How the Military Helped Prepare This FNP for a Career in Nursing

Career in nursing

Having a military background isn’t a prerequisite for a career as an advanced practice nurse, but it certainly has seemed to benefit navy veteran, family nurse practitioner (FNP) and Chamberlain University graduate Mark Collins.

Collins, who transitioned from an independent duty corpsman in the navy to an FNP, recently shared the lessons he learned throughout his 22-year military career that molded him into the practitioner he is today. 

How did you decide to become an FNP?

I wanted to be an FNP because of the versatility. When I was taking care of people in the navy I never knew what I was going to see next. One day, someone could come in with their head cracked open and the next day someone could need treatment for malaria. As an FNP, it’s always something different.

What aspects of your military career helped prepare you to become an FNP?

The navy taught me what it meant to work hard and that I had to be ready and prepared for whatever might walk in the door next. It also taught me to be independent and how to research and learn and dig deep to find the answers to problems. You fix the problem and the patient is ready to go back out to battle.

What advice do you have for people considering a nursing career post-military?

Be ready to study and make that time commitment. You have to be committed. You have to be focused. If you’re not ready to make a major commitment you might as well stay out of it. You need to pick a goal and say ‘I’m going to get there no matter what.’ Just like the military, this also takes sacrifice. I couldn’t do a lot of things because I had to stay at home, study and do homework.

What kinds of patients are you caring for now?

I work on a remote job site where a pipeline is being built. I provide medical service to workers if they get sick or injured on the job. Similar to the military, you never know what you’re going to get. One day you could treat someone for the flu and the next you could be treating someone who crushed their hand. It’s like being back in the navy.

How did you choose Chamberlain to continue your education?

After I got my ADN, I knew I had to get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and I knew I wanted to do it online. I looked at different schools and ended up choosing Chamberlain. The recruiters I worked with had military experience and I really appreciated that. I decided to get my Master of Science in Nursing – FNP with Chamberlain too. My professors brought real life experience to their teaching and they taught the ‘why’ behind what we were learning. The FNP program made me feel like I was coming home.

Chamberlain recognizes the valuable knowledge, training and experience gained through service.  If you’re interested in advancing your nursing education, we encourage you to contact a Military Nursing Enrollment Specialist at 855-SALUTE-U (855-725-8838) to learn more or visit

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