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A New Means of Service

Careers in healthcare offer ways for veterans to continue a lifestyle of serving their communities.

When choosing to join America’s military, men and women make a purposeful choice to place themselves at risk for a high calling: service to their countrymen. It seems a logical fit, then, that many former servicemen and women seek careers in industries that also have this key element of service when they move on from military life. Healthcare, in its many forms, is an appealing path for current and former military members. Anna Zendell, Senior Faculty Program Director of the School of Health Sciences at Excelsior College, explains the connection, noting, “our military are often first responders in emergency situations at home or while deployed. They often have seen a lot and are actively seeking to make a difference.”

As if the service motivations to join the healthcare industry weren’t enough, financially a degree in healthcare is a smart investment. Karen Whitham, Associate Dean, Nursing and Healthcare Programs at American Sentinel University, shared that according to the Bureau of Labor, “Employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs.”

With jobs ranging from Registered Nurses to chiropractors to health sciences to lab techs, the healthcare industry is booming and has something unique to offer to any veteran no matter their skill set or preferences. American Military University American Military University offers a number of degrees in their School of Health Sciences, offering multiple paths for graduates. An Associate of Applied Science in health Sciences is available for students who are looking to enter the healthcare field in a number of positions such as Army Health Care Specialists, Navy Hospital Corpsman, Air Force Aerospace Medical Service Apprentices, respiratory therapists and medical, dental and chiropractic assistants. Additionally, AMU offers an Associate, Bachelor of Science, and Master’s Degree (MPH) in Public Health. The bachelor’s degree specifically focuses on public health science, psychology and sociology, with concentrations in Nutrition and Wellness, Emergency and Disaster Management, Health Informatics, and public health policies, management, finances and structure. The MPH is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and prepares graduates for leadership opportunities.

AMU also offers a Nursing Program, where students can select both RN to BSN and MS, with Nurse Educator and Nurse Leader concentrations. Dr. Brian Freeland, Dean of the School of Health Sciences at AMU, said, “AMU also partners with community colleges to offer a 16-week online didactic Military Transition Program in which select servicemembers may enroll while completing clinical hours at the community college.” This allows successful students to transition directly into the second year of a nursing program saving time and money.

AMU also offers a Sports and Health Sciences program to prepare students for future careers in the areas of fitness, performance, and health and wellness. Freeland shared that graduates of AMU’s varied health programs have gone on to careers such as Epidemiologist, Aid Worker, Analyst or Researcher, and in Behavioral Health. BS students can work as Research Assistant, Case Manager or Policy and Programming Associate, among other roles. Associate graduates can work as Rehab Assistant, Analyst, Community Health Worker, and Health and Wellness Manager in a variety of settings such as hospitals, governmental agencies, academic institutions, non-profits, and more. Freeland believes that students who come from a military background can excel in such programs. “Students with a military background excel in taking initiative, strive to achieve desired outcomes, and always remain professional, even in challenging situations,” Freeland said. “Military experience positively impacts student success.”

AMU values its military students and offers a wide variety of supports for them, such as academic advising, mentoring, an online library, and Home to one of the largest nationwide Chapters of the Student Veterans of America organization, AMU also offers a grant to servicemembers, Guard, Reserve, military spouses and dependents, and veterans, capping tuition at $250 per credit hour for undergraduate and $325 per credit hour for graduate coursework. Military students can also expect to utilize free e-books and textbooks as well as no technology fees as a way of making advancing their education more affordable. Freeland added, “We also offer possible credit for military education and training courses including CCAF, JST, DANTES, and ACE-evaluated training.” American Sentinel University American Sentinel University is one of the few healthcare-focused institutions in the nation, offering students degree programs in post-licensure nursing and healthcare management. For students who wish to pursue the nursing path offered by American Sentinel, there are a number of program options.

“[Options include] RN to Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) - including a competency-based program so nurses may complete the program at their own pace; Master of Science Nursing (MSN) with 6 specializations: Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership, Nursing Education, Case Management, Nursing Informatics, Infection Prevention and Control, and Nurse Practitioner (in these states: CO, FL, OH, MN, MT, UT, OK, AR); and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with 4 specializations: Educational Leadership, Executive Leadership, Informatics Leadership and DNP,” Whitham said.

Accreditations for these programs include the RN to BSB and MSN by CCNE, and the DNP by ACEN. For students wishing to pursue the healthcare management track, an MBA Healthcare (Course-based or Project-based), Master of Science Information Systems Management and Master of Science Business Intelligence and Analytics are available. These advanced degrees may allow students to gain greater stability, market appeal, and ultimately improve patient care.

“Graduates of our nursing programs have career paths ranging from clinical nursing, to nurse management and even nursing education,” Whitham said. “Graduates of the healthcare management degrees may manage clinics, become leaders in hospitals or healthcare systems, or specialize in business intelligence.” No matter the specific career path you wish to take, students who graduate from American Sentinel’s programs are well-set to meet with success. In fact, in the 2017 student survey, 98 percent of students said they had achieved their personal goals. American Sentinel is the proud home to 147 military students and 174 military spouses. It offers up to 40 percent off of the regular tuition rate to military students and their families with scholarships, and is 100 percent online, offering the flexibility that servicemembers need.

