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Military Nursing Career Path Offers Many Opportunities to Learn, Serve

Image of Military nurse tends to patient. Air Force 1st Lt. Torri Easley, a clinical nurse, provides care to Vicki Beeler, a patient at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Feb. 10, 2022. The U.S. Air Force medical team, working side-by-side with civilian medical professionals, has been deployed in support of continued Department of Defense COVID-19 response operations.


Each nurse has his or her own unique career path.

Air Force Col. Dianne Stroble recalls her original plans to serve in the reserve component. But after talking to a recruiter, she decided to accept a commission and enter the active duty force when she was 33 and married with three children.

"The stars aligned, and I had the support of my spouse and family,", said Stroble, who is now the director for education and training, and the deputy chief nursing officer at the Defense Health Agency.

"I felt called by a higher being to serve a purpose bigger than myself to serve and render care for a specific community," she recalled recently.

Like their civilian peers, all commissioned nurses across the military must have a bachelor's degree and an unrestricted nursing license. Yet military nurses have unique opportunities for additional training.

Specialized education and training is required above basic nursing to provide care for our military in deployed locations," Stroble said.

 “The education and scope of practice knowledge and skills requirements for each nursing specialty will differ slightly as well as the requirements for advanced practice nurses, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse scientists."

Some of the nursing specialties within the Military Health System include critical care, medical-surgical, family health, trauma, pediatrics, women's health, perioperative/surgical, disease manager, case manager, flight nurse and advanced practice nurse, among others.

Stoble's specialties are critical and emergency care. "Caring for critical care patients allows me to see how hard our body's physiological processes respond to treatment interventions and work to overcome illness or injury and return to an optimal state of health. I'm amazed at how far medicine has come and the lives that can be saved," she said.

The military medical community offers many professional advancement opportunities, which is a major draw for many service members in the career field.

"There is always another school to attend, course to take, or skill to be learned,” said Army Master Sgt. Matthew Maxwell, a chief nursing advisor and senior enlisted leader for J-3 Operations at the Defense Health Agency.

 “If you have the desire and dedication, you can gain numerous certifications that can advance your career both in and out of the military. You never stop learning," he said.

Stroble agreed.

"From lieutenant to general or flag officer, military nursing offers a plethora of leadership development opportunities at all ranks," Stroble said.

Stroble added that the military offers numerous incentives for nurses to join and remain in the military.

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Last Updated: May 27, 2022

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