High School Senior Interested in the Military

by miamcfall8 (New) New


I will be a high school senior starting in the fall of 2018 and I will graduate May of 2019. I have been looking mainly into the Army, Navy and Air Force for nursing opportunities.

I would like to know your imput on joining right after high school or after I receive my BSN. After I talked with the Army (enlisted) recruiter, I thought I would wait and get my bachelor's or even my master's degree and then join. However, I talked with the Navy and it seemed to me that I would benefit from joining right after high school, so I get the feel of Navy nursing and my obligations to my unit from the get-go. I have not spoken to an Air Force recruiter.

I would also like to know why you choose the branch that you joined.


207 Posts

An enlisted recruiter is most definitely going to try to sell you on enlisting. The reality is that's it's very hard to turn an enlistment into a nursing commission without either a gap in service to go to school or a fairly competitive transition program. Have you considered doing ROTC while in nursing school? That would firmly set you on the path to getting your BSN while giving you constant exposure to military life without getting you off-track from either one.

jfratian, MSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 1,462 Posts

Becoming an RN is going to take a lot longer (probably 4+ years longer) if you enlist first, just given the logistics and requirements of those enlisted to officer programs.

I can't speak from anything other than a nursing perspective. Nursing in any of the 3 branches is fairly similar, based on my interactions with Navy and Army nurses. The differences are in things like culture and tradition, but that doesn't impact your day to day job a ton in my opinion.

The Air Force Nurse Corps really believes in specialization. They are really strict about requirements for attaining specialty codes, such as those for ICU, ER, or OR. The Air Force likes formal courses. They will require a med-surg nurse to attend a 1 year training program to do ER or ICU for example. This tends to lock you into a specialty for many years and is nice for people who know what they want to do.

From what I have seen of the Navy, they value jacks-of-all-trades. They have specialty codes for ICU, ER, etc, but they often train on the job. They don't send you to a formal training program at a faraway base. Since they are easier to get, Navy nurses seem to acquire more specialty codes over their careers. It might suit people who want to do a little bit of everything.

Most nurses in the military work in a hospital on land, but there are special jobs that differ by branch. In general, the vast majority of flight nursing and air evac is done by the Air Force. All branches have some air evac teams, but the Air Force does almost all of it for all 3 branches. The Navy offers some great ship nursing opportunities, and they have 2 hospital ships that just do humanitarian missions. The Army offers nurses the ability to embed with tactical units (brigade nurse). All 3 branches have some form of a small, mobile, surgical team that deploys to remote areas; the AF has special operations surgical team (SOST) for example.

Edited by jfratian


2 Posts

Euro_Sepsis, thank you for that information. What kind of commitments do I do in the ROTC while in nursing school?


207 Posts

I didn't personally do ROTC so I don't want to give you bad information, but I believe it's a combination of pre-nursing classes and military science classes for your freshman and sophomore years, followed by core nursing school and weekly/monthly ROTC things like morning PT, weekend field training, leadership classes, etc. You'll be busy, but most people complain about not having a life during nursing school anyway, so you're not sacrificing much.

Then you take your NCLEX before you can commission.

jfratian, MSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 1,462 Posts

I also didn't do ROTC. Based on talking to my coworkers who did, it seems like you do compete a bit for active duty vs. reserves. This seems to be more the case in the Army, than the other branches (i.e. not everybody gets active duty that wants it). Those who did AF ROTC tell me that everybody that wanted active duty got it.


Specializes in U.S. Army Reserve 1LT 66S - ICU. Has 9 years experience. 79 Posts

It's great you are thinking about this at a young age. If you have the opportunity to pursue BSN right after high school, I would take that and run with it. You can use enlistment as a back-up plan.

If your finances/parents can help you with school and getting your BSN then that is the best option, IMO. Plus you will come in to the military with a higher rank and better opportunities for your nursing career. Best of luck


10 Posts

I am prior service; was Active Duty and then Guard. Now I am in an accelerated BSN program to go back in the Army Reserve as a Nurse. I am telling you now if your long-term goal is to be a nurse, do not enlist Active Duty right after High School. Nurses in the military are Officers. If you enlist you be an Enlistee. In addition, it can be very difficult to attend/take college classes while on Active Duty as a fresh 18-19 year old. If you need help paying for college, look into colleges that have ROTC (Army), AFROTC (Air Force), or NROTC (Navy). And if that does not work out, you can enlist in the Guard/Reserve and they will pay for your tuition (public college not private), but remember it may take you a bit longer to finish college if you are in the Guard/Reserve due to required training, and the possibility of deployment.

After 4-5 years and you completed/graduated with a BSN+RN+decent GPA, you can Direct Commission as a Nurse. And from my experience, most Nurses are in their late 20s to early 30s anyway.