Home Health care provider Brothers apply skills learned in the military to healthcare careers

Brothers apply skills learned in the military to healthcare careers


In the space of 10 days in 2008, Nick Poch went from a patrol in Iraq to a full day of nursing classes at the University of Iowa.

It was a transition, to say the least.

“We did our homecoming ceremony on Saturday, and the following Monday I was in class for eight hours learning pharmacology and pathophysiology,” Poch explains.

Poch has deployed three times with the Army National Guard – twice to lead a platoon tasked with disposing of roadside bombs in Iraq and once to conduct security checks in Afghanistan. He graduated from MSN between deployments and started with UI Health Care in 2011 as a nurse.

Nick Poch, DNP, RN, MBA, VA-BC and Joe Poch, PA-C

Poch was with his younger brother, Joe, during his first deployment to Iraq in 2005. Serving in separate platoons, they conducted route clearance from inside an armored vehicle known as the “Buffalo”.

Nick Poch, DNP, RN, MBA, VA-BC, is currently the Acting Director of Centralized Functions and Acting Deputy Director of Quality in the Department of Nursing. Joe Poch, PA-C, joined the UI Organ Transplant Center in 2012 as a medical assistant and is still active at the rank of major in the Iowa National Guard.

Having both worked at UI Health Care for over 10 years now, the brothers continue to draw on their experiences in the military to better serve the teams they work with, patients and families.

Along the way, they carry a unique perspective.

“After our deployments, the people on the other side, they just listened to us,” says Nick Poch. “Now it’s our turn to listen to people as they go through trauma and their worst days.”

Deactivation of bombs in Iraq

Risk and fear were part of the job as Nick Poch climbed into “the Buffalo” and set off for another night of roadside bombings in western Iraq.

In these road-clearing operations, Poch would lead about 30 troops spread over at least five vehicles. His primary role was to instruct the platoon, including the soldier controlling their vehicle’s robotic arm used to disconnect the wires leading to the improvised explosive device.

“I was really scared every day for my life,” Poch says. “I was scared. With some of the named operations, I was even more nervous because we were going towards a specific action.

The Poch brothers, who grew up in Riverside, disabled hundreds of bombs on separate teams during their time in Iraq. Both feel lucky that the explosions they suffered – either triggered by approaching insurgents or exploding during an attempt to incapacitate them – did not cause them injuries more serious than concussions.

The brothers are two of more than 100 veterans currently employed by UI Health Care.

“We had some hard knocks and we tempted fate,” says Joe Poch. “It really puts everything into perspective.”

The Poch brothers on their first tour of Iraq.

Trust and communication are the keys to success

Whether it’s a combat mission or bedside patient care, trust is critical to team success, the brothers say.

“I have to trust that I can rely on my teammates, not just to do their job, but to be connected and aligned with me,” Nick Poch says. “I can’t do my job without you, and vice versa. This element of trust is at the heart of your operation.

Nick Poch says he’s seen many examples over the years of how investing time and energy in your teammates can build trust. This often results in stronger relationships and safer environments. Those daily interactions with teammates that help build trust are under everyone’s control, he says.

Effective communication is another key to success in both the military and health care, the brothers say. Soldiers receive training on a concept called “BLUF,” which stands for Bottom Line Up Front. In other words, share the most important information first and avoid including unnecessary context.

The Poch brothers say this type of clear and effective communication is essential during critical situations in both areas. In some cases, lives can be in danger if there is miscommunication.

“What should we do and how should we achieve it? said Joe Poch. “We don’t need to water it down. How can we better serve the patient? »

Learn to stay calm under pressure

The Poch brothers knew adversity would strike during their deployments. They have been trained to do their job to the best of their abilities, whatever the situation.

They both had to learn how to best adapt to changing circumstances.

Prior to each route clearing mission, Nick Poch would review intelligence, draw up an operation plan and prepare his platoon. But once inside the “Ox”, he received new information via his helmet, including on possible threats in the region.

There are similarities to healthcare, the brothers say, such as when test results change the course of a patient’s treatment or if a patient goes into cardiac arrest. Training is key in these times, understanding not just your role, but the roles of your teammates.

“You deal with stressful situations,” says Joe Poch. “Ultimately, you’re trained to keep a cool head, assess the situation, and determine the best course of action, whether it’s for your patient, your team, or the unit.”