EWU ROTC Nursing Program

The top degree program in the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) battalion is nursing. Due to the high number of nursing Cadets, the “Fighting Eagles” Battalion has the largest Cadet nursing program in Washington State and the Inland Northwest.

EWU ROTC Cadet Sarah Mullen conducted an internship in June 2019 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Nursing Cadets attend university classes and enroll into an ROTC class each quarter where they will learn leadership skills. Through the ROTC program our Cadets are given more responsibility, authority, and leadership training compared to their college counterparts to prepare them to become future health care leaders. ROTC is the only place where a person can explore military service WITHOUT actually being in the military. If after taking an ROTC class you do not feel the Army service is for you, you can choose to not enroll into ROTC the next quarter. Those that do decide to pursue Army service, can continue to enroll in ROTC classes and contract into the Army. Contracted Cadets are then given access to numerous benefits such as an ROTC scholarship.

Army ROTC Nursing Scholarship Benefits:

  • Full tuition OR room and board and all mandatory fees
  • Book stipend up to $1,200 per year
  • A monthly stipend of $420
  • Required student nurse uniforms and clinical supplies
  • Nurse malpractice insurance (provides coverage during clinical rotations)
  • Milestone Recognition Awards (based on progress through the program)
  • Littman stethoscope ($200.00 value)
  • NCLEX-RN review materials and fees and the licensure testing fee and a drug guide ($950.00 value)

After graduation, nursing Cadets will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and can compete for Active Duty or decide to go into the U.S. Army Reserves.

World War II Army Nurse Corps recruiting poster.

What is the Path Through EWU ROTC to Become an Army Nurse?

As a general rule, EWU Army ROTC Nurse Cadets complete their first two to three years of Nursing and ROTC pre-requisites on Eastern’s Cheney campus. Nursing Cadets complete their final two years at the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing in downtown Spokane. The WSU College of Nursing reserves seats in each class for ROTC Nurses that achieve their admissions standards.

Health Sciences building at WSU College of Nursing.

The WSU College of Nursing is located at Riverpoint in Spokane. The facility boasts interactive audio-visual classrooms and multi-media, research, clinical, and simulation laboratories. The simulation lab, in particular, is a state-of-the-art facility that provides students with a realistic, hands on learning experience that reinforces classroom and practical instruction with real-world scenarios. The College is recognized as a national leader in the use of technology and is known for the excellence of its video productions. The College of Nursing has an impressive history of visionary leadership, institutional collaboration, and community involvement that has made it a recognized leader in the education and training of the next generation of healthcare providers.

Nurses in ROTC complete the same training requirements as other Cadets. However, our program has several options to manage Nursing Cadets through the rigors and demands of a tough academic field while completing ROTC requirements.

What is the Nurse Summer Training Program (NSTP)?

NSTP is a program selects qualified nursing Cadets to intern for three weeks at Army Medical Department (AMEDD) hospitals around the world. During the internship Cadets will learn all the roles and responsibilities of being a nurse while being under the supervision of an experienced Army Nurse Corps Officer. Cadets will also obtain hands on experience in various clinical specialties such as labor and delivery, pediatrics, emergency room, etc. This is truly a unique internship opportunity that only ROTC Cadets can experience. Our Cadets in the past two years have conducted NSTP internships not only in Army hospitals in the United States, but overseas as well.

Cadet Hayley Primm, from Eastern Washington University, after hiking up Mt. Bukhan in South Korea. Cadet Primm participated in the Army’s Nurse Summer Training Program (NSTP), where she was assigned to Brian Allgood Community Hospital on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea. She spent the duration of her time in the Mother Infant Care Unit, where she helped deliver babies and cared for antepartum and postpartum mothers.

What are the Benefits of Army Nursing Compared to Civilian Nursing?

Besides the financial support the ROTC program provides to nursing students, the Army also provides superior pay and benefits when compared to a civilian nursing career. Army officer base pay is nearly the same as a civilian nurse, but the housing stipend provided by the Army greatly increases the pay of a military nurse. The housing stipend known as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) changes per duty location. You can research the BAH rate for different locations at this link. The military also provides a robust retirement package that features a fixed pension, a 401k like program, and lump sum options when servicemembers become full retirement eligible after 20 years of service. Choosing to be an Army nurse has many more benefits that can be compared to a civilian career in the below chart.

