For decades the Air Force has trained medical technicians to practical nurse levels, but has not licensed them. On March 22 in Jefferson City, Mo., the Missouri State Board of Nursing voted unanimously to approve the Air Force Basic Medical Technician Corpsman Program as a practical nurse program.
Col. Christine Kress, Lt. Col. Dianne M. Stroble and Master Sgt. David Carr, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, testified before the board on behalf of Maj. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, the Air Force Deputy Surgeon General and Chief of the Nurse Corps; Chief Jessica Liebgott, Aerospace Medical Services/Surgical Services Career Field Manager; and the 6,800 active duty and 5,700 Guard and Reserve enlisted nursing personnel.
Kress outlined the benefit for enlisted medics to take the Licensed Practical Nurse exam on the basis of academic accomplishment and clinical skills validation.
“Whiteman alone has 30 medics ready to sit for the board,” said Kress. “Today, they are boots on the ground at the 509 Medical Group caring for our nations’ Airmen, their family members and retirees.”
As a result of the Board of Nursing action, Missouri is the first state to approve the Air Force’s program. Three other states recognize this program as equivalent, but Missouri is the first state to formally approve the program leading to increased educational and job opportunities for service members, veterans and families.
Missouri Board of Nursing Director Lori Scheidt said, “We are honored to work with all military branches to strengthen access to quality healthcare to the citizens of Missouri and to assisting veterans in transitioning into civilian careers.”
Several states have offered the medical technicians the opportunity to take a few additional classes and then be able the test. Now, their extensive education can finally be put forward toward licensure.
“This is an incredible win for the 4N0 community,” said Lt. Col. Lisa Odom, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron clinical nurse specialist. “This will give our medical technicians the ability to directly apply what they have learned in the Air Force to gain licensure.”
The medical technicians have already taken the necessary didactic courses while in technical school. Now they will have to gain permission from their 4N Functional Manager and Chief Nurse to apply.
Once they have that approval, the application comes in two parts—one part is with the state of Missouri and the other part will be to apply with National Council Licensure Examination to take the actual exam. This is a lengthy and costly process—$41 with the state and $200 for the exam with NCLEX. Once their applications are approved the individual will have a 90-day window to take the exam. Once the exam is successfully passed the individual will be an LPN.
“The medical technicians do not require LPN licensure to do their jobs here at Scott, nor in the Air Force,” said Odom. “However, in prepping to obtain their license these technicians will become more versed in the nursing process, which in the end will enhance patient care. It is a win-win for our technicians and patients.”
With this licensure these individuals can go directly to work as an LPN when they separatfrom the AF. These medical technicians have already received the training; now, they can get licensed.
Additionally, as an LPN, they can continue their education and become a Registered Nurse in an accelerated program in around a year.