Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ashley Oliver-Loftin was six years into her military career, stationed in the Netherlands, in 2017. She had just earned an undergraduate degree and was caring for her newborn son. With every present minute filled, she was thinking about the future. She decided to become a nurse.
The Air Force’s Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program and the UNC School of Nursing aided Oliver-Loftin in her quest. Oliver-Loftin, now stationed at Pope Army Airfield near Fort Liberty, in May will complete a bachelor of science in nursing that she earned through Carolina’s BSN Military Pathway.
The BSN Military Pathway is open to anyone who is currently serving in or has served in any branch of the armed forces, including the Reserves or the National Guard. Applicants do not need past health care experience.
Oliver-Loftin said that Carolina was her top choice, that the application process was direct and easy to follow and that the school’s staff members were helpful.
Being on campus required some adjustments. She had to re-learn how to study and how to interact with mostly younger classmates. “My classmates have been great at helping me get acclimated, and the faculty and instructors are always checking in with me,” she said.
She also has mentored three to four airmen each semester as they prepare to enter a BSN program.
After foundational classes, students start rotations through various hospital clinics. It was on a labor and delivery rotation that Oliver-Loftin determined that she wants to work as a labor and delivery nurse. In fact, on her first day of that rotation, she helped deliver a baby.
As a 12-year active-duty veteran and an Air Force NECP scholarship recipient, Oliver-Loftin plans to be commissioned as an Air Force Nurse Corps officer and to serve in the Air Force at least another 20 years.
Applying for the pathway
Anyone interested in applying to begin the BSN Military Pathway in fall 2024 should plan to meet deadlines of Dec. 15 for the centralized application for nursing programs and Dec. 20 for the supplemental application. The BSN Military Pathway website provides more details, including that:
•The admissions process considers students’ unique military experiences and context.
•Military-affiliated nursing faculty mentor admitted students.
•Admission to the school is competitive and is not guaranteed by admission to Carolina as a first-year student.
•The admissions committee critically evaluates each applicant’s academic performance, descriptive essays, community service history and special skills and abilities that have potential to affect care delivery or contribute overall to the nursing profession.
•Ideal applicants will clearly demonstrate a strong academic history as well as a commitment to the ideology of nursing and service to others.
•Performance in required science courses is particularly important.