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Old 03-16-2012, 12:59 AM
 
6 posts, read 42,871 times
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Hi,

I'm am looking to join the military as an officer in the reserves, while going to school full-time. It's a two-year intensive nursing program with tight clinical rotations that don't allow any flexibility in scheduling. I can start the program after I'm done with basic training and OCS, but I'm worried about the 2 months I need to serve per year beacuse it most likely won't be during break.

I know there's a law that employers can't hold you back for drills, but does it apply to schools?

Would it be unrealistic to join the reserves? Is there a branch that is more flexible in scheduling than others or does it all depend on the local branch?

Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 03-16-2012, 05:22 AM
 
Location: Richmond, VA
2,633 posts, read 4,391,959 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trulyours View Post
Hi,

I'm am looking to join the military as an officer in the reserves, while going to school full-time. It's a two-year intensive nursing program with tight clinical rotations that don't allow any flexibility in scheduling. I can start the program after I'm done with basic training and OCS, but I'm worried about the 2 months I need to serve per year beacuse it most likely won't be during break.

I know there's a law that employers can't hold you back for drills, but does it apply to schools?

Would it be unrealistic to join the reserves? Is there a branch that is more flexible in scheduling than others or does it all depend on the local branch?

Thanks in advance for any input.
For the National Guard/Reserves (Army):
It depends on the unit. The Commander can authorize 'split training', where you have to make up the number of days you are supposed to drill each month/year, but it's not always on the exact dates the full unit is together. I used to do splits when I had a conflict with work during my time in the Guard, but I had a very reasonable Commander-and I didn't abuse it. It was usually a period where I had a major conflict with finals (I was also a college student), and full-time work, AND making drill, and the math just didn't work.

If you're a platoon leader, you're probably barking up the wrong tree, but if you're a staff officer it's possible.

BTW, the '2 months' is roughly one weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer, not 2 straight months.

Finally, be aware: Guard and Reserve units exist to deploy and fight. If your nursing program wouldn't allow you to take a break and resume at the same spot if your unit is activated, you may not want to go down this road.
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Old 03-16-2012, 08:28 AM
 
3,266 posts, read 4,774,771 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trulyours View Post
Hi,

I'm am looking to join the military as an officer in the reserves, while going to school full-time. It's a two-year intensive nursing program with tight clinical rotations that don't allow any flexibility in scheduling. I can start the program after I'm done with basic training and OCS, but I'm worried about the 2 months I need to serve per year beacuse it most likely won't be during break.

I know there's a law that employers can't hold you back for drills, but does it apply to schools?

Would it be unrealistic to join the reserves? Is there a branch that is more flexible in scheduling than others or does it all depend on the local branch?

Thanks in advance for any input.
First do you meet the requirements to come in as an officer. 2nd it's extremely competitive for the open slots not to discourage you.

What is your bachelor's degree in? As engineering and medical degrees are more valued by the military than a liberal arts degree?

Also you mention you are finishing you nursing degree is this a master's?
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:20 PM
 
6 posts, read 42,871 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgiaTransplant View Post
BTW, the '2 months' is roughly one weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer, not 2 straight months.

Finally, be aware: Guard and Reserve units exist to deploy and fight. If your nursing program wouldn't allow you to take a break and resume at the same spot if your unit is activated, you may not want to go down this road.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellhead View Post
First do you meet the requirements to come in as an officer. 2nd it's extremely competitive for the open slots not to discourage you.

What is your bachelor's degree in? As engineering and medical degrees are more valued by the military than a liberal arts degree?

Also you mention you are finishing you nursing degree is this a master's?
Thank you GeorgiaTransplant & bellhead !

If my unit gets activated during school, it'd be nice if I can stay active from then on. If that's not how it works, I don't mind leaving and re-applying for the nursing program when I get back, but I wouldn't want to do that for a 2 week drill. (The program has a break for a week and a half somewhere, but no one knows when that will be because it all depends on the hospitals that lets you do clinicals... they said you find out roughly a month in advance. I guess this is something I should work out with the school, rather than military.)

As for officer eligibility, I do have a BS in engineering, but my GPA is below 3. I was originally interested in going active, so got in contact with an Army recruiter (AF&Navy didn't even answer the phone). He told me that they are down-sizing and rejecting people with 3.5 GPA and a masters degree. I was told "a 4.0 in Art is better than 3.0 in Nuclear Engineering". Sad, but I messed up. So I am currently working on a Plan B.

