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Being a nurse in the military gives you the opportunity to help others while serving your country at the same time. Military nurses receive competitive salaries, benefits and the opportunity to build critical skills and receive specialized training. However, being a nurse is not for everyone. The physical demands and demands of travel make a career as a nurse in the military challenging.
What Do Army Nurses Do
Military nurses are officers and, as such, enjoy pay and benefits commensurate with their rank and pay grade. As Nurse.org explains, nurses typically enter the military with the rank of second lieutenant (2LT), which is equivalent to the O-1 pay grade. In all branches of the armed forces, soldiers are paid by pay grade, not by rank or title, as this can vary from branch to branch.
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Every year, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) publishes a chart showing earnings by pay grade and years of service. As an O-1 with less than two years of experience, an Army nurse earned $3,385.80 in base monthly pay starting in January 2021. That’s about $40,600 a year. A nurse who reaches the rank of chief (O-4) and serves between 10 and 12 years will earn a base salary of $7,684.20 per month through 2021, which equates to about $92,200 per year. In addition to base pay, military nurses receive housing allowance and health benefits. There may also be opportunities for tuition reimbursement, incentive payments, and hazardous fee payments.
Requirements for a military nurse include a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This degree can be earned prior to commissioning, or you can join Army ROTC in college, receiving benefits while you complete your degree and earn your registered nurse license. Most positions in the military also require nurses to have at least one year of supervised experience or to take a course in public health nursing. All nurses must also hold an RN license.
Instead of a traditional boot camp, all Army nurses attend the Officer Leader Basic Course. The course lasts 10 to 14 weeks and guides nurses through basic military skills, the military health care system and other military nursing requirements. Those who decide to become military nurses through the ROTC program attend the Nurse Summer Training Program each summer where they receive additional training at a military hospital.
As explained on the GoArmy website, military nurses have training opportunities while on active duty that prepare them for specialty careers in obstetrics/gynecology, critical care, public health, and advanced medical practice.
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Military nursing requirements include physical standards, which are the same for all soldiers serving in the military. This includes meeting height and weight standards and being able to pass a physical examination. Nurses are also required to complete a physical fitness test every six months, which includes a 2-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. The exact physical requirements vary by age. All military nurses must be between 21 and 42 years of age.
Becoming a military nurse requires a commitment of at least three years of service. Most nurses are transferred every three years. Additional travel may be required to assist with emergencies. Most nurses are stationed in large military or other government facilities, although some may serve in more temporary facilities while traveling with special forces. As a nurse you earn 2.5 days off per month, but there may be limits on how much time you can take at one time or how far you can travel. This may mean missing out on vacation days or special events with family members.
Becoming a military nurse requires dedication to your country and a passion for service. While many nurses deal with stressful situations, nurses in the military must be able to handle extremely stressful situations and, occasionally, dangerous environments. Leadership skills are also essential for military nurses, as they are officers in the military and must lead the command. The military offers training to help nurses develop leadership skills.
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Military nurses work in a fast-paced environment, caring for soldiers and their families. Find out how to become one in the guide below.
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Military nurses are members of the US Armed Forces. While their primary focus—providing health care—remains the same as their civilian counterparts, the work environment of military nurses can be quite different. Military nurses can work on foreign or domestic military bases, caring for personnel and their families in military health facilities.
During conflict, military nurses are deployed with soldiers to provide medical assistance. Working in these conditions can be challenging as facilities are often limited and combat injuries can be severe.
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Although military nursing is a challenging profession, it offers the opportunity to work with healthcare professionals from different backgrounds and expand your skills. As members of the armed forces, military nurses also enjoy specialized training and education and have access to the latest revolutionary technologies.
Military nurses work in a variety of settings in the US and abroad. Depending on their assignment, nurses may work in combat zones under challenging or difficult conditions. Others work on ships, as nurses or as part of humanitarian missions around the world. The most common workplaces are military hospitals, clinics and trauma centers.
The Navy, Army, and Air Force recruit nurses for active duty and reserve positions. Each branch has its own requirements for nurses.
As with any nursing career, there are pros and cons to becoming a military nurse. Below are some key points to consider.
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Many military nursing positions require applicants to have a BSN. Some departments accept applicants with an ADN or a bachelor’s degree if they have earned a master’s or Ph.D.
Applicants must pass the National Council for RN Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to be licensed. Those with a bachelor’s degree can apply to take the exam through the state board of nursing.
Applicants need clinical experience depending on their potential career and military branch. Most roles require one year of supervised experience.
Each military branch has different needs and capabilities. Review your options and contact your chosen affiliate recruiter to begin the hiring process.
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Military nurses do not attend traditional boot camps. Instead, they attend BOLC to learn the basics of military life and protocol and receive leadership and military training. The length and position vary depending on the branch.
In addition to their nursing license, military nurses must have additional certifications in life support to prepare for emergencies among special populations. All military nurses require Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, while some specialties require Acute Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification.
All military nurses are RNs. While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that civilian nurses earn an average salary of $75,330, salary structures in the military vary widely. Military nurse salaries are related to individual rank, military status, and certifications. Most new military nurses earn less than in the civilian services.
Military nurses enjoy a number of benefits in addition to their salary. These include paid time off, sign-on bonuses and student loan repayment options. They may also qualify for tuition assistance, earning advanced degrees through the military at a discount.
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In general, civilian and military nurses are equally in demand. The office predicts a stable growth rate of 7% for RN until 2029.
The military rank system determines the salary potential of a military nurse. The system determines the base salary based on experience and ranking achievements.
Although all nurses are officers, the specific rank and basic pay depends on their previous military experience. Without military experience, nurses start at the bottom of the rank structure, earning the same monthly salary as those with four or more years of experience as military officers.
In addition to military experience, special incentives can increase salary. These incentives depend on the type of commission, work environment and length of commitment.
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A military nurse’s earning potential depends on their branch, rank, and pay grade. The ranking structure strongly influences pay and responsibilities and is entirely dependent on individual experience and performance. While he is without a nurse
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