Fort Sill officers get career guidance
February 27, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. -- With the Army's officer corps slimming down, those who are juniors in the ranks are asking for advice on advancing. Fort Sill's medical officers gathered for that reason Feb. 20 to attend the Junior Officer Council Leadership Seminar.
"The purpose of this council is to reach out to senior officers and ask 'How do we grow as we go up in the ranks?'" said Capt. William Ceballos, Reynolds Army Community Hospital laboratory manager.
Junior officer ranks include second and first lieutenants and captains. Ceballos said as Soldiers reach a new rank they need to know what is expected of them in that leadership role.
In the medical field, just who to ask can be confusing.
"A lot of us have more than one boss. It's like if you're doing this tasks then this is your boss, but if you're also doing this (other) task, then this is your boss. It is hard for an evaluation, but it's also hard because no one person is necessarily the manager of you," said Ceballos.
Twenty-four Fort Sill medical officers which included doctors, nurses, physical therapists and dentists were able to take a break from taking care of patients to tend to their career paths. The day started at the Confidence Obstacle Course.
"We do PT but we've never been able to go to an obstacle course and get that dirty. It was definitely fun," said Capt. Kourtney Simpson, Cowan Dental Clinic resident. "There were some challenging parts physically, but the idea behind it was team building."
Col. Jennifer Robison, RACH deputy commander of nursing, welcomed the group and then they discussed things that affected not only their careers, but their livelihood.
"Some of the questions that were asked were especially for doctors and dentists who acquire large student loans. So they asked what's better: to pay off my loan completely before I start investing, or should I invest now while I pay off my student loan," said Ceballos.
The guest speaker laid out options according to different financial situations and explained the pros to each choice.
"It was definitely relevant. I know one thing that was important to me was about investing versus trying to get completely out of debt. It all kind of depends on what's more important to you and taking into account the interest rate that you have. I thought that was helpful advice," said Simpson.
During the day-long seminar, the officers also had guest speakers talk about things pertinent to their field of health care, specifically how to avoid a medical lawsuit.
Each Soldier is responsible for keeping their license up to date according to the state in which they originally received it. And if a patient complained about their care, they learned how to deal with it.
"Bottom line is if one of us gets a letter from one of our state boards to not go alone. We need to hire someone from that state that has dealt with that board before to guide us and let us know what our rights are," said Ceballos.
He said while that Soldier may believe they were practicing correctly according to the state in which they are practicing, it may go against the state where they are licensed so they need professional help to deal with the legalities.
"We may walk into an interview thinking it was an honest mistake or I think I didn't make a mistake, so I'm just going to tell them what really happened and think it's fine when it's not according to that state's board."
They also learned the ins and outs of Veteran Affairs benefits, not only for themselves, but to help offer options to patients.
"Several of us are new in the Army so this is awesome stuff to hear," said Simpson. "It's easy to go into a clinic and treat patients as we've been trained to do, but to really understand everything that's available to us or how to handle other aspects of being an Army dentist -- it's cool to have that available to us [in] a program like this," said Simpson.
Col. Steven Parker, G3/5/7 director, finished the seminar by speaking to the group about what it takes to be a great leader and how to be one in their respective ranks.
"I would definitely say if they offer this again I would recommend [junior officers] go because you'll learn a lot," said Simpson.