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Military Nursing Questions Answered

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navyman7 has 10 years experience and specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

7,169 Profile Views; 125 Posts

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25 Posts; 1,487 Profile Views

Hello navyman7,

It's been a while, but I wanted to thank you for your advice. I'm currently studying for the NCLEX. I did negotiate my orders with the detailer and I will be stationed in San Diego. I'm unsure of what unit at this point.

I'm a single 22 yo female and a new GN. After attending ODS, were GN's trained in their units similar to a nursing internship in the civilian side?

Also for housing, the BAH for SD is around $1700. Would you recommend living on base or using the BAH to find a somewhat affordable off-base apartment?

Thank you for all of your advice and the time you spend providing mentoring to future Navy nurses.

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25 Posts; 1,487 Profile Views

Hello Jmag1213,

As an NCP candidate, I consulted with CDR Smith, the registrar for the HPSP program in Bethesda. I told her my interest and strengths that I have working in pediatrics and she told me that the units are difficult to get into because they are fully staffed, and many of the RN's on the pedi units are holding off retirement because of the economy. Good news is, you have time to see how the hiring cycle will be upon your graduation.

I was told by my mentor, who started out in an L&D unit (which they called "purgatory") that if there is unit that you want (they wanted ICU), be in communication with your DIVO.

Best of luck.

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navyman7 has 10 years experience and specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

125 Posts; 7,169 Profile Views

JMAG: it is difficult getting in exactly where you want sometimes. However people get into some great places from time to time. You will be assigned to a new nurse internship program when you get to SD. You need to push your wants with the new nurse intern director. Don't just say that you want to go there because it sound interesting, state your goals. State that you are interested in pursuing an advanced practice degree in that area. These kinds of arguments make you sound more committed than someone who doesn't want to go to a med/surg floor. But make sure that you research the kind of schooling and training that you need first. You don't want to be caught not knowing what your talking about. Hope this helps.

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irfarmer has 8 years experience.

19 Posts; 866 Profile Views

Hi navyman7,

thank-you for the useful information. I have a story of my own and would appreciate your insight on my situation. I am 2 weeks away from completing my BSN, and my application is in. I had previously served 5 years enlisted, and have been a practicing RN for 6 1/2 years. I've worked in step-down ICU for 2 years, med/surg for a year, home health for 2 years and currently (for the past 1 1/2 years) been working on an IV team and putting in PICC lines. I'm curious if there are RNs in the Navy that work on IV on PICC teams, and were my experience will come into play. I am interested in going into emergency medicine at some point, and furthering my education as either a NP or an MD in emergency medicine. What are your thoughts on all this? I plan on finishing out my career in the Navy, and am planning or hoping, to go to Portsmouth. Also, what do you think the chances are of coming in as an O2? I previously had 4 years of sea time, do you know how that will play into my situation? I'm sure you don't have all the answers but would appreciate what you can answer.

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jeckrn has 17 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in EMT, ER, Homehealth, OR.

1,868 Posts; 14,657 Profile Views

Unless things have changed in the last 3 years the Navy will only count the time you work after you have graduated with your BSN for constructive credit.

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navyman7 has 10 years experience and specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

125 Posts; 7,169 Profile Views

IRFARMER: Lets see if we can answer all of those questions. You being prior enlisted will help your case, unless you were a slacker while you were in before. Your other experience while it looks great on a resume won't help you too much since you didn't have your BSN. It will help you be much more marketable though. Once you get in, you will most likely be able to go where ever there is a slot available due to your past experiences. I don't think that you will get that O-2 though. But O-1E pay is nice too. Also your years of sea pay won't matter unless you deploy on a ship, then it will earn you some extra cash.

As for your question on IV teams, I am not sure what Bethesda or Portsmouth does but at San Diego they do not have IV teams. They do have an infusion center where they place PICC's, unfortunately I am not sure who staffs it. There are many nurses who are PICC certified who do it as a collateral duty. Hope this helps some.

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irfarmer has 8 years experience.

19 Posts; 866 Profile Views

Thanks for the info folks, I'm not sure about counting the time either. That one is yet to be seen... I've been a licensed RN since 2006 and I was told today the experience time would count but I know how things work in the Navy. As far as my work habits... my evals were all good before, I'm a very work oriented person and have always have good evaluations in both the military and civilian workplaces. Thanks again for the answers, getting answers from the horses mouth is alot better than from the rumor mill.

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21 Posts; 956 Profile Views

Good afternoon,

I recently just graduated from nursing school and I was commissioned about 1 month ago. I leave for Officer Development School in August and my first duty station is Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. I am very excited that I am doing military nursing because of the opprotunities to work in different areas around the world. I am also excited to see how the military health care system differs from civilian. I have worked as a tech on a medical telemetry floor for a year and a half. I know telemetry is a great starting point, but I am quite sure I want to move to an ICU, ER/Trauma or maybe OR/PACU someday. I honestly didn't join the military to work on a Med/Surg floor handing out colace, coumadin and lopressor all day. That sounds boring to me. I want a challenge. I owe the military 5 years and plan to make the best of it and learn as much as I can. Hopefully I'll end up loving it and making it a career.

I have a few questions and hopefully you will be able to answer them.

