School of Nursing helps military train BSNs for the nurse corps
"I enjoy serving in the reserve," Rodriguez, 41, said. "My military and civilian jobs complement each other. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve my country."
After working for a short time in the private sector, Rodriguez entered the reserve in 1991 as a second lieutenant. He has been deployed five times since 2003 to care for the wounded in the Middle East.
Although Rodriguez attended nursing school as a civilian, the Health Science Center has had a longstanding tradition of training military students in all areas of health care. Those who complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree become junior military officers.
"About 3 percent of our 415 undergraduates are military students," said Brenda Jackson, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean for the undergraduate nursing program and a former Air Force critical care nurse.
Some cadets enter the nursing school through the Army ROTC program at The University of Texas at San Antonio. After taking their prerequisites there, the students attend nursing school at the Health Science Center while taking an ROTC elective each semester at UTSA to learn military culture and leadership. The military pays their tuition, books and a monthly stipend. In return, the graduating second lieutenants agree to serve for eight years.
Other programs, such as the AMEDD (Army Medical Department) Enlisted Commissioning Program (AECP) through the U.S. Army Medical Command at Fort Sam Houston, give enlisted personnel the opportunity to earn a nursing degree and become an officer. The military pays tuition, fees and books while the student keeps full pay and benefits while attending school.
Strengths of the nursing program
Because of its strong community partnerships, military-friendly electives and high-ranking military retiree faculty members, the School of Nursing is in an especially appealing choice for military nursing candidates.
Coming full circle
But itís the simple things that sometimes make nursing such a good fit for some military members. "Nursing is everything the Army teaches. The skills you learn here perfectly complement the teamwork and personal responsibility of the Army," said Army ROTC Cadet and Staff Sgt. Jeff Benton. "And I can retire when Iím 40 and I will have a profession."
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