Brock Phillips, RN, is one of the almost 200 servicemen and women with veteran status who serve throughout Kansas at Ascension Via Christi.
"I honestly started taking an interest in being a caregiver out of boredom," says the 34-year old Phillips, who joined the National Guard eight years ago. "I hadn't done a lot with myself or my life until I joined."
After completing basic training, Phillips wasn't sure of his path.
"My wife, Megan, pushed me to move on from my three-year employment with a correctional facility," says the Oswego, Kansas, native. "I wanted to earn a degree in healthcare and she gave me the push to get back on track."
Phillips, who received his associates degree in Nursing from Labette Community College, began working for the Emergency Department at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg two years ago.
"Other places offered incentives and sign-on bonuses but I like this organization a lot," says Phillips. "Ascension Via Christi values its people and that's what has kept me here."
Phillips says his military role as a medic was mostly a muscle-memory job, while working as an RN requires creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
"I was fortunate enough to learn from strong, patient co-workers and leaders who helped me overcome the learning curve of being an RN," says Phillips, adding that during COVID-19, he's continued to have the support, resources and training he needed to safely provide care. "We have learned to slow down and help each other out even more."
Soon, Phillips will serve his last shift at the hospital as he will be leaving on June 11 for a nine-month deployment in Kuwait. "There's lots of nerves that come with this but it is still exciting to expand my experience," he says.
While abroad, he plans to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing online. "I don't know if I'd be an RN without my medic training," says Phillips. "I definitely wouldn't be pursuing my BSN without Via Christi."
Jessica Cobb, RN, and ED manager, is one person for whom Phillips is especially grateful.
"Everyone has been so accommodating to the demands of the curveballs that the National Guard throws," says Phillips. "But Jessica has been the most understanding of my responsibilities."
That led him to nominate Cobb for the Patriotic Employer award, which recognizes supervisors and employers for their support of the military service.
"Brock has such a strong work ethic and always brings a smile to his patients and coworkers each day," says Cobb. "He is a great team player and works hard to lend a helping hand wherever needed. He is eager to learn and it has been such a joy having him as part of our team. We are so proud of Brock and the service he provides to our ministry and to our country. He will be missed during his deployment."