Experience Gained and Respect Earned: Military Nursing

Military Nursing

Military nursing is a unique profession that involves caring for active-duty servicemembers and even veterans. While their duties do not differ much than that of normal nurses working in hospitals and care centers, military nurses travel alongside active-duty servicemembers to help care for the individuals that serve the county. Up until 1901 in the United States, military nurses were nothing more than civilian nurses who usually volunteered their time. However, it all changed when the United States Army Nurse Corps was established in 1901. Today, military nurses hold military rank and can be part of any of the Nurse Corps of any major military branch, including the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

What is a Military Nurse?

Military nurses care for patients within the military and from around the world. As with all nursing careers, there are a number of disadvantages and advantages to working as a military nurse. Military nursing can be extremely stressful and often heartbreaking. It can also be dangerous, since it’s not uncommon for military nurses to be deployed to foreign war zones with troops.

Despite the drawbacks of the career, there are also a number of benefits. For instance, military nurses have the chance to travel and see the world, have access to first class education and are often well compensated for their time, and have excellent benefits such as free healthcare. One of the biggest rewards of working as a military nurse is the experience gained and the respect earned from colleagues and loved ones.

What Can You Expect as a Military Nurse?

Military nurses often follow their assignments all over the globe. As a military nurse you can look forward to a fast-paced, multifaceted, patient-facing, and invigorating career in patient care.

Similar to other nurses, military nurses administer medication, treat the sick, and care for the wounded. However, military nurses are not only educated in basic nursing skills, they’re also trained on how to work with military patients and in military environments. It is not uncommon for nurses to work alongside military personnel in war zones. Caring for deployed members of the military during wartime is one of the most dangerous and difficult aspects of military nursing. During deployment military nurses treat severe life-threatening injuries, such as gunshot wounds or lost limbs. Because of the severity of the injuries and volatile work environment, military nurses must be able to keep a cool head under pressure.

Military nurses also care for active-duty servicemembers and veterans along with their families. They may help soldiers, wounded in the line of duty, recover from their injuries. Military nurses may also treat patients suffering from a vast variety of medical problems, ranging from the common cold to a sprained ankle to cancer.

The military needs nurses trained in all specialties, so you can work in whichever specialty you choose: pediatrics, psychiatric, emergency trauma, critical care, neonatal, midwifery and more.

Where do Military Nurses Work?

  • Military bases
  • Military hospitals and clinics
  • Overseas war zones
  • Ships at sea

How do I Become a Military Nurse?

  1. Speak with a military recruiter. You may find a tuition reimbursement or scholarship. Enlist to work as a military nurse for a certain number of years after completing the program.
  2. Complete your BSN with Nightingale College
  3. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX – RN).
  4. Undergo officer training through the branch of military you wish to serve in. This training educates you on leadership skills and military life. During the training, you will also be required to complete and excel in physical exercises.
  5. Start working as a military nurse.

To learn more about the steps to becoming a military nurse, visit Discover Nursing, sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Foundation.

Military Nurse Organizations

Navy Nurse Corps Association (NNCA)
U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
Army Nurse Corps
Amputee Coalition of America
Army Nurse Corps Association (ANCA)
US Army Medical Department Center and School (AMEDDC&S)

Nightingale College Serving the Military

Nightingale College is proud to be part of the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative by providing educational opportunities to servicemembers and their families. The College accepts Post-9/11 GI Bill as well as offers the Joining Forces Scholarship to active-duty servicemembers and veterans. To learn more about the opportunities for servicemembers and their families to enroll in the College, speak with an Admissions Advisor or with a member of the Learner Advising and Life Resources Department at (801) 689-2160.

Communicating Effectively with Physicians

Communicating Effectively
As a nurse, you will be in constant communication with physicians, and it is important to make sure you’re communicating effectively. A common response Career Services gathers from Graduate Employer Surveys concerns how new nurses struggle to communicate effectively and appropriately with physicians. Interacting with physicians may seem intimidating as many veteran nurses still experience some sort of anxiety, but physicians can’t be avoided and it comes with the job. Here are several tips to prepare new nurses to be effective communicators at work.

1. Understand that physicians are busy. Having experienced the same stress, nurses understand the constant pressure physicians face from other physicians and nurses, patients, patient families, and so on. Being professional in every interaction is crucial and always keep in mind that physicians appreciate nurses who are able to “get to the point” so that they can move forth with their tasks and seeing patients.

2. Be prepared with the right information. Fumbling around for the right paperwork while on the phone with the physicians or not having a patient’s chart on hand can and will cause physicians to become impatient. For example, have the following information ready to go:

• Your patient’s diagnosis
• Your patient’s latest lab results and vitals
• What medications your patient is taking
• Your patient’s allergies
• The main point of why you are calling and what you are hoping to get

Try to anticipate other questions the physicians may ask. The goal here is to avoid having to continually repeat “let me check.” Follow the SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation) technique to relay information efficiently. Following this rubric, the nurse

• Identifies the patient and the problem (situation);
• Provides a brief explanation of the patient’s admission and pertinent medical history (background);
• Presents any concerning findings, including symptoms and vital signs (assessment);
• Asks the physician what they need (recommendation).

3. Speak up and be an advocate for your patients. Be assertive. Don’t be aggressive and don’t be afraid to talk with the doctor. However, show respect in all communication efforts. Poor communication plays a huge part in the decline of patient safety. As a new nurse struggling to decide whether a situation is urgent enough to call the physician immediately or wait until rounds, imagine the patient is your child, mother, or father. What would you do? The level of compassion should be the same for any patient.

4.Document everything. When speaking with a physician about a patient, always document the conversation and what is said. This is for the protection of not only the nurse, but the physician and patient. Keep a notepad and patient chart close at hand to jot down the date, time, actions to take, medications to update, etc.

5. Report inappropriate behavior. If a physician is acting unprofessional and/or jeopardizing patient care in any way, it is your job to report them. Make it a priority to know your chain of command and what policies and procedures to follow when reporting a physician.

Nurses do not need to be anxious or scared when conversing with a physician. Despite what may be the belief, many physicians do appreciate and respect the observations nurses have because nurses interact frequently with the patient. Be prepared with the patient’s information, and act quickly and speak directly. Communicating effectively with physicians comes with practice but these surefire tips will help get any new nurse started in the right direction.