Harper to serve on VA National Academic Affiliations Council

School of Nursing dean receives second appointment from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014.

doreen harperBy: Jennifer Lollar

Doreen C. Harper, Ph.D., Dean and Fay B. Ireland Chair in Nursing of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, has been appointed to serve a two-year term on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Academic Affiliations Council by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald.

The NAAC will provide a forum for joint planning and coordination between VA and the nation’s health professions schools and universities. The council will advise Secretary McDonald and Robert A. Petzel, undersecretary for Health, on ways to further enhance what has become the largest public-private partnership in VA history and a cornerstone of American health professions education.

This is Harper’s second Department of Veterans Affairs appointment in 2014. Earlier this year she was selected for a two-year appointment on the Veterans Affairs Special Medical Advisory Group. As a member of that federal advisory committee, Harper provides advice to the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the undersecretary for Health on matters relating to the care and treatment of veterans and other matters pertinent to the operations of the Veterans Health Administration.

The UAB School of Nursing has significant ties to the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans health care and offers or participates in a number of programs geared toward veterans and their families:

  • The Birmingham VA Medical Center and UAB School of Nursing are partners in the VA Nursing Academic Partnerships in Graduate Education, the only one of its kind. Created with a five-year grant from the Veterans Health Administration to the Birmingham VAMC, the program will put 48 new psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners into the VA workforce during the next five years.
  • The school also has partnered with the Birmingham VAMC on a residency program to put more mental health nurse practitioners into the VA pipeline. The program, created by a three-year pilot grant from the Veterans Health Administration Office of Academic Affiliation to the Birmingham VAMC, is one of only four in the country.
  • The School of Nursing joined the ranks of hundreds of nursing schools and organizations in April 2012 in pledging support to the Joining Forces campaign and is dedicated to educating nursing students on post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other unique health care needs of veterans and their families.
  • The School of Nursing has a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a program, Veterans Career Advancement in Nursing, to help veterans with military medical experience more easily transition into the nursing profession.
  • A DVD developed by the School of Nursing and the Birmingham VAMC contains three clinically relevant mental health scenarios for nurses that simulate issues on a typical VA medical-surgical floor. The DVD, accompanied by a guidebook and information necessary for obtaining 1.0 CEU, is used by VA medical centers nationwide.
  • Through UAB’s role as one of eight VA National Quality Scholars Program sites in the United States, School of Nursing Professor Pat Patrician, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, and School of Medicine Professor Carlos Estrada, M.D., M.S., are senior scholars for the Birmingham VAMC site. VAQS promotes leadership in quality-improvement research and emphasizes interprofessional learning. The program offers fellowships to pre- and post-doctoral nurses and physicians. 
  • The UAB School of Nursing offers “Caring for America’s Heroes,” a distance-accessible elective course to improve understanding of veterans’ health issues and the Veterans Health Administration that can be applied to the care of veterans across a variety of settings.
  • Working together, the school and the Birmingham VAMC have developed and use clinical simulation scenarios to highlight the unique health care needs of veterans. The scenarios include burn, gunshot wound, automobile accident and OB simulations. The benefits of simulation training include practicing and making mistakes in a risk-free environment and identifying sources of error in care processes prior to practice.