Questions for new Navy nurses

  1. Hello all,

    I've been lurking here for some time and I've noticed a recent upsurge in Navy topics. With that, I thought I might jump in and get some questions answered.

    First, a little about myself...I'm 33 years old and preparing to graduate with my MSN. My program is unique in that it's a "bridge" program, meaning I have a BS in Marketing and took special classes to get my RN and MSN. I am currently practicing as a nurse and work as a TA for the University I attend. I have almost completed my packet for direct commission with only my two interviews left to complete. My packet should be submitted for review in early November.

    Now for my questions:

    1. After completing OIS, what is training for new nurses like? How long and how comprehensive?
    2. Were you able to request a specialty? If so, how many of you actually got what you requested?
    3. For those who chose not to do the NCP, did you get an offer for a sign-on bonus and loan repayment?
    4. If you got either/both of the above, how will it be paid out to you? Is there a schedule of payment (i.e. over 24 months, over 36 months, etc.)?
    5. Have you found your work schedule to be comparable to civilian nursing? In other words, are you working about 45 hours per week or do you find yourself working a lot of overtime?

    I am interested in any feedback that you may have. This is something that I am very interested in doing, but I am trying to get as many objective opinions as possible. I like my recruiter a lot and so far, most of what he has told me has checked out as being the truth (not the recruiters are liars, but they do paint a beautiful picture).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Visit MCHnurse profile page

    About MCHnurse

    Joined: Oct '06; Posts: 39; Likes: 1
    OB nurse, University TA
    Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in OB, neonatal

    32 Comments

  3. by   navynurse06
    I hope I can help you out here. I just graduated from OIS in April. And I've been at my command since then.

    1. After completing OIS, what is training for new nurses like? How long and how comprehensive? At the three big hospitals we have a nurse intern program. Its any where from 6 wks to 10 wks or so depedning on your needs. You go to several different classes that will prepare you for whatever area you will be working in. Also, you get special days where you will go to like the ER, ICU, PACU, Wound care clinic, etc. Then you cross train to the areas that will be linked to your unit. For example, I work in Peds. I was crossed train to NICU, PICU and Mother/Baby unit. Then you go work on your floor while you are still an intern. Then when you get to your floor out of the intern program you are then on orientation for several wks. So its not like you are thrown out there on your own.
    2. Were you able to request a specialty? If so, how many of you actually got what you requested? Ok, so you can request a specialty but that doesn't mean you will get it. The needs of the Navy come 1st! I never ever wanted to be a peds nurse. But it was all that was open at the time I came to the command. I wanted the ER but you have to have experience before they will put you in areas like that (ER, ICU, PACU, OR, PICU, NICU, L&D). SO if you want those areas then you have to work in a med/surg type area for 1 yr than you can request to be transferred to those areas. It all depends on what areas are short when you arrive to your command as to if you get an area that you want or not.
    3. For those who chose not to do the NCP, did you get an offer for a sign-on bonus and loan repayment? I can't answer that one for you b/c I did NCP. But I know that there is a bonus and some type of loan repayment.
    4. If you got either/both of the above, how will it be paid out to you? Is there a schedule of payment (i.e. over 24 months, over 36 months, etc.)? My bonus for NCP was paid to me in two payments. The 2nd half was given to me 6 months later.
    5. Have you found your work schedule to be comparable to civilian nursing? In other words, are you working about 45 hours per week or do you find yourself working a lot of overtime? I haven't had to work a lot of overtime. By schedule is pretty good actually. For example, this wk I worked tues night, friday night, sat night. I usally only work 3 or 4 shifts a wk and they are usually spaced out pretty good. Even if I did work overtime, I don't get paid for it! We don't get paid overtime. We get paid the same amt every month.
  4. by   MCHnurse
    navynurse06,

    Thanks so much for your input. That info is very helpful. I did suspect that I would be placed where the Navy has the most need. I'm fine with that, it's just nice to know that I have the option to move to a position where I have more interest. As of now, I have about 1 year of exp in mother/baby and would rather stay in the MCH area. Most importantly though, I'm joining the Navy to get a well-rounded expereience and good training.

