Jeremy Stutzman always wanted to pursue a career in the health care arena, but didn’t have the money to attend college. After graduating from high school in 2001, the Arizona native joined the United States Air Force Reserve as a medical technician.
“Serving was a great option to gain experience in the medical field as well as access to funds for college,” he said.
Stutzman had his eye on medical school, but the more time he spent in emergency rooms in civilian jobs stateside and deployed overseas, the more his interest turned toward nursing. But being abroad prevented him from completing a clinical rotation in nursing, so he pursued an online bachelor’s degree in psychology from ASU.
In August, Stutzman graduated with a Master of Healthcare Innovation (MHI) degree through ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation.
During deployments in Germany and Iraq, Stutzman worked in an aeromedical staging facility and in the emergency department where he and others provided life-saving health care in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
While there, he met his wife, Amy, also on active duty. They now live in Japan with their 2-year-old daughter, Cailyn.
During his time at Balad Air Base in Iraq, Stutzman worked as part of a team in the emergency department, receiving patients directly from combat. His team provided lifesaving stabilization so patients could be sent to the trauma operating room or transported to other echelons of care. He had many unforgettable experiences while providing emergency medical care.
“Most that stand out are the mass casualty trauma calls where we received multiple wounded,” he said. “These situations were always fast paced and chaotic but we worked together as a team, everyone knowing their specific job.”
That well-oiled teamwork led them to a 98 percent save rate.
As he worked in various emergency departments, Stutzman became interested in patients’ timely access to care, something he carried over into his graduate studies.
“My final project was developing a local online appointment booking system to allow our (military) patients to book from anywhere, anytime instead of having to call in to a central appointment line with set hours,” he said.
As the approach to health care changes in the military, Stutzman said that the leadership skills and innovation concepts he’s learned in the MHI program will make him a more valuable asset.
When he and his wife changed stations in 2014, going from Turkey to Japan, he worked as a contractor in the patient administration office. While working closely with Medical Service Corp officers whose jobs include supervisory administrative roles in all areas of a military treatment facility, he became inspired to apply for commission to become an MSC officer.
“This is a very competitive career field in terms of getting endorsed and selected for commission,” he said. The number of people selected is well under 50 percent of applicants.
If commissioned, Stutzman would like to focus on military cost saving measures and putting those funds back into military health care systems.
Stutzman currently works in Japan as a civilian contractor for Leidos, a company that provides beneficiary services for military members located at overseas locations. As an Air Force reservist, Stutzman is assigned to the 374th Staff Judge Advocate office at Yokota Air Base in Japan. He has recently gone through a retraining program to become a paralegal.
While it seems an unusual path for someone who just earned a degree in healthcare innovation, Stutzman said Air Force paralegals work alongside attorneys who provide legal advisement to medical groups regarding HIPAA, the Law of Armed Conflict, and other areas.
“The MHI degree provided me with more than just ways to innovate while working directly in medicine,” he said. “Instead, it gave me tools to innovate any processes to make them as efficient as possible. It provided leadership skills that can be applicable to any career.”
Written by Marilyn Hawkes