Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Training Veterans for a New Career
Compensated Work Therapy and Sterile Processing Service have teamed up to create a valuable experience for Veterans to gain on-the-job education and training at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. CWT is designed to assist Veterans who are not ready to seek immediate competitive employment due to significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining gainful employment in the community.
"As our VA organization continues to evolve and prosper, so should our efforts to support education and training for our Veterans,"" said Sterile Processing Chief Rodney Hicks. "The support of the SPS staff is essential in the program's success. They provide on-the-job training and oversight to ensure the CWTs are performing within their assignments. The moral support and structured work environment prepare the CWTs for employment."
The majority of CWT assignments lasts four to six months, however the assignment in SPS is a full year, and highly desired among the CWT Trainees. The extended assignment allows the Veteran to gain enough experience to be eligible for a national exam to become a Certified Registered Medical Supply Technician-a resume builder they can take with them anywhere.
"I feel that the certification is the greatest contribution this program makes to Veterans' recovery and move towards independence," said CWT Supervisor Joan Dunn. "It gives those Veterans who complete the requirements a skill set that can be applied at the VA or any healthcare center and an opportunity to pursue a new career."
Since the program began in 2011, there have been four trainees, three have gone on to become Certified Registered Medical Supply Technicians and one is waiting to sit for the national exam. Two former trainees are now full time employees at the Charleston VAMC. This year the program will graduate three CWT trainees: Thomas Gilliard, James Alexander and Ray DeLoach.
"The program has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me," said CWT Trainee Ray DeLoach. "It has helped me moved forward in life. After graduation I hope to be hired in SPS and then get my national certification."
Hicks and Dunn have shared the successes of their program with the goal that the CWT training in SPS can be implemented throughout other facilities nationally.