1. Have you worked in Portsmouth or know anyone who has worked there? Did they enjoy it?

2. How long will it take for me to get into an ICU or ED? Is it true that the Navy is in dire need of critical care nurses?

3. How hard is it to be a flight nurse in the navy?

4. How hard is it to get in the DUINS program? What can I do to make me competitive?

5. By the end of my 5 years will I at least make LT?

6. Is asking for leave based on seniority?

Thank you. I probably have more questions to come haha, but this is all for now.

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navyman7 has 10 years experience and specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

125 Posts; 7,169 Profile Views

NavyRN1790: Great questions, I will do my best. Now I can't attest to what Portsmouth does or doesn't do exactly. I have known some people who have worked there and they liked it there and some didn't. Since I haven't worked at Portsmouth I can't say how long it may take for you to get into the ICU/ED there, make your wants known to the nurse internship coordinator soon. Be sure that you don't mention the reasons above as to why you don't want to work on the med/surg floor. Most nurses have worked medsurg at one point in there careers and they make you go there out of your attitude for it.

As for flight nursing, they don't call it that anymore in the Navy. It's termed en route care nursing. The only place in the navy where you can earn your wings is at Diego Garcia. It's a small island in the mid indian ocean. You have to PCS there for about 1 - 1 1/2 years unaccompanied. There you can work towards earining your wings, notice the work towards phrasing. Not everything in the Navy is a sure thing, even if someone told you different. With that said DUINS is very competitive depending on what type of program you are trying for. They want HARD working nurses who have gone above & beyond their normal daily routine. It's a good idea to become ACLS/BLS instructor too. Get as many certifications as you can, deploying will help too.

Now about making LT. Basically you will get it unless you are absolutely terrible and kill people or are negligent/reckless. I have heard of a few people who didn't for various reasons but the majority will make LT in that time.

Leave shouldn't be based on seniority there but who knows, every place will schedule things differently. Good luck.

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21 Posts; 956 Profile Views

Thank you navyman7! You definitely answered many of my questions. I am going to keep a open mind and positive attitude during my first duty station in portsmouth. If I happen to get assigned to a med/surg floor so be it. I have to start somewhere! I will make the best of it. I did work at a university hospital in philadelphia on a med/surg telemetry floor for 1 1/2 years while in nursing school. I was responsible for washing patients & turning patients, vital signs, accuchecks, EKG's, trach care/suctioning, wound care, foley care, drawing labs, priming IV fluids, (sometimes I would give IV meds to patients when the nurses allowed it), etc. Would it be to my advantage to let the nurse internship coordinator know of some of my basic skills?

1. What do you mean by PCS in reference to en route care nursing and 1 1/2 years unaccompanied? What do I need to be competitive for the program besides TONS of ICU experience?

2. What is the best way to get attached to the Marines as an RN? I am very interested in combat nursing and would that even be allowed for female RN’s?

3. While working in Portsmouth, would it be okay to take a college course such as Biochemistry at a community college? Would the Navy reimburse me?

4. Will the navy provide ACLS and PALS certifications for free during my 3 month internship?

5. Where have you lived during your time as a Navy RN? What places would you recommend putting in for?

6. After my 3 year tour is there a chance they will make me stay in Portsmouth? I really want to go somewhere other than the East coast. I’ve been here my whole life!

7. Is ODS really the “fork and knife school?” I did NROTC my sophomore year of college so I already have a general idea of what to expect. All my PT tests were 90 and above. What should I come prepared with besides a good physical and mental mind-set and what the lists of things to bring sheet?

Thank you. Probably more questions to come as I get closer to ODS.

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navyman7 has 10 years experience and specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

125 Posts; 7,169 Profile Views

Navyrn1790:

1) PCS relates to your permanent change of station. That is where you get assigned a location to live and work. As a new nurse you are likely to PCS to one of the big 3 as your first duty station. Portsmouth, Bethesda, San Diego.

2) I am not 100% sure of your next question but I think that you don't get attached to the marines unless you are deploying with a marine group of some kind. You may work at a Marine base but in a Navy hospital. In the latter case you get the same kinds of patients as you would a navy base: retired people, dependent family members, AD Navy & Marines.

3) Yes you can take college courses; what you do in your free time as long as it doesn't interfere with your work schedule is your business. As for being reimbursed, it depends on if your command will approve it for you.

4) They will provide you with whatever training you need and want for free, pending availability and cost to your command. If you're not working with kids you may not get approved for PALS but that depends on your command and your boss.

5) I have lived in San Diego, Bahrain, Bremerton. Where you want to live depends on you.

6) The navy typically doesn't let you stay in 1 place for too long, there are always exceptions to this. Most people have to PCS every 2-3 years.

7) ODS is 5 weeks of boredom. You take some classes that are a joke, that will do nothing for you and your career. You learn about how to where your uniform, your pay, gi bill, PT tests, and so on. I broke ODS down day by day on some post here. Try looking for it. Don't sweat ODS, very easy for the most part. Just make sure you know how to swim, and pass your NCLEX PRIOR to ODS. If you can do those 2 things you will be fine.

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jeckrn has 17 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in EMT, ER, Homehealth, OR.

1,868 Posts; 14,657 Profile Views

If you want to get attached to the Marines as for a FSSG unit, they do have a have some RN's in them. I was assigned to a Collecting and Clearing company back when I was enlisted and we had RN's with us.

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