VA strives to deliver high-quality, compassionate health care to Veterans across America. We’ve taken great strides to ensure patients living in rural areas have access to a range of care options to best meet their health care needs. Due to VA’s recent “scope of practice” laws—which grant advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) full practice authority—certified nurse practitioners are stepping in to provide primary care to patients in rural areas.
Currently, nurse practitioners account for 1 in 4 medical providers in rural practices—a 43.2% increase from 2008 to 2016. Their advanced training and ability to diagnose and prescribe medicine enables more efficient, cost-effective health care delivery. Joyce Knestrick, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), says “NPs are one of the most significant factors in expanding patient access to primary, acute and specialty care, especially at a time when demand is high and physicians remain concentrated in more urban and affluent areas.”
More and more, nurse practitioners are taking on a significant role in the health care of Veterans in rural areas. Their growing presence demonstrates the wealth of experience, growth and impact available to nurses interested in advancing their careers. Bring your nursing expertise to VA and discover a career in which your capabilities are utilized to the fullest extent—and consider a future serving our honorable Veterans living in rural areas. You’ll enjoy a satisfying quality of life unmatched by metropolitan areas, with all the same comprehensive benefits offered across the VA system. To get started, explore open positions near you and apply.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.
Our Nurses of the Week are UCLA School of Nursing professors Christine Samuel-Nakamura and Mary Rezk-Hanna who have both received grants from the UCLA Academic Senate Council on Research to conduct research projects inspired by their heritage. After earning their doctorate degrees at UCLA Nursing, both nurses were welcomed as assistant professors at the university.
Samuel-Nakamura grew up on the Diné (the indigenous name for Navajo) Nation reservation in New Mexico where she was the youngest child in a large family that raised its own livestock and crops. Her experience growing up on the reservation made Samuel-Nakamura aware of the challenges facing her tribe, including poverty and chronic health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She later decided to help address these issues by becoming a nurse.
Samuel-Nakamura earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of New Mexico, then pursued her Family Nurse Practitioner Master of Science in Nursing degree at UCLA. She tells Newsroom.UCLA.edu:
“I wanted to be able to work with communities on their health issues and empower people to help themselves…As a researcher, you investigate and explore what you see in clinical practice and develop some type of explanation for it and find a way to address it. Clinical practice informs research which, in turn, informs clinical practice.”
Samuel-Nakamura worked for several years in the clinical setting in the federally run Indian Health Service and in tribal hospital clinics on the Diné reservation in Arizona where community elders appreciated her ability to speak with them in their native tongue. She recently received two one-year grants to re-evaluate environmentally contaminated sites in Los Angeles County (home to the largest urban American Indian population in the United States). One grant comes from the American Indian Studies Center in the UCLA Institute of American Cultures and the second is from the UCLA Academic Senate Council on Research.
Mary Rezk-Hanna found inspiration for her research program growing up in Alexandria, Egypt, where both of her parents worked as physicians. She shadowed them as they treated patients, which influenced her decision to become a nurse. One thing she remembers from growing up in Alexandria is looking down from her apartment balcony and being fascinated by the popular hookah cafes across the street.
Rezk-Hanna’s family moved to the US when she was 13 and she later earned her associate degree in nursing and worked as a registered nurse where she became interested in the physiological effects of smoking in young adults with tobacco-related illnesses. She then obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from George Mason University, and while pursuing a Family Nurse Practitioner Master of Science degree at UCLA, she was selected to conduct a community research project about a local population health concern.
Rezk-Hanna found that two of the largest hookah lounges in LA are within one mile of UCLA and considered a major community health concern. She noticed most customers were young adults, with a large portion of them being females, and decided to conduct a study to assess young adult hookah smokers’ attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs toward their choice of smoking, and to identify predictors of hookah smoking. She found that the majority of subjects believed that hookah smoking is not harmful to one’s health.
Rezk-Hanna tells Newsroom.UCLA.edu, “These data could be used to inform young adults about the dangers of hookah smoking as well as provide evidence to guide policy specific to hookah and other alternative tobacco products and nicotine delivery systems.”
Rezk-Hanna is building on her recent findings by studying other evolving hookah tobacco products and their effects on heart health. She has received three grants to investigate the potential cardiovascular toxicity of electronic hookah use among young adults: one from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, one from the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and one from the UCLA Academic Senate Council on Research.
To learn more about UCLA Nursing professors Christine Samuel-Nakamura and Mary Rezk-Hanna and how their heritage has inspired their research, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Keara Lawson, a nursing student at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Delhi who was driving from Delhi to Stamford for her clinical placement when she witnessed an accident and stopped to help the crash victim. The quick-thinking student received a real-life lesson in first response that she will carry with her for the rest of her career.
At 6:15 AM on a morning in October, the sun was not yet up as Lawson was driving herself and three fellow nursing students through cold rain when the car ahead of her slowed down before a vehicle swerved into her lane. Lawson recalls seeing the oncoming vehicle hit something before a huge explosion happened and something on fire flew into the ditch.
Lawson pulled over and got out as the driver also stepped out of his vehicle, in shock and experiencing tunnel vision. He told the nursing students they needed to call 911 because he had just hit a woman. The driver ran into the ditch and pulled a woman out of the fire and began rolling her in the dirt.
According to TheDailyStar.com, state troopers reported that a woman had been walking southbound holding a gas can, and when she was struck, the gas can exploded. Lawson saw the woman on the ground, and the driver and nursing students quickly ran over to help comfort her and keep her conscious until paramedics arrived.
Lawson recalls, “We had nothing but our textbooks, stethoscopes and our brains. [The paramedics] were really thankful that we were able to give them information so they knew exactly what to do when they got there.”
Lawson and her classmates were only 10 weeks into their first year of nursing school, but this is an experience they will carry with them for the rest of their careers. She felt a passion and instinct to help, assuring her that she’s pursuing the right career path. To learn more about SUNY Delhi nursing student Keara Lawson who treated a crash victim on her way to her clinical rotations, visit here.