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Why is Army medic experience not valued for New Grads applying for ER jobs?

Would you hire a new grad in the ER with Army medic experience?

  1. 1. Would you hire a new grad in the ER with Army medic experience?

83 members have participated

I am a recent graduate from a BSN program and have been trying desperately to find an ER job in Central Ohio. I have been an Army medic for over six years including a tour in Iraq as a flight medic. I also have worked the past three years as an aid on a med-surg floor. I have done 2 interviews for ER jobs but the result was the same, "you have no nursing experience".While I'm not saying that veterans deserve special treatment, I am frustrated because I feel some of my experiences may outweigh those of any other nurse. Please let me know how to sell my army medic experience and get my career started on the right path.

I was thinking the same thing reading this. I was an Army medic as well. Did a two year RN program after getting out and the first job I applied to was an ER job. Got a call that day to come in and interview and was hired. They are foolish not to hire you. My ER won't hire new grads unless they have military experience or are paramedic experience. I think hiring veterans is a great thing. For the most part we show up on time, do what we are told when we are told, and don't complain too much. Because treating someone in an air conditioned ER beats treating them on the street in an Iraqi city. That being said just keep applying. Don't stop until you get what you want. Some ER director will realize the value in having you on their team at some point. Good luck.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that most civiians probably don't know what being an Army medic, especially one who has been through deployment, entails. Your qualifications and the fact that you actually have nursing experience from your delpoyment as a medic may not register in their minds as quickly as it would register in the mind of a nurse who has experience with Army medics and their function in wartime specifically.

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Yes, not fair, but the reality. I faced the the same bias with 10 years street paramedic experience. Don't let your indignation prevent you from getting the job you need. If you have to start in medsurg, as I did, your experience will help you, and you can you use your smarts to move into the job you want. In fact, the vast majority of patient care I learned as a paramedic I applied as a nurse, but you can't change the system. Get your Gumby on and move forward. You are right, you deserve some consideration. But if you don't get it, don't let that beat you down. Keep going. Good luck. You don't have to win every battle, your career is a long war.

applewhitern, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Veterans DO deserve "special treatment." I am not a veteran, but I have worked with some who were, and they are all awesome nurses. Maybe the previous posters are right~ they simply don't know what being an Army medic entails. You never know what goes thru some people's minds; maybe they were just jealous of your experience, or felt like you know more than them. (Just a thought.) Good luck, and "thank you" for your service.

I can not specifically speak about the duties of an Army medic, but I spent 10 years in the Marine corps before I was medically retired. I am currently a nursing student and a was a combat lifesaver. I spend many hours working with navy medics giving shots and screening records. I am also the lone "no" vote as of right now. The reason for the no vote was based on my personal experience with navy corpsmen that were in for 4 years or less and not real details about yourself. I do not have enough background on you specifically to make any other judgments. People here have already listed many great things about military medics and I completely agree. I do partially think that some new grads should start in the ER over other specialties, but generally should only consist of experienced nurses. Regardless of the fact that I would rather work with you due to your veteran status over others, what made me say no is that the vast majority of lower enlisted medics that I knew during my time did little more on the medical side then hand out Motrin and tell people to drink water. After basic training and MOS school and other required training they never really had emergency experience, they spent their time at sick call dealing with minor illness and malingerers. A deployment does not tell people much, instead it leaves a ton of Rambo stuff up to the imagination. Just because a person was infantry and deployed does not mean they saw combat. How am I to know you didn't just spend your time in an air conditioned tent guarding the freezer full of water without ever leaving base without you giving details? Most medics are not line medics that deal with guys who were shot, blow up, or suffering what ever other bad thing could happen out there. Many junior medics spend more time sweeping floors and completing busy work to fill their day then actually doing their MOS. I personally know what flight medics do, and I understand the different courses you must pass to be one, but how many others know? You failed to highlight your experience in your post here, so as the person reading your applications I would question what you are bringing to the table other then a military title and lack of previous ER nursing experience. Medic and nurse are not the same even if they share some common skills, just like EMT and nurse are not the same. There is a very real reason why in the Army nurses are officers, and medics are enlisted. Even though I know the answer, explain to us and to your prospective employers how being an enlisted medic prepared you to be a nurse in the ER with no nursing experience.

Now here are some negatives to what being prior mil bring to the table to think about. Many prior service members are confrontational, have a unique and colorful style of communication, and attitude about civilians. Many demand a higher salary due to "experience" (relevant or not) and do not desire to star tat the bottom again. Also as wrong as this is many may view you with a prejudice about being "crazy" from your deployment due to either lack of education or ideological political difference from your typically liberal medical professional verse your typically conservative military background. It is a fact that veterans have much higher unemployment rate then any other part of the population, the civilian world as a whole does not value us like recruiters and people you attended TAP class with told you. This is further exaggerated on the prior enlisted side.

