Beth Calhoun was unemployed for several months after she got out of the Air Force six years ago, and even when she again began to collect a paycheck it was for a job and not a career.
Calhoun now has a career as a medical lab assistant at LabCorp after she graduated last month from Arizona Medical Training Institute in Mesa, and the school is looking to recreate similar success stories.
With Veterans Day now less than a week away, AZMTI last month launched the Veterans Scholarship Program and will award 12 scholarships to veterans looking to break into the medical field.
The school is seeking applications through its website (evtnow.com/609) until Nov. 15. The scholarships will range between $300 and $2,000, depending on the focus and program the recipient selects.
The medical industry is expected to create 3.2 million new jobs by 2018, according to a recent study. More than 800,000 veterans are unemployed and nearly 12 percent return home to join the unemployment line. AZMTI wants to align the industry need with a capable workforce.
“Instead of talking about what’s happening out there in the community we wanted to actually go out there and do something about it,” said AZMTI founder Jim Dillard, whose son is in the Navy. “I’ve seen major transitions in businesses I was running when I brought military veterans on board. They come in with a rare blend of skill sets, great training and they know how to compete.”
Calhoun possessed many of those skills Dillard described when she returned to civilian life after 10 years in the Air Force that included a tour in Germany.
“Coming out of the military I was thinking, ‘What now?’” Calhoun said last week. “I really wanted to go medical. My mom was a registered nurse. I thought my background in the military would get a huge response. It didn’t. My on-the-job training didn’t fill the need for formal education. Even Army medics had to go back to school. Your military résumé is way different than a civilian résumé.”
Calhoun, who lives in Queen Creek, needed the education she received at AZMTI — first in phlebotomy and then as a medical lab assistant. Other veterans sometimes simply need proof of what they know.
“Some military training doesn’t translate to the civilian word,” said Dave Beatty, AZMTI director of admission and a former staff sergeant in the Air Force who completed three Middle East tours. “Some guys just need that piece of paper, because that’s what the civilian word demands. But that piece of paper is validation, validation of professionalism and a certain level of education that they attained. It gets them into the market.
“When I got out (in 2009), I was unemployed for seven months. I realized my lack of education was a barrier. One of my first jobs when I got out was helping other vets get educated and I’ve been in that business ever since. The medical field thrives on all the same things the military does: attention to detail, teamwork, organizational ability. A lot of vets find a good home in the medical field.”
AZMTI, with a 13,000-square-foot campus at 1530 N. Country Club Drive, Suite 11, offers both online and in-classroom instruction in 11 programs. The school graduated 1,000 certified nursing assistants last year with a 97 percent first-time pass rate.
Scholarship winners will be notified Nov. 25 and then publicly announced Dec. 2.
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