How two local veterans found a new way to serve at Children’s of Alabama

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Children's of Alabama
Jessica Sales went from serving around the world to Children’s in Birmingham. (Children’s of Alabama)

This Veterans Day, we want to take the time to honor and celebrate those who have served our country. We talked to two incredible veterans who now work for Children’s of Alabama to find out more about their passion to serve and why they love what they do.

Jessica Sales, Registered Nurse

Children's of Alabama
Jessica Sales is one of the awesome nurses at Children’s. (Children’s of Alabama)

Jessica Sales served on active duty in the Air Force as a Registered Nurse in the operating room for a little over 7 years. She had the opportunity to work and train at locations across the world—from Mississippi to Texas and as far as Japan.

Her main job was to provide care for her fellow service members and their dependents as well as veterans and their families.

Her dream was always to be a nurse and care for others and now, she’s still fulfilling those dreams working as an RN in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children’s, where the challenges and rewards of her career are the same.

“The most challenging part of my job is not being able to take away someone’s pain. That can be difficult, because it’s often not physical pain, so they can’t always tell you when they’re hurting. Feeling helpless while watching others in pain… those moments stay with you.

The most rewarding part of my job is knowing I make a difference. Whether that’s in a patient leaving the PICU after being able to care for them or hugging a family to bring them comfort, it’s all about the positive impact I’ve made on a life.”

Jessica Sales, Registered Nurse, Children’s of Alabama

Check out the different career options at Children’s of Alabama.

Stephen Abshagen, VDI Services Manager, IT

Stephen Abshagen is a U.S. Army veteran whose tours included:

  • 1979-1982: Republic of Panama (193rd Infantry Brigade) and 18th Airborne Corp G2, Ft. Bragg, NC
  • 1988-1990: 5th Bn, 7th Air Defense Artillery (Patriot Battery), Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, and Bitburg Airbase, Germany

After he served, he started a career in information technology. Now, he plays a huge behind-the-scenes role as the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Services Manager for Children’s.

What does that mean? His team is responsible for presenting the electronic medical records to most of the clinicians at Children’s and participating clinics, using nearly seven thousand computer devices.

“I’ve led a team of some of the best VDI engineers I’ve ever worked with here. In 12 months, we’ve built a new VDI environment from the ground up that is the most stable that ever existed here, enabling our healthcare professionals at Children’s to better care for and heal our young patients.”

Stephen Abshagen, VDI Services Manager, Children’s of Alabama

Stephen knows how important his job is and that the lives of sick and injured children are directly impacted by his work. This makes his role even more special.

“Understanding the uniqueness of a children’s hospital and the workflows used by its doctors and nurses is the most challenging part. If we don’t do our job right, children could be negatively impacted and we will not allow that to happen.”

Stephen Abshagen, VDI Services Manager, Children’s of Alabama

Working at Children’s is a rewarding career

Children's of Alabama / Birmingham
Children’s is an amazing place to be. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

It’s clear when you talk to anyone that works at Children’s of Alabama that their jobs are each so special and rewarding. It’s a great place to work for everyone—from nurses or technology pros. Who knew you could use your IT skills to support children’s health?

Want to learn more about working at Children’s of Alabama? Visit their website to apply for a job today.


Callie Puryear
Callie Puryear
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