TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (NNS) -- Mr. Andrew Jones, Ph.D., deputy chief, Total Force, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), and director, Navy Medicine Civilian Corps, visited Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms (NHTP), Oct. 17.
The purpose of Jones’ visit was two-fold: to talk about what transition means for the workforce and meet with Navy Medicine’s civilian personnel. As deputy chief, Total Force BUMED, he’s responsible for the 63,000 people working for Navy Medicine (active-duty, reservists, civilians and contract staff). In that capacity, Jones wanted to offer an assessment of the October 1, 2019, transition of the military treatment facilities from BUMED to the Defense Health Agency (DHA). And as director, Navy Medicine Civilian Corps, Jones wanted to offer an update on the two-and-a-half-year-old Civilian Corps while providing a forum for Navy Medicine’s civilian employees to ask questions and air any concerns.
“What’s the difference between our uniformed staff and our civilian employees?” Jones asked at an all-hands call at NHTP. “The uniformed folks exist to conduct the operations of the Navy. That’s why you’re here. The civilians are here to conduct the business of the Navy. So, if we have the operators of the Navy and the business folks of the Navy working together for the common mission; that mission, at the end of the day, is to win. It’s really as simple as that."
Dr. Jones was asked why the Civilian Corps was established. “We actually have more civilians than we have military officers,” Jones said. “We have 10,000 officers and we have 11,500 civilians.”
Jones noted that before the Civilian Corps was established they weren’t as well represented at service corps meetings where the Navy’s Medical, Dental, Nurse, Medical Service and Hospital Corps all meet.
“We decided to establish the Civilian Corps to make sure the entire workforce had a voice at the table and that each of their concerns could be heard,” Jones said. “I now sit as a member of the Council of Corps Chiefs, right along with all of the other corps chiefs. We have six corps in Navy Medicine now. I’m really in some ways a little surprised myself how well it’s been adopted.”
Fielding questions at the NHTP all-hands call, Jones noted that rather than be apprehensive about the change in management for the facilities and most civilians from BUMED to the DHA, civilian employees should view it as an opportunity. He went on to say that those who are interested in changing their series, moving into different career paths, or advancing their careers may find opportunities to do so during the transition.
Dr. Jones said the Civilian Corps is really about the development of the civilian work force. He noted that one of his first actions was to send a BUMED civilian to the Harvard Business School.
“Not everyone should go to the Harvard Business School, but in this particular case it made sense,” Jones said. “And I hope it sent a strong message that if you want to do something, if you’re interested in developing your career, we’re here to help.”
The Civilian Corps will soon launch the Army/Baylor master’s degree program in healthcare administration.
“We’re looking for our first candidate,” Jones said. “The applications will come in, be screened and go through a selection panel. The selection will come to me and I will autograph the bottom line on it.”
Civilians can apply either through the BUMED website or the Civilian Corps’ intranet, Jones said.
Dr. Jones began his military career as an enlisted Navy engineman. After attaining the rank of Chief Engineman, he became a surface warfare officer and retired from active duty in 2005. He then served as branch head for detailing at Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tenn. He earned a doctoral degree and served as a personnel research psychologist with the Office of Naval Research. He then served a brief stint in Army Medicine before being recruited into his current position.
“I’ve been doing this for about 40 years,” Jones said. “In my experience with these types of system changes, it’s always an opportunity to move up, to do something different, to grow – if you are prepared to do it.”
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