Military veterans often gain valuable health care experience while serving in the armed forces, especially those who provided care to soldiers overseas in areas of conflict. These individuals can transfer their valuable health care and personal abilities into nursing careers, such as teamwork, dependability, and detail-orientation. In fact, various organizations and institutions of higher learning are establishing partnerships with the armed forces to help veterans transition into nursing careers. The most favorable nursing jobs for military veterans are discussed below, based on how closely the specialties relate to previous military experience.
1. Flight Nurse or Transport Nurse
Working as a flight nurse or transport nurse requires the ability to provide ongoing care to patients who are in the process of being airlifted and transported. A flight or transport nurse is responsible for assessing, triaging, and treating patients who require or are currently receiving air transportation. Most flight and transport nurses are familiar with extreme emergency and rescue situations.
Flight or Transport nurses must assist patients into aircraft, secure patients, and take care of the paperwork, supplies, and any equipment used to treat the patient while they are being transported. Flight nurses assess individual patients’ emotional and physical conditions before administering any treatments and medications, even if they request them. A flight or transport nurse is also responsible for administering any immediate treatment necessary for a patient while they are being transported.
- Median Salary (2020): $73,000
- Job Growth (2020-2030): 7%, or 222,000 jobs
- Applicable Military Skills/Traits: First aid, emergency training, fire training, accident training, rescue endeavor training
2. Emergency Room Nurse
Emergency nurses are prepared, calm, and focused at all times when intercepting patients in an emergency room. An emergency nurse is responsible for checking vitals, ensuring the overall health of a patient, and treating a patient regardless of the severity of their injury upon entering a hospital. An emergency nurse is an RN or a registered nurse. An emergency nurse must assess, triage, diagnose, and help treat incoming patients in an emergency room.
Most emergency room nurses will also assist the doctor with examinations and treatment as necessary. As an emergency room nurse, an individual must remain calm and focused at all times. Emergency room nurses are no strangers to graphic scenes and intense environments. It is no surprise this is one of the most suitable nursing jobs for veterans who are still comfortable working in chaotic and unpredictable environments.
- Median Salary (2020): $77,730
- Job Growth (2020-2030): 12% projected growth
- Applicable Military Skills/Traits: Rescue situation experience, situational emergencies, first aid experience, first-hand trauma/injury experience
3. Veterans Affairs Nurse
A veterans affairs nurse works directly with the veterans in America and has completed their RN, LPN, APN, and LVN training courses and certifications. A veterans affairs nurse is one of the most appealing nursing jobs for veterans. Most positions are filled locally within individual Veterans Affairs facilities. Veterans affairs nurses work in outpatient clinics, emergency rooms, rehabilitation facilities, and operating rooms. Most veterans affairs nurses take on similar roles and responsibilities as emergency room nurses. Only they work directly and exclusively with veterans.
- Median Salary (2020): $55,000 – $116,000
- Job Growth (2020-2030): 26% over eight years
- Applicable Military Skills/Traits: First-hand military and veteran experience. Direct contact and experience with combat veterans.
4. Critical Care Nurse
A critical care nurse often works in an ICU or trauma center of a hospital. Critical care nurses work alongside specialists and doctors directly to assess and treat patients with chronic conditions or those who are critically ill. A critical care nurse is responsible for evaluating and treating patients, in addition to ordering diagnostic testing as necessary. Critical care nurses monitor medical equipment such as ventilators and cardiac monitors in a timely fashion, especially during emergencies. Additionally, a critical care nurse also acts as a patient advocate for patients who require education or support regarding their condition.
- Median Salary (2020): $73,000
- Job Growth (2020-2030): 7%
- Applicable Military Skills/Traits: Taking vitals, dressing wounds, assessing the severity of injuries and ailments and managing tests, ordering tests, overseeing test results and/treatments.
5. Operating Room (OR) Nurse
Operating room, or OR nurses, work directly with patients being evaluated and prepped for an upcoming surgery. An operating OR nurse is responsible for the patient’s evaluation and the ongoing observation of the treatment a patient receives. There are multiple operating room nurse positions to fill, depending on the skills and abilities required for the role. Pre-Op, Intra-Op, and Post-Op are the three most common operating room OR nurse positions.
A Pre-Op nurse works to prepare a patient for an upcoming procedure or surgery. An Intra-Op nurse works alongside doctors inside an operating room. Intra-Op nurses are responsible for handling equipment, personnel, and even paperwork for patients on an individual basis. Finally, a Post-Op, also known as a PACU nurse, is responsible for helping a patient recover after a surgical procedure or invasive treatment.
- Median Salary (2020): $80,100
- Job Growth (2020-2030): 19% in 10 years
- Applicable Military Skills/Traits: Familiar with a variety of safety standards. First aid experience. Assessment of emotional, physical, and developmental progress of a patient. Communication among multiple teams. Experience with equipment and supply management.
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