Rutgers University–Camden recently announced a new program which will prepare military veterans for civilian careers as nurses who will care specifically for other veterans. The program is funded by a three-year, nearly $1.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Military veterans are uniquely equipped to care for other veterans thanks to their shared experiences like overseas deployments, a demanding lifestyle, and challenges such as health problems or needing to find a new career when they transition to civilian life.
The new program being offered at Rutgers University–Camden is the only program of its kind in the Delaware Valley and the state of New Jersey. The program is called Veteran Nurses in Primary Care and focuses on understanding veterans and preparing veterans for a career as a civilian. The program will also focus on providing education to community-based primary-care registered nurses and other clinicians, nursing faculty, and clinical instructors to help meet the needs of veteran clients.
Kevin Emmons, a Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden clinical associate professor and a U.S. Army veteran who currently serves as a member of the Army Reserve, tells news.camden.rutgers.edu, “We recognized a need for health-care services for veterans that would help bridge the relationship between them and the health-care provider. One of the best ways to do that is by having the health-care provider, and in this case the nurse, be a veteran themselves. This can instantly build a bond between the veteran client and nurse.”
Applications are currently being accepted for the first cohort of students who will begin taking classes in the fall semester. The first cohort will include eight students, the second year of the program will increase the number of students to 12, and the third year of the program will accept 18 students.
Rutgers University–Camden is the only higher education institution in New Jersey to earn the distinction of being named as a Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The honor recognizes the university for its services to veterans and their families. Veterans participating in the program will receive comprehensive support to assist them in their students, including mentors and advisors from the School of Nursing and the university’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden students usually perform their clinical rotations in community and hospital settings, but through the Veteran Nurses in Primary Care program, students will learn while working at the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services, Cooper University Hospital, the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, and Volunteers of America’s Home of the Brave program.
To learn more about the Rutgers University–Camden’s new program which will prepare military veterans for civilian careers as nurses who will care specifically for other veterans, visit here.
You entered the field of psychiatric nursing because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of patients. As a psychiatric nurse with VHA, you’ll do that and more. Not only will you play a critical role in changing the lives of Veterans, often in the most challenging stage of their life, but you’ll work with their network of family and friends to provide whole healing and a successful outcome. Learn more about the specific Veteran populations you’ll be working with and the opportunities for making an impact.
1. The families of Veterans
VA offers a range of family services for Veterans and their family members, including family education, brief problem-focused consultation, family psychoeducation, and marriage and family counseling. Our psychiatric nurses play an integral part in facilitating these services, working with all members of the family to provide holistic solutions.
2. Homeless Veterans
VA is the only Federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless Veterans. As a VHA psychiatric nurse, you’ll have the unique opportunity to step outside the hospital walls and treat Veterans who would not otherwise seek help. Additional VA assistance programs where you can make an impact include:
- Drop-in centers where Veterans who are homeless can shower, get a meal, and get help with a job or getting back into society
- Transitional housing in community-based programs
- Long-term assistance, case management and rehabilitation
3. Veterans with Serious Mental Illness
Veterans diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder and Bipolar Disorder work with VHA psychiatric nurses on a variety of treatment plans, including psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery services to optimize functioning. In addition, you’ll be a part of our Mental Health Intensive Case Management team. The team of mental health physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers helps Veterans experiencing symptoms of severe mental illness cope with their symptoms and live more successfully at home and in the community.
4. Veterans adjusting to civilian life
The transition process from military to civilian life is a challenging one, and our psychiatric nurses are there from the beginning to provide crucial support. At our 300 community-based Vet Centers, our staff provides adjustment counseling and outreach services to all Veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for family members for military-related issues, and bereavement counseling is offered for parents, spouses and children of Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve personnel who died in the service of their country.
5. Older Veterans
To provide specialized care for our older Veterans, we’ve developed VA Community Living Centers (CLCs). Here, you will treat older Veterans needing temporary assisted care until they can return home or find placement in a nursing home. Our staff also works on ensuring that Veterans can safely live independently by screening for dementia and general assessments that help us decide whether the Veteran can make informed medical decisions.
As a psychiatric nurse at VHA, the work you do will deeply affect the Veteran, their family and generations of families to come. View our Nursing positions or, Join VA in making a difference in one of the many other health care fields available.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.
CPR in a restaurant on a woman not breathing
Here is just one story about how VA nurses excel in their occupation, on and off duty.
VA Nurse Karen Brodlo sat in a restaurant enjoying her dinner when she heard someone yell to call 911.
She looked up to see an elderly woman had collapsed and was not breathing. The woman was having dinner with her husband when the night took a turn for the worst.
Brodlo quickly jumped in action. As a VA nurse for 23 years and in the nursing field since 1969, it was second nature. She identified herself to the crowd as a nurse and assessed the situation. Right away she noticed that the woman was positioned incorrectly. She quickly made the adjustments and started to administer CPR.
