Thinking about AF nursing & have ?'s

  1. Hey all,

    I am an ER nurse with 5 years of ER nursing experience, 3 years in a level 1 trauma center. I have been thinking about a career/life change and joining the AF to continue ER nursing. I have been speaking with a healthcare recruiter but often feel that I am bothering him or asking too many questions. I am married and have a 4 year old so this will be a big decision.

    I turn in all my papers (application and medical records) this week. What happens next? MEPS? I am a well 29 year old and just had a COMPLETE physical a few weeks ago and everything was normal, my PCP even wrote a letter stating she felt that I was in great shape to join the AF. If MEPS is next then what? Is there an interview? What does the interview consist of? Also I was given a list by the recruiter of possible locations to fill out a preference sheet. I do not even know where to begin with this since I know nothing about these hospitals. I know there are a lot of questions but I was hoping that someone would have gone through this already and may be able to help me out. Lastly, I was told there are 17 spots open for ER nurses, is this highly competitive?

    Thanks for any and all help
  2. Visit bafelly profile page

    About bafelly

    Joined: Jul '17; Posts: 23; Likes: 1


  3. by   jfratian
    You should take a few weeks and slowly make a comprehensive list of all your questions and ask them at one time. That would probably be easier on the recruiter than you asking questions as you think of them. Keep this list and ask them at your interview with the chief nurse (the chief nursing officer at the air force medical facility closest to your current residence). A list of questions demonstrates your interest, which helps you look good.

    When I applied, MEPS was done before the interview. I believe now it's the other way around. Add that to the list of questions to ask your recruiter.

    It's not a sure thing to be accepted. However, I expect you will likely be accepted given your experience. I doubt there are much more than 17 other experienced civilian ER nurses with both the desire to join the Air Force and physical fitness to qualify. Get the CEN board cert, TNCC, and ATCN if you don't have those already. They will definitely help, especially the CEN. Teaching courses, such as ACLS and PALS, will also help you. Teaching students, precepting new nurses, and being a charge nurse will help.

    Google those locations and see what's around the area near the base. Clinically, it depends on what you're looking for. If you want an level 1 trauma experience, then you need to list San Antonio, TX as #1. Travis (CA) and Walter Reed (DC) would be close 2 and 3; they are only level 2. Otherwise, the rest of the AF hospitals are ~50 bed community hospitals with ERs similar to urgent care centers. The real experience lies in deployments, which are difficult to predict.
  4. by   bafelly
    I have a list of questions and I am waiting to ask either the recruiter on Friday or to whomever is conducting the interview. Do you know what the interview is like? What does it consist of? I have ACLS, PALS, TNCC, CEVO and CPI. I also work as a charge nurse at least 1 time a week so it sounds like that's a plus. The list included San Antonio, Travis AFB, Elmendorf, Wright-Patterson, Kessler, Eglin, Mountain Home and Langley. The overseas ones were Germany and Japan. Lastly (I think) is MEPS super strict? Like hard on people they do or do not accept?
  5. by   jfratian
    I would say more people are disqualified by MEPS than anything else. Pretty much if you have any chronic medical conditions that require ongoing medications, MEPS will reject you. Then, you will need to apply for a medical waiver. Some waivers are approved and some are not. It depends on what it is and how great the need for ER nurses is.

    The interview is typically a cakewalk. It's roughly a half-dozen softball questions (why do you want to join the military, do you have a family plan for your kids when deployed, will you carry a gun, how long do you plan to serve) followed by an opportunity for you to ask questions. It's not even as rigorous as your typical civilian job interview. Almost everyone gets a 'thumbs up' from the chief nurse interview.

    I suspect your list of locations includes any Air Force base with an ER. If you don't care about acuity, pick a good locations (Elmendorf AK, Yokota Japan, Landstuhl, Germany). Mountain Home and Wright Patterson are in the middle of nowhere by the way.
    Last edit by jfratian on Jul 12, '17
  6. by   bafelly
    Thank you for your input. I'm not on any daily mess and do not have a chronic medical issue so that's good to know. Do you know how long it takes after the interview to find out if you get accepted?
  7. by   Pixie.RN
    Have you thought about getting your CEN?
  8. by   jfratian
    Yes, you definitely need the CEN credential. It's required to apply for retention bonuses down the road, so you mine as well get it now.

    Travis and Eglin are great locations too.
  9. by   TicTok411
    I was DQ'd when I went to MEPS. The recruiter told me the physicians look to DQ, but a trip to a specialist and a letter where he claimed the MEPS physician was a quack and waiver granted! The hard part about joining is all the paperwork and the hurry up and wait mentality, get use to that if you join.

    My MEPS was prior to the interview and the interview was just a formality. If you have experience and are not a loon you should be just fine for the interview. COT is next and it is a bit of a joke (at least when I went). PT was minimal and we had two open note tests. The real difficulty is not succumbing to the big couch! The auditorium where they try to kill you with PPT presentations. The worst was the explanation of the Gi whole flight slept through that one.

    Your wish list is exactly my get one or you may not, because the needs of the AF come first. An ED nurse who puts San Antonio will prolly have not problems getting the assignment, but do not discount the smaller hospitals. There is much to be said about the quality of life in places like Dayton, Eglin and Keesler (Just saying).

    Deployments are horrible with the transit, but amazing experiences once you get there. You make new family on your deployments and my deployments were some of the highlights of my entire career. I have always been proud of my AF career, but there is no amount of money you could pay me to go back. I believe military service is something everyone should get the opportunity to experience.

    Good luck!!
  10. by   bafelly
    Yes I have considered it however, my current hospital does not pay for it or offer bonuses if you pass to help off set the cost so, no real motivation to fork out the $200+ right now.
  11. by   bafelly
    When did you go to COT? I am looking to speak with someone/anyone who has been recently. I really want to know what I am getting myself in to. Also, I have a little boy and will miss him A LOT so I am wondering about being able to talk to him. I have been trying to find and read blogs about COT but what I am seeing is a lot of sleep deprivation, no phone time until after the first 2 weeks and lots of studying as well as mass confusion with getting uniforms (but I intend on getting mine if I get in before COT since I am so close to Bragg).
  12. by   Vona86
    I went to COT in October 2016. It wasn't horrible. The first day you report there is a lot of yelling but at the end of each day (which is about 7pm) you go back to your room and have until 11pm to get to bed. Every night you will talk to your family and I was able to get most of my homework done during the lectures and I went to bed around 9pm. Wake up is around 430am. I would definitely try to get Social Officer or Logistics Officer - I never had to do a weekly Memo....
  13. by   bafelly
    I am being very open minded about embracing the military experience (yelling and bedtimes etc etc..) however I really want to be able to stay in touch with my family. Did you commission as a RN? If so what was your specialty? I am being told that I will go in as an O2 (start at the bottom and work my way up!) Do you have a family? If so how was the transition into military life?
  14. by   Vona86
    You definitely will be able to stay in touch with your family! I am a flight nurse for the USAFR. I started as a O-1. My fiancé is an Army Veteran so he totally understands how everything works and couldn't be more supportive.