FIU and Miami VA Healthcare System receive $8M to train VA nurses, create residency program

The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, in partnership with the Miami VA Healthcare System (MVAHS), received more than $8 million in federal funding to implement the Veterans Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership (VANAP).

“The VANAP program will promote innovation in nursing education and practice, and enable substantive change in how VA facilities and nursing schools everywhere can work together to treat and care for this unique patient population,” said Ora L. Strickland, dean of the FIU Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

FIU is one of three universities nationwide selected by the United States’ Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affiliation to launch this five-year program. Beginning in 2014-2015 academic year, it will serve to promote recruitment and retention of VA nurses, increase enrollment in the undergraduate nursing program, and develop inter-professional education and promote skills specific to military health concerns.

Over the course of the VANAP program, the partnership will leverage academic and clinical resources to thread the entire baccalaureate nursing curriculum with a focus on the care and management of health problems impacting military veterans, active service members and their families. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), suicide and other mental health issues, chemical exposure, major traumatic limb loss and rehabilitation.

“As thousands of U.S. troops continue returning home to their families, today’s practicing nurses and future professionals must be more prepared to understand and manage the differences and complexity of caring for military patients and Veterans,” said Marcia Lysaght, Associate Director of Patient Care Services at the Miami VA.

In addition, the partners will create a post-baccalaureate nurse residency program at the Miami VA Healthcare System as well as obtain accreditation for it. This nurse residency program is aimed at nurse recruitment and retention for the VA hospital system, which is always in need of highly qualified and dedicated nurses.

“The partnership will prove to be extremely beneficial to everyone involved,” said Maria Olenick, who will lead the VANAP project for FIU.

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