It takes a special person to be a nurse. They work long hours, give medications, take vital signs and hold patients' hands. They work in a variety of specialties and experience the start of life and the tragedy of death. It's a lot to take on, but most would say the payoff is worth the sacrifices. For those who wish to take it a step further, consider serving as a nurse in the U.S. Navy. Not only will you be serving a deserving population, you will serve your country, too.
The Navy sets high requirements to qualify to become a nurse. Even though a person can become an RN with a two-year degree, graduation from a baccalaureate nursing program is required, in addition to licensure, to become a Navy nurse. You must be a U.S. citizen and agree to serve a minimum of three years active duty. Think hard about this decision. A military commitment is serious business. In addition to your nursing qualifications, you will be a military officer. You must stay in shape, lead by example, and be disciplined enough to carry the reputation of the Navy with you wherever you go. Be ready.
Navy nurses span the globe on land and sea. The Navy operates some of the most prestigious hospitals in the country and, as a Navy nurse, you could work at one of them. Plus, there are opportunities to work aboard one of two naval hospital ships that treat deployed service members. The Navy also operates medical clinics everywhere from the U.S. to England. The possibilities and opportunities seem endless and are within your reach. You just have to go get them.
If you qualify, the Navy will pay for your nursing education. In some instances the Navy will foot up to $180,000 for you to get an education in exchange for your commitment to the Navy. You may also be eligible for the Nursing Candidate Program, which will provide you an initial grant of $10,000, plus a stipend of $1,000 per month for up to 24 months. Check with your local Navy recruiter for details.
At its core, the nursing profession is the same anywhere at anytime. You must always put the patient first and evoke the highest ethical standards while administering patient care, including wound care, checking vitals and managing triage. The Navy, though, is one of the most highly mobile and advanced entities known to anyone, and you could find yourself performing duties you never thought you could. You might be working at your duty station one day, and the next, you're assisting in relief efforts across the waters because a category 5 hurricane just hit a developing country.
The Navy isn't easy. It's rewarding, but anything worth its payoff takes work. As a Navy nurse, you will see things you don't want to see, hear things you don't want to hear, and you will always remember things you'd rather forget. But for those who are strong enough, the lives you save and the sailors you touch will become what you most remember.
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images