Most of us have seen the popular television shows M.A.S.H and China Beach, but what does it really take to become a military nurse?
Nurses in uniform are not a new part of the military. They’ve been a part of the armed services for about a hundred years. What most people don’t know is that nurses in the military have rank and can achieve honors similar to their compatriots in uniform. Nurses are involved in every branch of the United States military and some do serve on the combat front lines in military hospitals and field units.
Different branches of the armed services have different requirements for military nurses. For example, the US Navy requires its nursing staff to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for candidacy in the Navy nursing program. Some of the armed services even offer tuition reimbursement for students who are enrolled in the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program. Some programs do require a commitment of at least one to three years in the military as compensation for paid tuition. The US Army has a summer nursing program that assigns cadets to military hospitals in the US and Germany.
Some nurses enter the military to get on-the-job training as well as to receive military benefits. As with most people called to the medical profession, military medical personnel are often driven by the need to help as many people as possible and to serve their country. The real world experiences afforded to military nurses are unparalleled and the ever changing environments prepare nurses for the unexpected more than a regular job in a hospital or medical office ever could.
As with all military careers, military nurse’s pay is commensurate to rank and time served in the armed forces. Some branches of the service also offer sign-on bonuses just as they do with other new recruits. Some nurses will receive bonuses for re-enlisting, and often nurses who only intend to stay in the military for a short period of time end up making a career in the armed services.
Once military nurses leave the armed forces, though, their resumes will speak for themselves. The military offers many things that are attractive to prospective employers, not the least of which is the discipline and dedication that comes with the job. Some nurses remain in the armed services as an active part of the National Guard, and continue to serve the nation on weekends and other occasions throughout the year.