February 14, 2009:
The U.S. Department of Defense suffers the same kind of nursing shortage (about 10 percent short) that the nation as a whole must cope with. One increasingly popular solution for the military, is to offer enlisted personnel the opportunity to go to nursing school (a one or two year course, depending on how many college credits the candidate already has) at government expense, while still on active duty. After graduation, the newly minted nurse becomes a military nurse (which means an officers commission as well), and must agree to serve for at least four years on active duty.
The officers commission is a big incentive, as it gives the nurse a clear sign of status and rank. This sort of thing is not available to civilian nurses, and is important for a profession that often has experienced civilian nurses abandoning their career because of poor treatment by (often younger and less experienced) supervisors and doctors. This is less of a problem in the military, where an experienced nurse will be a major or lieutenant colonel, and not likely to get too much static from a lower ranking doctor or supervisor.