The United States Army Nurse Corps (ANC) was formally established by the U.S. Congress in 1901, and is one of six medical Special Branches (or Corps) of officers that comprise the Army Medical Department. The ANC is made up entirely of registered nurses (RNs) and is the nursing service for the U.S. Army, providing qualified nursing staff who work in support of Department of Defense medical plans.
The Mission of the ANC is stated as “all actions and tasks must lead and work toward promoting the wellness of Warriors and their families, supporting the delivery of Warrior and family healthcare, and all those entrusted to our care…” The ANC follows a philosophy of holistic nursing. These RNs care for their patients and families in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, and home care, and assist in organizing multi-disciplinary resources to offer the highest level of healthcare. The special concerns and needs of soldiers and their families are familiar to the RN who is also a soldier, making the delivery of care more effective and personal.
The Army Nurse Corps is composed entirely of commissioned officers, RNs with university degrees who are given a direct commission based on their skills and expertise in the healthcare field. Nurses are required to have an unrestricted RN license prior to receiving a commission. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is required for an RN to serve in the Active Army. Reserve Component nurses may be commissioned with a BSN, associate of science in nursing (ADN) degree, or a diploma in nursing, but must obtain a BSN to be eligible for promotion to the rank of Major. The Army is currently evaluating this standard and may determine that the entry level requirement for Reserve Component officers will become a BSN. In addition, for a nurse to be eligible for a commission, their degree must be from a school accredited by the National League of Nursing (NLN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Benefits for Active Nurses
As an Officer in the Active Army, an RN experiences the pride of providing America’s soldiers with quality nursing care, and enjoys the privileges and respect that go with the position. There are also financial and educational benefits such as:
- a competitive salary
- financial incentives such as nursing school loan repayment
- opportunities for continuing education and clinical specialization
- low-cost or no-cost medical, dental, and life insurance
- 20-year retirement with generous retirement plan options
- housing allowances
- 30 days paid vacation earned annually, and other holidays
- sign-on bonuses may be available for eligible RNs
Benefits for Reserve Corps Nurses
Nurses who serve as Officers on the U.S. Army Reserve Health Care Team hold down jobs in the community and serve their country when needed. Generous financial incentives and retirement plan options are available. These nurses may also enhance their careers by advanced education, while providing care to soldiers and their families.
The Special Pay benefit offers a pay differential for a maximum of three years for RNs with a BSN, master’s, or doctoral degree, or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). These nurses may also be eligible for a program that repays up to $50,000 for nursing school loans.
Prospective students and nurses are encouraged to conduct independent research into Army Nurse Corps benefits as these may undergo modification by the U. S. Army.
Nurse Corps Career Options
ANC nurses who wish to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree may be eligible to attend fully funded graduate training through the Long Term Health Education and Training Program. RNs continue to receive full salary and benefits plus full tuition while they are full-time students.
Other specialized training and advanced degree programs are available including:
- Army Public Health Nurse
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Critical Care Nurse
- Emergency Room Nurse
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Medical-Surgical Nurse
- Obstetrics/Gynecology (OB/GYN) Nurse
- Peri-Operative Nurse
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Nurse Case Manager
- Aviation Medicine Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Midwife
Myths vs. Realities
Many myths surround the Army Nurse Corps such as: civilian pay is higher; the Army doesn’t allow for a “normal life”; living facilities are uncomfortable; medical facilities and equipment are outdated; the uniform is regular Army; and others. The reality is that the ANC offers RNs a starting salary that is competitive with civilian employment and there is room for professional advancement; the majority of ANC nurses are married and many have children; nurses work a 40-hour week; housing allowances are provided; military hospitals or larger medical centers are Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) approved facilities with advanced equipment and technology; and the uniform is a standard white uniform or scrubs.
The RN who joins the Army Nurse Corps has opportunities not available in civilian life including unique tangible benefits such as fully funded educational advancement, housing, a chance for travel, and early retirement. The intangible benefits are also unique and include the pride that comes being a member of the country’s armed forces, and making a difference in the life of soldiers and their families during times of conflict and stress.