In greater Los Angeles, hundreds of jobs for trained security guards are currently available within the medical industry alone. Qualified candidates with hospital experience and law enforcement credentials should have the best prospects of securing senior-level positions. For Alexander Larson, it was his military-rooted history that enabled him to advance to top command at a major managed care facility.
"My background entails a 25-year career in the United States Army Special Forces, where I started as a medical sergeant and ended as an anti-terrorism officer for a major installation in California," said Larson, Director of Security, Transportation, Telecommunications and Parking Operations at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. "This was the perfect place for me to prepare for a profession that would ultimately require a unique blend of competencies in business, health care, security, cross-cultural communications, emotional intelligence, planning, risk management, threat assessments and leadership."
What defines an efficient director of hospital security?
"In health care, security can enrich a patient's care experience in many non-traditional and unexpected ways. That's why being an effective director of hospital security includes hiring and training security officers who can deter harm, maintain order and assist our patients with wayfinding, wheelchair assistance and other tasks in a compassionate and caring way. We are an integral part of the health care team."
How are you helping officers advance to senior-level positions?
"We vigorously encourage qualified officers to pursue an education in health care fields and in-house professional development training. This means we work with our officers to accommodate their class schedules and outside commitments. Moving up the ranks is typically related to our officers moving into other areas, such as nursing, sterile processing, environmental services, telecommunications and security management."
What is your message to officers seeking senior-level posts?
"A lifelong devotion to self-improvement and professional development is a strong plan for advancement. I advise them to keep studying and stay in school. They should find a strong and successful leader with solid values to mentor them. These officers must recognize that nobody has all the answers, but all answers can be discovered. Go for it."
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
for more features.