Should I go the ROTC route?

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I recently made the decision to become an army nurse. I'm in the process of working out to pass the PFT, filling out/submitting forms/applications, etc for ROTC in order to attend basic training (BT) in the summer. Here's the catch: I'm supposed to take pharmacology, a prerequisite course that must be completed before beginning the nursing program at my college, in the summer. I looked at all the dates for CIET/BT and pharmacology in the summer, and I can't do both. Essentially, I'll be behind in one if I decide to pursue the other. Pharmacology is offered online during the summer, but there's no electronics allowed at BT, and BT is grueling enough (so I've heard) without having to worry about studying for an online course. I applied for nursing school for Fall entrance back in December and will find out if I got in officially in a few months. It's heartbreaking to have to say no because there is no guarantee that I'll get in a second time for Spring entrance, especially since I have about 6 more courses that could affect my GPA negatively this semester. Also, if I don't take advantage of the training that ROTC has to offer physically and mentally, it could be harder for me to become an army nurse (so my ROTC advisor said). Best case scenario: I make straight As, my overall GPA goes up to make me more competitive in the ranking, I get in after a semester in limbo in which I'll have to take random courses to keep my scholarship (credit hour requirement), and I'm on track to becoming an army nurse. Worst case scenario: I make a B or two that bring down my overall GPA, I don't get into nursing school for Spring entrance (which would make a year gap), I spend a semester retaking courses to become more competitive (1.5 years off track), I finally get in, I struggle through since knowledge of A&P and other basic foundation sciences courses are no longer fresh.

I want to go the ROTC route because positions for army nurses are limited (

I had my mind set on graduating in 4 years, passing the NCLEX and hitting the ground running in my career. This bump in the road is oddly humbling and I'm learning from it. I have sort of accepted that I can't do both (take pharm and do BT) and have come to a decision, but I would like to hear you guys' thoughts, opinions, advice, etc, in case there is a loophole or better route. Thanks in advance.

jfratian, MSN, RN

1,525 Posts

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 11 years experience.

The Army is pretty tough to get into right now, but the AF is still taking new grads. I believe the Navy is too. You can finish the program on your own dime and get loan repayment later ($40K for the AF right now). As a bonus, you can wait after graduation and even get a year of civilian experience in the specialty of your choice (ICU, ER, or OR) and skip the stupid fellowships that all the services are moving towards.

If you have to choose between nursing and ROTC, I would choose nursing.

Winterblew

16 Posts

Thanks for responding!

Let's say I have a really good chance of getting into the nursing program in the spring, and I'd just be off a semester. Would it be a bad thing to follow through with ROTC?

jfratian, MSN, RN

1,525 Posts

Specializes in Adult Critical Care. Has 11 years experience.

I never did ROTC, but I'm pretty sure that the services require 2 years of ROTC to commission. If you can finish the ROTC requirements and the Nursing requirements, then I think that's a good idea. It's especially so if your grades are borderline (in that 3.5 area) for direct commissioning (not doing ROTC). You may graduate without ROTC and 'average grades' and find that you won't be competitive without several extra years of experience.

The one thing to think about is what is your end goal? Do you want to do ICU, ER, or OR nursing ultimately? Are you looking at NP or CRNA down the road? If so, you might give some thought to skipping ROTC and getting civilian experience first. Those fellowships lock you into 6-8 years of bedside nursing in that specialty and preclude you from applying for CRNA or NP school on the AF's dime (during that 6-8 year window). I bet it's the same for the other services.

Winterblew

16 Posts

You have helped me narrow all the craziness down to a near decision (pending nursing school acceptance and speaking with a navy recruiter), which is a huge help. Thank you for taking the time to talk me through it! :)

Specializes in Med/Surge, ED, Critical Care, Anesthesia. Has 20 years experience.

I'm curious why they are saying you have to attend basic training. This was not a requirement when I did ROTC. How many years do you have left until you graduate? At the most you would need to go to the ROTC basic camp at Fort Knox which I believe is 5 weeks. This can be done just prior to your junior year. Have you spoken to a ROTC brigade nurse counselor yet. Several of my peers are in this position currently and they may be able to give you additional guidance.

Winterblew

16 Posts

The ROTC advisor said I'd have to attend either basic training (10/11wks) or CIET (5wks) over the summer to make up for missing freshman and sophomore ROTC. I also do not have any prior high school ROTC experience. I'm currently in my second semester as a sophomore, so 2 years left until I graduate. If you are referring to CIET as another option, I have already cross-checked all of the dates for CIET, and they all overlap pharmacology. Neither the earliest nor the latest dates would work, sadly.

