Seeking carrer as Critical Care Air Force Nurse

Specialties Government

Published

I've been reading several posts on joining the air force as a critical care nurse. I graduated last year and went straight into critical care nursing with the intention of CRNA school down the road. Before nursing, I worked as a Paramedic for 10 years; fortunately a lot of certifications already came with that job: ACLS, PALS, and ITLS. Now I'm 34 with a wife and three small kids. I have been seriously considering the air force, but I have questions about several things: 1. Rank/Pay, 2. Typical pt's in the military, 3. Length of deployments, 4. Length of time before I would be allowed to continue to CRNA school, and 5. The hassle involved with moving my family around.

Any responses would be appreciated.

Looking for an Air Force Critical Care Nurse buddy,

Paul

allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,125 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.
I've been reading several posts on joining the air force as a critical care nurse. I graduated last year and went straight into critical care nursing with the intention of CRNA school down the road. Before nursing, I worked as a Paramedic for 10 years; fortunately a lot of certifications already came with that job: ACLS, PALS, and ITLS. Now I'm 34 with a wife and three small kids. I have been seriously considering the air force, but I have questions about several things: 1. Rank/Pay, 2. Typical pt's in the military, 3. Length of deployments, 4. Length of time before I would be allowed to continue to CRNA school, and 5. The hassle involved with moving my family around.

Any responses would be appreciated.

Looking for an Air Force Critical Care Nurse buddy,

Paul

1. 2nd Lt/pay scale http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html, there is base pay which here is the link and is the taxable part of your regular pay. Then there is BAH/housing allowance if you live off base and BAS/substinence allowance both of which are nontaxable. whith three kids starting out in the military I would try to live on base. You would qualify for a 4br house and basic utilities are included. In general pay sucks starting out as a 2Lt, but by the time you are Captain and been in for 3-4yr the pay is equal or better than most civilian nursing jobs. 2. Typical Military Patients on a whole are healthier than the average civilian population or at least have been getting better/more consistent health care. 3. Length of Deployments: 4-6mo. 4. Two years time on station (the actual date you sign into your base not the date you enter/go to COT) before you are eligible to apply to school and then 3yrs TOS before you actually would be eligible to go to school. 5. We only move every 4.5yrs in the AF for stateside assignments. The government picks up the tab and you can either move yourself (the government will pay you to move yourself) or gov't contractors can move you.

One of the newer AF nurses on here had posted that you now need 2yrs experience in the ICU to come in with your ICU identifier/work in ICU. I have no personal knowledge of that since I have been in school for the last 2yrs, and I am doing my clinicals on a Navy base. By the time you are done with application and actually get into the AF it would take 6-12mo anyways so you would actually be very close to two years.

fluffy103

6 Posts

Thanks for the great info.

What will it take to go in as a 1st Lt.? Time is on my side right now; I have to stay another 1 1/2 years to fulfill my commitment to my civilian employer. The two years of experience should not be a problem. I'm seeking to go into the Air Force for the experience, hopefully more interesting patient loads. We get A LOT of sepsis around my area; we also have our share of bariatric patients. Please tell me it will be different in the Air Force. :-)

allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,125 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.
Thanks for the great info.

What will it take to go in as a 1st Lt.? Time is on my side right now; I have to stay another 1 1/2 years to fulfill my commitment to my civilian employer. The two years of experience should not be a problem. I'm seeking to go into the Air Force for the experience, hopefully more interesting patient loads. We get A LOT of sepsis around my area; we also have our share of bariatric patients. Please tell me it will be different in the Air Force. :-)

You would need 4yrs civilian RN experience or your MSN to come in as a 1LT. I don't think your hospital can enforce your contract if you decide to join the military.

Patients in the AF tend to be on a whole healthier than their civilian counterparts, but for most part your ICU work will be very similar to what you are probably used to now. You will have the chance to do several military training programs...CCATT, C4, AFIT etc.

fluffy103

6 Posts

I'm still getting that BSN behind my name so it works out that I work for them for another 1 1/2 years anyway. The online BSN program I am doing will take about that long.

That's a real bummer about needing the 4 yrs. of experience. Would my two years experience put me on track for a faster promotion if I came in as a 2nd Lt. with the experience? I don't understand the promotion process yet.

You said you were in school. Are you in CRNA school right now? At this point, it seems like I'm making a carreer of being a perpetual student. :-)

allnurses Guide

wtbcrna, MSN, DNP, CRNA

5,125 Posts

Specializes in Anesthesia.
I'm still getting that BSN behind my name so it works out that I work for them for another 1 1/2 years anyway. The online BSN program I am doing will take about that long.

That's a real bummer about needing the 4 yrs. of experience. Would my two years experience put me on track for a faster promotion if I came in as a 2nd Lt. with the experience? I don't understand the promotion process yet.

You said you were in school. Are you in CRNA school right now? At this point, it seems like I'm making a carreer of being a perpetual student. :-)

I graduate in December from USUHS CRNA program.

Here is basically what you are looking at for promotions: 1/2 credit for your time as a civilian RN towards Rank (up to the 1st 6yrs as an RN then it is 1-1 after that).

It takes 2yrs as brand new AF nurse to make 1LT, then another 2yrs to make Captain for a total of 4yrs as a brand new nurse with no constructive credit. So, if you had 2yrs civilian RN experience then you would one year experience towards your 1Lt...you would promote to 1Lt one year faster than a brand new RN coming into the AF.

All that being said you should probably start your application process about a year out from getting your BSN.

fluffy103

6 Posts

I've been reading a lot about COT. What is involved after getting commissioned, i.e the timeline? When does pay kick in? I read that I am responsible for the initial cost of uniforms, but will I be reimbursed later? When do I move my family, after COT?

So many questions... :-)

Spencer2002

132 Posts

since you’re not in a position to join the af right now, with all of your questions i would find your local healthcare recruiter and start the conversation. don’t worry about being pushed into signing up. with the economy the way it is the af is getting 20 to apps per month…..take a ticket and get in line j i'm going to meps and have my chief nurse interview this week. it has been about a six month process to get to this point.

fluffy103

6 Posts

Yeah, I have already talked to a recruiter. It's hard to listen to them say one thing, and then see it play out another way. I have a friend who is going to MEPS this Wednesday. The recruiter said he would send a limo to drive him up to the city it's in and pay for the hotel for him to stay in... well about half of that is true so far.

It's good to know it's a six month process to your point. I'm still in the "taking it all in" stage; I'm gathering all of the information I can. It's hard to sort out fact from fiction sometimes. This forum on here has been great. There's a lot of useful information on here.

Where is your Chief Nurse interview?

Riversurfer

50 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

I am a 30 y/o male graduating with my BSN in December and am considering nursing. I would like to work in critical care, but am willing to do med-surg type work for a year or two first. I am mobile. What are the prospects of getting into an ICU on an Air Force base? High turnover? Low turnover? I want to go to CRNA school, but am in no hurry at the moment, just excited to start working. Also, I would possibly be willing to be stationed overseas (i.e. Germany) if that's where the critical patients are. Overall, just curious how "willing" the Air Force is to place me in a critical care setting? Thanks

+ Add a Comment

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