Prospects of getting a Critical Care (ICU) nursing job in the Airforce

Specialties Government


So I have really been thinking of going into the Air Force for many reasons. (not in any order)

1. I have a sense of duty to my country

2. I want to further my education as a CRNA and military medicine is (in my opinion) second to none.

3. I want to take care of my family and set a good example for my daughter.

So here is my back ground...

1 year of experience in a level one regional ICU.

I am a rapid response nurse.

PICC certified next month

CRRT certified next month


I am taking my CCRN in May (not to be cocky but I am pretty sure I will pass *study, study, study*)

Will have BSN in December

3.75 GPA so far (should increase by .1 or so when I finish BSN)

ASVAB score is 94

I am not going to join until I have my BSN so my experience will be at about 1.5 years

I only want to do this if I will have a critical care ICU job (CRNA requirements). I know CC jobs are very competitive in the military so basically what are my chances???


75 Posts

My boyfriend is Active Duty Air Force and friends with the Air Force Nurse recruiter here on the east coast. What he told me was he Normally has about 20 some spots for Nurses a quarter to hire This year he was given 5 for the year... Air Force is cutting back hard due to budget cuts Plus they are wanting minimum 2 years experience I would talk to a recruiter but don't get your hopes up

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

1 Article; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma.

thread moved for best response

Specializes in Adult Critical Care.

I just joined the AF as a direct commission med-surg nurse. You have a good resume, but timing and need is key. There are very few direct commission spots for anyone right now. Get started early, because the process takes 3-4 months minimum; you really want to start 6-7 months prior to the board you are applying for.

I want to let you know that, unless you're deployed, ICUs in the military will probably be a step-back in terms of acuity. AF healthcare is transitioning to more clinics and less hospitals. Most AF ICUs are ~single digit bed units; you can forget about sub-specialty ICUs for the most part (with a few exceptions). Many nurses who entered with me who had ICU experience were given day surgery, clinic, or OR spots. Just make peace with the fact that you may not always be using your ICU skills if you join.

ckh23, BSN, RN

1,446 Posts

Specializes in ER/ICU/STICU.

If military CRNA is your end game, you might be better off with a direct accession with the Army or the USAF.

Specializes in Critical Care at Level 1 trauma center.

Thanks for the advice. Is there a need for high acuity nurses in other branches of the military? I want to serve in higher acuity facilities than I am now or at least the same acuity (CRRT, Massive GI bleeds, SEVERE sepsis, multi organ failure, ect.) If I would be taking a step back clinically I just assume stay where I am.

Specializes in Adult Critical Care.

I think the Army still has a few major medical centers. However, I think they're also more overstaffed than any other branch. I'm not sure how many direct accession nurses they're taking right now.

You already have the qualifications of a strong CRNA school applicant; I would look into programs to pay for that. I think all branches are still taking CRNAs. If you get your DNP, you'll go in as a captain.

SoldierNurse22, BSN, RN

10 Articles; 2,058 Posts

All branches, Army included, are full and looking to cut back on the number of nurses.

You have a good start, but you're going to need more in terms of years of experience in order to be competitive to enter the service. You'd want to come in with an identifier so that you're slotted for ICU, but that still doesn't mean you'll always end up working critical care. Walter Reed, Madigan and BAMC all have good-sized ICUs, but the word on the street is that they are overstaffed. I have a friend who worked oncology with me at WR and she is just now getting into an ICU course. She's been in for over 3 years.

Deployment would be your best bet at seeing the kinds of severe injury/trauma cases you're looking for of course, but we're drawing down. Deployments aren't as easy to come by anymore, especially for active duty. PROFIS lists are long as promotions are getting competitive and deployments give potential promotees an edge in the promotion boards.

Consider also that it's tough to even get into the service right now as a nurse. Trying to get your CRNA is going to be absolutely cutthroat. One of my superiors was an ICU nurse who has deployed and is now in an administrative position because he can't get into CRNA school. He has a very impressive resume, but then again, so does everyone else.

Also, the service is a lifestyle. It may sound really cool and fun, but there are very serious duties and responsibilities that you will take on, especially as an officer. You mentioned that you have a daughter. How much do you want to see her? Do you want to spend late nights at work trying to ensure that you'll get promoted and therefore retained by the service, or would you rather spend your free time with her and your friends/family? That sounds harsh, but it's the reality of this lifestyle. It works for some, and not for others. Determine which category you fall into before you make any decisions about joining.

Editorial Team / Moderator

Lunah, MSN, RN

30 Articles; 13,761 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

You might want to look into this: Requirements - USAGPAN

As SoldierNurse22 said, it is uber-competitive. Good luck!


1,871 Posts

Lots of CC nurses want to get into the military with all of those credentials plus many are prior service. Timing is everything and right now your chances are not good. With that being said the Army has the most medical assets including CRNAs slots so I would be looking that direction more rather than the AF.

midinphx, BSN

854 Posts

Specializes in ED. ICU, PICU, infection prevention, aeromedical e.

I'm an AF ICU nurse. We are considered critically manned. I will not be released from ICU despite a great package to go something else. Also, ICU nurses are not going before the force shaping boards while our peers in other areas are. However, it is very competitive nonetheless. You need at least 1 year CC experience to be considered for FQ iCU.

+ Add a Comment

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X