Thousands of Veterans across the VA health care system are benefiting from the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) program, which employs military-trained medics and corpsmen as VA health care clinical providers to deliver health care services to those with whom they have a shared background in military service.
“ICTs have already received extensive specialized training and we can then directly apply that skill set to VA,” said National Interim ICT program manager David Lash.
Recently discharged medics and corpsmen (pictured above) now work in Veterans Health Administration medical facility dermatology clinics, emergency departments (EDs), intensive care units and surgical clinics.
“One of the neatest places I’ve seen ICTs is in the geriatric (emergency department) ED,” said Dr. Chad Kessler, national program director of VA Emergency Medicine. During a Cleveland VA site visit, Kessler noted that he saw an ICT’s higher level of experience in action in the careful assistance of a 90-year-old Veteran who had walked into the ED for care.
Kessler said the ICT used his military medical background to immediately grasp what the patient needed. The ICT assessed the Veteran, assisted in addressing his immediate care needs and coordinated home-based care for additional treatment.
A Special Bond
ICTs’ unique bond with other Veterans makes the ICT program special, Lash said. “I’ve seen it first hand. Sometimes an ICT can get Veterans to open up in ways that help provide more relevant care, just because they were comfortable talking to a fellow Veteran.”
The program’s mission is twofold — to create a health care career path where former medics and corpsmen can apply skills honed in the military to care for Veterans, and to develop a pipeline of well-trained clinical staff who can continue to serve Veterans as professionally licensed clinicians.
Beyond active duty, few civilian health care positions allow Veterans to apply their military training without additional licensure or credentials. VA’s ICT career track permits transitioning Army medics, Air Force para rescue specialists, Navy hospital corpsmen and Coast Guard health services technicians from the enlisted ranks to continue their medical training, skills and careers at VA.
ICTs have expansive skills. Their duties include intravenous administration, venipuncture, ear irrigation, incision and drainage of abscesses, splinting, and suture removal – just to name a few.
“ICTs have become fully utilized. Both clinical staff and managers see the benefit and now want to hire more of them,” Lash added. “A key future effort for us is to expand our partnership with the Department of Defense so potential ICT recruits can have the best information earlier as they begin to prepare for their civilian careers.”
Author: Lelia Jackson is director of the Office of Community Engagement, which works to build VA’s strategic partnerships. Ms. Jackson and Dr. Karen Ott from the Office of Nursing Services, co-lead the Intermediate Care Technician Program.