Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Military Veterans Benefitting Health Care

Military Veterans Benefitting Health Care

ceo_minuteOn this Memorial Day, I am thinking about our military veterans who now serve in the delivery of civilian health care in this country. I know a great number of them. In fact, Texas Tech Physicians is privileged to have many veterans currently working in our organization. In addition, we have medical students and residents with a military background. Without painting with too broad a brush, it seems to me that former military people excel in the field of health care. Here’s why.

First, they are familiar with large, complex organizations. A medical school, a hospital and a large medical practice are all large and complex organisms, like the military. Both military health care and civilian health care are bureaucratic. Bureaucracy has become a dirty word to many, but it essentially only means a system of government or business that has many complicated rules and certain ways of doing things. I think we all know that health care necessarily operates according to complex rules, such as the operating procedures for Texas Tech Physicians or the standards of The Joint Commission. Veterans often accept and assimilate into these complex processes with ease, as they have experience in dealing with another complex organization, the military.

However, I think the reasons veterans succeed in civilian health care go beyond their understanding of bureaucracy. I regrettably (in my opinion) do not have a military background or any special insight into this issue that might have provided. However, I have been privileged to attend many military activities over the years, including a week of extensive training at a military base in California produced by the Department of Defense on how employers can support the National Guard and Reserve. My time at this training was particularly useful in helping me discern the aspects of military life that prepare veterans for phenomenal success in civilian health care. I believe veterans’ success is owed to these qualities cultivated by military service:
  • Expertise: The U.S. military provides excellent training in technical and people skills that allow veterans to enter the civilian health care world as competent performers.
  • Leadership: Veterans are many times agile decision-makers and problem-solvers. They can think on their feet and act under pressure. Additionally, they are often natural team-builders and collaborators.
  • Sense of Duty: Veterans practice the values of honor, respect, integrity and courage each day. These ideals are very similar to our SPIRIT values. They take pride in their work and hold themselves and their teams accountable for results.
  • Work Ethic:  Military personnel channel a positive, mission-first energy and a can-do, get-it-done attitude.
  • Appreciation for diversity: Veterans are culturally conversant and many have lived in foreign countries. The military requires respect for a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives.

If you know veterans who work at Texas Tech Physicians, take a minute to thank them for their service to our country and to our medical school.