HM-8404, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma.

It is not only employers that give no consideration to previous military medical experience but many nursing schools do not either. I was an Independent Duty Corpsman in the Navy for several years. That is pretty much the civilian equivalent of an Physicians Assistant. I worked without an MD present. I did assessments, decided the treatment needed, implemented treatment, decided if someone needed to be evacuated for more advanced care which meant requesting a medivac chopper and having them flown out. I wrote scripts, sutured patients, etc.

I attribute this to most civilians not being educated about what military medical personnel actually have been trained to do.

MN-Nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg - Renal.

You're doing it right.

Keep trying. Some lucky employer is going to hire you soon. The problem isn't your experience, it is that in many cases you are competing against candidates with vastly more experience than you.

You don't deserve special treatment because you are a veteran, you deserve due consideration for your experience and service, which is considerable and impressive.

I'd wish you good luck, but you won't need it. You'll be working soon!


Specializes in ER.

It has been my experience that nursing new grad programs are extremely rigid with their requirements:

Don't have a year as an RN in the ER? They want you to do new grad program. Doesn't matter if you were an LPN for 20 years in urgent care, spent a year in a clinic, dialysis or hospice/home health, were an army medic, and in some cases, were a floor nurse for years. They are going to classify you as a new grad doing preceptorship and taking classes for the purposes of hiring which has some merits though I do think the mindset is overly rigid and should be adapted to the individual in question.

One of our paramedics will be a new grad in our ER shortly and he will be precepting like he knows nothing but I think that's overkill. He probably (and you too) needs to learn skills like triage and TNCC but otherwise, you could benefit from an abbreviated orientation process.


Specializes in critical care/tele/emergency.

What some may be losing sight of is that Emergency Nursing is not just about trauma and codes. You've still got to be able to tell a STEMI from an anxiety attack, DKA from hyperglycemic, and numerous other issues. Personally, I think your background is a major plus but they might have policies against new grads in the ED. Not all hospitals are willing to percept new grads in critical care areas. Would you be willing to start out somewhere else in the hospital that you want to work at? Anything else catching your eye that you might want to do?

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

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

I respect the experience an experienced combat medic/PA/corpsman has but the fact remains.....you don't have the nursing experience. Being a nurse is more that the technical skills applied being a medic. Many medic I have worked with who have become nurses find this very frustrating, but being a nurse is very different. I have been a medic as well as a nurse and the two are vastly different in responsibility and roles. I have found that some managers are hesitant to hire the combat/military medic because of their very training. You are trained to be fiercely independent actors and thinkers.... a trait not necessarily coveted by most managers in a new grad while you are learning how to practice within the confines of your RN license.

Ultimately, you will be an excellent RN. Me personally? I'd hire you in a minute. Some managers are afraid they won't be able to "control" the "combat in the medic". As a nurse your practice will not be so aggressive/independent, especially at first......as you need to wait for the MD and you function under strict protocols. Tone the military stuff back use it as an example of fine assessment/triage/technical skills but emphasise your "eagerness to become the RN you want to be". Also remember the job market stinks for all new grads right now.

I wish you the best.....good things will come.


Specializes in ..

Resume writing is an art, and you can highlight your experiences and training by carefully describing those details in your resume. If you believe managers are passing you over because you have military experience, you can 'hide' that it is military experience by including a hospital name as the place of your employment. I'm certainly not suggesting you lie or that you're deceitful: your goal is to have the reader of your resume see that you did assessments, prescribed treatments, evaluated outcomes, etc., and if they seem to have visions of M*A*S*H when they hear 'Army' then you need to educate them.

Civilians often have no real understanding what military jobs involve, they make naive assumptions that military training is inferior, or very specific, or that it doesn't transfer to civilian life. A broken leg is a broken leg whether it's attached to an officer, an enlisted person, or a civilian; ditto for MIs, HTN, and the entire spectrum of health conditions. Health care professionals do the same work no matter what the organizational structure of their previous employer. This needs to be your message... so include it in your cover letter and in your resume so they see your experience and training--make them aware of your strengths!


Specializes in Emergency.

It is hard to know, but your service experience may have actually gotten you the interviews, since there are many many new grads right now who are not even able to secure an interview at a LTAC. So, you got an interview (And at that point the managers KNEW that you had no nursing experience). Since they knew about the no nursing experience,and chose to interview you anyway, I am guessing that maybe it was something else in the interview that made them decide not to hire you, despite what they told you.

