From the Military Front Lines to Hospital Service Lines: Veterans are Finding a Home at AdventHealth

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Jeri Hendershot knows what it’s like to just focus on the mission at hand. As a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy, primarily serving at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, she was laser-focused on providing essential health care and treatment for fellow servicemen and servicewomen.

Now a nurse manager at AdventHealth Waterman, she leads a team of nearly four dozen clinical staff. While she is not practicing combat medicine, the lessons and learning she took from her time in the military are ever-present as she focuses on another mission – Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.

“AdventHealth’s mission, vision and values are not just on a piece of paper,” said Hendershot. “It is something that we identify with and uphold just like a mission in the military. It carries over.”

The health system has emphasized veteran recruitment and created a job translator tool to help them find careers that leverage their military skills and experience.

All across the organization, AdventHealth has fully embraced veterans like Hendershot who are leveraging the specialized skills and training they acquired while serving the country to fill a wide range of key patient care, business, operations and leadership roles. Veterans have continued to make significant impacts across the health system, including leveraging their military experience to cut ER wait times and building algorithms to treat patients with chest pains.

“Our veterans bring so many unique traits and talents to the organization,” said Olesea Azevedo, chief human resources officer for AdventHealth. “We have been blessed to draw from their unique perspectives and approaches to help transform care delivery, enhance patient safety and solve problems on a day-to-day basis.”

Recognizing the diverse and valuable ways veterans can contribute, AdventHealth has made a concerted effort to recruit them into its workforce. In a time where the job market is reeling due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, veterans have been feeling the pinch. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the national unemployment rate for veterans sits at 6.4 percent, more than doubling the rate from just 12 months ago.

For many veterans, transitioning to the civilian workforce following their military service poses significant challenges. To help veterans transition to a career within the health system, AdventHealth has developed a special website job portal that translates their military job code into a customized list of open positions where their military experience and specific skills can best be utilized.

“One of our service standards is Make it Easy, and that is what the Military Translator aims to do – make it easier for veterans to find opportunities to join the organization,” said Azevedo.

AdventHealth’s focus on veteran recruitment was recently featured on an episode of Military Makeover, which aired on Lifetime and gave viewers the opportunity to hear real veterans turned AdventHealth team members talk about their military background and experience as an employee with the organization.

Back at AdventHealth Waterman, Jeri Hendershot still harkens back to some of the foundational principles of military service. She leads by example, has an open-door policy with her staff and encourages her team to have “battle buddies.” All of these things lend themselves to building the trust and comradery on the patient floors that is so important for a clinical team.

“In the military, it’s all about the team, not individuals, and I’m so proud to be part of this team. The service standards – Love me, Own it, Make it Easy and Keep Me Safe – are not only for patients, they are for the staff as well,” she added. “To me, that speaks volumes to anybody who is a veteran and looking for a place to continue their career and call home.”

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