I'm a BSN-prepared RN with over 4 years experience (Brain and Spinal Cord Injury, as well as some Critical Care) and an additional unrelated BA. Currently working on my Master's in Public Health and am looking for a way to help pay for this degree. I have paid off my prior education debt, but this one will be a killer.
The military/USPHS looks like a good avenue for this, as well as offering ample opportunities to practice in the field in some pretty remote regions where health care is very lacking, and military service is something that I have always been drawn to. I have visited the various official military and USPHS websites, but can't find a lot of detailed info. I requested written materials and am still waiting for the Navy to send some, but what I have received has also not been very helpful. Mostly what I've gotten has been a brief blurb and an urging to "go see a recruiter".
I visited recruiters in the past while looking for a way to finance prior education, but was so turned off by the pressure and (I hate to say it) dishonesty (or at least very creative truth-telling) of the enlisted recruiters that I met with, that I have been very hesitant to go meet with more recruiters. Maybe the recruiters for commissioned healthcare officers are different, but I am wary.
My questions are as follows:
(I am willing to consider both Reserve and Active Duty, as well as all branches)
Can anyone speak to the opportunities available in the military for public/environmental health jobs? These do not need to be strictly nursing, either, as I am working to move away from the hospital setting with this new degree.
What kind of rank can I expect to start at? I know I qualify for commissioning, but will my multiple college degrees and experience, as well as my master's increase my rank or pay at all?
It appears that Public Health Nursing in the Army is an advanced course for higher ranking officers, how long does it take to qualify for this opportunity?
Are there any programs that will pay me while I am still in school, before I am officially "qualified" with my MPH, some kind of ROTC for advanced degrees?
I am also interested in hearing about the experiences of anyone involved in military or USPHS nursing or related public health fields, and what they thought of it.
By the way, I in no way meant to disparage military recruiters in general, I know that they perform an extremely difficult job, especially in the current global environment and as a rule they are not dishonest or untrustworthy, but are under extreme pressure to perform their jobs and meet their quotas. That being said, I can only speak to my own experiences, including being encouraged to leave various things off of my MEPS paperwork because "it doesn't really matter, and it will make everything easier", and being dropped off at MEPS by a recruiter who promised me certain things, and then sitting down with a Sergeant inside MEPS who was to process me, who told me a completely different story, finally leading me to walk out.
Any light that can be shed on these topics would be greatly appreciated.