. Just meet with the medical recruiter. Lay out your prospects and see what they advise you to do.

    i spoke to almost every branch and there were more than a few recruiters that didn't care and wanted to steer me in another direction to get me in. One Air Force recruiter told me to enlist as something else and then I can commission later...not the route for me. Another Air Force recruiter wanted me to commission into the nurse transition program which would essentially start me as a new grad nurse even though I had 6 years I'd experience. This was because there was no critical care slots available. He told me I could reclass once a position opened up. Now knowing what I know after being in....to reclassify isn't easy and it's a real headache for some of my colleagues. So that was Not for me either. Navy had no incentive for my skill set. Marines not an option either. Army was my best fit. But I think mostly because the recruiter. Finally found a recruiter that wanted to help me for me. Be vigilant. Good luck.
    Last edit by brap740 on Feb 7
  8. by   vsan1515
    Thank you both for your insight, for sharing your experiences, and for giving me some things to look out for. A CNM would be an APRN, and therefore, have at least an MSN and would not be eligible for Nurse Corps. This is why my interest would be in joining through the HPSP, which would be the same process used for doctors as well (which is why I was wondering if the commissioning process was the same). There are now Direct Entry MSN programs for various fields, and CNM is one of them; I read that it was due to the shortage of APRN and the needs a CNM meets as a primary care provider. I appreciate the suggestions; it is definitely important to do research and make sure the schools are accredited before attending/giving money lol. You both definitely speak to a good point of ensuring I have a good healthcare recruiter! @Brap740, I didn't think about checking with each branch, but there could be something to that! I'm an "Army Brat" so my dad is retired from the Army and my brother is a Marine. I have always been more drawn to the AF. My sister is a PA and the Navy said they would pay for her PA school, but she later decided not to go military. I'll be sure to check out the other branches too! Thanks again, you guys!
  9. by   jfratian
    HPSP is a program that many corps use. APRNs (CRNAs, NPs, and CNMs), although credentialed providers, still fall under that same big nurse corps entity. The current AF nursing corps chief is actually a women's health NP. You still have to follow the same rules regardless of how you joined the AF. You aren't joining the medical corps (for physicians) just because you do HPSP and/or have prescription writing authority.
  10. by   vsan1515
    Ah, I see @jfratian! Thanks for the clarification!
  11. by   brap740
    I think advanced practice RNs should be at the bedside minimum 5 years in a highly acute environment....

    These direct accession programs aren't really helping to put out quality trained professionals. I'm sure it can be done but with zero experience and wanting to jump right into an APRN role might make finding a job hard.

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