Military Nursing

Did you know Florence Nightingale only spent three years as a nurse? The fact that such a short amount of time garnered her an important place in history clearly shows the importance of military nurses. Every single branch of the armed forces requires adequate medical staff, from the Marine Corps to the Air Force and Coast Guard. That means you could find yourself providing medical care in a variety of interesting settings and situations. And while nursing may be stereotyped as primarily a female occupation in hospitals, in the military, one-third of all the nurses are men.

The Army Nurse Corps specifically embraces a holistic philosophy to health, allowing nurses to provide all types of care to patients. Military nurses typically have greater autonomy than their civilian counterparts. You are also in a unique position to understand your patients as a soldier yourself.

The Benefits of Military Nursing

Military nurses can often expect sign-on bonuses of $20,000-$30,000 along with a competitive salary. You may also receive up to $120,000 in nursing school loan repayment, paid out in installments of $40,000 per year for three years.

Furthermore, for active duty military nurses the military provides housing allowances, 30 days of paid vacation annually, low-cost or free health, dental, and life insurance, and ample retirement plan options. Members of the Reserve Nurse Corps receive a variety of financial incentives as well. Or, if you prefer to join the Navy Nurse Corps, you can expect regular promotions, plenty of opportunities for low-cost travel, and an excellent salary as well.

Required Training for Military Nursing

You do have to meet certain conditions to become a military nurse, including:

  • Being a United States citizen
  • Being 21- to 42-years-old (although waivers may be obtained)
  • Having a valid RN license
  • Having either a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) or a master's degree in nursing (MSN)

The military also sets certain medical and moral standards for commissioned officers that must be met, and you need to pass a security investigation.

The Navy nursing program has slightly different requirements, in that you must simply be enrolled in an accredited bachelor's of nursing degree program within two years of entering this program.

Education Benefits Given to Military Nurses

Meeting the military nursing requirements does require some initial education, but the good news is that the military reimburses most if not all of that cost.

After serving one year on active duty, Army nurses can enroll in specialized education programs, such as 16-week courses in:

  • Critical care nursing
  • Obstetrical/Gynecological Nursing
  • Operating room nursing
  • Psychiatric/mental health nursing

The Navy nursing program grants full-time students in BSN programs a monthly stipend. You can apply for this after your sophomore year. The initial grant is for $10,000, followed by $1,000 per month for up to two years.

Military nurses may be eligible for financial assistance to attend graduate school as well, which can allow you to enter one of the advanced practice nursing specialties like nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, or nurse practitioner.

Best of all, entering the military as a nurse allows you to skip over basic training and instead go straight to an Officer Basic Leader Course (OBLC).

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