Nurses play a key role in serving the health care needs of members of the military and their families.
They serve in all branches of the military providing direct patient care and leading care teams.
There is a high demand for military nurses who not only care for active military members, but also veterans, and the general population in times of emergency. Even more than a career, military nursing is a choice that comes with great opportunity and, at times, great sacrifice.
What Military Nurses Do
Military nurses provide health care to patients in U.S. military installations across the world, ranging from domestic military base clinics to foreign combat zones. They serve all branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard), and are also sometimes assigned to provide services to the Veteran’s Administration.
How to Become a Military Nurse
Prospective military nurses should consider speaking with a military recruiter before pursuing their education, as the different branches of the military will often offer to pay all or part of nursing education if you agree to serve as a military nurse for a certain number of years. If you are not yet a nurse, you will be enlisted within a branch of the military.
Nurses who are interested in a military assignment must have an RN license, provide proof of U.S. citizenship, and have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. If you’ve already earned your BSN and obtained your RN license, you may enlist and enter service as a commissioned officer.
Career Opportunities for Military Nurses
Military nurses may work in military hospitals and clinics, sick bays aboard ships, in mobile field hospitals, or airplanes that transfer patients to medical centers. They may also work on training bases, providing care to military members and their families.
Military nurses function in all specialty and functional areas including advanced practice roles such as nurse practitioner. In fact, military nursing offers all the opportunities available in the civilian world.
Unique Advantages of Military Nursing
In addition to earning competitive wages, military nurses receive a number of incentives, including school loan repayments; low-cost or no-cost medical, dental, and life insurance; generous retirement options; sign-on bonuses; and many continuing education opportunities.
Military nurses are also commissioned officers, which means they have a lot of independence. In many military nursing situations, the nurses often outrank the physicians they are working with. A few other unique advantages include:
- Serving your country and the others who serve it in impactful ways
- Ability to pursue professional military education designed to enhance nursing and leadership skills
- Opportunity to use cutting-edge technology and techniques in both medical treatment facilities and temporary facilities in the field
- Option of working in many practice settings and to travel and experience many unique locations
- A lifetime of benefits, often including a pension (depending on years of service), through Veteran’s Affairs