Military Nurse Life

Last Updated/Verified: Jan 16, 2020

Bootcamp

Also referred to as Basic Training, actual Boot Camp is a program for enlisted service members. As nurses are commissioned officers in the respective branches, they do not attend boot camp; rather, they must complete a specialized basic course for officers in the medical corps.

This training includes coursework, field work, physical training, and is specific to each branch:

Army:

Basic Officer Leaders Course is a 10-week program at Fort Sam, TX.

Navy:

Officer Development School is a 5-week program in Newport, RI.

Air Force:

Commissioned Officer Training is a 5 and a half - week program in Montgomery, AL.

Chain of Command

The process of following (or giving) orders in addition to many standard operating procedures (SOPs) is referred to as the chain of command. This important structure denotes the line of authority and responsibility where commands are carried out to complete missions or even in everyday military life. The chain of command can be used as a solid method to resolve and clarify problems and to reduce subjectivity on how processes are managed.

It is imperative that all military personnel know who the chain of command leaders are and be able to visually recognize them by the rank insignia on their uniform. Failing to follow an order by a superior can have serious consequences. Rank and insignia are taught and tested in the officer basic school.

As nurses are trained to follow orders and to question orders to advocate for patients, some nurses may find the chain of command culture in the military to be a personal challenge. Although there are methods and guidelines to directives that put people in harm's way, the expectation is that all orders given by a superior be followed and respected.

Family Life

Serving in the U.S. military is a considerable commitment, and for nurses who have spouses and/or children, it is even more complex. Depending on the assignment, most active duty nurses move their families with them from post to post. This can mean job uprooting for a spouse and changes to schools for the children. During active deployments, the nurse may be assigned for several months overseas or literally on the sea on a Naval Hospital ship.

The military acknowledges that these frequent changes can cause stress and hardships on families and has many resources to aid in these challenges. For example, most military installations provide housing and schools to the families living on base. For those who wish to live outside of the military grounds, housing and food stipends are granted to keep the families comfortable. Additionally, there are specialized resources and services, such as Military One Source, for families of service members who are deploying out of the area.

Military families form a unique bond to one another and offer support of the community. Although the demands of being a nurse in the military can cause logistical problems with schools and jobs, many nurses and their families find military life very rewarding and worthwhile.

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