She continued manual CPR process until the rescue team arrived. She then turned her focus to the husband who was nervous and scared for his wife’s well-being. She tried to calm him down as the rescue team continued to work to save the woman’s life.
She remembers the worst part being, not having the equipment she needed. She suggested to the restaurant after the incident that a general-use defibrillator would be a useful addition. Just as most businesses have fire extinguishers, a defibrillator should also be a requirement. Just as easy to use, it’s better to have and not need it than to need it and not have it.
After much praise came her way for saving a life, Brodlo said, “I just did what was right. No accolades are needed for doing my job.”
The restaurant now gives her star treatment. The daughter of the woman she saved sent a bouquet of flowers along with a heartfelt thank you card calling Brodlo her mom’s “Guardian Angel.”
Brodlo is a nurse at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.
As a caring nurse who adores her job, she followed up on the status of her honorary patient. Sadly, a couple of weeks after the incident, the woman passed away from further complications, but the family was overwhelmingly grateful.
The last days with any family member or loved one is crucial. If it wasn’t for the quick actions of nurse Karen Brodlo, they would have missed out on the opportunity to say their last goodbye.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.
In 1975, with the Vietnam War still fresh in the minds of the American public, most high school senior graduation plans did not include joining the U.S. Army. But for eighteen-year-old Virginia “Ginny” Warren, the North Texas daughter of a cotton farmer, the Army looked like an ideal path. Much to the chagrin of her father, Ginny Warren had just set forth on a 44-year journey from soldier to VA Nurse.
“The Army offered me a way to broaden my horizons and to learn,” said Warren, Nurse Manager at VA North Texas Health Care System.
Warren began her military career with two-years in medical administrative field before spending the next twenty-two years as a medic with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 94thCombat Support Hospital, based in Seagoville, Texas. With a primary mission to take a 150-person deployable hospital anywhere in the world and be ready to receive casualties within 72 hours of arrival, Warren continuously trained for the opportunity to apply her talents while developing a new passion to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
Through her career in the Reserves, the Army sent Warren to licensed vocational nurse (LVN) training and Warren quickly realized she had an aptitude and attitude for nursing. Warren went on to attend the University of Texas at Tyler School of Nursing to become a RN and was subsequently commissioned in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
“I had to find my place as a new nurse and new military officer,” said Warren. “I had a lot to learn, but I felt I had a lot to offer as well.”
After becoming an RN, Warren brought her health care experience to VA and joined another family of nursing professionals at VA North Texas in 1997.
In 2003, Warren’s Reserve unit was called upon to deploy to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to treat wounded servicemembers straight from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The ability to muster tremendous internal strength and compassion, coupled with her many years of training to deploy on a moment’s notice, was exactly what the soldiers, Marines and airman she treated would need to make their next journey back stateside to recover with family and friends.
“I vividly remember leaning over this big sergeant, hugging him, and whispering in his ear that it would be okay, and the pain won’t last,” said Warren.
Warren would go on to give more than 40 years in uniform, retiring as a field grade officer in 2015.
With over 22 years of service as a VA nurse, Warren now walks the inpatient wards of the Dallas VA Medical Center where she once served as junior nurse, as a manager and mentor to a new generation of nursing professionals who rely on her expertise and experience to care for many of the 134,000 active patients who use VA North Texas for their health care each year.
“Nursing is not just a career, it’s a passion and a devotion,” said Sheila Wise, VA North Texas Nurse Manager, and herself a retired U.S. Army Nurse. “To bring that passion and devotion to the service of our Veterans the way the Ginny has, and continues to do every day, for as long as she has, makes her an inspiration and a guiding figure for our nursing team. She makes all of us better.”
While eighteen-year-old Ginny Warren could have never foreseen the impact she would have on our nation through her service to military servicemembers and Veterans over 44 years, the nearly 3,000 nurses who apply their skills at VA North Texas are glad that the cotton farmer’s daughter left home to make the journey of a lifetime.
“Nursing has always been where I could pour my heart and soul,” said Warren. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.
In honor of Nurses Week 2019, Acting Chief Nursing Officer Beth Taylor celebrates nurses and nursing careers at VA
As Acting Chief Nursing Officer for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Beth Taylor, DHA RN, NEA-BC, provides executive leadership and strategic direction for the Office of Nursing Services. She also advises the Under Secretary for Health on nursing issues that impact the 100,000 VA nursing personnel nationwide who care for Veterans. Taylor has served the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since 1996, when she joined the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan, as Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive. Taylor assumed her current position, which is based at VA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, on April 2, 2018.
In honor of national #NursesWeek 2019, Taylor describes her role in nursing at VA, explains the benefits of VA nursing careers and why VA celebrates nurses.
