Discussion: How to Maintain a Career as a Submarine Spouse

 I have discovered that maintaining a career when you are married to a submariner comes with some extraordinary challenges, but it is possible.

But let’s start at the beginning. When my husband and I met back in 2015, I was in the process of applying to graduate schools. I decided I wanted to teach nursing so I pursued a master’s in nursing education.  

One of the discussions we had as part of our premarital counseling was about working and raising a family. We both knew we wanted to have kids at some point so we talked about how our children would be raised. This is critical for any relationship, especially one in the military. I expressed my desire to maintain a part-time work schedule which my husband fully supported.  

After grad school I discovered I did not particularly care for teaching… oops… I missed patient care. I decided to pursue a post master’s certificate to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP). Fast forward a year, I’m now in the thick of my clinical hours and course work, and I hope to graduate in August. So much depends on clinical site availability, given the current pandemic. 

I have found that what works best for my family is if I work shifts on days my husband is not on duty (I work per diem/ as needed basis) and I complete my clinical hours for school Mondays thru Fridays. I drop my daughter off at preschool, complete my hours and then leave in time to pick her up. I try to maintain as “normal” of a schedule as I can for her.  

Stay tuned for what happens when I get my first NP job! The schedule is a priority for me. I want to be able to drop my daughter off at school and pick her up at the end of the day. I want to pack her lunch and cook dinner every day. I want to have my cake and eat it too and that is ok!  

I have been so happy to find Facebook groups for milspouse nurse practitioners!  Know your resources. There are wonderful scholarship opportunities through MyCAA and the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation (more on those resources, here). You may also qualify to have your licensing and certification costs reimbursed when you PCS. This is a fairly new process and I am so thankful for it.    

I want to hear from you!  Are you struggling with the decision whether to work or not?  Do you feel pressured to work/not work?  How do you manage your schedule?  How do you handle the job search at each new duty station? Comment with your thoughts below. I’m still trying to figure all this out myself!   

3 thoughts on “Discussion: How to Maintain a Career as a Submarine Spouse

  1. I’m not going to lie, it’s been difficult. When we were dating, I moved with my boyfriend (now husband) to California for shore duty. It took me months to get a job. Potential employers just didn’t understand why I’d leave a great job in Seattle. During interviews I would dodge awkward questions, until finally I’d have to admit my boyfriend was in the military. I ended up landing a job where my employer never asked, but I’m certain if she would have found out she wouldn’t have hired me. After we got married and moved to CT, I ended up freelancing with my old company because I just didn’t want to deal with the stress again. I’m taking a break with our baby, but not sure what I’ll do next.

    Has anyone else faced this form of discrimination? I understand we move so often, but in this day and age you’d think employers would be more open to working remotely, etc. Also 2-3 years at a company seems pretty average with civilians anyways, am I right?

  2. In my most recent job interview, the first question I was asked was if my husband was in the military. The second was how I would handle childcare.
    Discrimination in hiring is real, and difficult to push back against.

    1. I had a very similar experience when I first moved out to Hawaii. I went on multiple job interviews and usually the first thing they would notice was the different states I had worked in and the first question would be if my spouse was military. I also have had a lot of questions regarding child care, even before I had children! Another question I have faced is “how long will you be here?” Which I always find interesting because there is no guarantee that civilian workers will stay in a position longer than military spouses.

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