Former Navy corpsman returns to hands-on nursing care
Baptist helps reduce internal CNA shortage while giving team members a leg up in their health care careers.
Johnny Woodhouse Published: 4/25/2018
David Ross spent 21 years in the U.S. Navy, including six as a hospital corpsman, but his hands-on medical experience in the military didn’t exactly set him up for instant success in the civilian sector.
“One day you are doing minor surgery on a ship and then you retire and the only thing you are qualified to do is put a Band-Aid on a booboo,” recalled Ross, who like many former Army medics and Navy corpsmen had trouble finding civilian medical work that matched his prior military training.
While stationed at Mayport, Ross, a former volunteer firefighter, was treated for an infected leg at Baptist Medical Center Beaches. He was so impressed with the quality of care he received at the Jacksonville Beach hospital, he decided to volunteer two days a week in the emergency room.
That volunteer stint led to a full-time job as a patient advocate in the ER.
Ross served as a patient advocate at Baptist Beaches for eight years until the position was phased out in 2014. That’s when he was asked to join a training program to become a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, offered to Baptist Health team members.
“One door closed, and another one opened,” said Ross, the son of a registered nurse and a radiologist.
Ross took advantage of the 15-week course that was offered at no charge to Baptist team members. He graduated in November 2014 with 26 other team members and began working as a licensed CNA at Baptist Beaches in December of that year after passing the state certification exam. To date, nearly 100 team members have graduated from Baptist’s CNA prep course, which helps reduce a shortage of qualified CNAs across the health system.
“The CNA program gave me an opportunity to get my foot back in the door. And the icing on the cake was that I got to stay in my same department,” added Ross, who works rotating shifts in the ER.
Juan Allen graduated from Baptist’s fifth CNA training class in 2016 and is now a CNA on the pediatric oncology and hematology unit at Wolfson Children's Hospital. Prior to that, he worked as a UV technician at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. “When I heard that Baptist was offering a free CNA prep course, I wanted in,” said Allen, a father of four. “I left my Environmental Services job to work with patients at the bedside. I love making a great first impression with them.”