November 9, 2022
We recognize that our caregivers who served or are serving in the military offer unique experiences and contributions in delivering world-class care to our communities. This Veterans Day and always, we honor and celebrate these caregivers, as well as the families that support them. We spoke with several of our caregivers with military backgrounds about what it’s like to work at Providence, and how their military experience translates into their current roles.
Continuing to thrive in a team-oriented environment
Nurse Educator LaDawn White spent the first 18 years of her nursing career in the Navy. Says LaDawn, “The military is very different from a civilian hospital facility, but one thing that is the same is the camaraderie and drive to work as a team.”
Veteran and Acute Care RN Nick Thompson agrees. “At other hospitals I’ve worked at, employees treated other employees from different departments as outsiders,” Nick says. “At Providence St. Peter, everyone makes me feel welcome and tries to help as much as possible. When I was in the military, I was used to working with a team, and since then, the first time I felt part of team was the very first shift I worked at St. Peter.”
Active Washington Army National Guardsman and Senior Clinical Program Manager Alex Chong is so supported by his team and specifically his leader Michael McClain, Executive Director of Ambulatory Surgery Centers that Alex nominated Michael for the Patriot Award, sponsored by the Department of Defense through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program—and Michael won!
According to Alex, “Michael continually thanks me for my service and reaffirms his steadfast support, allowing me to focus on my mission and training every time I put on my uniform. He encourages me to share my experience at work and integrate ideas between my civilian and military roles. With Providence’s support, Michael sees the value in veterans and those currently serving in the military. Michael embodies all characteristics of a leader that puts people first. His support has allowed me to be at my best, not only at Providence, but as a leader in the Washington Army National Guard, and most importantly at home as a husband and father. I am very proud to be serving in both organizations and thankful for being surrounded by people that lead by example, with compassion and a heart of service.”
Bringing values and expertise learned in the military to the healthcare setting
LaDawn and others know that the experiences developed in the military directly translate to healthcare. She says, “I got a lot of my critical thinking, time management and organization skills in the military, which are critical for nursing. Now, working with new nurses, I like to impart those skills on them. It’s like ‘boots on the ground’ in the military. You’re here, you’re looking at the nurses, you’re seeing how your policies affect them, and what you need to do to help them grow. They’re very open to growing. Anything to help better the care of their patients will lighten their load.”
Veteran and Chief Nursing Officer Suzie Scott identifies with the shared sense of Mission and purpose and a strong connection to Providence’s core values. Says Suzie, “The seven Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage align closely with Providence’s values.”
Cultivating growth from within the organization
Mentoring and helping others grow are additional skills many of our veteran caregivers bring to us from their time in the military. For example, Suzie’s favorite thing about her position is the ability to care for her fellow caregivers. While serving in the Army she realized her childhood dream of becoming a nurse, but over the course of the last decade or so, she grew to know that she really wanted to be a nursing leader.
“I feel a great sense of accomplishment in helping ensure the needs of our caregivers are met so they can successfully care for our patients,” says Suzie. “I love getting out there to talk with our caregivers about what would ease their way, and then helping to remove barriers so that their needs are met. My goal is to meet Providence’s promise of ‘Know me, care for me, ease my way’ for our caregivers.”
LaDawn enjoys mentoring caregivers who are just getting started in their careers. “I was a mentor several times in the military, and it was an enjoyment for me because I felt like I was helping this person be a better nurse and stay in the military. It’s the same at Providence. You want them to be a better nurse and stay at Providence. And people are very receptive. They really do care about the patients and getting it right.”
Nick says his own leaders are incredibly supportive and beyond that, he learns every day from his interactions with patients. “As much as I help them, they help me, too. I meet interesting people with inspiring stories that allow me to reflect on my own beliefs and values, motivating me to grow as a person.”
Choosing nursing in support of a military spouse
Military families deserve to be honored, as well, for their continued support of their family members during and after active duty. That includes RN Megan Smith, who chose her career based on her husband’s military service. Says Megan, “I wanted a job where I’d be able to find work wherever we moved. And even more than that, I wanted a job that would allow me to give back to the community, and to really help people, and give me a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.”
To all of our caregivers who are veterans or active service members, and their supportive families, we wish you a Happy Veterans Day.