Information Starting a Military Nursing Career

by RobertRN (New) New Nurse

Specializes in ER/ICU. Has 11 years experience.

Hello all,

     I was hoping that I could get some input from current and/or past military nurses. So I Have been wanting to take my nursing career over to the military. It is something I have thought about for awhile, but things just did not line up at the time. Now, I am in a good place in life, married with children, and I am very ready to get started. 
     I am looking into the reserves or Guard. I have a 9 year old and a 1 year old. So I figured that either the Guard or Reserves would be best for me at this time. Now, my dilemma... I only have my ASN. I have done a lot of internet searching and I found that the Air Guard and the Army Reserve/Guard will take RN’s with their ASN/ADN. I am older (38) so I would like to get in sooner rather than later. I reached out to an Air Guard recruiter and as soon as the word associate’s came out of my mouth, he abruptly stopped me and said, “You need a bachelor’s to be a nurse.” When I told him that their website says they take associate nurses, he seemed confused. He asked me if it was their website. Then, he proceeded to tell me to talk to the Army. They still take associate’s nurses. I emailed the AMEDD hoping to be connected with a healthcare recruiter. I am working toward my BSN and I am about to sit for my CEN
     Now that the lengthy introduction is out of the way, my question is: Is there really a big difference in what branch you do nursing in? I only have friends that are enlisted. The answer I got was “It’s all the same if you’re an officer. Just different uniforms.” Which I am sure is not true. And I was wondering if there is anyone (especially more recently) have been accepted into Air/Army Guard/Reserves with just their ASN/ADN. Also, are there healthcare recruiters for all branches? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to all in advance and thank you for your service. 

jfratian, MSN, RN

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

Yes, there are specific healthcare recruiters for each region of the country for each branch; the branch website usually has drop down menus that guide healthcare professionals to the right recruiter.  I'm not sure whether you can really join with an associates degree or not.  That seems to fluctuate based on need for nurses and I know the Air Force never allows it.  Typically if you can, you are required to get a BSN before you can promote to a certain rank...usually O-3 or so.  

The difference between branches for those who are military nurses is small.  You still have the one weekend a month and 2 weeks per year requirement.  You're job is largely nursing focused.  The finer job details and mission will vary by branch.  With the reserves/guard, you interview with each unit; this is similar to a civilian job.  Each unit typically has a certain function, and those functions differ by branch.  For example, the Air Force reserve and guard units generally focus on aeromedical evacuation and patient movement by air throughout the world: flight nursing, staging, etc. You really have to ask the unit what they do.

Edited by jfratian

Jeckrn1, ADN, BSN

Specializes in Operating room, ER, Home Health. Has 23 years experience. 264 Posts

At one time you could join with your ADN in the Army but not at this time. Each service will look at your nursing experience different. The Army & AF will count your time with your ASN for time in grade were the Navy only uses time as a BSN. Each service has different time lines and education requirements for promotionons. What they list are the minimum that is needed. An example of this is the AF says you do not need a masters degree for O-4 but if you do not have it the board will use it as one of the first items to decrease the pool of officers at the promotion board. 


Specializes in Plastic Surgery / ENT / Head & Neck Surgery. Has 12 years experience. 64 Posts

The AMEDD is currently 800% over strength.  Even if you meet the minimum criteria, should will not be a strong candidate. No one on my Team has a ADN, all have BSN, most have MSN, and 3 have DNP. You can waiver until 46 so don't worry about the age thing. My advise, get your BSN and make sure you have a specialty (ER, ICU, etc).  Your experience will matter and you will be put into a candidate pool. If you have questions contact me.