Specializes in Med/Surge, ED, Critical Care, Anesthesia. Has 20 years experience.

That is a bit of a bind. I wouldn't pass up getting accepted to nursing school. If you really want to be an army nurse you could look at delaying graduation by a semester or two so you can finish all the ROTC requirements. You could also try to direct commission later but currently that is a very competitive option that requires civilian experience. Or you could look at options for some of the other branches, not sure if your school as Air Force or Navy ROTC programs there. Sorry I couldn't be more help. Good luck in your decision.

Winterblew

16 Posts

No, you have been very helpful! My college only has an Army ROTC program. Turning down an acceptance into nursing school to get into ROTC and hoping I get in again the next semester is pretty risky, which I realize now that You and jfratian have made some valid points. Now that you mention it, I think my ROTC advisor did mention that I could add on another year to finish ROTC. I forgot about this bit of information; I will talk to him about it. Thank you!

nrryan

51 Posts

OK so it seems no one form your program has clearly laid out your options for you. I am VERY confused about why you would go to basic training over CIET considering CIET is half the time and way easier. If you are doing only ROTC, you should absolutely go to CIET and just knock it out in 5 weeks.

If you want to be a nurse in the military and have a chance to be in Army ROTC, I would pursue it now rather than wait and take your chances with a direct commission (which could be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve depending on the climate when you graduate). With ROTC, if you are a contracted cadet and you have decent stats (grades, PT, etc), you will get active duty and you will be an Army Nurse. They will train you how to be an Officer and how to be a nurse. You will know for sure that you will be a nurse, and you will learn a ton of stuff about the Army in ROTC.

There are a ton of other things I could tell you but I don't want to overwhelm you with information. I would check with your school to see if you can defer acceptance (most schools with understand if you tell them you are doing US military training) so you could just start when you get back from CIET). If not, you can always just extend your time in school by a semester. It's worth a few extra months in school to be doing exactly what you want and reaching your goals.

Last note: these forums are mostly full of Air Force and some navy nurses, and very few Army. While there is definitely good advice here and everyone is trying to help, I've found that it's not often the best place to find info about Army nursing specifically. One good place I've found is the ROTC subreddit (search google or PM me if you want to check it out), where a lot of cadets go to help answer questions and share info about ROTC. I am also willing to help you out if you have more questions so feel free to PM me! Don't give up on ROTC simply because it's a pain to fit into your timeline. They will work with you if you truly want to be in ROTC. Good luck!

Winterblew

16 Posts

Yes, the ROTC advisor did mention that CIET is shorter and easier, but I chose basic training because I love a physical challenge, and being out of state longer would be a much needed break (I know, weird considering that BT would be anything but). I thought if I couldn't do pharm and BT/CIET, I'd rather spend more time in training.

So far, that is pretty much what I have gotten from what I've researched/been told: contracting is pretty much guaranteed, while post-college would be difficult. The past few years, I kept telling myself that my main goal is to complete nursing school and pass the NCLEX, then think about what area of nursing I'd like to specialize in. I recently stumbled across and decided that I want to be apart of military nursing. I'm trying not to beat myself up for not thinking of it sooner (like high school senior sooner). I've been researching information on the Navy, and I love what it stands for and has to offer, also. I could join the Navy Nurse Candidate Program, and I would be guaranteed a spot as a Navy nurse.

I'm not sure whether my college will allow me to defer acceptance, since it wouldn't just be me coming back to start the program. I would still have to spend another semester taking pharmacology in the fall and then starting the nursing program in the spring. My academic advisor said I would have to decline my acceptance and reapplying for spring if I do choose to attend BT. You're not the first to bring up deferring acceptance, so I'll definitely talk to the admissions department on whether it is a possibility. I have been talking to the army ROTC advisor about staying another year in school, and that may be my best option.

I can't PM you because I haven't commented/posted enough on the allnurses forum :(

Thank you for taking the time to help me!

nrryan

51 Posts

No problem. I understand your reasons to want to go, many people like the challenge of basic and our very proud of having completed it. If you could do NCP, I would definitely look into that. Your life will be SOOO much easier throughout school when compared to doing ROTC with nursing school. While I have learned a lot from ROTC, I probably spend as much or more time on ROTC stuff than I do nursing. If I had the chance to do NCP when I started vs. ROTC, I would've done NCP. They give you money then leave you alone until you graduate. (Some people will say this isn't good because you will be joining the military with 0 military experience, but honestly i think it's highly overrated. You will not be out there shooting people or anything, you will be a nurse). You won't get that ROTC/basic experience, but it would be a pretty awesome route. What are your chances of getting NCP?