HCA Healthcare is a proud partner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. This collaboration allows corporate partners like HCA to hire veterans and military spouses as Fellows for 12 weeks, prior to their transition from the U.S. Army to civilian life.

We were honored to host our first 2017 Fellow, Mark Mitchell, in Nashville this year. And, thanks to the positive experience (he was hired on as a full-time employee!), we have plans to bring in at least four more transitioning service members later this month.

Always ready to serve others, Mark, less than one month removed from military life, shares the lessons he learned during his transition and how other veterans can benefit from the corporate fellowship program. Thank you, Mark, for your service to our country and to HCA. Welcome to the team!

Avery King, lead veteran recruiter at HCA Healthcare

Meet Mark Mitchell: HCA’s Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellow

My tenure as a Fellow at HCA was a transformative experience and the most important single factor in allowing me to find a new career after the military. I am one of the very fortunate ones who was able to leave the service on July 27 and transition into a great new career of service the very next day.

Military to Civilian

Making a career change can be a daunting task. It requires a great degree of self-awareness, adaptability, and a unique blend of confidence and humility. Confidence in your ability to quickly learn and succeed in a new domain, and humility to fully embrace your knowledge gaps and lack of expertise in your new field. The challenge of translating skills to a new industry can be particularly formidable for military leaders. This is where the Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program comes into play.

Each quarter, between 1,500 and 2,000 military personnel leave active duty from Fort Campbell, Ky. From this pool, Fort Campbell identifies the 25-30 individuals who are the best qualified to make the transition to a corporate career. These individuals are rigorously screened and selected for their demonstrated success in management positions, their passion and desire to transition into a corporate setting, as well as their potential to quickly learn, contribute, and excel in a new environment.

Once selected, a Fellow spends the next 12 weeks, Monday through Thursday, working at their host company. On Fridays, they return to Fort Campbell for seminars and lectures hosted by Austin Peay University focused on developing skills essential for management. Fellows also work towards earning one of three certifications during the program; project management professional (PMP), Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

My Journey to HCA

In March, I was selected to participate in the Corporate Fellowship program, and I knew immediately what company I wanted to work with: HCA. Avery King, who introduced me earlier in this blog, is an HCA recruiter focusing on veteran talent acquisition. He connected me with an opportunity in the company’s Information Technology & Services (IT&S) Division. There, I worked as a project manager in the Project Management Center of Excellence.

I had many years of experience in operations, logistics, and project management, but I was looking forward to having the opportunity to learn how to translate those skills and experiences at HCA. During my first week, I was confronted with the hard reality that the gap in my technical expertise was greater than I expected. These initial weeks were spent, not leading projects as I had anticipated, but learning the language, culture, and nuances of a dynamic, customer-facing – patients, physicians, nurses, and staff – organization. In many ways, I had to deconstruct the rigid mental frameworks that had served me well in the military, and adapt to a new way of thinking.

I was eventually able to contribute in the role of a project manager on MyHealthOne, a patient portal that allows online access to resources and tools like lab results, bill-pay ability, and appointment scheduling, and help improve the process for emergency room daily reports, which helps ER managers make informed decisions on staffing levels and areas to improve patient care. While I was learning the skills needed to be successful in my new role, I was encouraged by the culture that surrounded me. When I decided to leave the military, I thought that I was leaving behind the close sense of teamwork and comradery that typifies the military experience. Imagine my surprise to find myself on a team where collaboration, servant-leadership, and mentorship were found in abundance.

My manager was also able to accurately evaluate my skills, work-ethic, and fit within the HCA culture, and understood that I represented a thoroughly vetted candidate who could bring valuable contributions to his team faster than a traditional new-hire. As a result, I was offered the opportunity for full-time employment at the end of the Fellowship, and I gladly accepted.

There are outstanding candidates applying for the Corporate Fellowship program every month, and HCA represents the top choice for many of them. I’m glad I was selected to participate in the program and encourage those interested in transitioning to civilian life to visit here for more information.

Mark Mitchell graduates from the Hiring Our Heroes Fellowship Program and receives a certificate of completion from Tennessee Rep. Joe Pitts (Clarksville).

HCA has been recognized as a 2017 Military Friendly Employer®, a 2017 Military Spouse Friendly Employer® and a RecruitMilitary 2017 Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military award winner. Visit here for more information about careers with HCA.