My ultimate goal still is to serve the country as an active-duty officer, but I just turned 26. Seems that the OCS/OTS age limit gets lower and lower, so I might not even get a chance to apply if I applied for and got a random masters degree now (again, options limited by my gpa). Then I'd be left with a random degree from less than a so-so school. This is why I'm considering a nursing career. The program I'm looking at is a second degree BS, not a masters, but it would be worth more to me than an education in, say, arts.

If possible, being in the reserve during school would be ideal to get used to the military culture + low cost health insurance + some points for prior service when I apply to go active as a nurse later (maybe?).

It would be horrible if I were to join and then leave (I don't know if that's even possible) because I couldn't make or make up the 2 week drill. I'm sure I'd find out more about the scheduling flexibility if I applied to Army, get rejected active duty, get my application passed on to the reserve, but if I end up not joining after that process, I'd have to check the box "have you ever been rejected/released by the military" on my application later.

I'm sorry the post got really long, but I don't know anybody with military background and I wasn't able to get clear info from the recruiter, other than that the reserve is so flexible, it will probably work for me. Thank you for your help.

Stacey
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:41 PM
 
3,266 posts, read 4,774,771 times
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Default My advice...

I was prior Air Guard so give you some info from there...

You don't have to go straight in as an officer if you go medical. We had two people in my unit "medics" who were both nursing students and once they completed their 4 year B.S.N. both went active duty as an officer nurse, so it's very doable.

I'll also point out a couple of jobs you might be interested if you go enlisted in which are on the medical side of the house. The key is you have to find a unit filling these missions. An air combat comm. unit is not going to have certain jobs while a medical transportation squadron will.

Aerospace Medical Service - airforce.com
HEALTH SERVICES MANAGEMENT - airforce.com
MEDICAL MATERIAL SPECIALIST - airforce.com
OTORHINOLARYNGOLOGY SURGICAL SERVICE SPECIALIST - airforce.com
MEDICAL LABORATORY SPECIALIST - airforce.com
PHARMACY SPECIALIST - airforce.com
PHYSICAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST - airforce.com
PUBLIC HEALTH - airforce.com
Diagnostic Imaging - airforce.com
SURGICAL SERVICE SPECIALIST - airforce.com

Also by going enlisted first your retirement clock is ticking already. Once your B.S.N degree is finished you'll have completed right around 3 years of guard time, and will be able to work the system from within so to speak. You'll be able to obtain letters of recommendation from your commanding officer and other medical people themselves. Also when you go in for your interviews you can wear your uniform which shows you already have an idea about the sacrifice the military. "Trust me on this my friend did the medical officer program and he wore his uniform in to his interview. The interviewing officials pretty much shot the bull with him for 30 minutes about his military life, as they are there to weed civilians out of the application process who were only interested in free medical school and not the military."

Most air guard and air reserves units do 3 to 6 month tdy deployments as opposed to the Army. Others like the aerospace medical service fly quite a bit more.

Also while you are a reserve enlisted person you are eligible for gi bill and other benies.

I would contact your local air guard or reserves for more info.
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:09 PM
 
2,633 posts, read 2,961,848 times
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My AF Reserve unit has an aeromedical unit. We get regularly tasked to support a short-term, short-notice medical missions. Most of the officers in the medical unit will pickup the extra assignments depending on their availability from their civilian employers. In many respects, they're a lot like our pilots who work for the airlines; a very opportunistic mindset. As long as they meet their requirements (4 periods per month, 15 additional days per year) then there's no problem. The only exception is our Wing may specify mandatory times during the year when everyone has to show up, no excused absences. You are expected to budget your own days to support these.

Being in school may be an issue since it may affect your qualifications and thus your availability for certain types of flights. Other than that, you could easily wrap it into your schedule (class M-W-F, Reservist T-TH), and see if your school will give you any credit towards internships or residency requirements.

