This page was last updated in 2022.
If you decide to join the military, you have two options – Army Reserves Vs. Active Duty
Joining the military can be intimidating, particularly if you don’t have friends or family in the military to guide you and VA services. Being a CRNA in the military is a fantastic opportunity. Not only do you have significant autonomy but you will also get some of the best experiences possible!
It is pretty typical for the pay as an Active Duty CRNA to be less than that of a Civilian CRNA. However, your pay is tax-free when you are overseas, which is a huge benefit. Also, keep in mind the other benefits of being in the military, including a government pension, medical benefits, and housing allowance to name a few.
Similarities between the two include STRAP and you will attend Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) after you complete your certification exam.
Some of the differences are pretty obvious. For example, Active Duty is comparable to a full-time job whereas Reserves is more of a part-time commitment. With the Reserves, your obligation is 1 weekend each month and 2 weeks each year for field training. There is some flexibility with the duty requirements for the Reserves. For instance, you may be able to combine your weekends if you need a certain time off.
The typical service requirement for Active Duty is 2-6 years. For Reserves, it is 3-6 years.
You are eligible for medical benefits with both, but the premiums are much lower (or even free) if you are Active Duty.
You typically have a higher chance of deployment if you are Active Duty. Also, the chance of being deployed overseas is higher. With the Reserves, deployment is generally more limited and often the assignment is stateside. Stateside deployments are usually completed at a military hospital, where you are often filling in for another CRNA who has been deployed overseas.
Deployment for both Army Reserves Vs. Active Duty
In general, the deployments are not quite as frequent or lengthy for medical providers. Deployments are 90 days boots on the ground (BOG), which is from post-training to back home. Deployments for CRNAs are usually hospital bases, as opposed to combat areas. A common hospital base overseas is Landstuhl in Germany.
There are FSTs (forward surgical team) which do operate in combat areas; however these are usually deployed on a volunteer basis. CRNA deployments also include humanitarian and medical missions. These can also be volunteered for, although it is not a guarantee you will get to go if a lot of people volunteer. There is typically a 1 year space in between deployments, unless you volunteer.
This is meant to be a general overview of the similarities and Reserves.