Rising through the Ranks: One Veteran’s Story
Military experience helps shape the career of Sutter Health Nurse
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— In 1992, Stephanie Johnson was just starting her military career as a medical services specialist in the Air Force. Just 22 years old, married and with a young daughter back home in California, Johnson didn’t know what the next four years would hold for her—but her military experience would prove invaluable to her and her career at Sutter Health, which has spanned nearly 20 years.
Johnson’s first year in training for the Air Force was split between California and Texas, before she settled in North Dakota at Grand Forks Air Force Base. While she did not see combat, she cared for soldiers at a family medicine clinic on the base. She fondly recalls a certain colonel, who initially intimidated her but later became a mentor. He encouraged her to consider various angles to different situations, which helped inspire her to redesign a clinic workflow that would keep soldiers from having to travel off base to see a podiatrist. Instead, she switched around schedules so a podiatrist would be more readily available on certain days at her clinic. This saved time, energy and resources all around.
That sense of empowerment and teamwork left a strong impression on Johnson and is something she’s carried with her.
“The military gives you structure and respect for different roles. Nothing is done alone,” she said.
After returning to California, Johnson completed her nursing degrees. She began her Sutter career at Sutter Davis Hospital in 1997. She eventually transitioned to Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento in 2001 as a nurse on the neurology unit. In 2003, she started working in the emergency department, where she has risen through the ranks from clinical manager to administrative director of critical care. She now oversees clinical staff who are veterans or reservists themselves. She and her team go the extra mile to lend them the support they need—whether that means making sure they are able to easily get the time off they need to serve, have all their necessary military paperwork or putting together care packages for colleagues overseas. To Johnson, it’s a simple act of respect and appreciation.
“I know if I need something, I can count on them,” she said. “They will have my back and support any mission that we have for our patients.”
Sutter’s Ongoing Commitment
Sutter Health has nearly 1,500 employees throughout its network who are veterans or reservists. They enrich the organization with the experience and skills they gained during their military service, and help deliver exceptional health care to patients and families.
Additionally, Sutter Health works with the Employment Development Department to promote jobs for military members seeking employment. Military recruitment efforts include participation in military career fairs and posting to online military job boards. Sutter Health also teamed up with Veteran Jobs Mission, a national organization committed to employing and mentoring veterans.
Donations to Military Support Efforts
Sutter Health’s gratitude for military veterans goes beyond those who work within the not-for-profit healthcare network. Sutter Health also donated a total of $50,000 to Fisher House Foundation and the American Red Cross’ Reconnection Workshops—two military-support efforts dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and their families in Northern California.
Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Sutter Health’s $25,000 donation will help four families stay for free for one full year at one of the Fisher House facilities. This donation will also support the purchase of vital supplies such as food and personal care items for families staying at the Travis Air Force Base Fisher House.
The Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces Program helps ease the transition that many service members and veterans have experienced through Reconnection Workshops. These workshops, which are free and confidential, help veterans address the challenges of readjusting into life with their families, their jobs and their communities. Sessions and materials focus on learning useful skills, developing effective coping mechanisms, and where to find resources. The Red Cross Gold Country Region will distribute the $25,000 donation to chapters across Northern California to support veterans and their families who attend these workshops.