I’ve got something big to say. Well, it’s in the headline. I know I’ve talked about getting my Master’s and such, among many other things, but the beauty of life is that things can always change. Plans are malleable. The future holds the impossible.
Most of you don’t know this, but all through college (a whopping 6 years), I worked in an assisted living as an elderly caregiver. It was a job I enjoyed nearly every day. At the time, co-workers encouraged me to pursue nursing, but I shrugged it off, blaming my lack of intelligence for math and science. At one point – they had me so convinced I should go to nursing school that I actually took a Human Anatomy class. Unfortunately, I was focused on other things, like a toxic relationship, and I finished the class with a C. So I gave up and said I never really wanted to do it anyway.
Fast forward six years.
Life looks a lot different now. I’m married. I have a great job (a.k.a the military). I have a very competitive IT certification. I have nice things (with some debt to go with them), but I’m making good money now. I have done things I never thought possible, and I have new options available to me.
The Air Force has given me so many opportunities. Sometimes, it feels like I have too many to choose from. At first – I was committed to getting a graduate degree – even though I wasn’t sure what kind to go for. I assumed going the IT route would be best because I didn’t hate it and the military had already given me some legit training and experience.
Then, I met the new Command Chief of our base – and I mentioned to him that I had a Bachelor’s degree. As most enlisted folk do – he stared at me with surprise and asked the inevitable, “Why didn’t you go officer?” I won’t go into it here, but my reasons for not trying to become an officer right out of the gate are many. That answer is lengthy enough for a post of its own. Mostly, I didn’t feel ready to take on that kind of role when I barely knew anything about the military.
Anyways, upon talking with the Chief, I mumbled a bit here and there about commissioning as a nurse and he got very excited. He said he knew all the right people to help me get into this program, and to come talk with him about it when I was ready.
I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary of enlistment.
It has flown by people. I have never seen a year go as fast as this one. I’ve learned so much about military life and the good and bad that comes with it. With all of this new knowledge and experience, I would be a fool to let certain programs – like the NECP – pass me by.
Let me flesh it out a little more.
What is the NECP?
You may have gathered that the NECP is a commissioning program for enlisted airmen who want to become nurses. There are a lot of stipulations, but the number one thing is that you must get accepted into a Bachelor’s of Science – Nursing program to apply.
If you are accepted to a nursing school and then to the NECP – you will be paid E-5 salary and BAH while attending school. You must complete the nursing program and pass the NCLEX within 2 years. After that, they will send you to COTS – a 5ish week course at Officer Training School – and then on to a NTP (Nursing Transition Program). Once you commission as a nurse, your base choices become very limited, but you will be a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
Why do I want to commission as a nurse?
I know it seems sudden, but as I said in the beginning of this post – nursing was something I was always good at. I enjoyed it, but never felt I had the smarts to complete it. I am a different person now – stronger, smarter, bolder. Here are a few of the reasons I want to become a nurse.
Despite how angry society makes me, my heart is not as hard as it once was. My love and respect for the elderly reached new heights when I became a caregiver. I learned how to care for people who had nothing but anger and hatred for me. I realized that no matter what background you came from, everyone deserves to be treated with love and respect. As a nurse – nothing but helping a life matters. There are no barriers or exceptions. It’s your job to care for anyone who comes through the door – and I love that.
I love school. Always have. Learning is my thing. Even though I’m not a nurse, my family still comes to me on advice with health issues – especially my grandparents (because I’m experienced in that age range). I love knowing what to do when someone is feeling sick or needs advice about a health issue. Your health is directly correlated to your vitality as a human being, and I love being able to make a positive impact on something so important.
Let’s be honest here. A Bachelor’s in Nursing opens up so many doors on the civilian and military side. If I were able to commission, my salary would increase by about 30%. As I continued up in the ranks, that number would only increase. Officers make a ton more. There is no contest. On the civilian side, an RN with a Bachelor’s degree makes far more than an LPN. Plus, it opens you up to all kinds of graduate degrees, which can mean six digit salaries *in the medical field.*
I am on a debt pay-off journey, and more often than not, the number one way to become debt-free is to increase your income. That’s why I joined the Air Force. It is a propeller for me to commission as an officer. I figure, why not? If the Air Force will pay me to go to school and become a nurse, I’ll do it!
It may sound crazy, but I think this time around, I can make this work. The worst that can happen is I don’t make it and I move on with my life. At least I have a plan now. The next 2 years of my life are full of goals. I’m already enrolled in classes this semester! I’m taking Human Anatomy/Physiology 1 (again) and Human Nutrition.
So what do you think? Am I crazy?