“American Sentinel University has proudly supported military students since its inception,” Whitham reflected, “We recognize the sacrifices made for our country and we want to make earning a degree as attainable as possible, and help the transition to civilian life.” Excelsior College Excelsior College offers students three health sciences degrees, two healthcare management degrees, and one public health degree. In Health Sciences, students can pursue either an Associates or a Bachelor of Science. For students who earn the bachelor’s degree, Zendell notes that graduates will “obtain a solid foundation in health care issues from the individual to systems level; effective communications in the health services industry; contemporary ethical, policy, and regulatory issues in the field; and specialized knowledge in their chosen emphasis” preparing them for work in management, practice, policy, and other areas.

Additionally, Excelsior offers a Master of Science in Health Sciences. Specializations of this Master’s include Health Professions Education, Informatics, Public Health, and also a Generalist or No Specialization track. A Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management and a Master’s Degree in Health Administration are also offered to help students pursue mid-level and upper-level management, respectively.

Finally, a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health prepares students to entry-level careers in public health, community health, and health education.

Zendell believes that now is an exciting time to enter the field due to recent innovations, however, it is more critical than ever for organizations to hire educated, “talented health professionals to help individuals and organizations sift through all of this information and make informed decisions.”

Graduates of these varied degree programs are qualified for a number of healthcare careers, including health technologies, quality assurance, wellness coordinator, emergency planning, advocacy, and more. Regardless of their particular career, they “can expect to engage in informed decision-making based on best practices and emerging research in their field, as well as current and anticipated health industry regulations,” Zendell said. “They will employ strategies learned from our programs to keep themselves up to the minute on the federal, state and local landscapes around health care.” Zendell believes that military servicemembers make excellent members of the Excelsior learning community, because “they bring a wealth of life experiences and strong problem solving skills, which they readily share. . . [and they] consistently manifest a strong sense of responsibility and accountability.”

Military students can expect a great deal of support if they choose to enroll in Excelsior. Currently, 52 percent of the Excelsior student population is made up of active military and veteran students. Excelsior offers the Lt. Col Bryant A. Murray Veterans Center, school-based advisors, and much needed flexibility. Excelsior understands that servicemen and women may face such events as deployments and relocations, and they are understanding of such needs. Mike Lesczinski, Chief Communications Officer for Excelsior, explained that “Excelsior College also reviews each prospective students’ prior military experience and training to determine which, if any, has been evaluated and approved as college-level equivalent,” saving veterans time and money as they further their education. Kaplan University Many are aware that Kaplan University offers a rich, well-respected nursing program. However, in addition to the online RN to BSN, MSN, DNP and certificate programs, Kaplan also offers students interested in the healthcare field 14 other degree pathways to choose from.

Students at Kaplan can pursue degrees in health science from associate’s degrees all the way through doctoral programs, focusing on such specializations as health informatics, healthcare administration, health science, health and wellness, nutrition science and information management.

“The goal of our health care program is to help students learn the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary in pursuing personal and professional goals in health care,” said Brian Sayler, the Executive Director of Kaplan University. Sayler also noted that the time to move into the healthcare field is now, as aging populations increase demand for educated, competent healthcare professionals.

A degree from Kaplan will put students in an ideal position to be the workforce that is needed thanks to the school’s focus on emerging trends in the field and technological innovations. For example, students can take course in the growing field of telemetry, “which trains students to monitor multiple patients virtually in the same facility or remotely,” Sayler explained. “The sky is the limit to the number of positions a graduate could find themselves in, and could include titles such as administrator, director of business development, executive director, practice manager, vice president, chief nursing officer, director of risk management and director of patient safety to name a few.” No matter your desired career in the industry, Kaplan has a degree program that can help set you on the path to success. Kaplan University also recognizes the benefit of military experience, granting credits based on service. “The average military-affiliated graduate was awarded over 30 percent of credit needed for a bachelor’s degree, and over 50 percent for an associate’s degree,” Sayler noted.

In fact, many military enrollees in the healthcare tracks can earn even higher credits due to closely aligning standards and experience. Kaplan has a special program – PME2Degree – that “seeks to evaluate occupations across the military against our required outcomes, to provide as much credit as possible while still meeting all the outcomes needed to earn a Kaplan University diploma,” explained Sayler.

A number of degrees are, in turn, designed with servicemen and women in mind. For example, the Associates of Science in Health Science is designed for military medical personnel as an initial step toward a bachelor’s degree that maximizes military training in exchange for credit hours. It is tailored to match over 48 medical occupations in military branches to begin students at over half the needed credits. “We recognize the rigor and breadth of military training,” explained Sayler. “The combination of service and education sets [veterans] up to successfully transition and serve again.”

Volume 14 Issue 1
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