I've been working as a peri-operative RN for the past 2.5 years with the majority of my time spent in Vascular Surgery and General. Since I've graduated school, this is the only experience I have as a RN. I LOVE my job and the people I work with, but joining the military has been on my mind since I was in college. I always envisioned myself joining the Navy; I grew up on Lake Erie, swam competitively for 15 years and just love anything to do with the water. I've been trying to find information as to what the current atmosphere is for OR RN's in the Navy, but am not having any luck through any of their websites...
My mentor is currently an Army Reservist and on a Forward Surgical Team. She recently told me that even the Army is restructuring their FST's and are removing the RN position. She currently is my only insight as to nursing in the Military, and I'm hoping you all can open my eyes a little more.
I'm still not sure whether I will go Active Duty or join as a Reservist, but my mentor has told me that if I'm going for it, I might as well go Active.
If I go active, I want to make sure that I make the right choice, (it is a major life decision) and choose the branch that has the best opportunities for us Peri-operative RN's, and that I get to continue providing care to those who need it, all while in my preferred specialty.
So that brings me to my many questions... Sorry I have so many!
1. Which Branch should I consider; Navy, Air Force or Army?
2. Why should I consider that branch? What opportunities did/does this branch provide for OR Nursing? (Locations, deployments, Unit types)
3. What are the lengths of commitment- Active duty vs Reservist ? (I've seen 3 for AD and 6 for Reserves, is this true?)
4. Do you see a future for OR nurses within the military? (Like I said, my mentor told me they (The Army) were going to be phasing out her position soon)
5. Should I get my CNOR before I sign up, or wait until after I join?
Thank you all ahead of time for your time in reading this and the time you give responding. I greatly appreciate any and all insight as to what the different branches offer and provide for a career in the Operating Room for Nurses!
For your answers you need to contact a Healthcare Recruiter from each service to see which one is best for you. All initial contracts are for 8 years no matter if its active or reserves. Each service has their own active/reserve time. ie 3 active/5 reserves. Reserves can also be done in the IRR which is non-drilling reserves.
I think the only position that peri-op nurses rule is being reduced is in the FST. There are many changes going on with the Combat Support Hospitals which FST's fall under. I work at a Army hospital right now and there is nothing about reducing the number of peri-op nurses other than the FST role.
What part of Lake Erie did you grow up at? From WNY myself.
First off, these mobile surgical teams represent about 1/10 of 1% of medical care in the military. Their purpose is to provide emergency medical support to special forces, special tactics, and SEALs personnel in remote areas. Most military healthcare in the deployed setting is still performed 'inside-the-wire' in field hospitals. OR nurses are definitely needed there and that's not going away any time soon.
I think all branches are looking at their mobile surgical teams (FST, MFAST, SOST, etc) and trying to streamline them for increased flexibility and mobility. I think there is real debate about whether the respiratory therapist or the OR nurse are really needed; admittedly, a lot of their capabilities are covered by the CRNA and OR scrub tech. The new model might be closer to an ER/ICU nurse, OR tech, CRNA, ER/ICU doc, and a surgeon. These teams are still in high demand. OR nurses are still in high demand in other roles.
CNOR will help you get the job for sure, but the military would pay for the certification if you waited. If your civilian hospital pays for certs, then I'd say get it now.
I'd say base preferences would be a key reason to pick certain branches if you are going active duty. You should be able to google which bases for each branch have inpatient units; those would typically be the ones with OR nurses. OR nursing really isn't that different from branch to branch, because special jobs don't often use OR nurses. As an OR nurse, you won't really have the opportunity to do ship nursing or flight nursing, because those people typically come from the ICU or ER. I would look at which branch is going to give you the best sign-on bonuses and/or loan repayment too.
Thank you both for your responses! I appreciate the time you took to shed some more light! And I was wondering about ship nursing... I was curious as to whether or not there's and OR on board haha and I like to idea to search for inpatient units! Smart thinking!
And I'm from The CLE! Go Tribe!
The Navy has 2 hospital ships that use OR nurses. I'm pretty sure all the other ships that have nurses just have ER/ICU nurses. I toured one of the 2 hospital ships once. I thought is was kinda dumb that they only did surgery on ASA 1s and 2s...super healthy patients only. They only spend like a week in each country too, doing surgery only at the very beginning of the week. They kinda under-utilize the ship's capabilities because of that...seemed like a lot of waiting around to me.
Some amphip ships have OR's on them. But they are not staffed with ships company, I do not know when or by whom they are staffed with.
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