Recruiters seek former military to fill health care vacancies

Health care executives across the country are seeking applicants with military experience. They say the military instills value-added skills needed in the health care industry.

“People from the military are accustomed to dealing with all kinds of people,” says Jill Jarufe, who recruits nurses for Kaye/Bassman International Corporation, an international recruiting firm. “They have empathy for patients and have a respect for authority, which is great for working with doctors.”

The U.S. health care industry is expected to grow 27 percent by 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many executives anticipate a chunk of this future workforce coming from former military personnel.

A need for military nurses

Much of this future demand will be in nursing, especially RN to BSNs and those with nursing leadership experience.

Maria Todd, chief executive officer of Mercury Healthcare, says nursing candidates with military training make great employees because they follow established procedures and protocol. “Former soldiers have been trained to work as team players,” Todd says. “If they have experienced a war theater, they are not easily fazed and can get through times of severe stress.”

The demand for nurses offers excellent reasons for former military personnel to seek online nursing degrees, especially advanced education such as an, MSN degree or a health informatics degree.

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Another benefit to hiring former military personnel is that they understand how to work in bureaucracies. They are also competent at following orders from superiors. Just these two simple everyday military skills would translate well into medical charting and taking doctors’ orders. It’s these simple things that make former military great nurses, Todd said. “We can never have enough nurses.”

Opportunities in health care management

Todd added the military spends federal dollars training former service men and women to become leaders and these skills are transferable to health care management.

The majority of health care managers work for hospitals, but there are also opportunities in government, pharmaceuticals and insurance. Staying in this field to become an executive can be financially rewarding.

According to a 2007 IHStrategies survey, a health care executive’s yearly salary can range from $184,000 as the head of managed care to $647,000 as a hospital CEO.

“If I have a candidate with military and hospital experience for a management position, that is extremely attractive,” says Jarufe.

New demands in health care IT

In the military, many service members work with a wide-range of technological equipment. If you like working with information systems, security and other IT functions, you may want to consider a health information degree to pursue a career in health care IT.

Graduates with information systems and health informatics degrees hold the keys to the future of health care. This career field is expected to grow 18 to 26 percent by 2016. Furthermore, in 2009, the U.S. government earmarked $19 billion for health care technology spending and adoption of electronic health records.

With the advent of electronic medical records and the change in credentials requirements for billers and coders, the need for qualified personnel to handle complicated and sensitive information has never been greater. Hospitals, insurance companies and other health care organizations will need to hire more trusted, smart candidates to meet new mandates. Your military training and values enhanced with  affordable online degree programs will help set you apart in this field.