How to Become a Nurse in the Air Force: Training & Requirements

If you are interested in serving your country, exploring the world and becoming a nurse, consider a career as nurse in the U.S. Air Force. This article will explain the education and training required for this career to help you determine if this could be the right fit. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Working as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force means you may be treating patients in different settings all around the world. The table below details the key information you need to know about pursuing this career, such as the required education, licensure, skills, salary and job outlook.

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Nursing
Certification and Licensure Licensure required
Other Requirements Pass physical fitness test, 18 years old
Key Skills detail oriented, accurate, work well under pressure, mental preparedness, good communicator, physical stamina, caring, organized, good leader
Hourly Median Salary (2019) $24-$49 (Registered nurse for U.S. Air Force)*
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 12%** (Registered nurses)

Source: * Payscale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Does a Nurse In The Air Force Do?

As an air force nurse you may work in a variety of settings such as aeromedical evacuation units, field hospitals, military hospitals and in the community helping disadvantaged people across the globe. The exact role of an air force nurse will depend on their specialty but typically they carry out similar duties to civilian nurses such as providing nursing care, observing a patient's vital signs, administering medication, assessing the healthcare needs of the patient, consulting with doctors, performing tests and providing advice to educate patients and their families on managing injuries and illnesses. Unlike most civilian nurses, they will care for mostly airmen and their families, although they may provide care to those affected by natural disasters and contribute to humanitarian relief efforts.

How Do I Become a Nurse In The Air Force?

In order to become a nurse for the Air Force, you will be required to have a bachelor's degree in nursing and meet the physical standards of the U.S. military. You will need to ensure your nursing program is accredited by the Air Force Surgeon General and the National League for Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. You will be required to obtain a civilian nursing license by passing the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You can begin the application process either in your final year or as a graduate. As part of your training, a prospective air force nurse must undergo a 10-week nurse transition program, which is aimed at helping with the transition process from working as a civilian nurse to being a part of the armed forces and will include some physical training. You'll be paired with a preceptor, who will act as a mentor and assist in the process of integration to nursing as well as the position of officer in the U.S Air Force.

What Skills Do I Need to Become a Nurse In The Air Force?

As an air force nurse, you will need to be detail-oriented and accurate to ensure patients receive the right medication and treatment. An air force nurse will be required to have good physical stamina, in order to pass the physical fitness test and because you spend most of your time on your feet as a nurse. You will need to be compassionate toward patients to provide quality care. As a nurse in the military you will need to be able to work well under pressure, as sometimes you may operate in a high-stress and fast-paced environment, like on a battlefield or on a deployment. As you may be deployed at any time, you must be ready for an assignment on short notice.

What Are The Career Statistics For An Air Force Nurse?

According to Payscale.com, a registered nurse for the U.S. Air Force earned an estimated salary of $24-$49 per hour as of November 2019. In comparison, the BLS reports that a registered nurse made a median annual salary of $71,730 a year in May 2018. The pay will vary depending on rank and specialty. The job outlook for civilian registered nurses is excellent, with jobs projected to grow by 12% between 2018 and 2028, which is twice as fast as the national average, so it is likely the outlook for those in the military would be comparable.

What Are The Specialty Options For Air Force Nurses?

There are various specialties you can pursue as a nurse in the Air Force, including as a clinical nurse, critical care nurse, certified nurse anesthetist, emergency/trauma nurse, family nurse practitioner, flight nurse, mental health nurse, neonatal intensive care nurse, operating room nurse, obstetrical nurse, pediatric nurse practitioner and women's health nurse practitioner. With additional training and experience you can advance to become a part of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Medical Support where you will be involved in establishing hospitals in remote locations after a natural disaster or in combat zones, including stocking it with medical supplies and keeping it running. As a nurse in the U.S. Air Force you will have the opportunity to advance your rank, which will come with a pay increase and additional responsibilities.

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