I think your experience is a plus, one of my favoritest Nurses to work with was a Dude who had done the Medic, LPN RN route. I hope you find something that is satisfactory for you.

I think the last few posts are on target. Make sure your resume is highlighting your experience in the right way. Make sure you come across as you've got skills, but you realize you've got a lot to learn. You might be coming across as, "well I was a medic, so I already know it all" without realizing it, and that may be turning off your future employers. Job hunting is a tight rope walk. You have to come across as confident yet humble.

And the job market sucks right now, so you likely may have to start out in a specialty that's not your first choice.

Thanks for your service! And good luck in your job hunt. :)


Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Traum Rapid Response.

In too was an army medic who recieved advanced placement in nursing school cause it it and was also given priority whe applying for a job as a result of my years of hands on patient care experience in the army. I have worked in 4 states as an RN and I find it really matters. Some states, like Wisconsin, seem to place a high value on military medical experience. Right across the border in MN they don't, neither in nursing schools or in getting hired. California alos seemed to value military experience as well. Oregon not so much. Those are the states I have worked in as an RN. In talking with my many friends who are former medics and now RNs I have gotten an idea of some other state very friendly to vets. You might consider relocating.


Specializes in OB,NICU,Peds, PICU,Oncology, RE.

A suggestion I have is to start your description of yourself with that experience. Also, providing a typed, small list of the top skills utilized as a medic in Iraq will help the interviewer understand what a medic is and does. Good luck to you and thank you for all you do!!

I am sorry that your career is not getting off the way you want.. I was a hospital corpsman and .went into nursing soon after my discharge. I received help from many people in getting where I got in nursing.. The er is a choice that many people desire and the ones chosen were able to show why they should have a chance to work there or they just happened to be there when there was a vacancy. I worked in ER because I had training experience in critical care and I was there when needed. I was able to meet the scheduling needs of the hospital. I worked med surg and step down before that. I have to think that you may not be able to present yourself in a way that makes people want to put you on their staff..Perhaps you have an atitude problem. You have to prove your value to your co-workers and supervisors.. When you show you have what it takes to get the job done you will be offered more than you can imagine..Your previous history in combat is somewhat mythical to your new employers and that is life...Keep trying to do your best and you will get more than you can imagine and be nice to everyone you work with

I am a recent graduate from a BSN program and have been trying desperately to find an ER job in Central Ohio. I have been an Army medic for over six years including a tour in Iraq as a flight medic. I also have worked the past three years as an aid on a med-surg floor. I have done 2 interviews for ER jobs but the result was the same, "you have no nursing experience".While I'm not saying that veterans deserve special treatment, I am frustrated because I feel some of my experiences may outweigh those of any other nurse. Please let me know how to sell my army medic experience and get my career started on the right path.


Specializes in CCU, CVICU, Cath Lab, MICU, Endoscopy..

Most of the advice is on par like highlight your resume and leave out things that are may look a little over the top. For example an ER Nurse manager would be a little wary of a medic who lists things like suturing patients, intubating patients and all types of invasive procedures that require a physician. Remember they do not just go to school for 14yrs for nothing there is a lot of critical thinking that goes with the procedure. List things that are within the NPA that you have been exposed to this gives them more confidence that you will not be suturing patients when the MD is running a little late :-)

Also remember if you are applying to a level 1 trauma you will not directly go to the trauma rooms. Like the previous RN stated there is more than running codes that goes with it for example head injury motor vehicle accident who has dka...how do you control the dka without increasing ICP and decreasing K+levels and bicarb levels or cardiac arrest MI whats is the treatment for inferior wall infarct vs Anterior....my advise to highlight things that are used in todays ER and possibly list the specialities you have been exposed to. Finally do not forget most hospitals like to train their graduate nurses through an internship program despite the medic status, when it comes to specialty departments. Otherwise best of luck and hope you get a position very soon.


Specializes in TELE, CVU, ICU.

I would like to add that many in HR do not know what nurses do, let alone what medics do. I agree with the previous poster who is a USMC vet that you are dealing with ignorance and preconceived notions. Try highlighting specific experiences in your cover letter and on your resume. You might also want to consider the USPHS, who may give your experience more weight.

I am finishing up an ASN program as we speak. I can personally say that through the many ER rotations I have done, some of my very best experiences have been working with both army and civilian medics. I have worked with some very experienced nurses, and they have been great. However, the medics have been trained from day one how to care for the most injured patients without the supplies and equipment offered to those in a hospital setting, and stay calm and patient centered while doing so. They are able to think outside the box, and are ready for anything. I think any hospital that would turn away that kind of experience is making a huge mistake by not hiring you.


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