Nurse Practitioners are health care professionals who diagnose and treat patients. They typically work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics or private practices. They may also be involved with teaching or research. Nurse practitioners can enter the military to provide medical care for service members and their families.
Each branch of the military has a different approach to how it integrates noncommissioned officers and health care professionals. Nurse practitioners who want to work in a certain branch will need to understand what options they have, as well as that branch’s qualifications and requirements for enlistment.
Which military branch is best for nurse practitioners?
Nurse practitioners have a variety of options when it comes to serving in the military. Each branch has different requirements, as well as leadership opportunities. It is important for nurse practitioners to feel comfortable within a certain branch before making their commitment.
Here is a list of the different branches of the military and a summary of what type of opportunities they provide for nurse practitioners.
The Army accepts NPS as part of their Medical Corps. NP students who want to serve as an Army Nurse As a nurse practitioner in the Army, you would be a part of the Medical Corp and provide care at major Army hospitals and installations across the world.
You will need to apply for one of four general tracks: traditional or primary care NP, emergency department nurse practitioner, family practice nurse practitioner or women’s health nurse practitioner. There are additional requirements for each track. Unlike other branches, NPs who are already nurses cannot transfer into the Army Nurse Corps.
Army nurse practitioners must be licensed and registered in their state of practice, have completed a minimum of two years of clinical practice as an NP or hold a master’s degree. Applicants must also pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and complete Basic Combat Training (BCT).
The Navy does not offer a specific track for nurse practitioners and does accept nurses and other health care professionals under the Hospital Corps (HS). HS officers receive part of their training through The Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.
Nurse practitioners in the Navy can also apply to serve as independent duty nurses or staff nurses at one of several hundred Navy clinics throughout the world. You would be stationed with your family wherever you are assigned. As a nurse practitioner, you must meet all existing and new soliciting program requirements as well as graduate from an accredited school of nursing.
3. Air Force
The Air Force provides health care support by integrating its Nurse Anesthetists into their Medical Service Corps. Applicants must have a master’s degree in nursing and pass a military medical examination during basic training to determine eligibility for the program.
If accepted, NP students will train alongside doctors and physician assistants at colleges and universities under Air Force sponsorship. Nurse anesthetists must also complete the Air Force’s nurse anesthesia course. If you are assigned to a regional clinic, you will receive additional training at the local level.
Nurse Practitioners can serve as independent duty corpsmen with the Marine Corps; however, there are only a handful of slots available each year, and applicants typically need to be able to commit two years to the program. Corpsmen provide health care support for Marines at bases and MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) schools around the world.
The Marine Corps does not offer scholarship programs for these positions, so successful candidates will need to be sponsored by a unit or installation willing to pay their initial licensing fees. Corpsmen must receive licenses in the state they are stationed by being certified or registered, according to that state’s requirements.
5. Coast Guard
Health care professionals in the Coast Guard are part of the Commissioned Corps and provide support to their service members worldwide. Nurse practitioners can serve as registered nurses or independent duty corpsmen. As an independent duty corpsman, you would be stationed with your family wherever you are assigned by being sponsored by a unit or installation willing to pay your initial licensing fees.
However, there are only a handful of slots available each year, and applicants typically need to be able to commit two years to the program. Corpsmen receive licenses in the state they are stationed by being certified or registered, according to that state’s requirements.
Reasons why nurse practitioners choose to serve in the military
Nurse practitioners choose to serve in the military for a variety of reasons. Some are retired or have worked at a civilian practice for years and find they miss the camaraderie that comes with military life. Others may be looking for a different pace of work, one where their skills will be put to good use in a time of war.
And some may even simply be fulfilling their life-long dream of serving in the armed forces. Whatever the reason, nurse practitioners who serve in the military find themselves giving and receiving support from fellow medical providers and nurses. Many of those who serve as physicians’ assistants, for example, forge close friendships with those they work alongside.
The camaraderie that comes with military life is both unique and invigorating, leading many to continue their military careers even after they’ve retired. Although there are many benefits to serving as a nurse practitioner in the military, this career choice also poses challenges.
Military life can be both rewarding and challenging for those who serve as nurse practitioners. Those who choose to work on the front lines can expect long hours and stressful situations. They must remain calm under pressure to make quick decisions that could mean the difference between success and failure.
Those who choose to work in medical support or administrative role can expect long hours as well, but the work they do will be more rewarding than challenging. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, however, your life as a nurse practitioner in the military is sure to be one that changes you for the better.