Commentary | Aug. 5, 2021

A helpful resource during PCS season—the Nurse Advice Line is always available to military families

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

Imagine that your sleeping child awoke with a high fever. It spiked suddenly and you are unsure if it warrants a trip to an urgent care facility or if you can manage it from home. To complicate matters, you are in the midst of a permanent change of station (PCS)—a move that will transition your primary care provider in addition to your life. But in the midst of this situational chaos, there is a resource that you can call that has the immediate medical answers you need—the Military Health Service’s Nurse Advice Line.

The Nurse Advice Line is provided through the Military Health Service within TRICARE and has a cadre of registered nurses (RNs) available 24-hours-a-day and seven-days-a-week to active duty members, retirees, and their families. It is accessible through phone calls, web chats, and video chats. This service is available for those who have TRICARE Select. Those who have TRICARE Prime or U.S. Family Health Plan, please see their website for their nurse advice line. When you call, make sure that you have the main beneficiaries’ social security number or their beneficiary number on your medical card to access the care advice.

Aside from expert medical care advice for less-serious conditions and maintenance care suggestions, the RNs can also provide you with same-day or next-day appointments at a military hospital or clinic as recommended. Also, although it’s still subject to service command requirements, they can provide an online “absence excuse” or a “sick slip” when necessary for military members to provide to their commands. Travel is also within the realm of topics the RNs can cover. If you happen to be traveling overseas they can address any medical questions you may have and if you need care outside the military health system, the MHS Nurse Advice Line will coordinate with the TRICARE Overseas Managed Care Support Contractor.

“I have used the Nurse Advice Line several times and I believe it’s a valuable resource that many families are unaware of but could use, especially during PCS season,” said Ombudsman Program Manager Chris Degraw. “I personally used it to find a new medical provider and several times for medical questions including child fevers and infected wounds. I even used it to find out if I needed to go to the emergency room immediately or if it was something that could wait until the next day until I could see my regular doctor,” explained Degraw. “The one time I did need to be seen immediately, the nurse gave me the information I needed to get to an urgent clinic right away and so that one call could have had a huge impact on my health.”

The main number of the Nurse Advice Line also allows options for you to connect with an EAST or WEST TRICARE representative or get information about medical billing, claims, referrals or health plan assistance. In the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico you can visit here for a web chat or video chat: MHSNurseAdviceLine.com. You can also call 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273), option 1. For overseas military hospitals and clinics, visit here for web chats or video chats: MHSNurseAdviceLine.com or you can use the same website link to find your country-specific phone numbers.