Guide to Military Nursing Education & Service Staff Writers | Updated/Verified: Feb 23, 2024

Nurses have aided U.S. military service members for nearly 250 years. From the first request for nurses during the Revolutionary War in 1776 to the Crimean War in 1853, through each of the World Wars and into present-day campaigns across the seas and on our own soil. Military nurses serve to care for our nation's greatest heroes and their families.

Each section of this website is designed to provide extensive knowledge of what it takes to be a nurse in the military, the various roles of the nurses, and the opportunities afforded to each branch of service. Nursing is a challenging profession on its own; those who choose to serve their country as a nurse find incredible rewards and a lifetime of friendships that span the globe.

Memoirs of Service: A History of Nurses in the Military

When one thinks of a nurse, images of a caped Florence Nightingale roaming the dank halls of a military hospital with oil lamps aglow come to mind. And while Ms. Nightingale's philosophy on health and high standards for the nurses in her charge changed the trajectory of nursing and healthcare overall, nurses have been aiding servicemembers since the Revolutionary War.

Wardens for Warriors: The Nurse Corps

There are technically four branches of the military that house a medical corps for nurses. While actual nursing roles may be similar, the missions, requirements, promotion levels, advantages, and environments vary significantly from branch to branch.

Military Nursing Banner

Pre-Military Options: The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) was created to entice and prepare those that are college-bound to consider a career as a commissioned officer. This program is currently offered at over 1,700 colleges and universities across the U.S. and prepares young adults to become military officers.

Hup… Two… Three… Four: Acclimating to the Military Life

From boot camp to chain of command processes to family dynamics, the life for active duty nurses in the corps is very different that of their civilian colleagues.

Military Nursing as an Adjunct Career: The Reserve Nurse

Whether you are a civilian nurse seeking service or a former active-duty nurse working toward full retirement, the Reserve options for each branch offer competitive pay and benefits.

Pros and Cons: The Benefits and Challenges of a Military Nursing Career

The tangible benefits such as pay, housing, and travel are the reasons many nurses join the U.S. military. However, the comradery, training opportunities, advancement, and being part of a team with a mission to save lives make the benefits of military nursing unquantifiable.

Nurses in every medical environment experience challenges in their roles. For the military nurse, not only are they faced with caring for our nation's heroes and their families, they also face deployments away from their families where active combat is a real threat. Establishing Mobile Medical Units or providing care in the sky or at sea, military nurses face true occupational risks.

Life Beyond the Corps: Separating from Military Service

Transitioning out of the military to new roles and environments can be stressful and full of uncertainty. The U.S. military, along with the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration strives to ensure military nurses are prepared to live a full and productive life once separated from the corps.