Find Your Next Purpose: Meet 3 Veteran-Nurses at Johnson & Johnson
Find Your Next Purpose: Meet 3 Veteran-Nurses at Johnson & Johnson
ew people understand the front lines of a crisis better than military veterans and nurses, yet the two identities aren’t mutually exclusive: Many veterans are also nurses, eventually to be joined by the nearly 30,000 nurses who serve in the U.S. military today. With that in mind, here’s how three veteran-nurses are applying their skills—and discovering a familiar sense of purpose—in civilian careers with Johnson & Johnson.
“Addressing Healthcare Disparities”—Ashley’s Mission
When you’ve spent nearly a decade on active duty service as a Naval Officer in the U.S. Navy, transitioning to the private sector isn’t easy. Ashey, for example, remembers "feeling sort of all over the place."
“Do I become a nurse practitioner? Do I go to law school? I just felt like, ‘I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.’”
Ultimately, having earned a master’s degree in nursing leadership and management toward the end of her military tenure, Ashley decided to put her expertise into practice. For the next two years, she worked as a nurse manager in the intensive care unit of a fast-paced academic medical center in a major city.
It was impactful work, but in retrospect, Ashley conceded, “Even though I had immediately gotten this job, I don’t think I had fully transitioned out of my military identity. In fact, I didn’t realize that I was just at the beginning of that journey.”
There were basic questions she hadn’t considered: What motivates me? How do I want to spend my day? What gets me out of bed in the morning?
A lot of it came down to “values,” she said, and figuring out “the extent to which who I was in the military was going to be part of the future version of me.”
Which is why discovering Our Credo, the values guiding everything we do at Johnson & Johnson, proved to be such a revelation for Ashley.
“Our Credo almost made me tear up the first time that I read it,” Ashley recalled. In outlining our commitments to the communities, for example, it struck her as a direct extension of her work in the military, where she was always guided by the dictum to leave this place better than you found it.
“Our Credo comes up every day in the work that I’m doing,” Ashley said. “I think it’s very helpful for people like me who are trying to figure out who they are, and who they want to be, in their post-military careers.”
Plus, it dovetails with another of Ashley’s passions: advancing health equity. “Addressing healthcare disparities, identifying patients who are at risk, these are things that we’re talking about and working on every day,” she said.
How has her background prepared her for the role of Senior Medical Science Liaison at Johnson & Johnson?
“A lot of my job today is about science, but it’s also about relationships,” she explained. “When you’re in the military, you learn to quickly build rapport with people from all kinds of different backgrounds, and you realize that everyone is bringing an entire lifetime of their own unique experiences to your interaction. So you learn to be respectful and open in order to truly hear what people are saying, and what they might not be saying, as well.”
“Training and Education Are Constants”—Cesar’s Calling
What does it mean for a registered nurse and military veteran to be Director of Global Education at Ethicon-MedTech Education, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies?
Cesar, an RN with 26 years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps behind him, will tell you it’s the sweet spot: where his nursing expertise and military background align perfectly.
“It doesn’t matter what job you have in the military," Cesar said, "training and education are two things that you’re always going to be doing, whether it’s foundational training, sustainment training, pre-deployment training, or cross-training, you name it. Training and education are such constants that they’re almost like these parallel jobs for everybody in the military.”
Why? "You want to avoid having a single point of failure," Cesar explained. "It's important for team members to be prepared for different scenarios and ready to fill each other’s shoes."
Such an outlook certainly serves Cesar today as he plans and leads wide-ranging educational programs globally—and strives to positively impact the future of health.
His work also frequently puts him in contact with his peers in the field. Most recently, for example, Cesar recounted, “I was personally interacting with OR nurses and other healthcare practitioners in order to get to the root of some of their challenges and develop roadmaps for solutions as an industry partner.”
And that level of commitment makes sense at Johnson & Johnson. As Cesar pointed out, “Nurses are specifically called out in Our Credo.”
“Where My Military Mindset Kicks In”—Janeen’s Story
Janeen comes from a very small town—”a tiny little suburb of Toledo, Ohio” as she put it.
“It was a place with very little diversity,” Janeen elaborated, “so if you wanted to meet some new people or travel or try different types of food, then joining the military was the one way you could do that.”
So she did, initiating what would become an 20-year career as an Air Force enlisted servicewoman, eventually progressing to the role of Air Force Clinical Nurse Officer with the Ohio Air National Guard.
Of course, she knew none of this at the time.
“Back then, I just thought, ‘I’ll start life like this and see what interests me.’”
Nursing, for one thing. After receiving training as a medical technician, Janeen decided to further her studies and become a registered nurse—expertise that served her well when she subsequently deployed overseas and worked directly on the flight line.
Yet, having retired from the military in 2015, Janeen was by no means ready to leave the front lines. Rather, she wanted to find an opportunity where she could continue to make an impact.
As an Occupational Health Nurse at Johnson & Johnson today, she’s doing exactly that.
Specifically, as a member of the Global Health Services team, Janeen is rolling out programs that help our employees around the world be, feel and do their best every day. And like Ashley, that means she gets to see Our Credo come to life all the time.
Here’s Janeen: “When you have a mission, you have a mission, and my basic outlook is, ‘What do I need to accomplish that mission? Who do I need to bring in? What barriers do I need to break down in order to get this done?’ I think that’s where my military mindset kicks in.”
Reflecting on her current work, Janeen added, “I think we’re more focused on health and wellbeing at Johnson & Johnson than at any other company I’ve ever seen, and we’re also thinking about these things holistically—healthy minds, healthy work, healthy bodies.”
Join Our Military-Connected Community Today
We have a long tradition of supporting both nurses and veterans at Johnson & Johnson, but we’re always eager to welcome more of them to our team. So if you’re ready to join Ashley, Cesar, Janeen and the rest of us, be sure to check out all of the roles we're hiring for right now.
Plus, before you go, sign up for our global talent community, too. It's a great way to stay in touch, learn more about life at our company and even get updates about jobs that interest you in the future.