A career as a military nurse combines your passion for the medical profession with a desire to serve your country. As a nurse in the military, you may work in the United States or overseas. The military offers nurses competitive salaries, financial incentives and comprehensive benefits packages. With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you can enter the military as an officer.
The Job of a Military Nurse
Nurses work in military hospitals, clinics and combat zones. Their patients include active-duty personnel and military retirees. In the case of war or a natural disaster, military nurses may administer care to civilians.
Their responsibilities consist of treating wounds for infection, monitoring pain, dispensing medication and providing care for preoperative and postoperative patients. Their patients may suffer from cancer, broken bones or common aliments like the flu or pneumonia. Nurses in war zones deal with life-threatening injuries that may be the result of gunshots or explosions. They may also work with patients who have gone through amputations.
The Benefits of Being a Nurse in the Military
When you are employed by the military, you are usually eligible for low-cost or free medical, dental and life insurance, along with a generous retirement plan. You also may receive housing allowances and paid vacation days.
The military might offer educational support in the form of scholarships and repayments for student loans. Nurses who want to pursue a higher degree can continue their education while serving in the military.
If you are a nurse in the army, you can choose active duty or the U.S. Army Reserve. Nurses in the reserve can stay in their current nursing positions and serve when needed. You can advance in army nursing by specializing in these areas:
- Army Public Health Nurse.
- Critical Care Nurse.
- Family Nurse Practitioner.
- Medical-Surgical Nurse.
- Psychiatric/Behavioral Health Nurse.
Salary and Job Outlook for Military Nurses
According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for a military RN in a hospital setting is $60,337 as of July 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent increase in jobs for RNs during the years 2014 to 2024.
Two Paths to Becoming a Military Nurse
You can become a military nurse in the army, navy, air force or marines by direct commission or through Reserves Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). If you decide on direct commission, you must be a registered nurse (RN). When you join ROTC, you do not have to be RN. ROTC can assist you with tuition.
Prerequisites for Direct Commission
You must hold at least a BSN and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain a nursing license. In addition, you need proof of U.S. citizenship, a background check and nursing experience.
You must also participate in training with the branch of military that you select. This may include instruction regarding leadership skills and military life as well as completing physical tests.
Requirements for ROTC Commission
To enroll in a four-year college ROTC program, you must be between the ages of 18 to 26. The age requirement may vary depending on the military branch. Typically, an acceptable grade point average is 2.5 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
You must be a U.S. citizen and agree to a background screening. In your third year of ROTC, you are usually given a medical physical, which you must pass along with meeting height and weight standards. Once you graduate from college and the ROTC program, you can be commissioned as an officer.
Military nurses are essential to providing urgent care, treating the wounded, and assisting soldiers with rehabilitation and recovery when they return home from war. As a military nurse, you will work as part of a team, have access to state-of-the-art technology and be able to advance in your career. Each branch of the military has its own criteria for nursing applicants so you should research the requirements and determine which service is the best fit for you.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online BSN program.
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Becoming a Military Nurse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://everynurse.org/becoming-a-military-nurse/
Fant, C. (2012, July 4). What Are the Benefits of a Military Nursing Career?
Military Nurse Requirements. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.military-nurse.com/militarynurserequirements.html
Registered Nurses: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-6
What It Takes to Become a Military Nurse. (2014, March 1). Retrieved from http://www.nursing360.com/what-it-takes-to-become-a-military-nurse/