Witt/Kieffer: Answering The Call: Veterans as Civilian Healthcare Leaders

Military service is a breeding ground for exceptional leaders. Despite this fact, former military medical leaders are often undervalued and overlooked in recruitments for civilian healthcare executives. To find out why, and to explore what can be done about it, Witt/Kieffer initiated a focused survey of military veterans currently in healthcare industry leadership positions.

Military veterans bring top-notch management skills, honed to exacting standards, and yet they are often undervalued and overlooked in executive searches. For this reason Witt/Kieffer initiated a survey of military veterans currently in healthcare leadership positions to get their insights on this issue and what can be done to facilitate the transitions of military medical leaders into civilian healthcare positions.

Witt/Kieffer surveyed 24 veterans (23 men, 1 woman) currently in civilian healthcare leadership for this survey. Two-thirds had been in the Army, a bit less than one-third in the Navy, and others in the Air Force or Coast Guard. Survey participants’ highest past military roles ranged from Captain to Brigadier General.

The pool of respondents represented a broad mix of roles. Six had been military physicians, five had been military officers and four held both roles; four had been in the military service corps; others had been combat arms and infantry officers, in the engineer corps or in operations (finance).

What perhaps stands out most about the feedback we received is the thoughtfulness of the comments. These executives are clearly passionate about this issue, greatly value the time they served in military leadership, and wish to help pave the way for other veterans to assume key healthcare industry positions.

The veterans’ responses suggest that these individuals clearly feel that the military has prepared them well for positions within the broader healthcare industry. They suggest that there is misunderstanding and even bias among healthcare organizations regarding what ex-military officers bring to the leadership table. There is also a recognition that military medical officers and military physicians face a daunting transition into their post-military careers and must better prepare themselves for their work lives after leaving the service.

When considering what drives veterans, two words come forward: leadership and mission. The survey results make it clear that the respondents are locked in on those areas.

To read the full report, click here.

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