I am looking to join the military once I have my BSN but let me tell you the difference.Military health care facilities must follow all the same regulatory guidelines that civilian hospitals do. The only difference is that military hospitals are faster to implement new regulations that their civilian counterparts.Patient care is the same in both military and civilian nursing. People in the military have babies, become injured and develop illnesses just as civilians do. One difference is in the area of combat nursing. Military nurses main job is to service service members and their families. The Navy sometimes will do humanitarian nursing but as a military nurse you function is serve the mission of the military. The military prides itself on being a different world from civilian, when you are a military nurse you are part of an instiution that is greater then yourself. When you are a nurse in the Navy, you are sailor/officer first and a nurse second. When you are in the Army you are a soldier/officer first and nurse second. When you are in the air force you are an airman/officer first and nurse second. Whereas in civilian life you are a nurse first and foremost.
Although civilian patients may suffer gunshot wounds, injuries from explosive devices are less likely, and a military nurse must be prepared to deal with the severe trauma that results from a land mine or bomb explosion. A huge difference is that in military life you will travel a lot and often be deployed to seven plus months in different bases.
Another difference is that as a military nurse, you will get lower pay starting out. A military nurse will make $30-40K because remember when I said sailor/officer first and being a nurse comes second. In the military you will get the pay based off of your rank and not your occupation. The more years, more promotion in officer ranks and rise in the paycheck. The good thing is that in the navy and army promotions come very fast whereas in the air force promotion comes slowest. In civilian work you will possibly start out $45-55K out of the bat and increase over time. Another difference is that in military world you have regulated shifts and they will need as long as they need you. In the civilian world you can pick your schedule if you do 12 hours for 2-3 days you won't have to come in the rest of the week and technically you would be a part time worker. In the military you are considered full time unless you decide to become a reservist.
Despite all of this, it pays off being a military nurse in the long run. You will have a job and you would end up having veteran benefits for the rest of your life.
Benefits for medical, home/auto loan assistance/discounts, all the way down to hotel discounts! Assistance with schooling/tuition, etc.
The highlight of military benefits for most people is being able to go back to school with their GI Bill and they can advance their careers as nurses. However, discounts and medical benefits for life should not make your decision for you. Joining the military is also a commitment far beyond applying for a job at any hospital and getting it. You can quit, apply at different hospitals, etc. You can't just quit the military, or even transfer on a whim because you want to, or even need to.