Remember to thank your Logisticians

While writing is a hobby of mine and one I intend to continue as it is a form of release, my primary work comes as a logistician. It was a career path that I initially disliked, primarily due to the customer service aspect, but as I settled into to the career path, I quickly realized how diverse and rewarding the job can be. Every industry needs a dedicated staff of logisticians and it can be a relatively thankless position.

When I joined the Navy, I wanted to choose a occupational speciality that would provide private industry experience. At first I was going to choose Hospital Corpsman, but then quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to to deal with patients. I learned very quickly, that I do not put up with malingering very well. Instead, I chose Storekeeper or SK, because after conducting on-the-job training, I found out just how impactful the position was. Day to day operations required transparency and thoughtful oversight as everything that was done as a logistician needed to be as accurate as possible or it would impact readiness. I thought I would hate the job, but I saw just how diverse the position was when I attached with the Marines.

I assumed the position of an Operations Supervisor for a Medical Logistics Warehouse that oversaw the storage, replenishment, and distribution of millions of dollars of medical consumables and equipment that were used by deployable units. This was when I saw all the moving parts that came with being a logistician. Warehousing, planning, distribution, purchasing, customer service, inventory management, quality assurance, and vendor managmement were all apart of the position and I loved and hated every moment of it. It was a fast-paced job that required attention to detail and dedication otherwise you would have a surgeon or provider breathing down your neck at to why an order couldn’t be fulfilled. Our work impacted the care that servicemembers would receive on deployments. It was the first time I worked with Cardinal Health, one of the main medical suppliers in the country. It was also the first time I was introduced to an ERP system that felt all-encompassing, because it was.

If there is ever a perk to working within the government, it’s the software, as it is always fairly advanced, intuitive, and makes your job a lot easier in the long run. Being a student at Michigan State in their graduate program made me realize that were so many other companies that were using outdated software. Technology, whether management wants to admit it or not, will save on total costs in the long run. It will remove some of the manual labor, but your business will see gains if significant investment is made in supporting technology. I felt that after speaking about the software used in conjunction with our KANBAN system, we were more efficient as an organization. It’s always nice to hear the opinions of personnel in other industries as even though there are always success stories, there are struggles to get to that point.

By the end of my tenure as an Operations Supervisor, I was at a juncture in my career. The Navy changed the title of Storekeeper to Logistics Specialist and I had felt that I had enough experience to transition into a civilian position. Instead, I choose to re-enlist and was given orders to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, where I would continue to supervise and also take on responsibilities of being a purchaser for my department. This only further reinforced my goals of working in the logistics/supply chain field with focus in medical logistics. Working at a hospital is primarily at the end of the supply chain, as we act as the customer. We get our products from suppliers/vendors, who also act as their own manufacturers based off the product line. What’s fascinating is how each hospital technically has their own internal supply chain as the product has to reach patients.

What this all boils down to is, that every industry needs logisticians and efficient supply chains. It is a job that never gets notice, it definently isn’t sexy in the slightest, but that’s ok because the position itself affects the crux of the operations for your industry. A lot of hard work goes into acquiring the material and it’s always far more complicated than moving the product from point A to point B. Logistics is the reason I actually like math now, forecasting future business is important and requires careful planning and scheduling. The profession as a whole is an afterthought at most companies as people will only need you when something needs to be obtained and in a hurry. This is especially true at medical facilities as the rockstars are the providers. But I will say this, it is nice to meet the provider who is willing to go out of their way to thank you for ensuring that a patient is taken care of. A little recognition every now and then can make all the difference when it comes to motivation.

I have this as a sweater

Besides, we’re miracle workers.

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