20May

Ready to Cross that Bridge? Certification Can Help You Cross the Gap Between a Military and Civilian Career

JeffreyLavender

 

By Jeffrey Lavender, MT(AMT)

 

When I enlisted in the United States Army in 1982 to be a medical laboratory specialist, I did not envision that one day I could be the president of an internationally recognized allied health certification organization. It was a long journey to get me there, but the Army set me up for success all along the way.

It all started with certification

During the 80s, the Army Medical Laboratory Program (consolidated with the US Navy) consisted of a basic and an advanced laboratory program. Back then, military members generally weren’t eligible for certification until successful completion of the advanced program. Today’s medical laboratory technician (MLT) program, allows Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen to be immediately eligible for certification. With the ready availability of this credential, it is sad to see that many don’t obtain or maintain that hard-earned certificate because it can serve you well throughout your career, wherever your journey takes you.

Maintaining my own medical technologist MT(AMT) certification, which I earned in 1989 as a Sergeant after completing the Army’s advanced medical lab course, has enhanced my career every step of the way. Once I achieved the credential, my certification and the volunteer work I did with AMT were reflected in nearly every evaluation report. Combined with my military-specific work, my career skyrocketed up the ladder to eventually reach sergeant major. Even the Army recognized my commitment to professionalism and quality in my chosen career field.

Employers need to see that common denominator to understand

With less than 3% of the US population ever serving in the Armed Forces, most hiring managers in the civilian sector don’t understand the depth and breadth and quality of the training and education offered through the military. How your skills and knowledge gained in the military are a solution to their workforce needs is not readily recognized. Fortunately, in the medical community we have a way to translate our skills and knowledge in a way that is readily accepted – a professional credential. Certification exams, like those for the AMT lab credentials of MLT and MT or registered medical assistant RMA(AMT), are the same whether you completed your training in the military or in a civilian college or university. Passing, and maintaining a national certification is something to which all military and civilian supervisors can relate. It is the bond that translates your military training to the civilian equivalent.

The value of a professional credential

The certification exam is designed to assess and validate your skills and knowledge measured against high industry standards. It demonstrates that you are trainable, that you learn from your training to the point of proficiency. It also shows that you are ready for more advanced tasks and that you capable of committing yourself to be a professional.

When you transition, your certification goes with you. You can immediately go to work anywhere in the US (and many countries abroad). And healthcare specialists are certainly in demand across this great country. As a military veteran, your reputation goes before you, making you even more in demand.

Considerations for choosing certification

When choosing a life-long certification organization partner, consider three aspects: reputation, accessibility, and endurance.

Reputable: AMT is widely recognized by employers and state and federal agencies for their excellent reputation. An AMT credential is backed by a rigorous task-based exam. And the AMT exams I mentioned, MT, MLT, and RMA are accredited by a very reputable external organization, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). AMT also has a long history of supporting its members with education and on-going maintenance of professional competencies, which serve to keep you relevant in a fast-changing career field.

Accessible: AMT is proud to provide the highest quality exams and education materials at economical prices, giving you the best value today. As a not-for-profit, AMT’s mission is to keep fees and dues low, so cost is not a barrier to a successful career. AMT offers a streamlined process for application and recertification. They recognize that each person has a unique history of training and experiences, so they offer multiple routes to certification and multiple means of obtaining continuing education.

Enduring: In 2019, AMT is celebrating its 80th year of certification excellence, one of the longest-running allied health certification organization in the US. And, the AMT member ranks continue to grow every year through new certifications, as allied health professionals constantly seek to keep relevant. You can count on AMT to stay with you throughout your career and beyond.

After certification

I became certified through AMT as an Enlisted Soldier and availed myself of the opportunities that only a professional association can offer members. The 85,000 members of AMT national are locally supported by state societies, and I attended and volunteered for whatever state society in which I was stationed. Eventually I worked my way up to the association’s national board of directors. My military training got me started and helped sustain me, but my mentors in both the Army and at AMT helped to propel me to the top. You have that opportunity in AMT. Maintain that certification, keep yourself relevant in an in-demand career field, and you will be successful.


Jeffrey Lavender, MT(AMT), is a retired US Army Sergeant Major with 29 years of active duty service. His career as a Medical Laboratory NCO in the Army was complemented by his volunteer work at all levels in AMT, including serving as the AMT National President. He currently is employed by Kirtland Community College as a phlebotomy instructor and serves as an officer on the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center board of trustees as well as Fire Fighter Captain and medical first-responder with the local fire department.

 

 

 

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