South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday September 17, 2019
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August 2014 - Volume 11 - Issue 2

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Translating Battlefield Experience to a Career in Healthcare

As the United States’ military presence abroad draws down, thousands of veterans are returning home and looking to reenter the civilian workforce. At the same time, the current changes to the healthcare system are creating a strong, sustained demand for well-educated nurses with a variety of clinical, technology and management skills that the current workforce is unprepared to meet.
 
Taking note of both the number of veterans returning home and the national shortage of registered civilian nurses that is expected to worsen in the next 20 years, Florida International University’s (FIU) Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences launched a new baccalaureate nursing degree to help former military medics and corpsmen put their experience toward a new career as a nurse.
 
The FIU Medic-to-Nurse program is a special project funded jointly by the College and a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The goal is to help recent veterans, reservists and National Guard members with military medical training and service experience qualify for advanced standing credit for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and licensure eligibility as a Registered Nurse (RN).
 
The program takes into account students’ various educational and military backgrounds, and tailors an individual plan for each applicant, giving as much credit as possible from the Joint Services Transcript.
In my experience, veteran students are uniquely suited for this accelerated program because of their practical and life experience. FIU Medic-to-Nurse students tend to be older and at a place in their lives where they fully understand the impact a career can have on their family, finances and opportunities. The program allows them to utilize the knowledge they gained in the military and quickly rejoin the workforce in a high-demand field with numerous opportunities for growth.
 
The program also addresses challenges in translating military training into civilian learning and application – an issue that in the past, has made it difficult for thousands of medics and corpsmen returning from service to find mainstream healthcare jobs. FIU’s conscious effort to support veteran students has created a community and level of comfort that helps ensure a smooth transition back into the classroom for them. The program works closely with the FIU Veteran and Military Affairs office to ensure that students know they not only have access to the academic resources they need when they enter the program, but to a large faculty support system, some of whom are veterans themselves.
 
Word of FIU’s Medic-to-Nurse program is spreading among the military community. “As troops prepare to leave the service, they are thinking ahead about their civilian lives and careers,” said Catharine Vale, the program’s academic advisor. She has noticed a significant uptick in the number of calls and email inquiries about the program as more troops look to use their hard-earned educational benefits. “Interest in the FIU Medic-to-Nurse program has grown significantly as troops consider careers in healthcare when they return home.”
 
The first cohort of Medic-to-Nurse students started in January 2014, and the College anticipates graduating 180 students by 2017.
David M. Hildreth Jr. is an army veteran and Veterans Bachelor of Science in Nursing Academic Coach at the Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences. For more information, visit www.cnhs.fiu.edu.  
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