Skip to main content

I was at a dot-com, working as a multimedia graphic designer, when the bubble burst. I got laid off along with 60 others. I started to think about what came next. All I knew for sure was that in 10 years, I didn’t want to be laid off from another tech company.

I’ve always been intrigued by the complexities of the medical world. I knew I had a much better chance of staying in the medical field a lot longer than in tech, so I became an EMT. Then military recruiters started coming around, looking for medics. I thought this would be a great time to become a reservist so I joined the Navy as a hospital corpsman and went through boot camp. In 2007, I was deployed to Iraq.

After I got back to the States, combining my clinical experience with my computer skills made sense. I decided to get a degree in software to help me combine my software knowledge with my love of medicine.

I fell in love with EpicCare. As an EpicCare educator, I get to train practitioners, clinical staff and essential services. My goal is to make the experience more fun than an average computer training course. With that said, we teach functionality, so students are equipped with “day one” skills and are efficient with basic EpicCare knowledge. Each clinic does things differently, which the students will learn over time, so I try to reach everyone by asking: What are the key items I want them to walk away with and feel confident in the clinic?

So now I’ve married my computer skills with my love of medicine, which leaves me some time to really enjoy my passion: the outdoors. I grew up hunting, fishing and hiking. One of my duties while I was a reservist was to help train junior ROTC boot campers. I started out doing a basic first aid survival class. Then I began teaching different things I’d learned in the military like knots and hasty shelters. Over time, I’ve been fortunate enough to now do what I love for a living and start my own business to continue my passion for the outdoors.

Kevin Keys

My company, KOR Instincts, teaches wilderness survival to youth groups and other interested individuals. The other groups out here are expensive, and I had grown up with the belief that a love of the outdoors shouldn’t break your pocket.

People see KOR and ask, “Kevin’s Outdoors Recreation”? I hadn’t thought of that. KOR is a military acronym: Keep calm, Observe everything around you, and Rely on your instincts. That’s something we emphasize in all our courses.

Basic fire-making is my favorite class to teach. It’s amazing when you see someone make fire for the first time with their own hands and a fire bow. Once you see that flame ignite, you’re hooked!

KOR supports organizations that help the environment and veterans. Right now we’re partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to help forests damaged by wildfire. People send us a photo of themselves holding a KOR flag on their outdoors adventures, and Arbor Day will send them a tree to plant. And we always donate 10 percent of our retail sales to help support veterans.

No one person knows everything about survival. I’d like to learn more about mountaineering survival. I did a course once with the Marines on Mt. Rainier. It wasn’t fun. I have asthma, so I like to stay below 10,000 feet. Everyone was running up the mountain, and it’s like I was breathing through a straw. Some people love climbing peaks, but I’d rather be out in the woods and in the classroom helping my fellow medical colleagues!

As told to Jake Siegel

Kevin Keys, senior computer specialist in UW Medicine IT

Leave a Reply