Are you interested in military nursing? A military nurse is basically a nurse who also serves and holds rank in the military. All of the military services: the army, navy, air force, and coast guard, have nursing branches, or corps, which means it is slightly separate and independent part of the military. These nurses work in peace and war-time settings. They can be classified as active duty, reserves, or as civilians.
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Military nurses can work at all levels of nursing, whether it is as nurse practitioners, or as educators, specialists, case managers, or administrators. They can also work in whichever specialty they choose and are trained in, be it pediatrics, psychiatric, perioperative, emergency trauma, critical care, neonatal, or midwifery, to name some options. However, critical care, trauma, and operative nursing are especially crucial to military nursing.
A military nurse holds rank as other officers do in their service branch. A new nurse is a second lieutenant in the nurse corps. They work up through the ranks the way a standard soldier would. They can work in a military medical facility state-side or stationed in different countries around the globe, working with military physicians, using the latest in technology and medical developments.
One great benefit of becoming a military nurse is the generous financial scholarships and assistance. If you are a high school student or high school graduate and considering the nursing field, the military can cover the full cost of your nursing degree schooling. You can also complete your education or training with no military obligation until your degree is completed. Another benefit is the opportunity to see different parts of the world. Many military nurses cite travel opportunities as one of the most exciting part of this career. However it may not be for everyone. Of course these nurses can be emotionally affected by the enormous toll that combat can have on the troops.
If you have not yet begun your nursing degree, it might be wise to talk to a recruiter before getting started, to explore your options for possible tuition funding. But you will need to complete a nursing degree program from an accredited nursing school before going to work as a military nurse. There are various paths toward this goal, and they are not different from that of a non-military nurse-in-training. You can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or an associate of science in nursing (ASN) in just two years, and be eligible to take your licensure exam and work as a nurse. Or, you can spend four years studying at a college or university and earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). This option is ideal, as it will help make you more competitive and knowledgeable. Regardless of which degree you pursue, you will then have to pass the licensure examination. This exam is called the NCLEX-RN, and stands for National Council Licensure Examination.
If you are already a nurse with a BSN degree, you are eligible to apply to a branch of the military as a nurse officer. This is called a direct commission process. There are other eligibility factors though, including passing a medical exam, meeting the age and height/weight requirement, being a U.S. citizen, and having a clean record. You can even arrange to get assistance with loan repayment for the degree you already earned.
Military nurses’ salaries are divided into three parts: base pay, as well as basic allowance for housing or BHA, and basic allowance for subsistence or BAS. In 2008, the rates for a military nurse ranged from $2,555 to $10,488 per month. Like civilian nurses, military nursing is facing a shortage as well. So the outlook for military nurses is very good, if you are interested and qualify. Whether you are an RN already or interested in joining the military first, this can be a great opportunity with various benefits while you treat fellow soldiers, make a living, and serve your country.