Career Advice

From Corpsman to RN: Becoming a Nurse after Military Service

Continue to serve your country. Become a nurse.

At first glance, you may think the occupation of active service member differs greatly from the role of registered nurse. However, the two callings have many things in common — starting with the values, purpose and work ethic required of both. These similarities make transitioning from a corpsman to an RN a logical career move. And Averett University offers a great deal of support to military members who elect to follow this path.

Traits service members and nurses share

There are several reasons why military service personnel make great nurses. For one, the best nurses willingly put the needs of others before themselves, sometimes working long shifts with limited breaks. The same is true for service members. They are trained to put their peers and those they protect above themselves. There is a level of commitment found in these two roles that sets them apart from most callings.

Additionally, both service members and nurses are prepared to deal with unexpected circumstances. The nature of their work makes them both resourceful and adaptive. Like nurses, military members are experts at making their work more efficient and effective. And like service members, nurses do their best with the equipment they have at any given moment.

In the military, you learn quickly. You adhere to a strict schedule. You learn discipline. These experiences lend themselves to success in nursing school. The learning pace for nurses is rapid; knowing how to keep a schedule for homework, sleep, clinicals, etc., will help you succeed.

Service members who are ready to retire from the service often want to continue to serve their country in some way. Nursing is an outstanding way to do so.

Becoming a nurse after military service

Whether you have invested a few years or a lifetime in the military, you will want to find a lucrative and stable job when you leave. Nursing can be both. To become a nurse after leaving the military and go from corpsman to RN, you will need to take a few steps.

1. Apply and be accepted to nursing school

nursing student sitting in class

If you have prior college coursework credit and you’re interested in graduating more quickly by attending an accelerated program — such as the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Averett University — you will need to meet a few requirements before you apply to the program.

  • Have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, with a minimum GPA of 2.8.
  • Complete all prerequisites.
  • Pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) VI exam with a score of 65 percent or higher within one year of application.
  • Pass all math and science courses with a grade of “C” or better.
  • Have no prior nursing program dismissals (grades below “C” in nursing courses of program).
  • Complete a criminal background check.

2. Graduate from nursing school

Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The BSN is the most desirable degree for nurses. Many U.S. states are moving toward an all-BSN nursing workforce, so it’s smart to aim for this degree from the beginning.

Why is a BSN important?

In today’s complex health care system, having a BSN is not only encouraged, it is increasingly required. Registered nurses with a BSN:

  • Set Themselves Apart
    Health care employers (in particular, those desiring Magnet status) prefer to hire registered nurses with a BSN degree or higher. Many hospitals are requiring RNs with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to go back to school for their BSN within a certain timeframe.
  • Have Better Outcomes
    Studies show that as a health care facility employs more BSN-educated nurses, patient outcomes improve and their mortality rates decrease.
  • Effect Change
    Because BSN candidates study management, leadership and public health, they are able to effectively advocate for both their patients and their profession.
  • Earn More
    Those with a BSN generally begin their careers earning more than those with an associate’s degree. shows that registered nurses with an ADN have a median salary of $69,708, whereas registered nurses with a BSN earn a median salary of $85,388.

3. Pass the NCLEX-RN®

In order to become a practicing nurse in the U.S., you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®), an exam that evaluates your understanding of various nursing topics. Questions on the exam involve everything from ethical issues to disease symptoms. If you do not pass the NCLEX on your first try, you can keep taking it until you pass.

How to accelerate your journey from corpsman to RN

Nursing programs require faculty and classroom space. Many colleges don’t have enough of either to build nursing school enrollment. That means that acceptance to nursing school has become highly competitive.

The Averett University ABSN program in Norfolk, Va., is designed to help make a quality nursing education more accessible. Our 16-month ABSN program can enroll more qualified students per year than other programs, thanks to our three annual start dates — in January, May and August — and online coursework that allows for larger cohort sizes.

This level of accessibility makes the Averett ABSN program a good fit for military service members transitioning into a civilian job. It also allows you to begin a career more quickly than other traditional nursing degree programs.

How the Averett ABSN program works

Averett nursing student listening to another nursing student's breathing

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or 60 non-nursing college credits, our accredited ABSN program allows you to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. The full-time program follows a hybrid learning model that includes:

  • Online coursework that teaches you nursing theory and basic knowledge.
  • Skills and simulation labs at our Norfolk ABSN Site that develop your practical skills and clinical judgment.
  • Clinical rotations that give you real-world experience in a wide array of practice settings.

Our ABSN program is both rigorous and fast-paced. Just as your military service required a serious commitment, so too does this program. However, all the dedication and hard work will be worth it: by the time you graduate from the program, you’ll be prepared to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) and start your career as a practicing nurse.

Averett’s financial aid for military service members and veterans

The Averett ABSN program is a great fit for service members who want to go from corpsman to RN for another reason: In an effort to make college more affordable for service members and veterans and recognize their service, Averett participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and certifies the GI Bill.

Averett offers additional financial aid for service members, which has led to the university being named the seventh best regional college in the south for veterans, according to U.S. News & World Report. Averett is also the only Virginia school to rank among the “2021 Best Colleges for Veterans.”

In addition to generous financial aid, Averett offers the Dan Daniel – Military Resale Invitational Endowed Scholarship. Full-time undergraduate, traditional or non-traditional Averett students who are either active duty military members, reservists or veterans, may apply for this award. The award is also open to spouses and offspring of deceased, wounded, veteran or active duty members.

Perhaps most helpful to military members who are looking to go from corpsman to RN is the Averett ABSN program’s military tuition discount. This discount of 25 percent off tuition may be available to the following groups as well as their family members:

  • All military members (active or reserve)
  • Honorably discharged veterans
  • Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees
  • State National Guard employees

Your nursing future starts now

averett nursing student examining a patient's ear

Now that you know what it will take to transition from corpsman to RN, don’t wait. Apply today!

When you complete this form, you will be connected to an admissions counselor who will help you develop a plan and guide you through the application process.

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