As a values-based organization with a legacy of purpose, we recognize the unique skills veterans bring in delivering world-class care to our communities. This Veterans Day and always, we celebrate these caregivers, as well as the families that support them.
We are also proud that so many veterans choose Providence as the next chapter of their service. Here’s what several of our caregivers with military backgrounds have to say about what it’s like to work at Providence, and how their military experience translates into their current roles.
The value of camaraderie
Providence fosters a welcoming culture where caregivers not only work hard but are able to laugh together, too. Says Jared Breyer, a rehabilitation services manager at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, “It’s the first place after leaving the military where I felt like I was at home again,” says of joining Providence. For Jared, this feeling came from watching how his team interacted with their patients. “The caregivers do a really good job of treating patients like family, and that’s a dynamic I fell in love with as a student.” As a veteran, Jared had seen this before. “The family dynamic with the staff mirrored the camaraderie that I lived with for the first 25 years of my life in the military, and I hadn’t found that anywhere else.”
Suzie Scott, Chief Nursing Officer for Providence Swedish South Puget Sound, sees that same camaraderie in her team. “I walk in the units and watch the genuine care and compassion toward our patients and toward each other, and that just brings joy.” For Suzie, joining Providence meant finding an organization that aligned with the mission and values she’d stood for during her 30 years of service as an Army Nurse Corp officer. “It makes it easy to go home each day knowing that I work with a team that values each other and values the work that they do.” Read more about Suzie’s experiences in this profile.
A sense of teamwork and a shared mission can also mean having fun at work. “I had fun in my first career,” says Jared of his military experience, “but it was a lot more serious. Here, we’re serious when you need to be, but the vibes aren’t tense. It should be very uplifting, and we should all be able to really have a good, positive dynamic with each other. And that’s the culture that we’re trying to develop within our department.”
Lead Medical Assistant Tyler Wharton experiences that positivity in his work as well. He enrolled in a medical assistant program after coming out of the military and heard great things about Providence. “It’s a very fun experience with everybody involved. We work in a close-knit environment. We all like to laugh and make jokes.”
The value of supportive leadership
For Tyler, one thing that adds to his close-knit team is a strong relationship with management. “They are very open,” Tyler says. “Everybody comes in, and they talk to you. They really treat you like a human, and not just like an employee. They show that they value you just by being present, and they take what you say into consideration for how we could improve our clinic.”
The value of unique caregiver voices
Another example of how Providence honors our veteran caregivers is the regional Veterans Caregiver Resource Group (CRG) run by Covenant, a part of the Providence family of organizations. This group is part of a larger initiative to build Caregiver Resource Groups that value diversity and experience throughout Providence.
Chris Gould is a member of the Veterans CRG and serves on the group’s Operation Military Appreciation Committee, or OMAC. “It doesn’t matter if you have served,” he says, “you are welcome to join us to honor those that have.” Chris is excited about so many projects the 31-member group has done. “We did Veterans Letters to Santa, a program to purchase Christmas gifts for veterans and their family; reverse trick or treating, where the group delivers candy to veterans; veterans clothes closet and food pantry; and No Veteran Dies Alone. The group also gives out bracelets and flags for every veteran that comes into the hospital.”
Connie Lynn Gonzales serves beside Chris as an executive liaison in the OMAC. She says the committee’s main goal is serving and recognizing other veterans. “Our members will quickly jump on board for a fundraiser for veterans or a community event, but they shy away from recognition. We have done a lot of community events by partnering up with other veteran agencies. We also make a lot of effort to celebrate our veterans and their family members.”
The value of learning and growing from challenges
Our veteran caregivers also understand that challenging times offer opportunities to learn and grow. Laura Jarrell, a nurse in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, says, “I love taking care of people. That’s my calling.” Laura’s critical care background began in the military reserves. With 24 years of nursing experience, Laura balances her military commitment with her service at Providence, and she’s been on the front lines of some of our toughest challenges. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, prior to local hospitals being overwhelmed by patients, Laura traveled to other states to help communities set up COVID testing stations and assist in hospitals, and her training and experience helped her keep a positive mindset. “The silver linings are what keep me going and what other people should focus on,” Laura says. “We’re learning and moving forward even when we’re challenged.”
To all of our caregivers who are veterans or active service members, and their supportive families, we wish you a Happy Veterans Day.