By Debbie Gregory.
While service members are often assured that the skills gained in the military can transition into civilian employment, some qualifications do not immediately translate. Examples of this are former military personnel who served as Army medics, Air Force medical technicians, and Navy and Coast Guard hospital corpsmen. While their training in the military was quite extensive, it does not readily meet the qualifications in civilian medical fields.
Recognizing that the skills of these highly trained individuals were not being utilized, the Veterans Health Administration began a program in 2012 to provide a stepping stone for these veterans to bridge to a civilian job in the medical field. Intermediate care technicians (ICT) have become valuable assets to doctors and hospital teams.
Corpsmen and medics typically have the training and experience equivalent to a second-year medical resident. However, they do not meet the qualifications for a civilian physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, and no reciprocity for their credentials are recognized in such degree programs.
“Former corpsmen and military medics don’t fit in when they get out of the service,” said Dr. Michael Bellino, ER doctor at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, IL. “The outside world doesn’t have a job that keeps up their unique and advanced skills and pays well enough, so they end up stepping down.
“This [program] is a perfect thing to enhance the skill set they gained in combat, or in the service, so they can go into a PA program or become a doctor,” Bellino said.
Bellino understands first-hand the benefits of utilizing ICT employees. His team includes US Army veteran Joe Carney, an Army medic with four combat tours under his belt. As a veteran new to the civilian job market, Carney was turned away by five hospitals, saying he was overqualified for the regular technician jobs, but did not have the civilian certifications to be hired for higher-level positions.
As an employee through the ICT program, Carney has transitioned what was his typical day, saving service members injured on the battlefield, to performing many tasks critical to the care of patients in FHCC’s emergency room. His duties include draining and suturing wounds, starting IVs and inserting catheters, conducting medical exams and doing electrocardiograms.
Carney is now close to completing the prerequisites to enter the physician assistant (PA) program at Rosalind Franklin University Chicago Medical School.
“He’s an absolutely invaluable member of the staff,” said Dr. Jeffrey Dubnow, head of the Lovell FHCC emergency room. “He’s qualified to do many things, which is a great help to the doctors. We’re very happy with him.”
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Intermediate Care Tech Program For Veterans: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory