Source:  Natalie Gross,

Lorinda Stahley’s job as an emergency room nurse in Florida is a far cry from her old military specialty, directing helicopters and keeping meticulous records from her vantage point in the flight tower as an air traffic controller.

At least — it used to be. But when she arrived at the AdventHealth Orlando hospital in 2014, she noticed patients were getting stuck in the waiting room because there wasn’t a good system for notifying the medical staff when there was an empty bed. So, as director of nursing for emergency service and observation medicine, she made one. She set up a control room and put someone in charge of directing where patients should go, an approach that’s dramatically cut down on patient wait times.

She calls the system “bed traffic control.”

“As we were building this,” Stahley said, “I was like, ‘Huh. This reminds me of being in the military. It reminds me of the air traffic control space and the things that we would do with this person being responsible for everyone going in and everyone going out.’”

That’s just one way Stahley uses her military-learned skills every day on the job, though it’s been 30 years since she left active duty. And it’s a good example of how other former service members interested in the medical field — even those without a background in health care — can still put their military-learned skills to good use.

Know what you bring to the table

When asked what advice she would give to veterans who want to transition into the health care field, Stahley said it’s important for them to understand how their military training has already prepared them for a career in the industry.

“There are just so many things that you don’t even realize how it can transition,” she said. “I think those leadership skills that just become innate for people in the military, it’s very needed in the health-care field, and it’s very important.”