Former Navy corpsman Marzell Scott was the first intermediate care technician (ICT) at the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Salisbury, North Carolina. Now he’s the first ICT to participate in the VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) Scholarship Pilot pathway created specifically for ICTs. With support from the scholarship program, Scott is making his next career transition – to the nursing profession.
VA created the unique ICT program to hire former military medics and corpsmen into positions as key members of VAMC medical teams. The program, which began at the end of 2012 with 45 ICTs, now has more than 300 Veterans working throughout VA – and needs to hire 100 more. Since hiring Scott in January 2020, the Salisbury VAMC has added seven more ICTs to its staff, whom he helps mentor.
The idea to include ICTs in the VANEEP arose about a year ago, according to Kristina Snell, VA national ICT program manager. Through the pilot, ICTs may apply for education scholarships in areas that address VA occupational shortages, such as nursing. VA will award VANEEP scholarships to five ICTs each fiscal year for five years, although the number of ICT scholarships could increase depending on available funding, Snell said. ICTs may apply for the program through their VAMC scholarship office.
“The scholarship pilot supports Veterans caring for Veterans and elevating and supporting the career growth of ICTs,” said Snell. “We want them to go on to become doctors and nurses.”
Committed to Veterans
Scott, who already holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, will be able to complete his bachelor’s in nursing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro within two years. His longer-term goal is to become a nurse practitioner.
In return for having his tuition covered and receiving a salary while he’s a full-time student, Scott must commit to work at VA for three years. “They can send me to any hospital in the VISN (Veterans Integrated Service Network), which is fine with me,” said Scott. “VA’s got me.”
Besides paving the way for other ICTs at the Salisbury VAMC, Scott helped create a “fast track” system that notably decreased patient wait times in the emergency room (ER) and increased overall satisfaction in care and transfer or discharge from the ER. “We added five more beds to the emergency room and we let nurses be on the COVID units while ICTs ran the fast track in the ER,” said Scott.
One of the most rewarding aspects of working at VA is helping other Veterans, according to Scott. “They’re more willing to open up to us because we’re also Vets. A Vietnam Veteran treats me as though we’ve been long-time friends, even though there’s a 50-year age difference between us.”
Scott’s advice to other ICTs is “to be flexible and prepared to work, because we work hard. Also, to keep pushing and trying to be the best ICT they possibly can be.”
“I tell the ICTs that we’re going to take over VA,” laughed Scott. “That’s my plan.”
Work at VA
Bring your medic and corpsman training and experience to VA and make a difference in the lives of other Veterans.