The Army Nurse Corps is the branch of the Army composed of professional, college prepared nurses. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the minimal entry level. As nurses progress in experience, seniority and rank, most will go back to school and obtain their Masters Degree. About 10% of Senior Nurse Corps officers have their Ph.D. The Army provides financial support and duty time to obtain advanced degrees. The Nurse Corps is part of the AMEDD – the Army Medical Department. The other corps that are part of the AMEDD are the Medical Corps (Doctors), Dental Corps, Veterinarian Corps, Medical Service Corps (laboratory officers, logistics, computer specialists, hospital administration, etc) and Medical Specialist Corps (Physician Assistants, Nutritionists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Opticians, Audiologists, etc).
There are approximately 3,400 nurses in the Army Nurse Corps on Active Duty. Pay, management policies, and benefits are the same across the U.S. and overseas. Assignment options include working in a medical center, community hospital, or clinic, as well as in field nursing or nurse recruiting. Other possible positions include working in the assignment process at the National level, specialty work as a White House nurse or congressional fellow, in addition to working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). If you participate in Army ROTC as a nursing student, you would request branching into the Army Nurse Corps. For the past 5 years, 100% of all ROTC Cadets who successfully graduated from the nursing program and passed their NCLEX were brought into the Army as Nurse Corps officers.
Once on active duty, you will attend the Officer Basic Course, where you will learn more about the Army Medical Department, field nursing, and the documentation system used in the Army hospitals. The Army Medical Department is on the forefront of computerized charting – creating a nationwide standard so you don’t have to learn a new system every time you change locations. As Nurse Corps Officers, our primary mission is to provide health care to service members and their families, at home and abroad, in times of peace and war. As such, even though many Nurse Corps officers specialize, our core business is Adult Medical/Surgical Nursing. During your first nursing assignment after school, you will be assigned to an in-patient hospital and will most likely spend your first year in the adult medical/surgical section to solidify your nursing skills. After that, you may select from one of four specialty courses – ICU nursing, Preoperative nursing, Psychiatric nursing, and OB-GYN nursing. If you are fulfilling all of your military requirements (i.e. maintaining height and weight standards, as well as passing the Army Physical Fitness Test), the Nurse Corps guarantees that you will be allowed to attend one of these courses during your 2nd year of service.
You may also compete for a slot in the Emergency Nursing or Community Health Nursing courses. After your initial 4-year obligation, you may either leave Active Duty or choose to stay. If you stay, you may apply for graduate level education and, if selected to this competitive process, the Army will provide tuition money for up to 21 months (within dollar limits) while your duty assignment will be to attend graduate school. Options include Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and Informatics. Approximately 100 officers are selected for this option each year.