The road to joining the Army Nurse Corps started just about a year ago during my second semester of nursing school at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Since my husband works from home, we had the flexibility to go pretty much anywhere we wanted after graduation in August (wherever I could get a nursing job- which isn’t as easy as it sounds for a New Grad nurse!). My dad was a physical therapist in the Army in the 70′s, and military nursing was something I had considered- but never too seriously.
I decided to look at the information provided on the internet for Army, Navy and Air Force nursing- JUST in case it was something that I would be interested in. It turns out, it was very interesting indeed. The Army seemed to offer the best benefits out of all the military branches- it offered the most student loan repayment for the shortest commitment time (since I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make a long term career out of the military or not), as well as the opportunity to continue my education (aka they would pay for grad school) with a longer committment term. Plus, to have the opportunity to work in places like Germany, Hawaii, or DC- it all looked pretty good.
I understood that there were risks I would be taking in joining the Army. We could very well could easily be stationed in not-so-ideal locations, and of course there’s always the opportunity to be deployed. In making the decision to join the Army, both Joe and I had to accept that this could happen, and that we would be ok with it. We decided that at this point in our lives- why not? We are young with no kids, and are lucky enough to have the flexibility to be able to move anywhere in the world with Joe able to keep his job. I will get at least 3 years of fantastic training, and if I decide not to continue with the Army at the end of that time, I will be able to get a nursing job anywhere I want with my experience. The fact that I would be out of student loan debt at the end of three years was very appealing as well, of course!
So I made the decision that this is what I wanted to do. Become an Army nurse. Here’s a timeline of how everything has gone the last year or so…..
March/April 2009- Started looking into military nursing, contacted + met with Army recruiter, started considering military nursing.
May 2009- Made the ‘official’ decision to join the Army Nurse Corps. Started the endless paperwork that involves joining.
June 2009- Submitted all my paperwork. Was told my paperwork would be submitted before the July board of Army Nurses (to determine whether or not I would be selected into the Army).
July 2009- WAITED to hear back from the board. It seemed to take forever. But I’m not the most patient person in the world.
August 2009- Graduated from nursing school and got word that I was selected! Was overjoyed to get this letter….
September 2009- Decided to move to Santa Barbara and live with my parents until I got my orders for BOLC. I was told by my recruiter that I would most likely be able to get into the January class for BOLC, but if I didn’t I would almost surely get into the March class. Since Joe can just work from home, we decided this would be a good money saver until I was off to training.
October 2009- Took the NCLEX and PASSED! Another very exciting and proud time in my life!
November 2009- Got a job working as an RN at a nearby nursing home in the skilled nursing facility. Not the most glamorous job, but the pay was great and the local hospital wasn’t hiring new grads. Still waiting for any word on when I would be going to BOLC.
December 2009- Waiting waiting waiting. Figured by now I wouldn’t be getting into the January class (which actually got pushed to February) so hoping, wishing and praying to hear that I got into the March class. If I didn’t, I would have to wait to JULY, which I wasn’t ready to do (as grateful as I was that my parents were letting us live with them temporarily, I was not wanted to overstay our welcome for another 8 months…). On Dec 23 I got an email from Human Resources Command (HRC) to send my top 3 choices of first duty stations, and that I had the choice to be in the March or July BOLC class. I wrote back as fast as my little hands could type that I would very much like to attend the March BOLC class and that my top three choices for duty stations were 1) Walter Reed Army Medical Center in DC, 2) Tripler AMC in Hawaii and 3) Landstuhl AMC in Germany. Then I waited some more….
January 2010- Happy New Year! I got this email the first week of January that made me jump for joy (again…):
Woo hoo! I got my FIRST choice for duty stations…WASHINGTON DC HERE WE COME!!!!!!!!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how quickly my funds would come in once I got this email, but I decided to wait a couple weeks before harassing this very nice Major at HRC. Near the end of January I wrote a quick email to ask if my funds had come in and she wrote back that yes, they had, and I should be receiving my orders ‘soon.’
February 2010- Well, here we are. It’s almost the end of the month. Still no official orders. The BOLC March class is supposed to report to San Antonio on March 29, which is just about a month away. My recruiter has set me up with an AKO email (official Army email) and I am told I will either get my orders by email or snail mail. I check my AKO mail about 20x a day and run out to the mail box with hopes they have arrived. But nothing yet.
When I found out that we would be moving to the DC area, Joe started looking around at available jobs (he had been thinking about leaving his current job for a little while, but was waiting to see where we would be stationed). A couple weeks ago, he got a job offer at a company that is based out of DC, and has taken the job! The great thing about it is that he will still be working from home (even when we move to DC)! They are looking into buying some office space in Baltimore that he will have to commute to a couple times a week when they settle in, but for now he is able to work from Santa Barbara. They are flying him to DC (he leaves tonight!) to meet with the other employees and while he’s there he’s going to be looking at apartments for us. He’s going to try to move in sometime in April when I am at training so when I am done we will be all set up (we’re hoping to find a place in Silver Spring, MD which is on the way to Baltimore and only a mile or two from Walter Reed!).
I guess I just have to be a little more patient. As long as I get my orders within the next couple weeks, I should be fine. I just would like to get everything arranged with getting moved (about 95% of our stuff is in storage in Pittsburgh) with plenty of time before I have to leave. Joe and I are taking a vacation to the Florida Keys next week, and it would be great to have everything figured out before we leave. I guess we’ll see how the next few weeks go!