What Does a Military Nurse Do?
Military nurses are specially trained to provide nursing care to military personnel during war and peacetime, overseas and stateside. Some even perform their duties on U.S. Naval vessels out at sea. They are best known for setting up triage in warzones and treating soldiers who have been wounded in battle, but a large number of military nurses work in various military hospitals throughout the U.S. Military nurses are also called upon to participate in providing humanitarian nursing care to innocent civilians who fall victim to war injuries or natural disasters. One of the more interesting possibilities of becoming a military nurse working for the U.S. Army, Navy or Air Force is that your assignments could take you to U.S. military bases all over the world, so those with the desire to travel may find this nursing work particularly rewarding. Military nurses perform typical nursing duties, such as treating wounds, checking vitals, administering medications, comforting the sick and injured, and educating patients on healthy living and preventive health care.
How Can I Become a Military Nurse?
Those who want to become military nurses typically sit down and discuss their options with a recruiter before getting started with their nursing education. The different branches of the military often offer to pay for all or part of an individual’s education in exchange for the individual’s agreement to serve as a military nurse for a certain number of years. Other practicing registered nurses transition from being a civilian staff nurse to being a nurse in one of the branches of the military. Either way, you will need to complete an approved nursing program by earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a nursing diploma. The bachelor’s degree, however, is the preferred qualification, and is sometimes required for military nursing. After completing your nursing education, you will need to pass an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) to become licensed to practice nursing. You will need to enlist with the Armed Forces branch in which you plan to serve. Once accepted, you will need to complete that branch’s training program as well.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Military Nurse?
The career outlook for nurses overall is excellent, and those who wish to serve as active duty nurses in the U.S. armed forces are highly sought-after. The overall employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Opportunities for qualified individuals in all branches of the armed forces should be excellent through 2018, the Bureau maintains, although the downturn in the economy has caused more people to turn to military careers, making certain positions more competitive. The average annual salary for a registered nurse working in a military hospital setting is $56,000, according to online compensation site Payscale.com. However, there are also other perks that sweeten the deal, such as sign-on bonuses, paid vacation and numerous opportunities for advancement. A number of factors can affect your salary as a military nurse, including how many years of experience you have, what certifications you have, and whether you are serving active duty or in the reserves.