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A Match Made in Tacoma


Colonel (Ret.) Andrew Baxter (center), Chief Nursing Officer, St. Joseph Medical Center, spoke at new employee orientation with registered nurses and certified nursing assistants joining the team.

At St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, Colonel (Ret.) Andrew Baxter, RN, FACHE, is feeling right at home. Andrew recently retired from a 30-year nursing career with the U.S. Army. His last assignment was as Chief Nursing Officer at Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The military medical center, 13 miles south of Tacoma, is one of the largest military hospitals on the United States West Coast.

In September, he accepted the position as Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at St. Joseph Medical Center. St. Joseph is part of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, part of CommonSpirit Health in the Pacific Northwest.

Making the Transition

As civilians, we may not realize how different it is to transition from a military nursing career to a civilian nursing career. The truth: Transitioning from the structure of military service to the unknown is a big change for service members.

“I had one employer for 30 years, and it was the U.S. government,” said Andrew. “While health care is the same in the military as it is in the civilian sector, how we organize around it is different. That is where I had concern. There was a new language to learn. There were some cultural differences and the structure was different.”

Enter the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. Time spent during the Fellowship allows transitioning service members to use their best skill — adaptability — to learn a new culture, language and structure in a safe environment.

“Hiring Our Heroes offers our military community a bridge to U.S. employers,” said Rob Comer, Sr. Regional Manager (West), Fellows Programs, Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We create opportunities for service members and spouses of service members to meet civilian employers, gain hands-on experience and make connections. It is gratifying to see our service men and women, who have dedicated their lives to serving our country, explore new opportunities and find meaningful employment.”

CommonSpirit’s First Graduate

Andrew completed the 12-week Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program in July. He is CommonSpirit’s first graduate. The military pays the Fellows’ wages during their Fellowship. It provides CommonSpirit hiring managers a no-cost opportunity to establish a pipeline of highly skilled, transitioning service members into our ministry.

“When I heard that there was this program where I could spend three months getting to learn the civilian sector, I jumped at it,” said Andrew. “I found the team at St. Joseph to be a great fit. I wanted to work for an organization with a strong mission for service.”

CommonSpirit is newly partnering with Hiring Our Heroes. We are piloting the Corporate Fellowship program in the Pacific Northwest and Texas, two areas with a significant military presence where CommonSpirit also has a significant presence.

Our ministry has an ambitious goal to double the percentage of CommonSpirit new hires who are service veterans by FY2026. Service members transitioning out of the military bring unique skills, expertise, a strong sense of duty and service that make them well-qualified for jobs in our health care ministry. We invite more service members to join us to serve in humankindness.

Equal Opportunity

CommonSpirit Health™ is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, marital status, parental status, ancestry, veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. For more information about your EEO rights as an applicant, please click here.

CommonSpirit Health™ will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c). External hires must pass a post-offer, pre-employment background check/drug screen. Qualified applicants with an arrest and/or conviction will be considered for employment in a manner consistent with federal and state laws, as well as applicable local ordinances, ban the box laws, including but not limited to the San Francisco and Los Angeles Fair Chance Ordinances. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the employment process, please contact us by telephone at (415) 438-5575 and let us know the nature of your request. We will only respond to messages left that involve a request for a reasonable accommodation in the application process. We will accommodate the needs of any qualified candidate who requests a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). CommonSpirit Health™ participates in E-Verify.