I highly recommend you talk to:
1) Many schools now have a military affairs office. If your school has one, then they can help answer a lot of your questions.
2) Find a nearby medical unit and see if they are hiring. 98% of the jobs in the Reserves/NG are filled through word of mouth. See who is their medical recruiter. Even if don't have any current vacancies, keep in contact anyway and build that relationship. It will eventually pay off.
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Old 03-17-2012, 12:43 AM
 
6 posts, read 42,871 times
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Smoke_Jaguar4 and bellhead,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience and advice. The school said it would be extremely difficult to hold any job even if it's less than part-time (missing one class/clinic will drop me from the program). Another option would be to do a non-accelerated bsn while being in the reserve as bellhead's peers did, but I decided I should focus on getting a BSN as soon as possible, before I get tired of being a student. Then go active-duty and never look back!!! I cannot wait to be in the military. I heard the benefits are great in the Air Force. It will take over 2 years, but I will get there! Thanks again!
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:31 AM
 
Location: Richmond, VA
2,633 posts, read 4,391,959 times
Reputation: 4213
Quote:
Originally Posted by trulyours View Post
Smoke_Jaguar4 and bellhead,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience and advice. The school said it would be extremely difficult to hold any job even if it's less than part-time (missing one class/clinic will drop me from the program). Another option would be to do a non-accelerated bsn while being in the reserve as bellhead's peers did, but I decided I should focus on getting a BSN as soon as possible, before I get tired of being a student. Then go active-duty and never look back!!! I cannot wait to be in the military. I heard the benefits are great in the Air Force. It will take over 2 years, but I will get there! Thanks again!
I *wouldn't do it* then. If something comes up, even trivially, with the reserve unit that can't be missed, you may find yourself dropped from the program for something you are doing part-time.

Perhaps a better option: If there is an Army ROTC unit at the school you want to go it, ROTC as a whole has a mission to recruit several hundred nurses each year-nursing students who simultaneously do ROTC, just like a history major might do ROTC. Most programs struggle to fill their quota (which is usually 1-2 LTs a year). Most ROTC programs are also pretty flexible on clinical requirements/rotations, certainly more so than a reserve unit.

Finally, under current policy: an Army ROTC nursing Cadet without a specific Guard/Reserve scholarship WILL GO active duty. You won't get that kind of guarantee anywhere else, and every other plan you've talked about may be taking a chance.

I strongly suggest you go see your ROTC recruiting officer at the school you want to do nursing at.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:40 AM
 
6 posts, read 42,871 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgiaTransplant View Post
I *wouldn't do it* then. If something comes up, even trivially, with the reserve unit that can't be missed, you may find yourself dropped from the program for something you are doing part-time.

Perhaps a better option: If there is an Army ROTC unit at the school you want to go it, ROTC as a whole has a mission to recruit several hundred nurses each year-nursing students who simultaneously do ROTC, just like a history major might do ROTC. Most programs struggle to fill their quota (which is usually 1-2 LTs a year). Most ROTC programs are also pretty flexible on clinical requirements/rotations, certainly more so than a reserve unit.

Finally, under current policy: an Army ROTC nursing Cadet without a specific Guard/Reserve scholarship WILL GO active duty. You won't get that kind of guarantee anywhere else, and every other plan you've talked about may be taking a chance.

I strongly suggest you go see your ROTC recruiting officer at the school you want to do nursing at.
oh wow. ROTC never even came to my mind because I thought it was for "real=1st degree" college students. My army recruiter made it sound like the reserve was my only option. I'm calling ROTC now. I can't thank you enough!
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Richmond, VA
2,633 posts, read 4,391,959 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trulyours View Post
ROTC never even came to my mind because I thought it was for "real=1st degree" college students.
Absolutely wrong. The criteria are that you complete the 'Basic Course' and 'Advanced Course', and there's nothing saying an advanced course student can't be a graduate student or second degree seeker.

Basic course can be filled by 2 years of classes/field/etc. (which CAN be compressed to 1 year with permission of the PMS), being a veteran already (including being in the Reserves), or going to a 4-week school in Kentucky.

Advanced course must be 2 years of classes/field/etc. No compression without hugely extenuating circumstances (you don't have them).

Fair warning: do NOT think you are going to do a 2-year ROTC program and a 2-year heavy post-grad program, you are going to fail one of them. Plan on at least 3 years to get through, and 4 is better, ROTC. There is financial assistance available (it's not guaranteed), competitively (e.g. not everyone is on scholarship).
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