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Military Spouses Find Home at Inova

Since graduating more than a year ago from Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, Erin Gallardy, RN, had struggled to find a job.

Part of the reason was the fact that as a military spouse, Gallardy was likely to be moving often.

“No job was interested if you’re only going to be there for a year,” said Gallardy, an Army National Guard spouse.

For Gallardy and dozens of other military spouses in the DC/Maryland/Virginia region with nursing and healthcare backgrounds, the Military to Medicine program at Inova Health System, Falls Church, Va., has offered an outlet for their skills.

Martha Bowyer, RN

“Many of these spouses are registered nurses or have healthcare experience and are re-entering the healthcare field,” said Daniel Nichols, executive director of the program. “It’s a great fit for them and a great fit for us.”

Nichols said surveys of employees leaving Inova show that one of the top three reasons is military transition.

The program addresses that obstacle by offering employment opportunities to experienced RNs, along with flexible scheduling and the chance to work in new avenues of healthcare.

Angela McDowell, RN

A group of 15 military spouses recently has been hired to work as trainers for Inova’s health system’s computerized physician order entry system, including Gallardy, Army spouse Martha Bowyer, RN, and Air Force spouse Angela McDowell, RN. All three nurses work at Inova Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria, Va.

Since October 2009, 35 military spouses have been hired through the program.

CPOE allows physicians to electronically enter orders to clinical staff and departments such as laboratory, pharmacy and radiology.

Burgeoning technology in healthcare, including the movement to electronic medical records, has produced the need for experienced healthcare professionals to work in the training role.

Erin Gallardy, RN

“This is healthcare’s Y2K,” Nichols said. “CPOE is an important tool for healthcare providers, and these spouses will play a vital role in ensuring that Inova’s staff is trained and prepared to use this system.”

Working in a training role has allowed RNs such as Bowyer to ease the fears of those using the system. Bowyer said she tells her trainees that “in a year, you won’t ever know how you’ve done without it.”

Although RNs such as Gallardy see the program as a “foot in the door” to other areas of the hospital, McDowell is among those who have caught the technology bug.

“I’m very happy,” said McDowell, whose background is in geriatrics. “I like working with the technology.”

McDowell is among the program’s participants who found out about Military to Medicine in a unique way.

“I’m Martha’s neighbor at [Virginia’s] Fort Belvoir,” McDowell said. “Our kids know each other. She was excited to tell me about her new job.”

So Bowyer inquired about the program as well and was hired in December. Word of mouth among military spouses, Nichols said, is invaluable. “It’s a big community, but a small world,” he said.

Barry Bottino is a regional editor for Nursing Spectrum.

By | 2020-04-15T14:34:17-04:00 March 22nd, 2010|Categories: DC/MD/VA, Regional|0 Comments

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