The United States Army Nurse Corp was first established in 1901. Military nurses are those who hold a military rank and who serve in active duty, in the reserve, or in civilian positions in one of the major military branches of the Nurse Corps - Army, Air Force, Navy, or Coast Guard. In many ways, military nursing is quite similar to traditional nursing. Like traditional RNs, the primary objective of military nurses is to treat patients and promote their well-being. Military nurses may work at home or abroad in foreign countries. They must be prepared for the emotional demands of working in and around war conditions.
What Are Some Military Nurse Duties?
Setting up military triage in war zones
Treating and caring for wounded soldiers and other military personnel
Distributing vaccinations for children in developing countries
Treating military service members' families
Providing emergency care to individuals affected by natural or manmade disasters
Participating in humanitarian relief efforts
Working in pre-operative settings
Where Do Military Nurses Work?
Military nurses are employed in branches of the United States Military, including:
Army National Guard
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
How to Become a Military Nurse
After students have finished their nursing education and training, they will need to speak with a military recruiter when they're ready to enlist. After deciding on which military branch to join, they will need to fill out an application packet to see if all of the eligibility requirements have been met. The process of approval takes about a year. In the case that the RN is accepted, the next step is for them to complete an Officer Basic Leadership Course (BOLC). Once this is completed, the RN will be considered an official military nurse.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
Because military nurses are commissioned officers, the United States military requires them to have BSN degrees. The Army Reserves, however, accepts RNs who have an ADN degree. Before entering the military, you must first pass the NCLEX-RN exam and become fully licensed as a registered nurse. Those with advanced practice nursing degrees may enter into the military at a higher rank than those with BSN degrees. After speaking with a recruiter, completing the application packet, and then being approved by the commission board, you must successfully complete a 5-10 week commissioned officer course. During this course, you will learn leadership skills, perform physical training, and go through an introduction to military life.
Do Military Nurses Need an RN Degree?
Like the vast majority of nurses, military nurses do need a college degree. Before enlisting in one of the branches, you will first need to have gained an ADN or BSN degree. After earning the necessary nursing degree, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to gain RN licensure.
Step 2: Required Military Nurse Certifications/Credentials
The main certifications military nurses need are the BSN and an active RN license. They also need to be certified in Basic Life Support (BLS). Depending on their specialty, military nurses may also need an Acute Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification. After becoming a military nurse, you will begin as an Officer ranked O-1. Upon gaining further experience or additional specialized training/education, your rank will increase.
Military Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment
The employment outlook and job security for military nurses are exceptionally good. The main branches of the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard - are always looking for qualified RNs to enlist. The paygrade of military nurses will depend on the specific rank that a nurse holds. In addition to their salaries, military nurses generally receive generous signing bonuses, and may receive special pay for carrying out extra assignments.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Exceptional physical and mental stamina and endurance, ability to make life-saving decisions quickly, adaptability, strong communication skills, ability to work and multitask quickly while being under pressure, and ability to work many hours with little sleep
Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted the employment rate for military nurses to grow around 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. This is substantially higher than the average employment growth rate for most professions.
What Is the Average Salary of a Military Nurse?
ZipRecruiter reports the average annual salary for an Army nurse at around $59,000. Salaries of military nurses are correlated with their respective education levels, rank, and any special certifications that they may hold. Certain military branches may offer signing bonuses of $20,000 to $30,000 in addition to an annual bonus. Because they work for the government, military nurses receive low-cost or free health insurance, housing and food stipends, hazard pay when they're assigned to combat zones, and 401K programs. Like other enlisted officers, military nurses receive 30 days of paid vacation per year and can retire with a pension after 20 years of service. Lastly, military nurses enjoy ample opportunities to continue their nursing education.