There are two major educational programs available to Army Nurses early in their careers. The first is guaranteed to them upon their commissioning and accession into the Army Nurse Corps. It is called the Clinical Nurse Transition Program, which is essentially a 6-month-long orientation program for new graduate registered nurses. This generic course provides nurse officers with training that introduces them to independent nursing practice and assigns them a preceptor who serves as a mentor while these new officers hone their nursing skills.
The second early educational opportunity is offered in the form of specialty courses. Usually after a nurse completes one or two years of practice starting on a medical-surgical unit, they begin to develop an interest in a specific area of nursing. Specialty courses provide officers with classroom education and hands-on training in that specific area and once completed, they are assigned to that clinical area in order to gain quality work experience.
Another educational opportunity available is the Long Term Health Education and Training program. This program allows Captains and above an opportunity to obtain their Master's degree in a multitude of specialty areas and locations. Officers apply for and are accepted to attend graduate programs following both clinical and administrative avenues.
Specialty courses are available for all Active Duty officers in order to receive specialized training in the critical care, psychiatric-mental health, OB-GYN or perioperative nursing specialties within their initial tour of duty (first 3-4 years on Active Duty). It is highly recommended for junior officers to take advantage of this opportunity and attend one of the courses. Officers who have prior nursing experience must have at least six months of Army nursing experience before applying for a course and must have at least one year remaining on Active Duty by the completion of their course. Officers who do not have prior nursing experience must complete at least one year of practice before they are considered eligible for specialty training.
- Community Health Nursing - provides the skills and knowledge to function in specialty areas of preventative medicine and community health care. The course lasts nine weeks and is offered at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.
- Critical Care Nursing - covers anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, physics, diagnostic procedures, psychological and sociological problems, and ethical and legal considerations in the care of critically ill patients. The Critical Care Nursing course lasts 16 weeks and is offered at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
- Emergency Nursing - prepares nurses to function in a clinical setting of emergency nursing, focusing on fundamentals of emergency nursing, such as respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, trauma management and infectious diseases. The Emergency Nursing course lasts 16 weeks and is offered at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.
- Obstetrical/Gynecological Nursing - prepares nurses to care for patients in all aspects of the childbearing spectrum; pregnancy counseling, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. The OB/GYN nursing course lasts 16 weeks and is offered at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.
- Perioperative Nursing - prepares nurses for all phases of operating room nursing, including advanced skills related to specialty areas in surgery and the principles and techniques of supervising and managing an operating room. The Perioperative Nursing course lasts 16 weeks and is offered at Brooke Army Medical center in Texas and Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington.
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing - prepares nurses to provide specialized care to emotionally distressed individuals both as inpatients and outpatients, and to provide consultation within the general hospital community. The Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing course lasts 22 weeks and is offered at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Georgia.
Long Term Health Education and Training
The Long Term Health Education and Training (LTHET) program provides officers the opportunity to obtain graduate degrees in nursing or closely related fields. Graduate education provides Army Nurse Corps (ANC) officers with the knowledge and ability to successfully carry out a variety of nursing roles such as sustainment-base nursing (TDA) and field nursing. Selection of officers for graduate education is based upon the projected needs of the Nurse Corps. The competitive officer must demonstrate that the selected area of study contributes to the ANC mission. The LTHET program provides selected officers the opportunity to attend civilian institutions to earn a master's or doctoral degree.
Currently, all officers are selected for funding with a specified tuition cap. While nurses are taking a full course load, they continue to receive full pay and allowances, allowing them to focus on learning, not financial obligations. The mission of the Army Nurse Corps is to provide leadership and quality nursing service in peace and contingency operations. The Army Nurse Corps' graduate education programs are congruent with the U.S. Army Surgeon General's mission to project a healthy force, deploy a trained medical force that supports Army transformation, and manage the care of the soldier and military family.