A bachelor's degree is a requirement for working as a nurse in the military. A Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is a convenient and affordable option for nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) who want to earn a baccalaureate degree. And, many universities, such as the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV), extend a number of services to veterans and active duty members of the armed forces that enable them to pursue life- and career-enhancing education.
Why Do Military Nurses Need a BSN?
Military nurses are commissioned officers and as such must hold at least a bachelor's degree. Branches of the U.S. military have a ranking system based on the level of acquired preparation, experience and training. The ranks determine a nurse's responsibilities and corresponding pay grade.
BSN-prepared nurses start their military nursing careers as officers. They can continue to move up in rank and receive higher salaries with experience and additional education.
How Can You Become a Military Nurse?
To become a military nurse, you must hold both a nursing license and at least a bachelor's degree in nursing. One of two routes is typical preparation:
Earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain a license to practice nursing. Enroll in an RN to BSN degree program to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing.
Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain a license to practice nursing.
Beyond the above educational requirements, steps include gaining civilian experience or enlisting in the armed services. Military nurses must then complete the application packet and, upon selection, a Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC).
How Are Veterans Health Administration (VA) Hospitals Connected to the Military?
VA hospitals provide patient care to eligible members of the military. The VA operates the largest healthcare system in America with more than 1,200 facilities. It serves over 9 million veterans.
Do Nurses Have to Be in the Military to Work at VA Hospitals?
Nurses do not have to be in the military to work at VA hospitals. Nursing positions at VA hospitals are also open to civilian nurses.
What Degree Is Required for VA Jobs?
Nurses can pursue entry-level jobs at VA hospitals with an ADN. A BSN is needed if nurses want to move into advanced positions.
What Military Programs and Services Does UHV Offer?
UHV offers veterans and active duty members of the armed forces services such as:
- Educational support
- Benefits information
- Health and wellness resources
- Career-specific counseling
- Recognition events
What Types of Education Benefits Does the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Provide to Veterans?
The VA provides GI Bill education benefits to qualified military members, veterans, dependents and survivors who want to complete a degree program. The education benefits may include the following:
Post-9/11 GI Bill - The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial assistance for veterans who want to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree.
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) - Military members who have completed at least two years of active duty can use the benefit to earn a college degree.
Yellow Ribbon Program - This program covers all resident tuition and fees for a public school and a price capped at the national maximum rate for private institutions.
Survivors and Dependents Assistance - The education benefit includes two assistance programs for survivors and dependents of veterans. The programs are:
- The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship)
- The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA)
U.S. military nurses provide care to sick and injured service members both at home and abroad. They work in VA hospitals and war zones. If you thrive in stressful environments and want to practice in a dynamic area of nursing, consider becoming a military nurse. An online RN to BSN program can equip you with the BSN required to serve as a military nurse.
Learn more about UHV's online RN to BSN program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.