Reserve vs. Active, Navy vs. Airforce


Hi everyone!

So I'm currently in a pickle. I was in the process of applying for applying for the Navy Nurse Core as active duty for 2014. I am a senior nursing student graduating with a BSN in May 2014.

I already went through MEPS and everything is cleared. I just received a phone call from my recruiter saying that he just got stats and all the spots for active duty Navy Nursing is filled for next year. He said I can hold on and wait on numbers for October, but he said chances are slim for a spot to open up. I am thinking about my options, and I will see an Air Force recruiter soon to see if I may have a chance for active duty Air Force nursing. After looking at more options and doing a bit more research, I am considering the reserves route, either for Navy or Air Force. Ultimately, I want to be a Chief Nursing Officer or Executive Nurse Leader. It is more a systems operations and management field in nursing.

I currently have a 3.815 GPA and I am the President of the Student Nurses' Association of my College's Chapter, delegate at both at the National Student Nurses Association and Florida Nursing Student Associations conventions, resolution author of ovarian cancer awareness at the national and state level, and Founder of an ovarian cancer campaign in the Orlando area. I also served as a chair for the Filipino Student Association in community involvement won leadership awards in nursing under Orlando Health.

I just really want to be in the military, haha. I just feel like my skills are more worthwhile there, career-wise too, and it's where I feel like I belong. I just know I will feel more satisfied working for the military.

I guess my pickle is that I know reserves will be more flexible. I'm not very knowledgeable about how the reserve process works but might suit me more because I want to advance my education as well. If the opportunity arises for Air Force and active duty, should I go for it? I really want to be that chief nursing officer and it is more business management, so I'm not sure if the Air Force or Navy route would be best for me.

Thank you everyone!

jfratian, MSN, RN

1,545 Posts

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 11 years experience.

Overall, I would need to know what you think you will get out of the military before really answering your question. Are you interested in the bigger paycheck, added responsibilities, loan repayment, career broadening opportunities, travel, etc? Below are just some general thoughts after reading your post.

Those are great goals, but I really would look at what you want to do in the mean time. You've got at least 20 years before you need to worry about chief nursing positions. Plus, I think nursing management turns a lot of people off, because there's a big gap between what you think they do and what they actually do. A lot of their job is putting out fires created by stupid people and not always process improvement, mentoring, etc. Any major civilian hospital has a similar position too, by the way.

I know for sure that at least the Air Force has a program that sends nurses back to school full-time while on active duty: AFIT. It's competitive but it does exist.

I would figure out if that level of attainment (chief nurse) is even possible for a career reservist or guardsman. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that anybody at that level was at least active duty for a large chunk of their career and switched to reserves later on. Or, they were one of those rare full-time guardsman/reservists.

A lot of air reserve/guard nurses I know are flight nurses. Once they were trained, it became the typical one weekend per month and 2 additional weeks per year. I'm sure other positions exist, but I just don't know much about them.