A military career is an honorable pursuit. Brave men and women place themselves in harm’s way to ensure freedom for their nation and to lend a hand to our allies when they need assistance. Our military members need medical care — in combat zones and in healthcare facilities at home and abroad. Military nurses serve by providing care for their fellow service members and their families.
Becoming a military nurse has specific challenges and requires some specialized training. The rewards are worth it for those who can handle the unique circumstances of the work environment, and the possibility for educational reimbursement only adds to the appeal of this career.
The Work of a Military Nurse
First and foremost, military nurses are trained, like any other nurse, in basic nursing skills, according to EveryNurse. They treat military members and their families for a variety of concerns, from acute conditions to general wellness.
However, military nurses are faced with very specific conditions not encountered by most nurses. They may be deployed to war zones, where the work is much more stressful and extremely dangerous at times. While they may still treat colds and administer stitches, they may have to do their work under threat of enemy attack.
Because they are military members and care for the wounded during wartime, they are often the deciding factor in life-and-death situations. Military nurses face a great deal of pressure and they must be able to focus on patient care in distracting and dangerous environments. Gunshot wounds, lost limbs and other life-threatening injuries are not uncommon for military patients.
Not all of a military nurse’s work will take place in war-torn areas. Military nurses often treat military members and their families for common ailments like colds and injuries not related to combat. Military nurses work on military bases, as well as in military hospitals and clinics.
Military nurses often have the opportunity for adventure, seeing different parts of the world while deployed. Military benefits are very good, as is the compensation.
Becoming a Military Nurse
The process to becoming a military nurse may seem daunting, but it ensures you are prepared for this adventurous and important career.
Nurse.org notes that military nurses must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) prior to pursuing their military career. This equips them with the basic nursing skills needed to treat patients and enables them to serve as commissioned officers.
It is best to do your research on all branches of the military to find the one best suited to your interests. Speak with a military recruiter and be sure you meet all of the eligibility requirements for that branch.
Once your military application packet is complete, it can take up to one year for approval from the commissioning board. You must be accepted by your chosen branch of the military to commence officer training.
Military nurses must undergo the training and pass fitness exams required for all officers in their branch of the military. Choosing to work in the military means knowing how to function in a military environment, and specific training is mandatory. You must complete a Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC), which takes five to 10 weeks to prepare you for military life and your new leadership role.
Educational Benefits for the Military Nurse
In addition to the chance to provide patient care while serving in the military and seeing the world, military nurses may be eligible for a signing bonus or student loan repayment. Those who select educational reimbursement may have up to $40,000 of their student loans repaid per year.
The Balance Careers indicates that each branch of the military has its own education reimbursements. Some will even offset the cost of a nursing education in exchange for military enlistment after graduation.
For veterans and military members seeking a bachelor’s degree in nursing, St. Thomas University has the resources for you to take full advantage of your educational benefits. After verifying benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs, potential students can work with VA-certifying officials at St. Thomas University to coordinate their educational pursuits.
Learn more about St. Thomas University’s online RN to BSN program.