Newly commissioned Air Force officer- should I take Med-Surg Certification now?


Hi! I'm not starting COT until mid August (since it got moved from July :( ). I also recently quit my job since I thought I'm leaving this Sunday!!! Meaning I got 1.5 months to freely do what I want (yay). My question is, should I take Med-Surg certification now while waiting for COT to start or should I just wait until I get in? I'm sure there's pros and cons with both. Do you think I'll get reimbursed? Is it true that you can get bonus pay for being certified? Any suggestions/ opinions will help! Thanks!!!

SoldierNurse22, BSN, RN

13 Articles; 2,058 Posts

How long have you been a nurse? I have a good friend who has been a med-surg/Onc nurse for 5 years. She said the test was extremely difficult and studied for months. AF may give bonuses for having a certification (I know the Army does), but that'd be something to check on.


55 Posts

You get something called an Incentive Specialty Pay, it binds you into the specialty for a certain amount of time though. Say you wanted to join the Air Force and then transfer into the ER. You wouldn't be able to do that until the contract from the specialty bonus is up. Essentially you are telling them you will stay with that field for the extra money. I don't have a lot of hard facts on it, but it would be something to ask your recruiter about or even your gaining base if you know what base that is.


16 Posts

Thanks guys! I've been a nurse for three years. 1.5 years of med Surg experience. My RN friend from the army told me the same thing- bonus. My recruiter has been very helpful but it seems like her knowledge about nursing is limited. But I should still probably ask her about it maybe she has some resources. I'm currently not working until COT starts so I have a full 1.5 months to study and really focus if I decide to. :-)


55 Posts

It probably won't hurt you and will definitely help in the long run. Promotions to Major/Lt. Col rely heavily on advancing education and gaining certifications. I don't believe you have to take the specialty pay either if you find out it isn't in your best interest for what you want to do with your career!

nurse2033, MSN, RN

3 Articles; 2,133 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU.

There is no down side to getting a cert. I would put the free time to good use. How expensive can it be? Just look at it as an investment in your career.


16 Posts

any idea how long it'll take for ANCC to send the authorization to test letter?

midinphx, BSN

853 Posts

Specializes in ED. ICU, PICU, infection prevention, aeromedical e. Has 28 years experience.

I would like to add another item to this regarding incentive pay bonus for certification. I came in with my CCRN cert. The AF has ISP of $20,000 a year for signing to stay in your certification classification for 4 years ($80,000 - yep). Now when I came in, I took the accession bonus of $30,000 for 4 years. That bonus disallows me from taking the ISP bonus. Read: $50,000 difference. I would not have taken the accession bonus had I known. But then you would be taking a gamble if you don't take the guaranteed accession bonus if the ISP was stopped.

I want to know why you Would NOT take a cert test? There's no risk in taking it, and it doesn't cost that much. (also it makes you look better on paper - military is all about extra letters)


14 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Nurse Leader.

I would take your cert as soon as you can! I'm about to take mine (ANCC). However, I believe you have to be an RN for 2 years before you can apply. If you apply online, you will receive your ATT (Authorization to test) via e-mail within 48 hours. Then, you will have 90 days to take your exam.

You don't have to tell the Army that you've taken the certification unless you want to - I have friends who wanted to take it just for professional development and weren't necessarily staying in the military and weren't trying to get ISP's.

I plan to apply for an ISP. Also, I believe once you have passed your exam, you can submit paperwork and have the exam fee reimbursed to you. I paid $270ish to apply and that included a discount for being a member of the ANA.

Good luck!