By Rich Umbdenstock
November 25, 2014 at 5:00 am ET
Earlier this month, our nation celebrated Veterans Day to honor and thank the women and men who have served in our armed services. But we owe them more than a day of thanks. Veterans deserve respect for the knowledge and skills gained during their military service and the opportunity to put what they’ve learned to work in our communities. For hospitals, hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.
Last year, the American Hospital Association (AHA) pledged to support “Joining Forces,” the national initiative that encourages hiring of veterans. As part of our pledge, the AHA teamed up with nurse and physician assistant organizations, community health centers, the federal government as well as veterans and active military members to provide resources that will help hospitals reach out to the veterans in their communities and hire those who match a hospital’s workforce needs.
This Veterans Day, the AHA shared with hospitals a new resource called “Hospital Careers: An Opportunity to Hire Veterans.” This toolkit showcases best practices to give hospitals of all sizes and in all locations ideas on how they can recruit, hire and retain military veterans. Veterans with health care backgrounds can be excellent candidates because of the many skills gained in military training, including proactive leadership, strategic problem solving and the ability to adapt and work under crisis conditions. Also, many veterans have the necessary credentials and licensure to practice immediately upon separation from the military.
Based on the conversations we had and the input and expertise gained from the groups we worked with, we would like to share three important recommendations for organizations that would like to hire veterans:
–Go to where the veterans are. Even when service men and women are preparing to leave the military, they still have to fulfill the requirements of their current positions and may not have time to look for new jobs. Each military branch has a Transition Assistance Program that hospitals can work with to connect with service members. Or work directly with a local base. Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va., has a full-time human resources staff member who, among other duties, ensures the veteran community is aware of all open hospital jobs.
–Find out if you already have veterans on staff because they can be your best recruiters. Bon Secours Health System, based in Richmond, Va., employs a retired colonel as vice president of military affairs who takes a proactive, intentional approach to tracking how many veterans are interviewed and hired.
–On-boarding is essential. Used effectively, on-boarding can help ease the transition from a military to a civilian workplace culture and helps newly-relocated veterans feel at home in a new community. At St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, Idaho, the vice president and chief human resources officer knows this can be as simple as sharing information on area schools, neighborhoods, home prices, even the local grocery stores. Formal job orientation programs are essential, but putting in a little extra effort can go a long way.
Hiring veterans is a win-win proposition: Hospitals benefit from veterans’ training and leadership experience, and veterans can use their clinical and leadership skills to serve their community. All of the women and men who work in America’s hospitals are everyday heroes. They are dedicated, skillful and compassionate. Let’s make sure our military heroes find their place among them.