Category Archives: Nurse

Reserve Profile: LT Jody McIntosh, Critical Care Nurse

In May of 2013 Jodie McIntosh was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserve Nurse Corps.  She recently agreed to provide some feedback on her first four months as a drilling reservist.

When asked about her initial draw to the Navy Reserves, the Sykesville, MD resident indicated that she was seeking greater challenges both personally and professionally.  “Last time I felt this way, I went to grad school (Masters in Nursing Education from Towson).  This time I thought the military might be the best place to seek those opportunities.” she said.

Ensign Jody McIntosh, Nurse Corps, US Navy Reserves

Jody McIntosh, LT,  NC, USNR is pictured above. In her civilian career, LT McIntosh is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Carroll Community College. She also works part time at St. Joseph’s Medical Center on the Cardiac Surgery Unit.

As a reservist, LT McIntosh works one weekend a month at the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) in Baltimore and is required to participate in at least two weeks of training each year. 

During her first few drill weekends she has assisted in performing annual health assessments on fellow reservists, as well as completing some General Military Training requirements.  She also recently took part in a community service project at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, in Washington, DC.

While these expereiences have been good, LT McIntosh went on to say that she is really looking forward to other opportunities, as well.  She is scheduled for two weeks of Direct Commission Officers Indoctrination Course (DCOIC) in January which will be held in Newport, RI, and she plans to attend the Navy Expeditionary Medical Training Institute (NEMTI) in Camp Pendleton, CA in June of next year.  DCOIC will provide the basic training on how to successully work as an Officer in the Navy Reserves.  The NEMTI course is focused on providing medical care in austere environments.

Beyond that she is further excited about the pending transition of the local unit from an Operational Health Support Unit to an Expeditionary Medical Facility.  This will mean a shift in focus for the entire crew assigned to the NOSC in Baltimore.  Instead of supporting shore based installations such as Walter Reed in Bethesda and the local reserve center, the unit will focus their training on skills needed to deploy as unit to provide medical treatment around the world should the need arise.

Throughout this process, LT McIntosh has had complete support from both her family and her employers.  “From the moment I filled out the paperwork about the Navy Reserves, my husband was constantly asking if I had heard anything back yet” she said, “He’s been nothing but supportive the entire way.”

Working as both an Assistant Professor of Nursing and Carroll County Community College, and part time in the Cardiac Surgery Unit at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Towson, MD, meant that she needed to have the endorsement of two bosses during her application process. 

According to LT McIntosh, both her Program Director and her Nurse Manger have been “extremely supportive” throughout the process and remain so today.  When asked if she had any advice for other nurses interested in opportunities in the Navy Reserve, she simply stated….”Do it!”.

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Organizational Culture: Right Person for the Right Job

In my 18 years in the Navy I’ve had the opportunity to work with a great number of medical officers.  Many absolutely LOVED the Navy and have stayed, or are planning to stay, for a full 20 year career. Others have enjoyed the Navy for what it can also be; an opportunity to practice medicine on a global scale for 5 to 10 years, serving Sailors and Marines, as well as their families. After a while these doctors, nurses, and dentists eventually moved on to civilian practice, loaded up with great training and some seriously cool “sea stories”.  I can only think of two people, however, that absolutely dreaded coming to work.  These individuals were not only miserable, but they made life tough for the entire work section.

Why were they hopelessly miserable?  As it turns out, their reasons were similar.  In both cases the reality of their situations at the time were not in alignment with what they expected a Navy career to be like.  To be honest, I don’t really know what lifestyle they expected, but it doesn’t matter.  The only thing that mattered was that they felt trapped, and by extension, were worried that they might have been falling behind in life.

SAN DIEGO (March 4, 2011) Lt. Lauren Mattingly, an intern in the Naval Medical Center San Diego Graduate Medical Education program, examines a newborn baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The graduate program trains doctors in the development of clinical and professional skills. The hospital has 24 accredited programs such as obstetrics gynecology, internal medicine and orthopedics. More than 70 interns are enrolled in the 2011 Graduate Medical Education program. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower/Released)

Two.  That’s it. In my career only two were so miserable that they were actually a detriment to the mission.  It’s not many, but both were memorable situations.

Understanding the environment you are entering is critical to ensuring long term happiness in any endeavor.  These two unhappy souls painted themselves into a corner because they were too focused on immediate benefits and did not learn enough about the organization they were committing to.

The best organizations pay their employees just enough to keep them happy financially, but they really distinguish themselves in other areas such as organizational culture.  Of course, not all organizational cultures are the same, just as no two individuals are the same.  The real trick for an individual is to find a culture that fits their personality. In a similar way, organizations (including the Navy) actively seek out people who will mesh with the culture they already have.  When personality and organizational culture are aligned, success is exponential.

Money can’t buy happiness, but, of course, there is also nothing wrong with making a nice living doing something that makes you happy.  Compensation is very important and should certainly be factored into career decisions and there is a significant amount of money involved in affiliating with the Navy. Medical school scholarships are worth well over $200,000.  Physicians in certain residencies can earn close to $70,000 a year (in addition to residency pay) to affiliate after training, and licensed physicians with some skill sets can receive over $100,000 just for signing on.  But even if your primary mitivation for looking into a Navy career is a monetary one, you still owe it to yourself to investigate what your future will be like in the Navy.

The Navy wants individuals who will be successful in our organization. That’s why the affiliation process requires two interviews from current Navy officers.  Applicants tend to come away from these conversations with a much clearer picture of what their future will look like in the Navy.  These Navy medical professionals go out of there way to approach subjects such as deployments, residency programs and other training opportunities.  

They speak candidly about their ability to pursue personal goals, such as  family life, as well as the highs and lows of a Navy career. In addition, they speak to the responsibilities inherent with being in the military, as well as the specific constraints of the system.  The goal is an honest representation of what a future Naval Medical Officer can expect.  The more people learn, the more excited they get about a future as a Naval Officer.  The more they know ahead of time, as an applicant,  the easier it will be to navigate through any bad days they may experience once affiliated.

Oddly enough, the two miserable doctors I spoke about may actually have enjoyed the Navy, had they known what was coming.  It wasn’t the Navy as a whole that made them grumpy, it was feeling like they had been victimized.  All jobs will have some good days and some bad days.   I believe that had they had a better recruitment experience they either would have been more prepared to handle any bad days that came along and thus experienced a more successful (or at least had a more tolerable) Navy career. That, or they would not have joined at all.  Either of these would have been a more desirable situation for all parties involved.

The Navy isn’t for everyone and not everyone is meant for the Navy. I do believe, however, that there are many individuals who can find happiness and success in the Navy despite not even knowing it yet.   If you enjoy the opportunity to travel the world and working in an incredible team oriented environment the Navy may well be the place for you.  Check out the opportunities in Navy Medicine at the official Navy Medical Officer Recruiting website or you can reach out to me for more information.

Bob Wheeler

Chief Hospital Corpsman

bob.wheeler@navy.mil

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Filed under Culture, Dentist, Doctor, Nurse, Residency, Scholarship