Military medics are getting the chance to continue to serve their fellow Veterans after they leave the service under a new project created by the Veterans Affairs Innovations Program. At the Grand Junction VA Medical Center, medics are working in the facility’s emergency room and will soon have positions with the facility’s Mobile Medical Clinic and some specialty clinics. As civilians, the former medics are called intermediate care technicians.
“This is just one of the many projects nation-wide coming out of the 30 plus innovations offices within VA,” said Crystal Woolen, innovations specialist, at the VA Western Colorado Health Care System in Grand Junction. “We know that our staff members have some of the best ideas on how to provide quality care for our Veterans. As innovation specialists, our job is to help them develop those ideas and get them into the field at the local and national level.”
The concept for moving military medics and corpsmen from their units into civilian positions, with the VA came out of the “Spark, Seed, Spread” investment program supported by the VA Innovation Network. Grand Junction was awarded a Spread grant which brought the ICT (Intermediate Care Technician) program to WCHCS, Woolen added.
This program allows any staff member to present their ideas on how to improve any aspect of Veteran’s health care, whether it is clinical, environmental or even logistical.
Ideas are then ranked for possible implantation by a selection board. Local finalists’ projects are forwarded to a national level where they are ranked and funded by priority.
VA employees from facilities without an Innovations office can enter their ideas for consideration through the “Go Fish” program where Innovation sites mentor them through the process, Woolen said. “We want to ensure everyone with a good idea gets a chance to promote it.”