Retired Lt. Col. Nanette Patton finds purpose at Leidos that connects to her military service
As a university senior in the Georgetown Army ROTC program, retired Lt. Col. Nanette Patton had to write an essay explaining why she wanted to be part of her branch of choice. Even at 21, Nanette knew she belonged in the Medical Service Corps.
“When the fog of war lifts," she wrote, “someone needs to go in there and take care of those broken and shattered bodies to get them back to health." It may come as no surprise that Nanette grew up around military hospitals. Both her parents were Navy corpsmen.
Though her mother had to leave the service when she got pregnant with Nanette, she later returned to work at the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a government service IT specialist. After 25 years of service, her father retired from the Navy. He then worked for SAIC (what is now Leidos) and was integral in deploying the Composite Health Care System, the first electronic health record (EHR) for the Department of Defense (DOD).
A defining achievement in Nanette's Medical Service Corps career
Nanette carried her family's military service tradition forward, focusing on health IT over her 24 years of service. While she served as CIO for two military hospitals—Ireland Army Community Hospital and Madigan Army Medical Center, that wasn't Nanette's passion.
“I liked the acquisition of new technologies," she says. “Bringing new IT capabilities into the military tool set was exciting and could make a significant difference in saving soldiers' lives." She proved this to be true.
In 2008, while stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Nanette served as the health information systems officer for the Army's Multi-National Corps—Iraq. In that role, she recognized the need for more bandwidth to send X-rays and other essential health data to waiting physicians in advance of patient transport so they could act quickly during the all-important “golden hour," preventing lifelong ramifications and even saving lives.
The Army needed a solution to send EHRs reliably and quickly to give its service members the best chances of a healthy future. After her return to the U.S., while assigned as the Medical Command's Deputy CIO for Theater Systems, she set out to fill the bandwidth capacity gap.
Nanette championed expanding the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) program. Essentially this would give medical teams a private network to send X-rays and other EHRs ahead while an injured soldier awaited transport. Doctors could then review the records and images before their patient's arrival and act more expeditiously within the golden hour. Achieving this meant coordinating and launching satellites for all VSATs to communicate, even around a literal mountain.
“But we got it all done," she says. And for their work on the Joint Telemedicine Network, Nanette and her team won the prestigious DOD CIO Team Award in 2009.
“That award was the pinnacle of my career so far, knowing that we were helping to save lives and bring our service members home. It all goes back to my ROTC essay," she says.
Transitioning from military service to civilian work
When she prepared to retire from the Army in 2014, Nanette hired a career coach.
“That was my best investment in myself. My coach gave me helpful career advice that really taught me the importance of building relationships," she says. A self-proclaimed “solid introvert," Nanette put herself out there, meeting a mentor at a San Antonio IT networking group who helped pave the way for a career at Leidos. She notes that, when you're in the military, the military decides where you go.
“Even if you don't like the spot or the people, you have to make it work as a service member. But in industry, you have the prerogative to choose the people you work with." And that's what she's done, finding a team she enjoys working with and a purpose she believes in.
, Senior Capture Manager, Military Health and Veterans Affairs
If you want to find that job that will be the right fit for you intellectually, spiritually, cognitively, mentally, you have to get out there and network.
Finding purpose in her civilian career
Nanette's military service has proven relevant to what she does today as lead capture manager for the whole health division at Leidos.
“My values align with the Leidos mission to make the world safer, healthier and more efficient," she says. “I love that we can help promote physical and mental health and wellness. It's a fantastic mission. I'm placed where my values are and I get to do exciting work that promotes overall wellness for our service members and their families."
Not only does Nanette believe in her work and enjoy working with her team, but she also appreciates that Leidos has invested in her professional growth, selecting her to join two development cohorts.
“I love that they saw something in me and took action," she says. “And I love the people I work with every day."
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