As a college student, Lee Phillips didn’t know what life had in store for him. In his words, he was “kind of going through college and working a little bit, trying to pay my way through and didn't really know what I wanted to do.”
After witnessing his father walk again following a traumatic injury, Phillips was led toward a career in medicine as a physical therapist to help others like physical therapists helped his father.
“When I saw (my father’s healing) I told myself ‘this is something that I'm really interested in. I think I would like to help people like, that therapist helped my father,’ and it’s something I've been doing ever since,” said Phillips, now a physical therapist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany.
Phillips passion for healing drove him toward work with the Department of Defense, first as a contracted physical therapist at Fort Leonard Wood’s General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, and later as a Defense Health Agency civilian employee in Germany.
After 20 years working in physical therapy, Phillips is equipped for increased responsibility and was recently selected for the Joint Medical Executive Skills Institute Intermediate Executive Skills Course (JMESI-IES). The course provides education and training on leadership and management skills necessary to successfully serve in an intermediate-level leadership position within a DHA Medical Treatment Facility (MTF).
“(Phillips) has great initiative,” said Maj. Candi Roberts, chief of LRMC’s Physical Therapy Clinic. “He has a strong drive to make sure to always do the right thing all the time for his patients and for the team that he works for.”
For Phillips, a native of Greenbrier, Arkansas, the course would open opportunities for advancement and provide an in depth understanding of the DHA mission, strategic plan and help develop skills required to serve in an intermediate-level leadership position.
“When he expressed interest in the course, I was really enthusiastic to see him trying to progress himself so that one day he will take over as a chief or an assistant chief at an MTF,” said Roberts. “I know he's going to do great things in the future.”
With only two years at LRMC, Phillips has already taken on increased roles, heading multiple efforts to standardize policies within his department, a position especially important during a recent on-site survey aimed to assess standards compliance.
“With (Phillips) leading the team and making sure we have everything in place, I know that we're in good hands,” said Roberts.
While the new skills may advance Phillips’ career, he hopes to continue treating Service Members in helping them heal for years to come.
“It's awesome to be able to treat our service members,” explains Phillips. “What (we) do here, when a Soldier who is less than 100 percent comes in, and we try to get him back to 100 percent, we are helping the military with their readiness. I may not be able to go out and help someone on the front lines but I may be able to help someone stay in the fight or get back into it.”