Help!! National Guard enlistment question!


I would like to join the National Guard soon, but I am currently in nursing school. When I get done with school, I will have a BSN. I know I can join as an officer, but I would like to join as an enlisted member to get some experience under my belt; however, I will apply to become an officer a year or two after enlistment. My goal is to become a critical care nurse and later pursue a CRNA career. I would like to know what enlistment career field is similar to emergency or critical care nurse in the civilian world. I don't know much about nursing in the military so any information will greatly be appreciated. Thank you all so much in advance. Have a great day.

Editorial Team / Moderator

Lunah, MSN, RN

33 Articles; 13,741 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 15 years experience.

There really isn't an enlisted career similar to civilian critical care. The closest may be LPN just because they're nurses, but chances of working in critical care as part of the Guard? Not likely. There is also no guarantee of getting a commission later. The Guard tends to be too full of nurses in many states.

jfratian, MSN, RN

1,543 Posts

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 11 years experience.

That's not a workable plan.

First, you can't enlist for just one or two years and become an officer whenever you feel like it. The minimum for active duty is 4 years I think. I think they make you do 6 or 8 for guard (don't quote me on that). Plenty of enlisted people have bachelor's or master's degrees. You have to apply through a very competitive process to commission. Just having the degree isn't enough. I work with several military nurses who had to wait until they were E-6s, E-7 selects, or E-7s before being accepted into a enlisted commissioning program. Most were at least E-5s, or had to separate, use the GI bill, and apply for direct commission as a civilian.

Second, I think you're another person who believes military healthcare equals big-time trauma and critical care. That's not the case. If you aren't deployed, your patients will be far healthier than a typical civilian ICU. No one is really deploying right now. Most military ICUs are a joke in my opinion. This is because people who are serving or who have served before are light-years more healthy than the average American. There are no guarantees when the next war will be; don't join just because you want the battlefield experience.

Third, don't enlist with a BSN. Not only will you be practicing way below your license as an E-3 or E-4, you literally make about half the money. You're not leading troops into battle as a military nurse; the officer training they give you is plenty. Don't enlist out of fear you aren't good enough to be an officer; you look stupid for a while but you move-on. Nobody is expecting anything out of an O-1 anyway.

FYI: If you got a few years of critical care civilian RN experience first, the Air Force Reserves or the Guard will train you as a flight nurse right off-the-bat. A lot of people I did OTS with did that.