New wounds, new approach

The UAB School of Nursing and Birmingham VA Medical Center are again expanding their 43-year-old partnership and the focus on Veterans' mental health needs.
The UAB School of Nursing and Birmingham VA Medical Center are again expanding their 43-year-old partnership and the focus on Veterans' mental health needs.

IMG 0951Created with a five-year grant from the Veterans Health Administration to the Birmingham VA Medical Center, the two will partner to execute the VA Nursing Academic Partnerships in Graduate Education (VANAP-GE), the only one of its kind in the country, and will put 48 new psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners into the VA workforce.

"Over the past 12 years, our nationís servicemen and women have been fighting a global war on terror which has produced a new set of wounds," said UAB School of Nursing Program Director Susanne Fogger, DNP, CRNP, PMHNP-BC. "In previous wars hallmark injuries involved penetrating trauma, but this war has resulted in a disproportionate number of wounds to our Veterans' mental health."

The partnership will produce masterís-prepared mental health nurse practitioners who will have spent the majority of their clinical experiences at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, Fogger said. Upon completing their degree, students will be encouraged to complete the mental health nurse practitioner residency and the DNP degree. 

There are several innovative features of the program, including hands-on learning in integrated behavioral care within community-based outpatient clinics and learning how military culture impacts Veterans' mental and overall health. Veteran-centric content developed through the VANAP-GE partnership will be incorporated into the curriculum to highlight the complete health needs of Veterans. 

"A VA military cultural competency course via the Center for Deployment Psychology will introduce students to military culture and basic terminology," Fogger said. "Additionally, a once-per-month book club will focus on the experience of combat Veterans and includes Unbroken and We Were Soldiers Once. A series of documentaries also will be used that focus on eras of service, including Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, to contribute to understanding military culture and the unique health challenges faced by Veterans from each period."

This partnership has the potential to further transform advanced practice nursing education and practice and serve as a model for our nation, Fogger added. 

Fogger said nurse practitioner students also will be educated to understand stressors Veterans face, as well as address and treat emerging symptoms, including mental illness, substance misuse, suicidal ideation, physical and emotional pain, coupled with chronic illness. 

"And the result will be exceptionally educated advanced practice nurses who understand military culture, the complete health needs of Veterans and their families, and their frequently encountered psychiatric issues," she concluded.

Read 8513 times Last modified on October 24, 2017

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