Officer Promotion Boards
How Military Officer Promotion Boards Work:
Military nurses advance in their respective careers by being promoted based on a number of factors. For most services the advancement from the equivalent military officer grade of O-1 to the officer grade of O-3 is automatic based on how long you have been in the military. Once you have reached the grade of O-3 you begin competing with your peers for rank. The competitive system used by most military services is called a promotion board. The promotion board is a group of officers who review the officers record and decide if they are the best qualified nurse officers.
Regardless of the military service all officer promotion boards function in virtually the same manner. A panel of officers is chosen to sit on the board. They are given a letter of instruction that outlines exactly how they will review each military nurses packet. The packet or personnel record is reviewed and scored by each member of the panel. Criteria that are considered include nursing education, military education, awards, experience, counseling or disciplinary actions, and an official photograph of the candidate in military uniform.
Once the officer promotion board has reviewed all the records they are ranked based on the scores they achieve. A military nurse is promoted provided the following conditions are met: 1) the promotion board selects them for promotion 2) the service has a position for them and 3) they accept the promotion.
An officer may meet all the criteria for being promoted but may still be passed over if the service they are in is limiting the number of officers at that grade. For example, if the Navy wants to promote 300 Navy Nurses to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (O-4) and there are 350 candidates looked at by the promotion board then 50 Lieutenant's are not going to be promoted.
Another reason that a military nurse may not be promoted is because they are not fully educationally qualified. For example, a nurse can be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant or O-1 officer grade as a registered nurse with only an associate degree in nursing or ADN in the U.S. Army Reserves. However, in order to be promoted to Captain or O-3 grade the nurse must obtain a Bachelor of Science on Nursing or BSN degree prior to going to the board to be promoted to Captain.
Note: Officers and Nurses in the military are promoted via the same process. The board members will be comprised of officers from all branches. A few members of the board who are from that area of specialty i.e. nursing will be on the board.