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Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Hosts Recruitment Event for Veterans

  • Gary Luman, of Chester, Vt., an Army veteran, looks in on pathology technician Joseph Crowley, left, in the lab at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., Dec. 5, 2018. Luman was on a tour held for military veterans as prospective employees through the hospital's various departments. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Christopher Colgan, of Newport, N.H., left, and Erin Lapine, of Bradford, Vt., suit up before taking a tour of the operating department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center during a tour for prospective employees in Lebanon, N.H., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. Colgan, a Marine veteran, and Lapine, a member of the New Hampshire National Guard, participated in the event which was part of an effort by the hospital to recruit employees with military experience. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sarah Tarleton, a supervisor in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's Central Sterile Reprocessing room, explains how instruments and tools used throughout the hospital are cleaned and sterilized to a group of military veterans touring the facility in Lebanon, N.H., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. The hospital is making an effort to attract veterans for employment. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Lebanon — As an intelligence analyst in the Vermont Army National Guard, Annabelle Audette enjoyed working as part of a team to accomplish shared goals.

But when she left active service in 2017, Audette, now 26, wasn’t sure what to do next. Without a college degree, some jobs weren’t open to her. She found positions in the service industry, but was hoping for more.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do for a career,” she said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

She followed in her sister-in-law’s footsteps by attending one of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s training programs. Her sister-in-law became a pharmacy technician, while Audette, a Lebanon resident, is a medical assistant in DHMC’s allergy and immunology section.

“I love it,” she said.

To attract more workers like Audette to the more than 700 vacancies D-H currently is trying to fill, the hospital system hosted a special recruiting event for veterans, active members of the National Guard and their families on Wednesday in Lebanon. The first-time event drew a group of six people of mixed ages and backgrounds interested in seeing what opportunities the hospital might have to offer.

Jake Porter, a 27-year-old member of the Vermont National Guard, currently is working as a part-time rehab aide for a physical therapy practice, but came to Wednesday’s event because he is “looking for work.”

Porter, a native of Plattsburgh, N.Y., recently moved to West Lebanon from Brooklyn, N.Y. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology and is pursuing a master’s degree in public health from the University of Vermont.

After Porter and his fellow participants had suited up in white “bunny suits,” blue shoe covers and scrub caps, they went off to visit operating rooms and the downstairs sterilization area, which cleans about 10,000 instruments a day. He said it was “interesting.”

Chester, Vt., accountant Gary Luman, who served in the Army, said he was motivated to attend Wednesday’s event because he is “looking into a team environment.”

Walking through the pathology laboratory where pathologists were examining specimens searching for genetic mutations and infectious diseases, Luman said he was “learning a lot.”

Samantha Allen, the supervisor of the laboratory section who led that portion of the tour, said she has found her experience as a pharmacy technician in the Army to be useful in preparing her for her current role. As lab work is detail oriented, Allen said, the Army instilled a dedication to duty and ability focus that are “definitely a necessity” at the hospital.

The ability to work as a member of a team, as well as values such as duty, commitment and loyalty that are generally shared by veterans, also are important in a hospital setting, Sarah Currier, D-H’s workforce development director, said in a phone interview.

“Characteristics honored in the military are also respected and honored here,” she said.

In addition, D-H continues to pay active-duty members of the National Guard when they are called away for service, she said.

It’s “important to us that they be able to focus on what they’re doing,” she said.

Veterans on D-H’s staff include those in senior leadership positions such as Chief Operating Officer Patrick Jordan, who is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division and U.S. Army Special Operations community, and Chief Strategy Officer Stephen LeBlanc, who served as a supply corps officer in the Navy.

The idea for Wednesday’s event came up during an internal brainstorming session a few months ago, Currier said. While those present felt D-H already is welcoming to veterans, they wanted to do more, she said.

It would be “great if we could get more veterans to come here,” she said.

Current vacancies that veterans might be suited to filling include those in clinical areas and also in behind-the-scenes roles such as waste management, food service and clerical work, Currier said.

Zac Conaway, DHMC’s manager of waste, recycling and training, came to the hospital in 2012 after serving as a logistics officer in the Army.

“It was a really good fit,” he said.

The 34-year-old Conaway, a Groton, Vt., resident, said that everyone in the military understands the importance of leadership and of having a clear chain of command. His experience in managing Army logistics has helped in his work at the hospital. Before moving to the waste management side of things, he worked in the hospital’s distribution warehouse, he said.

Like Audette, Conaway said he has found the hospital’s shared mission appealing.

“That feeling of higher purpose is part of the culture at the hospital,” Conaway said.

To support current employees who are veterans, Conaway said, the hospital is working to increase opportunities for veterans to interact with each other socially.

“When I first started, one of the (other) employees was an Army veteran,” Conaway said. It “made it easier. I knew somebody that had a similar experience.”

Audette said that her current work as a medical assistant, in which she helps with skin and breathing checks, may just be her first step in the health care field.

She plans to continue her training in the future, perhaps to become a licensed practical nurse and later a registered nurse.

“Now I actually have a career, which I actually never thought I was going to say,” she said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.