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Ira Black

Learn about Ira's journey from the Navy to healthcare following his retirement.

November 09, 2021
Ira Black with an inset image of a younger Ira Black in a Navy uniform

Becoming a physical therapy assistant following a career as a U.S. Navy deep sea diver might seem like a surprising choice, as the two jobs use very different skillsets. But for Ira Black, working in healthcare following his retirement from the Navy was a perfect fit.

Black, a physical therapy assistant at Gulf Coast Hospital, joined the Navy when he was 23, retiring 22 years later as a Chief Navy diver.

“As a young man, I always looked up to our men and women in uniform,” Black said. “I was a machinist before joining the Navy, so that was my job when I first enlisted. Then I went to school and became a deep-sea diver.”

As he was preparing for retirement, he started considering what the next chapter of his life would look like.

“My mom and wife were both nurses, so I knew I wanted to go into healthcare, either as a nurse or physical therapy assistant,” Black said. “Then I decided I didn’t want to work second or third shifts, and that’s how I ended up as a physical therapy assistant.”

He’s worked in the field for about 10 years and has been at Gulf Coast Hospital for five.

“I had a pretty smooth transition from the Navy to a civilian job,” Black said. “It was honestly very seamless, considering how different the two worlds can be. Gulf Coast Hospital is a very rewarding place to work, and they do a fantastic job taking care of us.”

At the same time, Black said he often calls upon his experience in the military to serve as a guide in certain situations.

“In the healthcare field, there are a lot of unexpected situations, so I can always call back to different situations from the Navy,” he said. “A lesson the Navy teaches you is that you can get through anything, so I always remember that and make sure I’m putting the patient first and thinking of their needs.”

He said the Navy also instilled in him a willingness to help others, as well as patience in trying to understand different viewpoints.

“The Navy really makes you learn that we’re all different, and you have to respect each other’s feelings, needs and different situations,” Black said. “I carry that with me every day as I work with my patients.”

While his second career in healthcare might seem very different from his time in the military, both fulfilled him in similar ways.

“Both of my careers are very gratifying,” he said. “Just being able to help people and feel like you’re making a difference in their lives has always been important to me. I’m very thankful for my time in the military. It made me a better person, a more understanding person. I would encourage any young man or woman to consider it as a career.”

November 09, 2021
HCA Florida Gulf Coast Hospital