NextOp and Ochsner Health simplify military hiring in healthcare to help veterans enter the workforce

NEW ORLEANS, LA – NextOp and Ochsner Health have been awarded a $1.1 million grant to help transitioning military and veteran talent in the Mississippi River Delta area. The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) will be used to help qualified applicants find careers in the healthcare industry. Over the course of three years, the goal is to hire 300 veterans into clinical and non-clinical careers with Ochsner.

NextOp and Ochsner are partnering together to address the barrier of entry for military healthcare professionals after service. By increasing high-quality employment opportunities for communities in Louisiana and Mississippi, workers may remain and thrive in these areas as economic and professional assets. As the largest private employer in Louisiana, Ochsner has over 40 hospitals and 300 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana and Mississippi.

 NextOp and Ochsner will recruit, hire, and train a hybrid military and veteran recruiter to connect the veteran talent population to jobs. Ochsner and NextOp will also develop six career and training pipelines for transitioning military healthcare professionals and underemployed veterans. Ochsner will provide candidates with access to new careers, advise on training, and provide opportunities for healthcare sector networking and career advancement.

Together through the grant, NextOp and Ochsner will develop four pipelines for military and veteran talent:

    • Transitioning Military Healthcare Professionals – The joint program will translate military medical experience and professions into civilian healthcare careers, like career coaching, credentialing, and licensing.
    • Underemployed Veterans – Through outreach, the program will help skilled underemployed veterans who have difficulties translating military experience by offering direct recruitment, career coaching and focused skills building so they may transition into high-quality healthcare careers.
    • Workforce Development – The program develops career pipelines for specific populations in military and veteran talent, including dislocated workers, incumbent workers, new entrants, and opportunity youth. This will be used to meet industry talent needs for sterile technicians, surge techs, LPNs and more.
    • Healthcare Leadership Development – The program will research, identify, and create opportunities to develop and advance transitioning military medical professionals and veterans with military medical experience. Healthcare leadership training programs better leverage an existing talent base and increase diversity, as 60% of NextOp’s placements are racially diverse.

The partnership furthers Healthy State by 2030, a collective initiative started by Ochsner to lift Louisiana off the bottom of national health rankings. By engaging with communities and focusing on social determinants of health, Ochsner and partners like NextOp aim to provide better economic opportunities in addition to more equitable access to healthcare for all. And with the country and state facing a critical shortage of trained healthcare providers, Ochsner is continuing to invest in additional education and workforce development programs to train the next generation of healthcare workers.

“Ochsner is committed to providing our communities with the opportunity to lead longer, healthier and more productive lives, and these workforce opportunities for veterans align wholly with that mission,” said Missy Sparks, Vice President of Talent Management at Ochsner Health. “We are proud to partner with NextOp to give our veterans the high-wage careers and stability they deserve.”

Significant areas of the Mississippi River Delta suffer from two problems — veteran employment struggles and barriers to employers accessing strong talent for healthcare and skilled labor roles. The U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration designates all 64 Louisiana parishes and 79 of 82 Mississippi counties as Medically Underserved Areas.

“NextOp is pleased to be in partnership with the respected care providers at Ochsner on this innovative program,” said Shelby Mounts, Executive Director of NextOp. “The focus is breaking down barriers for skilled military veterans so they can efficiently enter the workforce, utilize their superb training, and address healthcare talent gaps across Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta. In the future, we expect success from this effort to drive scalable best practices targeted at the significant healthcare talent demands of our nation.”

“This partnership with NextOp will allow us to increase the number of veterans we hire each year across our system,” said Steven Walesch, Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Ochsner Health. “Our military veterans are adaptable and understand teamwork and are great employees who bring proven technical and leadership skills.”

Every day, nearly 550 service members leave the military, but only about 25% have new jobs secured before they discharge from active duty. The transition from the military to civilian life is difficult and it adds unfortunate stresses for veterans as they try to navigate the new employment environment. This has led to a 63% unemployment or underemployment rate for veteran job seekers.

The problem is even more pronounced in Mississippi River Delta communities. Veteran unemployment is 5.2% in Louisiana and 5.3% in Mississippi — over twice the national average. The partnership between Ochsner and NextOp will act as a bridge to close the gap between veterans and the healthcare industry. Our regional veterans will be able to achieve full employment utilize their skills and experience towards rewarding civilian careers.

For more information about the Ochsner Career Center, visit




About Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health is an integrated healthcare system with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Celebrating 80 years in 2022, it leads nationally in cancer care, cardiology, neurosciences, liver and heart transplants and pediatrics, among other areas. Ochsner is consistently named both the top hospital and top children’s hospital in Louisiana by U.S. News & World Report. The not-for-profit organization is inspiring healthier lives and stronger communities. Its focus is on preventing diseases and providing patient-centered care that is accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner Health pioneers new treatments, deploys emerging technologies and performs groundbreaking research, including over 700 clinical studies. It has more than 36,000 employees and over 4,600 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It operates 47 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Gulf South; and its cutting-edge Connected Health digital medicine program is caring for patients beyond its walls. In 2021, Ochsner Health treated more than 1 million people from every state and 75 countries. As Louisiana’s top healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. To learn more, visit


About NextOp

NextOp is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to recruit, develop, and place high-performing middle enlisted (E-3 to E-7) veterans into industry careers. NextOp’s goal is to bridge the gap between the military and industries in need of diverse and skilled talent.


About Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative

The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative is designed to facilitate the alignment of workforce development efforts with existing economic development strategies in rural communities hard hit by economic transition and recovering slowly. The WORC Initiative provides grant funds to enable impacted communities to develop local and regional workforce development solutions aligned with existing economic development strategies and community partnerships to promote new, sustainable job opportunities and long-term economic vitality.

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