Mil­i­tary pro­gram goes na­tional

Inova to ex­pand mil­i­tary pro­gram to meet de­mand

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Jen­nifer Lubell

AVir­ginia hospi­tal sys­tem’s pro­gram to help mil­i­tary fam­i­lies find ca­reers in medicine is seek­ing more fund­ing and em­ployer sup­port to ex­pand its reach on a na­tional scale. Inova Health Sys­tem, based in Falls Church, Va., plans to an­nounce the coun­try­wide ex­pan­sion of Mil­i­tary to Medicine this week, spurred by a re­cent in­ter­est in pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion to join forces with Inova on this ef­fort, and an ur­gent need to re­plen­ish the na­tion’s health­care work­force.

The not-for-profit pro­gram be­gan as a re­cruit­ment ini­tia­tive in part­ner­ship with the Army Re­serve Em­ployer Part­ner­ship Of­fice and the De­fense Depart­ment in 2008, and has since placed more than 350 peo­ple in health­care jobs (Feb. 15, p. 26).

Tech­ni­cally, the pro­gram has al­ways had a na­tional reach, said Daniel Ni­chols, the pro­gram’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. Inova, how­ever, felt “this was the right time to make this a na­tional pro­gram” in wake of sev­eral fac­tors, he said.

Mil­i­tary to Medicine was show­ing signs of suc­cess on a re­gional scale and the new health re­form law’s ad­di­tion of 32 mil­lion pa­tients would re­quire a vast ex­pan­sion of a work­force al­ready suf­fer­ing from per­son­nel short­ages.

“In March alone, we re­ceived 600 in­quiries for as­sis­tance, up from 100 a month when we first started” from mil­i­tary per­son­nel and/or their fam­ily mem­bers, Ni­chols said. As a re­sult, the pro­gram’s reach is ex­pand­ing—in some cases in other parts of the world. As an ex­am­ple, “we’ve been help­ing out an in­di­vid­ual in Alaska, plus spouses liv­ing with ser­vice­men in Guam and Ja­pan” to find med­i­cal ca­reers, he added.

Daniels said there are more than 650,000 mil­i­tary spouses sta­tioned in the U.S. Nearly 80% of th­ese spouses want a ca­reer, but fre­quent re­lo­ca­tions make this dif­fi­cult. “We’re here to make sure they have the train­ing and skills nec­es­sary for por­ta­ble ca­reers in health­care.”

The over­ar­ch­ing goal of the pro­gram is to pre­pare a health­care work­force, tar­get­ing mil­i­tary fam­i­lies to help re­cruit them into jobs. Al­lied health, nurs­ing, ra­di­a­tion tech­nol­ogy, res­pi­ra­tory ther­apy, and sur­gi­cal ser­vices are some of the ca­reers for which five-hospi­tal Inova pre­pares the trainees. The pro­gram has paid some per­sonal div­i­dends for Inova as well, in­creas­ing its oneyear re­ten­tion rates for mil­i­tary per­son­nel and new hires at Inova from 64% to 82%, and re­duc­ing its reg­is­tered nurse va­cancy rates from 15% to 3% over the three years of the op­er­a­tion.

Inova’s pro­gram has gen­er­ated a great deal of at­ten­tion in the health­care com­mu­nity and as a re­sult has gained some more pri­vate and pub­lic part­ners be­yond the Army Re­serve, in­clud­ing the Navy, and, re­cently, the AHA, Ni­chols said.

Specif­i­cally, the Na­tional Health­care Ca­reer Net­work, a job board cre­ated by the AHA, its sub­sidiary AHA So­lu­tions and other or­ga­ni­za­tions, will be help­ing mil­i­tary mem­bers and their fam­i­lies cus­tom­ize their job search in medicine.

The Mil­i­tary to Medicine pro­gram “signed on to the ca­reer net­work as our lat­est net­work part­ner,” said Tony Burke, AHA’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent and CEO of AHA So­lu­tions. The net­work fea­tures jobs from the AHA and more than 200 other health­care trade as­so­ci­a­tions across the coun­try.

The goal is to shorten the time it takes to iden­tify and fill po­si­tions with qual­i­fied candidates, Burke said. In turn, “hos­pi­tals see the re­turn on their dol­lars spent to re­cruit peo­ple go up,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ni­chols, Inova has also be­come the of­fi­cial mil­i­tary chan­nel for the Na­tional Health­care Ca­reer Net­work.

At Mil­i­tary to Medicine’s in­cep­tion, Inova was work­ing with 144 em­ploy­ers to help mil­i­tary peo­ple and their fam­ily mem­bers find jobs. Now, through the AHA’s em­ployer net­work, “we’re hop­ing to ex­pand that to sev­eral thou­sand” em­ploy­ers, he said.

Aim­ing for a na­tional reach with its Mil­i­tary to Medicine pro­gram re­quires money, and Ni­chols said he hopes to ac­quire ad­di­tional fund­ing part­ners to sup­port this ex­pan­sion.

To date, Inova has fronted more than $3 mil­lion to sup­port the health­care train­ing and place­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties of the ex­tended mil­i­tary fam­ily, and has since been given $2 mil­lion in ad­di­tional com­mit­ments by var­i­ous phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses this year. “We’re con­tin­u­ing to seek as­sis­tance out there,” Ni­chols said.

He es­ti­mates Inova will need an ad­di­tional $3 mil­lion to keep the pro­gram alive on a na­tional scale.

At this point, plans to seek fund­ing from the Army Re­serve or any other fed­eral source are off the ta­ble. The rea­son is, “We value the in-kind do­na­tions that our fed­eral part­ners of­fer, and once money en­ters the sit­u­a­tion, the dis­cus­sion changes. This is the same rea­son that we do not cur­rently charge em­ploy­ers when they hire a can­di­date that we have re­ferred to them, be­cause there is a great deal of value that can be shared out­side of a mon­e­tary do­na­tion,” he said.

This doesn’t mean that Inova won’t be seek­ing fund­ing in the fu­ture, “but when we ask for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance, we will do so with a clear busi­ness plan that makes sense for all par­ties in­volved,” he said.

Aside from ad­di­tional fund­ing, Inova is also seek­ing part­ner­ships to help re­search the dif­fer­ent li­cen­sure re­quire­ments needed for each state, Ni­chols said. The pro­gram has al­ready built its first chap­ter of­fice in Wash­ing­ton state, and is plan­ning to add chap­ters to other states, like Texas. “The goal is to have a chap­ter in ev­ery state,” he said.

Ni­chols: “The goal is to have a chap­ter in ev­ery state.”

Burke: “Hos­pi­tals see the re­turn on their dol­lars spent” go up.

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