The military branches of the government have used nurses for centuries, helping stabilize injured soldiers and provide military personnel immediate and primary medical assistance. Today’s modern Military and Uniformed Services Nursing works around the world, providing traditional help as well as modern healthcare support to troops, their families, support personnel, contractors, and local. It is possible for a nurse recruited in Idaho to find herself working in Japan, Europe, the Middle East, on the ocean or even in Australia. Often, many military nurses work in multiple locations, depending on assignment and military need.
Work Environment and Job Duties
Military nurses regularly work and provide healthcare support to military installations and bases year-round during active assignment, as well as during times of peace. There is certainly more demand for nurses during active engagement periods, but nurses are regularly needed for ongoing health needs of military personnel, preventative care, surgery support, and administrative record-keeping on troop health records. This function is the same regardless of military branch.
Often, work locations depend on the location of military bases. As a result, military nurses can find themselves stationed at sea on navy vessels, in hot zones with military activity, and at military bases.
The job duties can place a nurse in just about any medical specialty, allowing recruits a variety of choice in terms of assignment preference. This can include emergency trauma work, as well as more standard care in pediatric or psychiatric work.
Because the role is a military one, military nurses can always be reassigned to active war-time duty. Military nurses are government employees, so their employment falls under the rules and requirements of government personnel regulation, unless the nurse works for a contractor supporting a large military operation.
As of 2012, the current population of military nurse includes approximately 67 percent female recruits and 33 percent male recruits. A large majority of military nurses also have families while employed. 85 percent of army nurses are married with 40 percent also raising children while enlisted.
Requirements and Education
For recruits to work in the military as a nurse, they must have a nursing diploma from an accredited nursing school. This can either be an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Further, the nurse needs to also have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Military branches will recruit both current nurses, as well as students in the process of completing their nursing degree. If the recruit is in the process of completing his or her nursing education, the military will frequently help pay for education and training as long as the recruit also commits to stay in the military branch for a set time period, usually four or six years. For any assignment or help, enlistment in the military is required. If a nurse is already recruited, he or she can start working as a registered nurse as soon as boot camp training is completed.
In terms of compensation, military nurses are paid both direct compensation, as well as an extensive benefits package. A nurse enlisted with a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college will be eligible for first level officer pay or O-1. As of 2011, this is approximately $2,785 per month for salary. Additionally, recruits are paid a housing allowance and a meal allowance; the two combined equaling approximately $850 monthly. Pay levels increase as the nurse spends more time on the job and earns merit increases. Promotions to higher officer classes also raise pay accordingly.
In addition to direct compensation, nurses also can earn bonuses. Incentive pay can range from $6,000 to $15,000, depending on if the nurse is in training or active service. With certain military branches, nurses can also receive a one-time signup bonus of $30,000. This only applies to nurses already licensed at recruitment.
Fringe benefits can include valuable college loans, grants for service members, included medical care and benefits for life through veteran’s hospitals, commissary rights and access, paid vacation equaling 30 days a year as well as 12 paid holidays, and full retirement pension at 20 years of service. All factors included, military nurse compensation in total is quite competitive with private side compensation.