The UAB School of Nursing now is designated a Veterans Affairs (VA) Nursing Academy by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, joining 14 other schools of nursing nationwide.

The new nursing academy designation will partner the UAB School of Nursing and the Birmingham VA Medical Center to train nurses to better tend to the health-care needs of the nation’s veterans.
The designation means that the UAB School of Nursing and the Birmingham VA Medical Center will work together to train compassionate, highly educated nurses to look after the health-care needs of the nation’s veterans. The partners will work to increase the recruitment and retention of baccalaureate nursing students and attract graduates into the VA nursing workforce and also develop and expand faculty expertise in the delivery of health care for veterans.

“The School of Nursing and the Birmingham VA Medical Center have a long-standing academic partnership through faculty practice, nursing research and clinical education,” says Nursing Dean Doreen Harper, Ph.D.

“This will allow us to strengthen our joint academic and service partnership to increase the number of nursing students and the number of faculty committed to enhancing the quality of care for our veterans and their families, all while increasing the number of qualified applicants the school can accept each year.”

The academy was developed collaboratively by school leaders and faculty and VA nursing leaders to link institutional missions and governance, create a pipeline for the development of VA Nurse Scholars and faculty, and develop shared clinical, educational, and leadership opportunities for students, staff and faculty.

Through this initiative, 20 additional students per year will be admitted to the school and will be identified as VA Nurse Scholars. They will have unique educational and leadership opportunities:

  • All clinical experiences will be at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, except for pediatrics and obstetrics.
  • A VA-based faculty member will be their advisor and mentor.
  • Employment at the Birmingham VA Medical Center as student nurse technicians will be offered after successful completion of all first-semester courses.


Four components will be added to the School of Nursing curriculum:

  • An elective course, Caring for America’s Heroes: The VHA System will be introduced.
  • The VA’s simulated, computerized patient-record system will be incorporated into the school’s clinical simulation laboratory.
  • Veteran-specific cultural competency training will be provided with the development of simulations related to top 10 diagnoses of patients seen at the Birmingham VA Medical Center
  • Projects will address quality improvement, service-learning and research.


“The Birmingham VA Medical Center looks at this joint venture as an opportunity to fulfill our mission to providing excellent nursing care for our veteran patients,” says Greg Eagerton, associate director of Patient Care Service at the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

“The program also gives students and faculty the opportunity to learn and work in an environment that provides specialized care for our American veterans who deserve nothing less than the best care provided by well-trained nurses,” Eagerton said. “This truly is a demonstration of how world-class health care and world-class education partners can collaborate to enhance the nursing care of specialized patient populations.”