The Air Force NECP | I’m Pursuing the Nurses Enlisted Commissioning Program

I've decided to pursue the Nurses Enlisted Commissioning Program. | Rose Colored Water #AirForce #NECP #nursing #officer #military

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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.

I've decided to pursue the Nurses Enlisted Commissioning Program. | Rose Colored Water #AirForce #NECP #nursing #officer #militaryThe 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.

1. People

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.

2. Knowledge

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.

3. Money

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? 

16 thoughts on “The Air Force NECP | I’m Pursuing the Nurses Enlisted Commissioning Program

  1. Yes, you are crazy. ;) But it’s a good thing! You are so determined and such a hard worker, at this point I’m sure you could accomplish just about anything you set your mind to.

  2. I’m SOOO excited for you!!!! I’ve honestly thought about enlisting to become a 42A (Human Resources Specialist) because the job opportunities here in my field are pretty poor. My husband is wanting to do Green to Gold to increase his salary as well.

    1. You totally should! The benefits are so worth it, even if you just do it for 4 years. Plus, with your Bachelor’s, I believe you would go in straight as an E-4. You might check with your hubs on that. Going officer is definitely a way to make more money and be happier.

  3. I am clapping so hard right now! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! God is making a way for you girl, everything is happening on his time and it’s what you’ve really wanted deep down. I am so excited for you!!!! The drive, ambition and intelligence is there. Thank you for sharing your journey. You are an inspiration!

    1. Thank you so much, Angelica! I hope this all works out for the best. I can only imagine where it will take me if I succeed. Just gotta stay strong and lean on God! Thank you for your support! :)

  4. Congratulations Liz!! What an achievement! Looking forward to hearing how you’re progressing. I’m sure you’ll do smashingly. Your dedication motivates me to work harder towards my dreams and reminds me to be patient as they continue to cross my path as yours have. Sending you the very best of luck and well wishes! :D

    P.S. So happy you’re back in the blogosphere! I missed your insightful and inspiring posts.

    1. You all are the best. It feels so good to be encouraged and know that people are rooting for me. I’ve always been one to take risks, and this is a big risk for me. I’ve never really failed at anything, and if I don’t get accepted into this program, or I fail some of these classes, it will be a big blow. But how will I know if I don’t try?

      Thank you again for your encouraging words! I’ll make sure I keep things updated here. It’s good to be back!

  5. I love reading your posts. I discovered you a couple nights ago but I’ve been spending my every second of free time reading your journey in the USAF. You are so inspiring and I love your first-hand accounts. I am a high-schooler considering joining the Air Force and I am doing as much research as I can before I make a final decision. Your blog posts give me such a great look into what it'”” be like I do decide to pursue this career path. Thank you so much for documenting your experience!

    1. Thank you!! I’m so glad my experiences are helping you with your research. I was the same way when I started looking into enlistment. It was so tough to find first-hand accounts, especially for females. That’s why I started writing. I so desperately wanted to help people understand what they were going to be doing. Good luck on your journey! Feel free to ask me any questions.

  6. It’s so crazy! You’re literally my life. I’m 24 I’ll be 25 next month. I just graduated from college in April and I’m struggling to pay back student loans. I’m thinking I want to join Air Force but maybe going officer route but I want to go to nursing school and have the military pay for it! I worked at assisted living all throughout college and I loved it but I blew off becoming a nurse as well from many of reasons! I enjoy your story it’s so similar to mine! But I would like to know if you can go officer route and still go through the nursing program?

    1. It’s like we’re twins! Sometimes I wish I had joined the Air Force first, but I guess everything happens for a reason. Unfortunately, from my own research, I’ve found that if you already have a Bachelor’s Degree, there is no way to go the officer route for nursing unless you go enlisted first. ROTC (full-time college) won’t accept people who already have degrees. The only way to have your schooling paid for the nursing program is to go enlisted and try to get into the NECP.

      You also have the option to become an officer with your current degree (or go enlisted) and serve your enlistment, take your prereqs for nursing using the Tuition Assistance benefits, and then get out and pursue nursing school that way using your GI Bill. You wouldn’t be a commissioned nurse in the Air Force, but you would still be able to go to nursing school.

      It’s a lot to think about, but they don’t offer the nursing program for officers – only enlisted. You can always email me if you have any other questions!

  7. First of all congrats Liz! I’ve been thinking of joining the Air Force after I graduate HS next year and I’ve been researching all about it since this past summer. Your website has helped me feel a lot more confident in enlisting and a lot less nervous about it. This post however caught my eye the most because the reason why I thought of joining the Air Force was to get a job in the medical field. I’m not that great at math and science either but I was cross enrolled in a community college in my junior year and I was taking a nursing class. I excelled in that class and I made my decision that I wanted to become a nurse one day. But I just want to help those in need especially ones who serve our country so I’d take any type of job if it’s in the medical field.

    1. Thanks for all the kind words Rosemarie! Joining the military has been life-changing for me, and I have nothing bad to say about it. I really enjoy my work and what we do every day. Enlisting can definitely help you on the nursing path, whether it be as a commissioned officer or just paying for your college after you serve your enlistment. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  8. I just wanted to leave a comment letting you know how crazy it is to find someone with such a similar story as myself! (Well the beginning of your story anyway!) I too am from the St. Louis area, I’m a college grad, I’m married, 26 years old, and just now looking into the military as a career option. I found your blog on Pinterest and it really speaks to me. It’s inspiring to read your posts and see your story play out. I’m looking into enlisting in the Air Force this fall. My husband is about to finish up his career in the Marines and now I feel like it’s my turn to provide for our family! The job market is tough and I’ve always had the Air Force in the back of my mind. It sounds crazy, but your blog is giving me the push I was looking for to make it happen! (I’m just worried about leaving my 1 year old little boy). Anywho, I just wanted to drop by and let you know that your blog really speaks to me!
    Best wishes,
    Courtney

    1. Thank you for all the kind words. I cannot begin to tell you what it would be like to leave your child, but I will say everything is temporary. I had a lot of moms (new moms too) in my BMT flight and it was hard for them, but I think every one of them would tell you it was worth it for them in the end. The military (in my opinion) is the fastest way to a better life, especially if you get a good job. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the process. I’m sure your husband can fill you in on some things, but the Air Force is entirely different (and nicer) than the Marines. haha!

      It’s crazy to think you’ve been in St. Louis and are going through the same process. You may even run into my recruiter if you pursue it!

Tell me what you think!