Justin Fowler is an Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) with VA’s Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Colombia, Missouri. After serving with a Marine infantry unit, Fowler took advantage of the rich opportunities VA offers former military medics and corpsmen, including basic medical technicians, combat medic specialists, basic hospital corpsmen or basic health services technicians.
While working at VA, Fowler applied for the VA National Education for Employee Program (VANEEP) scholarship, which provides financial assistance to employees pursuing degrees or training in healthcare disciplines. Fowler said VANEEP put him on the fast track to a career as an Advanced Practice Nurse through the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the University of Missouri. Fowler was honored at the recent ICT Day of Innovation at Truman Memorial VA.
In this installment of our #ChooseVA Careers blog series, Fowler shares his views on VA’s education support programs and why he thinks other transitioning military professionals should consider working at VA.
What is your primary job at VA?
I take orders from my medical director–an emergency room (ER) physician–performing procedures to relieve the load that the ER doctors are responsible for. I also help with nursing care when I’m not engaged with one of the doctors. My most commonly used skills are phlebotomy, ultrasound-guided IV access, suturing, incision and drainage, casting, 12 lead EKG, and responding to and/or running codes around the hospital such as stat, stroke and blue.
What was appealing about a career at VA?
I really appreciate how analogous it is to my previous function as a Navy Corpsman stationed with a Marine Corps infantry unit.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I derive satisfaction from both the directing physician and the patient when procedures are performed well and Veterans are at ease.
How did you hear about the scholarship program? What school did you decide to pursue with your scholarship funds?
I was working as an overnight administrator at VA when I heard about the scholarship program from other co-workers.
After going through the application process for the VANEEP scholarship, I applied the funding toward the University of Missouri, Columbia’s accelerated BSN program. If the VANEEP scholarship had fallen through, I wouldn’t have been able to attend school full time. One of the most beneficial aspects of the scholarship is that it provides replacement salary funding, which allows participants to complete their education in a timely manner by attending full time.
In what ways did the scholarship help you complete your training?
It enabled me to focus on my studies while maintaining my responsibilities to my family of four. If I did not have this scholarship, I would have to work overnight to maintain full-time status, which means I would hardly ever see my family!
What would you tell other healthcare professionals who are interested in choosing a career at VA?
VA has a specific mission that is not clouded or diverted because of funding issues. Insurance and copay collection are never issues guiding decision making. At VA, the care of Veterans always guides the way we deliver services.
As a Veteran, there is no better public or private institution to serve. VA’s mission statement guides its policies and actions, not profit or funding. It’s all about the Veterans!
Choose VA today
The ability to practice medicine after the military and serve fellow Veterans led Fowler to choose a VA career. See if an Intermediate Care Technician position at VA is the right choice for you too.