    If you don't mind, could you explain a little about the healthcare culture in the Navy? What are the relationships like between docs and nurses? Similarly, what are the relationships like between nurses? I'm sure as a new nurse fresh out of school you clearly remember the treatment we receive(d) from nurses in our respective training hospitals during clinical rotations. I have had many bad expereiences with civillian nurses and I've been told that military nursing has a much more solid, respectful culture. What is your take on that?

    Thanks again!
    Jennifer
  5. by   navynurse06
    Jennifer,
    As far as the relationship between doctors and nurses, I haven't found it to be any different than in the civilian hospitals. As far as Navy nurses, I've had mostly all good experiences. We don't seem to eat our young as much as what some of the outside hospitals that I've worked at. Sometimes it feels like a little family of nurses. But of course, there is always going to be someone that you have problems with. I hope that helps.
    ENS PM
  6. by   MCHnurse
    Thanks again navynurse06, your input is much appreciated.

    If any other Navy nurses out there have comments, suggestions, etc. I'd love to hear them. The more information I get the better. I go for my interviews next week to Portsmouth Naval in Virginia and I'd like to go armed with as much knowledge as possible.

    Jennifer
  7. by   DanznRN
    MCHnurse-

    Hello, I've been reading the responses so far, thought I'd chime in. I've been in the Navy going on 10 years, so anything that follows is based solely on my experience. I disagree that the relationship in the Navy between nurses and doctors is the same as the civilian world. I've worked in both and you do have to earn your respect in both. However, in the Navy your rank carries a certain expectation of experience and you are expected to live up to that. The doctors I have worked with are more respectful of my opinion in the Navy. If I suggest something to a doc, my experience and expertise in the field are respected when I get a response from them. Unlike my experience in the civy world where most docs disregard nurses as doers, not thinkers. I do agree that there is a more of a "family" atmosphere in the Navy and that helps facilitate a better working relationship. I've enjoyed my 10 and hope the next 10 is just as good. If you want more specifics, please email me, I love to talk Navy. Keep in mind the previous responses are from newer Navy nurses and they may have a different opinion than I do, but then again that's what you wanted opinions.
    By the way, is the Navy going to use you as an MSN? I'm curious about them doing so. When I came in the Navy, if you didn't have your BSN they wouldn't even look at you. Your BS is in Martketing and then you have an MSN, right? Very interesting. The Navy is currently sending me to school for my MSN, please let me know what capacity they are going to use you in. Most MSNs in the Navy are managers, how long have you been a nurse? The Navy is always changing how they do things, just wondering what they are up to now. Thanks in advance.

    LCDR(s) Dan
  8. by   MCHnurse
    Dan,
    I am very excited to hear your take on Navy nursing. I have spoken to nurses in other branches of the military and they have said the same--more respect and less drama. My short-lived experience in civilian nursing (only one year) was less than fulfulling which is what made me search out military opportunities. As you said, doctors give nurses very little respect for their professional opinion. Without going into much detail, I found doctors to be more concerned with making money than treating their patients. I would like to think military docs think much differently.

    As for my having my MSN, no I would not enter the Navy with any clout. My recruiter has told me that my lack of experience would place me starting out at the bottom. I would agree that that is the best place for me at this point. I have very limited clinical expereience and it wouldn't make sense to start out as anything higher than an Ensign. I have the degree but I need to gain clinical skills before I can put it to work.

    My degree is a little confusing to nurses who have been practicing for awhile. They don't understand how I can be an RN without having the BSN. Admitidly it is a little weird because, as I said before, I have no experience. I think these programs (outside degree to MSN) were designed to fill a void for Universities and Community Colleges that are desperate to fill educator roles. In practice, it doesn't make sense to throw a new MSN onto the floor without experience. I feel the same way about throwing a new MSN graduate with little to no experience into an educator role, but I see it happen all the time. Bottom line--my degree will not serve me in the immediate future, but I hope that it will open doors for me 3-5 years into my career. That said, I'm not sure how the Navy will choose to place me later down the road.

    If you don't mind sharing, what is your MSN focus? What will your role be upon graduation?

    I will be going to Portsmouth to interview in a few days. It's highly likely that I will return with a million questions. If you don't mind, I may seek you out later to get some questions answered. Thanks so much for your input. I like to hear about all the great things that Navy has to offer!

