Why Healthcare Needs Veterans

G.I. Jobs Magazine
Christopher Maj
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Healthcare is a field in need of our nation’s veterans. The industry calls  for more than just doctors and  nurses. According to the US Bureau  of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2 million  new jobs will be created in the  healthcare industry from 2021– 2031, with an annual median wage  of $75,000. This is in addition to the  1.9 million openings in the industry  created every year just from  natural growth and replacement  needs. Many veterans could easily  fill these openings based on their  military specialty or experience.  Others could use the GI Bill to get  trained for a career in healthcare. 

James Conway, a volunteer  mentor for American Corporate Partners (ACP), is director of IT  Operations and Physicians Services  at HCA Healthcare and a US Army  veteran. He agrees that veterans  possess several strengths and traits  which make them invaluable to the  healthcare industry. While serving in  the Army, Conway held a variety of  positions, which culminated as chief  operations officer before his military  transition in 2013. In his current role  at HCA Healthcare, Conway manages  the directors of information  technology and technical analysts at  13 hospitals, including medical staff  in California and Las Vegas.  

“Going from the military to the healthcare industry is just  transitioning from serving my  country to serving my community. A service mindset is imperative when you work in healthcare. Service  members are calm under pressure,  which is another key trait to have in  healthcare,” said Conway, adding,  “After years of training in the military,  veterans are accustomed to operating  in stressful environments. So what  might be stressful to a civilian might  not be stressful to a veteran.”  

Conway said veterans also have strong work ethics and embrace traits such as “being dependable,  disciplined, organized, adaptable  and being self-starters.” According  to Conway, “It does not hurt that  veterans are also taught leadership skills. They tend to be strong in executive presence, responsibility,  managing change well, holding other people accountable and team  leadership skills.”   As Conway’s experience demonstrates, the healthcare  industry comprises more than  just doctors and nurses. Our  nation’s service men and women  can step into all sorts of roles,  he points out, and with their  experience and training from the  military, they make natural fits.  

Justin Hines served 20 years  in the Army and is a current  ACP protégé in a mentorship.  He’s also a new employee  to HCA Healthcare as an  operations project manager.  While in the Army, Hines was  an optometrist and wanted to  continue working in healthcare  after his military transition.  “Going into the military has really given me the value  and the satisfaction of helping  others,” Hines said. “Staying  in a job in healthcare, it does  just that. Even if I am not  the one that is providing the  point of care, I am facilitating  healthcare and process improvements from a business  and operations aspect that  helps promote that healthcare,”  Hines said, adding, “In a  nutshell, service excites me.”  

As far as project management  in healthcare, Hines said this  work also has an element of  adventure. “I don’t know what  tomorrow looks like. It is not  mundane. It is not, ‘Hey, I have  to see patients.’ It is not, ‘Oh, I  have to answer the phone and  schedule appointments.’ I can  have any number of projects that  I get called on to help on and  assist. For my role that is what is  most exciting.”  

A transition to healthcare  can also lead to a competitive  advantage for veterans regarding  salary. Hines explains his  military experience resulted in  higher pay in the private sector.  “I have some peers who work in urgent care, and I can  consider them a younger me  who did the education route first  and internship, but they make   significantly less than me.”  According to BLS statistics,  the annual median wage of a  healthcare professional in the  US is $75,000, which is nearly  $30,000 more than the median  annual wage for all occupations  at $45,760. This difference in  salary is another factor for  veterans to consider when  planning their military transition.  

Veterans considering a  military transition to the  healthcare industry can  request a mentor through ACP  to help navigate meaningful  employment in the field.  Established in 2008, ACP pairs  active-duty spouses and post 9/11 veterans with seasoned  Fortune 500 mentors to help  find their next careers. In  particular, ACP has a clean  bill of healthcare mentors  from companies such as  Amneal, Bristol Myers Squibb,  Empire BlueCross BlueShield,  HCA Healthcare, Johnson  and Johnson, Lifepoint Health, Mass General Brigham, Medtronic and  Pfizer. Interested applicants who wish to join the 26,000+ successful alumni participants may apply at apply.acp-usa.org/protege.