Tell me all you can about Navy Reserve nursing!

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Specializes in pediatrics, orthopedics.

I'm a fairly new nurse (RN, BSN) and have been working for the last few months doing pediatric homecare with technology-dependent children. My clients right now are both pretty complex; vent-dependent, trached, gtube/gjtube. I'm looking for a way get some more great nursing experience and feel really good about my job as a nurse. I'm thinking the Navy Reserve might be a great way to do this!

I have been having a hard time contacting my recruiter just due to reception problems (darn you AT&T!) so I've been searching these forums for as much info as I can find. However, I'm finding that a lot of these posts are out-of-date.

Please, please tell me all about your experiences in the reserve! I want to know about trainings, deployment, benefits, coworkers, commitment...everything! I'll keep working to contact my recruiter, but I trust your opinions and stories more I think!

Specializes in CCRN, TNCC, CEN, CFN, CNOR, CMSRN.

I've been Navy Nurse Corps reserves for over 16 years and I love every minute of it. I've traveled the world everywhere from San Diego to Bahrain to Okinawa japan. I've also done a tour in Iraq and recently returned from Kandahar Afghanistan. As a navy reservist (or Army/Air Force) you're part of a very special group. I'm sure anyone who's been active duty or reserve would agree with me. The people you serve with are like a second family and you'll have a bond with them that your friends who've never been military won't understand. You'll be part of something special and meet and make friends with other active duty and reservists from all over the country in all branches of the service. Military medicine is mostly "joint service" these days. Meaning it won't be that unusual to have Air Force or Army nurses right there with you at some of the places you might travel. You may have noticed I've left out the Marines. The Marine Corps does not have their own medical. They rely on the Navy for that. There's a saying; where the Marines go so goes Navy medicine.

Your journey will begin with a recruiter who'll put together a "package" to be submitted for consideration and review by those who'll decide whether or not you'd make a good Nurse Corps officer. Once accepted you'll be assigned to a reserve unit and assigned a specialty. There are pediatric nurse "billets" in the Navy. Basically a billet is a job or slot you'll hold in the Nurse Corps. You don't necessarily have to become a pediatric nurse if you don't want to. I won't go into that here. A recruiter can give you more details.

As a reservist you will actual go to your first "drill weekend" in uniform even though you know nothing about the Navy and are absolutely clueless and confused. That's why I'm here. As a senior officer I'd take you under my wing until we can send you to school. Your first AT (Annual Training, aka your two weeks a year on active duty) will be to what's called DCO school. Direct Commission Officer school. Active duty newly commissioned nurse go to their version of DCO school for about three months. As a reservist you'll get the basics in two weeks and count on guys like me to bring you along and train you more each and every month we get together on our drill weekend.

DCO school is now over and you're ready to work as a nurse at a naval hospital on an actual floor. Where you'll go depends on where your unit is assigned. I live in Cleveland Ohio, my reserve center is in Akron. Our unit, along with many other units in REDCOM East (Readiness Command), are assigned to Bethesda. Used to be naval hospital Bethesda but the Navy and Army combined (the "joint service" I mentioned earlier) to form Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I was there in April for my two weeks (actually I volunteered for 29 days) and worked in uniform as a regular navy staff nurse.

Other training - All Navy nurses are also trained in a field medical environment. Simulated combat hospital. Most people think Navy they think ships. Not true for Navy medical. It's true to some degree but a very very small degree. Remember - where the Marines go so goes Navy medical. That's how I ended up with a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan. Deployments I've been on - two to Landsuhl Germany (Army hospital, remember the joint service thing?) One to Iraq, one to Afghanistan. I spent a year on a call up at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune (Marine base). As a regular AT (annual training) I've been to Honduras and Panama where we visited villages in the middle of nowhere and immunized children. I've been to Thailand where we did the same thing. One year they didn't need me at Bethesda so I asked for Okinawa Japan and they sent me there. Wherever there's a Navy or Marine Corps base there's a Naval Hospital.

Benefits - You'll join the Navy as an Ensign (navy's version of 2nd lieutenant) also called an O1 (pronounced OH One). You'll drill for two days a month but everyone gets paid for 4 days. As an OH-4, Lieutenant Commander, after taxes I make about 750 bucks for a drill weekend. Not bad for two days work. Ensigns I'm guessing 400 something give or take. Navy medical units at reserve centers take care of immunizations, physicals, blood draws, etc. for all the other reservists at the reserve center. Akron has about 400 total Navy and Marine Corps reservists. Our unit makes sure they are medically ready. Your unit probably will too.

You asked me to tell you all about my experiences. That's why I've written this novel of a post. I could still go on but it's long enough as it is right now. I'll be glad to answer any other questions you have.

Specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

You can also check out many of the posts & questions under: military nursing questions answered. There are many things there that may shine some light on some things. Good luck in your search.

Great post, Gonavy! Thanks for the info!

I am also considering joining the reserves while trying to get into active duty. I was told that right now the Navy is seeking med-surg, psych, and pre-op nurses.

Gonavy, thank you for your detailed post. I was wondering if you could answer my question from a tread I started:

As a Navy Nurse reservist officer who has never served before, do you complete any kind of 'boot camp' and/or pass the fitness test the enlisted guys have to do?

Any insight would be appreciated, and thank you for your service.


Specializes in Telemetry.


I've been looking into this a lot lately. Here is your answer:

GoNavy up there describes DCO school. and this is the website for it. Includes- 60 minutes of PT daily, weighing in on arrival, passing some physical fitness tests. If not passed, the 2 week officer school adds on an additional 3 weeks. I got this all from the website. I found the website via the navy reserve website. Very useful info to find out what we would do those initial two weeks in Rhode Island.

GoNavy, thanks for your extremely helpful post. I actually bookmarked it :D

Hi I was wondering if you completed DCOIC? I am prior service (Army reserves) and from what I have read I would only have to complete DCOIC, but my only concern is the PT aspect of training. I know that it is only 12 days and running is 3 days and MS is 2-3 days a week. I was wondering though how strenuous the PT is. When I went through Army BCT there were different levels/groups for running and I was wondering if they have the same thing there. I am a terrible runner and only got decent at the end of BCT (2 miles in 16 min or so) Do they give you a little bit of slack on that sort of thing? I would appreciate any feedback!


Im very interested in going into military medicine, and really interested about going into a branch after my graduation.

However, I had a question regarding NPs. Im in a program that cranks out FNPs, but Im also very interested in traveling out to different places. Ive talked to the Army medical recruiter in my area, and simply put, he told me that FNPs are shacked in clinics to treat military families for "sneezes and sniffles". I hope that there is more to it than that. I wouldnt mind working as an RN even for a more fast paced lifestyle. My ultimate job would be working in a medevac unit, but so far, what Im getting is shut doors. So my question would be, is there any place in the armed forces where an FNP go out to somewhat in the field and do medical work out there? My biggest fear would be to be stuck in a very slow clinic all day stateside on a base in the middle of no where. Well, that and if I can get into the military after I graduate. I guess Im looking for motivation for something I can look up to work for. Thank you all.

Specializes in CCRN, CFRN, CEN.

"gonavy", I don't suppose you could send me a message? I have a couple of questions for you. I've just accepted a first select, direct commission, coming in as an Oe-3 (prior enlisted) into the Navy Nurse Corps Reserve.

Thanks Sir.

Hey Gonavy!I know this was posted quit a while ago but could you please reach out to me when you can? I really would love some insight in reserve nursing and just dont know where to begin. Thank you!!

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