    Jennifer
  9. by   navynurse06
    LCDR Dan,
    Are you in the DUINS program? If so what path are you pursuing?

    As far as my comment on the DRS, I haven't been treated any differently by them in the Navy. I guess that's b/c I"m an ENS, but where I worked at prior to the Navy dr's pretty much respected the nurses there too. Mostly, b/c it was a teaching hospital and the nurses knew more than the doctors! I've only ran into 2 drs that can give the nurses a hard time, but that is expected no matter where you go.
  10. by   DanznRN
    Navynurse06-

    Yes, I am currently in DUINS. I am goin to school at the University of Maryland in there ER/Trauma CNA/ACNP Master's program. Although this program is not really about ER/ Trauma, but more Critical Care/ICU. Although not my ball of wax, I'm learning plenty.
    As far as the DRS giving you a hard time, yes that's because your an Ensign and no they don't think you know anything yet. That lasted about 3 months with me, I took a resident to the staff for screwing one of my patient's around, even though he outranked me. After that I had no more problems. Just remember, they may outrank you, but when it comes to patients and their care, if a doc screws up and you are in the right, it won't matter what your rank is. Just hang it there, it gets a bit better than civy life. My wife is a nurse in the Navy too. She came in as an Ensign even though she had 5 years nusing experience. Docs tried to treat her like an Ensign, that lasted I think about 6 weeks and that was it. She ended up being the clinical expert on the floor because she had more experience than anyone, even those that outranked her. Lesson here is, soak up as much as you can now while your an "Ensign" and make what mistakes you can, after that, blow'em away with your knowledge, it's great to leave them dumbfounded.

    LCDR Dan
  11. by   navynurse06
    LCDR DAN,
    Thanks for the advice. One of the drs I referred to treats everyone like that!
    I'm very interested in applying for DUINS. One of clinical educators in my department is helping me with my package. I want to apply for FNP. The FNP instruction has just been changed, and we are able to submit a package after our 1st tour. So hopefully I can get picked up for one of the deployments this spring, and then I plan on taking some online graduate level courses. So hopefully I'll get pick up for DUINS.
    ENS PM
  12. by   MCHnurse
    Okay Navy nurses, I have more questions now....

    I went to Portsmouth, VA a little over a week ago to complete my interviews. It was a super quick trip from Texas to Virginia and I only had two hours to complete my interviews and a tour of the hospital. Needless to say, I left and still had unanswered questions.

    What are shifts like: 8 hr, 12 hr?
    How often do you rotate from days to nights (or days to eves to nights depending on those shifts)?
    How far out is a schedule made?
    Do new nurses get all the crappy shifts, or does it really depend on your manager?

    Sorry for all the questions but I'm trying to get a realisic view of the culture as compared to civillian nursing.

    I've submitted my packet so now I have to sit back and wait. As part of my packet we submitted a pretty substantial loan repayment request so I hope that doesn't deter the decision makers!

    Jennifer
  13. by   navynurse06
    We work 12 hr shifts.
    On my unit our schedule is made out 1 month in advance/ at a time.
    On my unit we do 2 months of days then 2 months of nights. However, I tried requesting permanent nights. But on my unit you have to be there for more than 6 months to get permanent nights.
    I don't feel like new nurses get 'crappier' shifts than older ones as far as the navy nurses go. But it also depends on your DO and your scheduling officer.
    Now the civilian nurses that work on my unit have in their contracts certain shifts that they will work or not work. So the active duty members have fill in the holes of the schedule.

    Some of the other navy nurses that have been in longer may be able to give you more input on this.
    But the above has been my experience since I've been in.
  14. by   DanznRN
    I agree, most units do 12s with a 3-on, 2-off, 2-on, 3-off weekly rotation. nice thing is you get about 2 weekends off a month. However, with more and more civilian nurses contracting in military hospitals, that is getting more messed with. And yes, the active duty military members end up filling holes, did I say we were in a military facility? Pardon the sarcasm, the only places that normally do 8s is in the clinics, as stated above it depends on the DivO (Division Officer). As far as getting the "crappier" end of the deal, all military nurses get treated the same, for the most part. There are certain instances where one needs something more than another, it is the up to the members to make it work. This is what my experience has been like, kind of like a behind, everyone has one, opinions too.

    LCDR Dan

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