How to Become a Nurse in the Military

The Nurse Corps became official before World War One.

The Nurse Corps became official before World War One.

Since the Revolutionary War, military nurses have played a crucial role by providing life-saving care to wounded soldiers. Women served as nurses before World War I, but in an unofficial capacity. The federal government established the Army and Navy Nurse Corps in 1901 and 1908 respectively, starting official training for women to be military nurses. According to Male Nurse Magazine, as of 2012, women made up 65 percent of Army nurses, 70 percent of Air Force nurses and 64 percent of Navy nurses. Whether male or female, the career path as a military nurse follows several rigorous steps.

Earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. No matter what branch of the military you choose, all nurses must have a four-year degree from an accredited nursing school or nursing degree program.

Obtain a nursing license. Every military nurse must possess a valid and current nursing license from any state, which requires submitting an application to her state's nursing board and passing the National Council Licensure Examination.

Choose a branch of the military. Three of the five military branches use their own nurses, and so potential military nurses must first choose to serve in the Army, Air Force or Navy. Military recruiters for each branch can provide additional information on which branch would be the best fit for the nurse.

Pick a nursing career path. All of the military branches have several nursing career paths to choose from, and a nurse must decide which one she would like to pursue. For example, the Army offers 10 nursing career paths, including public health, critical care, medical-surgical and emergency room.

Become an officer. All nursing positions in the military require the nurse to join a branch as an officer. The exact requirements for becoming an officer vary from branch to branch, but generally include being at least 18 years old, a United States citizen and completing Officer Candidate School for the Army, Basic Officer Training for the Air Force or Officer Training for the Navy. Officers must also commit to a minimum number of years of active duty service. Potential nurses can also become officers by participating in the Reserve Officers Training Corps while in college.

Complete additional training. Many nursing positions require at least one year of experience or post-graduate courses in that discipline. Other positions, like an Army Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Air Force Nurse Anesthetist, require a master's degree and board certification.

Pass a medical examination. The military requires members of every branch to pass a physical fitness test and medical examination to assure they are in good physical condition to complete the assigned duties.

Items you will need

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Nursing license
 

About the Author

Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

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