JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
Army and Navy students in the Medical Education and Training Campus cardiovascular technician program can thank their program director, Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Spears, for a series of initiatives that have become the epitome of best practices.
Bringing program graduates one step closer to obtaining a college degree, Spears developed the roadmap that led to implementation of a new degree bridge program with National American University in conjunction with Carolyn Croft-Foster, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston education services officer.
The degree bridge program provides METC CVT graduates with the opportunity to earn an associate's degree from anywhere in the world with a minimal amount of general education credit.
Credits earned in the CVT program are directly applied toward a degree with NAU, which is a voluntary degree program, so only a few general education courses as required for Southern Association of Colleges regional accreditation are needed to earn a degree.
In addition to the degree bridge program, Spears was the catalyst for other initiatives as well. He developed a professional Facebook networking page for Army and Navy cardiovascular techs "to help connect everyone and highlight best practices throughout the field," he said.
This networking page resulted in many larger Army- and Navy-wide program improvement management tools.
"The creation of this social network used by military cardiovascular technicians has resulted in wider and faster detailing and assignment processes, as well as rapid promulgation of best practices," Spears added.
Spears also connects with several CVT job boards and posts the positions he is contacted about on the Facebook page. He is also active in several professional cardiovascular organizations, such as the American Society of Echocardiography and the Society for Invasive Cardiovascular Professionals.
"I am trying to encourage my fellow military technicians to get involved in cardiology outside of the safe confines of the military health system," Spears said. "Our job is one of the best examples of a career field that translates well in the outside community.
"There are less than 100 CVT schools in the country, and I am trying to make sure that we, as military technicians, are setting ourselves up for life after the service," Spears added.
"Clearly Spears loves what he does and cares deeply about his students, whether currently enrolled in the CVT program or already in the field," said Col. Karen Weis, METC dean of academics. "His actions are an example of the caliber of instructors and staff who do great things every day at METC."