Army NurseCivilian Nurse
Starting Pay$61,255.08
-1/3rd non-taxable!
-Income fully taxed
Pay After 4 years$100,375.28
-1/3rd non-taxable!
$92,196.00 (average)
-Income fully taxed
RetirementEligible for pension of 40% of base pay at 20 years of service. Pension of ~$50,000 begins immediately upon retirement from military service (based on 2022 data). Government matching up to 5% of contributions from base pay into the Thrift Savings Plan (similar to 401k). Also eligible for Social Security at age 62.Social Security eligible at 62 or older. Possible hospital 401k plan, but cannot draw benefits until 55 or older and there isn't a guarantee of returns on investments.
Pay RaiseAutomatic annually until 4 years. Automatic every two years after. No negotiation or actions required.Determined by hospital
Paid Leave30 days per year14 days per year
Paid Sick LeaveUnlimitedLimited
Medical/DentalFreePossible discounted rate depending on hospital
Moving ExpensesFreeAt own expense
FacilitiesFree access to golf course, large gyms, shopping mall without sales tax, commissary (grocery store) with reduced prices, etc.Facilities paid at own expense
Life Insurance$400,000 term policy for $27 a monthAt own expense
Job SecurityKeep rank and seniority no matter where you moveSeniority could be lost if moving to another hospital
TravelOpportunity to be stationed around the US and internationallyLimited to the US

A Record of Successful Nursing Cadets

The EWU ROTC program has had impressive record of successful nursing Cadets in recent years. Most notably Kylie Crooks was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Major General Barbara R. Holcomb Nurse Excellence Award as the top nursing Cadet in the 8th ROTC Brigade. The brigade is the headquarters element for the 30 ROTC programs located across the western United States.

Kylie Crooks was selected as the top nursing Cadet out of the 30 ROTC programs in the western United States.

Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, EWU Army ROTC nursing students worked shifts in hospitals and volunteered to help administer the COVID vaccine. Even in college our ROTC nurses are making a big impact in the local community. You can read more about our nursing Cadets’ response to the pandemic from this Inside EWU article.

EWU Army ROTC Cadet, Samantha Knight administers the COVID-19 vaccine to an educator at Mead High School.

In July 2018 EWU ROTC graduate Nicholas Castro was recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate which only the Top 20% of all Cadets across the nation receive each year. 2LT Castro’s inspiring story of transitioning from a sergeant in the Marine Corps to a US Army nurse was featured in an article published on the official US Army website.

2nd Lt. Nicholas Castro recently commissioned as officer in the Army Nurse Corps.

In the summer of 2018 two EWU ROTC nursing Cadets Candace Madriaga and Hayley Primm were selected for prestigious internships at Army hospitals in Washington State and the Republic of Korea. Both of their stories were also featured on the official US Army website. In summer of 2017 our EWU ROTC nursing Cadets were recognized for their performance at Advanced Camp at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Cadets Koby Binks and Candace Madriaga were both selected for the Norton Healthcare Award. The Norton Award is given to the nursing Cadet who best demonstrates the ability to perform under stress and to apply critical thinking skills when making decisions.

(Left) Cadet Koby Binks, an ROTC graduate of the WSU College of Nursing, receives the Norton Healthcare Award for nurse cadets at Cadet Summer Training. Photo by Mattie Cook. (Right) Candace Madriaga, an ROTC student at the WSU College of Nursing, was honored with the Norton Healthcare Award at Cadet Summer Training. Photo by Madison Thompson.

What Happens After Commissioning as An Army Nurse?

After graduating from college nursing Cadets will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. After successfully passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX) test, the next step for the Army nurse is to attend the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. BOLC will train nurses on the basics of being an officer in the Army Medical Department (AMEDD). Skills learned will be discipline, teamwork, basic Soldier skills, tactical medical doctrine, and learning the principles behind becoming a resilient & agile leader. The BOLC student handbook can be downloaded at this link.

Fort Sam Houston, Texas

After completing BOLC the Army nurse will then be assigned to their first duty station. The duty station for an Army nurse is decided by the inputs provided by themselves, performance in ROTC & BOLC, and the needs of the Army. After just one year at the first assignment Army nurses have the opportunity to attend a clinical specialty course in one of the following areas:

  • Perioperative Nursing
  • OB/GYN Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine

If you are interested in becoming an Army nurse we want you to be part of the EWU ROTC program. Not only is scholarship money available for qualified applicants, but our demonstrated history of success will help you become the best Army nurse possible. If you have any questions about the ROTC Nursing program please leave a comment, contact our office, or reach out to us through our social media sites. We are here to help and want you to be as successful as possible in your goal to become a nurse.

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Go Army Nursing! Go Fighting Eags!