By Alex Coleman
Having a degree in nursing can take you in a hundred different directions for your career. One that holds promise and great benefits is that of an Army nurse. ROTC recruiter Jack Sturgeon works with us here on BYU campus to help students receive scholarships and get a jumpstart in the U.S. Army coming from the nursing program.
ROTC, which stands for Reserve Officer Training Corp, was established “long ago to help augment West Point, which was then our primary way of receiving a commission as an officer,” says Sturgeon. Today, ROTC commissions about 7,500 officers a year, while West Point puts out about 900.
Here at BYU, the ROTC has about 130 cadets, which is what students that are enrolled in the ROTC program are called. Each cadet is required to take one military science class each semester. In addition, they have an early morning workout regime on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for an hour before school starts.
Recruitment as a nursing student to the ROTC program means quite a few opportunities and benefits than can affect a nurses’ time at BYU and, maybe more importantly, their bank account. If a scholarship is awarded to a nursing student, that scholarship will put $15,400 every school year directly into that student’s bank account. That student can choose to spend that money however they desire, and with tuition at BYU costing only around $6,000, that money can go a long way in ensuring that the student need not worry about finances during their time at BYU.
The ROTC program at BYU teaches students how to be a good officer; however, they don’t actually learn how to be an Army nurse while here on campus. After graduation, the student has a commitment to serve four years in the active Army as an Army nurse. When they finish at BYU, they’ll go to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas to gain experience as a nurse for three months at the Army hospital there. They’ll learn the ins and outs of being an Army nurse.
Following those three months, they’ll spend another three months working all the floors of a major medical center in San Antonio. When that training is completed, the newly-qualified Army nurse chooses one of the nine major medical centers in the United States, or one of two overseas sites. Some of those locations include Texas, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Germany, and Hawaii. They will serve the rest of their commitment in one of those major medical centers.
Army nurses typically work 40 hours a week. They make at least 60k a year starting out, and by the time the four-year commitment is close to ending, they typically make between 85 or 90k a year. Sturgeon’s wife, who is a nurse and followed Sturgeon through his whole Army career, worked at several military hospitals. “Life as an Army nurse is pretty great,” Sturgeon says. “They work a 50-hour work week, get a long weekend every month, get 30 days of paid vacation every year, and travel wherever they’re located.”
It’s an incredible opportunity. In addition, as per the ROTC’s agreement with the College of Nursing, if the ROTC program has one qualified cadet that meets the requirements to enter the nursing program, that student is guaranteed a spot. For our nursing students, the ROTC program is a fantastic way to waive your worries about finances while in college and your fear about securing a position post-graduation.
If you have any questions, check out the ROTC program at BYU’s website, https://marriottschool.byu.edu/army/, or contact Jack Sturgeon directly at email@example.com. Whether you’re a freshman or you’re nearing graduation, Sturgeon is happy to help you lay out all your options to see if life as an Army nurse is a good fit for you. For more information, you can also check out episode 12 of The College Handoff podcast, curated by BYU College of Nursing for our students.