July 17, 2009
by Krista Wells, Ph.D.
This is the fifth article in the series exploring careers that you can take with you throughout military life. (And stay tuned…next we will explore personal care jobs such as hair/beauty).
I encourage clients to prepare for careers they feel passionate about despite military life challenges, because where there’s a will there’s a way—or at least a version of a way. Spouses should pursue healthcare professions if they value creativity, collaboration, and caring—not just the field’s flexibility. But if you are attracted to the profession, there is good news: the Bureau of Labor Statistics just announced that healthcare jobs are still on the rise. And the field is so broad: phlebotomists, medical or laboratory technologists or sonographers; medical or physician assistants; and respiratory therapists. Nurses work in hospitals or schools, become medical or health service managers, medical educators, dieticians or nutritionists, doctors, surgeons and so much more.
A Marine spouse I worked with, Cheryl, took some career assessments and found health care to be a great career match. She pursued certification as a radiologic technologist and quickly landed a job helping doctors diagnose illnesses. Cheryl was quite pleased to complete the program and gain practical experience prior to another military move. She views her military life as a puzzle: each time she relocates, she picks up another piece, trusting that eventually all the pieces will fit together.
Melyssa, a Navy spouse, decided health care was her calling and pursued a nursing degree while she was temporarily stationed in San Diego. She found an accelerated nursing program at Maric College and obtained her Associate Degree in Nursing in just 13 months. Shortly after finishing the program and moving to Norfolk, VA she obtained an entry-level nursing position. In yet another move, she became a certified medical surgical registered nurse, which led to her current job that she loves because it’s fast paced and fits more with her personality. She admits, “Ok, I kinda hated changing bed pans, but so glad I stuck it out..because my current job as a medical surgical nurse is fantastic!”
Haley pursued a bachelor’s degree in nursing prior to marrying the military. Beginning in nurse anesthesia at Bronson Methodist Hospital, she transitioned to a Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. Later she became a travel nurse with the American Mobile Travel Agency in San Diego, CA and then Denver, CO where she met her husband at the Air Force Academy. Once married, they moved to Del Rio, TX for his pilot training.
“When we moved, the only position available was on the Medical Surgical Floor, which was not my area of choice but I took it anyway,” Haley explained. They relocated to Charleston, SC, and she finally found a job that was a better fit as an Interim Operations Coordinator. Instead of viewing herself as a “job hopper” she capitalizes on her diverse experiences and feels she has a lot more to offer than a nurse that has only worked at one job.
After some trouble finding steady child care, she decided to devote more time to family. As her son grew, she found child care and a new part-time job that it is just enough hours to keep current in the field, get out of the house from time to time, and make a little extra cash.
Tips on Exploring the Healthcare Field
Something For Everyone
Melyssa believes that getting a nursing degree opens doors to many different environments and types of jobs that are full time, part time, or flex time in hospitals, schools, military facilities, and even private practices.
Haley did not always get her first-choice job. These sacrifices are small compared with other fields that have fewer opportunities for flex-time and part-time work that is still compensated fairly.
The Glass is Half Full
These spouses feel very marketable and confident that they can get a job wherever they move, and that is a great feeling. If they present the breadth of their experiences with confidence, potential employers will view it as a plus!
Jumpstart the Process
The spouses all recommended looking for new jobs online, looking for job postings and then applying right on the medical facility websites, including contact names in their letters and personalized resumes for that particular hospital, health clinic, school, surgery center, or home health agency.
Additional Healthcare Related Career Links:
Health Care Jobs: www.HealthJobsUSA.com
American College of Health Care Executives: www.ache.org
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists: www.aana.com
National League of Nursing: www.nln.org
American College of Surgeons: www.facs.org