How long have you served at VA and in what roles?
I joined VA as a Nurse Executive in 1996 and served in a VA hospital in Michigan. I worked in two VA facilities within the state of Michigan, in Saginaw and Detroit. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to serve as a Nurse Executive in a variety of different stations, including in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tucson, Arizona; and twice in Washington, D.C., for the Office of Nursing Services. This is my second time working for the Office of Nursing Services. One consistent aspect of our work — regardless of where we serve as nurses or nurse executives — is ensuring that we provide the highest quality of care to our Veterans, and we pay attention to the Veteran experience.
Why did you choose a career at VA?
I worked in the private sector for many years. I decided to pursue a career in VA for two reasons. One, I’m proud to say I come from a very long line of Veterans in my family and was the first generation not to serve in the military. And so, I looked at this as an opportunity to provide my service to our nation. The other reason is that I was recruited by another chief nursing officer at VA who was retiring. She talked to me about the great opportunities here and the wonderful mission of VA. She was right, and I stayed for the next 20-some years.
What are your reasons for celebrating the nurses you lead and serve with at VA?
VA nurses touch our Veterans’ lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re one of the professions that is present during administrative hours and throughout all the nonadministrative hours. When you think about it, that’s when the majority of healthcare for our inpatients and our long-term care residents is provided.
When you look at the quality outcomes for our health system, VA nurses make such a strong contribution to improving the health of our Veterans. They are by the bedside providing not only the clinical expertise and knowledge, but also that human compassion that ensures that our Veterans are not only receiving quality healthcare but they’re also comfortable, and they know there’s somebody there who cares for them and is watching over them. I think that’s what makes nurses so special and certainly our VA nurses exemplify that aspect of our profession.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is, of course, knowing that I’m serving our nation’s heroes. There’s no better mission than the one that we have and no better patient population than the one that we serve. It’s truly an honor every day.
We are the largest nursing corps in the United States — possibly the world. And so, the second joy is knowing that I am supporting the nearly 100,000-strong nursing corps that is VA. Through the examination of the policies and being the clinical and leadership voice on various committees, I want to make sure that nursing is represented and that we make it easier for nurses to do.
Coming to work every day, my goal is to make it easier for the nurses to do a great job in meeting the mission and taking care of the patients every day.
What are one or two areas you plan to focus on in leading VA’s nurses over the next year or two?
As within the larger healthcare industry, we have a growing percentage of the RN population that is over age 50 and a shrinking percentage that is under age 30, which is a real concern. We have a mission of ensuring the next generation of workforce through our training programs, and we focus on how we can bring new undergraduate and graduate nurses. We also want to transfer the great knowledge and experience of our senior nurses to our newer nurses.
Why should nurses starting out in their careers take a closer look at VA?
In my experience, VA is the richest employer in terms of the scholarship opportunities that we offer nurses — not only scholarships on the front end, which help pay their tuition through the program that they are interested in pursuing but also through the Education Debt Reduction Program that allows us to offset college debt. We have an opportunity to offset some debt for people who have completed their degrees already and are employed at VA in key positions.
What are some other ways that VA supports nurses and nursing careers?
One mechanism we use to promote nursing is the nursing residency program, which invites nurses in training to work at VA. Another way is by looking at our pay structure and ensuring that we’re competitive. We also look at scholarship opportunities and make sure that we have plenty of opportunities to grow nurses, whether folks come in as nursing assistants and advance to become Advanced Practice Nurses or RNs. We need to have those career paths in place so we can have a strong and well-prepared workforce for the future.
What are the career paths for nurses at VA?
There are so many different avenues in which you can take your nursing career at VA. You can pursue continuing education. You can pursue graduate education and become a provider. You can pursue becoming a nurse researcher — we have many nurses who work in research and contribute to knowledge, best practices and clinical leadership practices. So, there’s a variety of different avenues that you can take at VA. We have facilities in all 50 states so you can go anywhere as a VA nurse and continue serving the mission.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.
Why VHA is the Right Choice for Neuro Nurses
Whether you are looking to break into the health care industry, expand your skills mid career or build on a lifetime of experience, it’s important to find an employer that will foster your growth and offer you a fulfilling experience. At Veterans Health Administration (VHA), we believe in investing in our employees’ professional and personal development by providing opportunities you won’t find with any other health care system.
If you’re a nurse who specializes in caring for patients suffering from neurological problems, check out these top five reasons why VHA would be the perfect fit for you:
- VHA is the largest health care system in the U.S., as well as the largest employer of nurses in the Nation, meaning the career opportunities at VA are endless. With five Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers, 19 Polytrauma Network Sites and a wide variety of nursing careers, finding work in your desired interdisciplinary team in an area near you is simple.
- Continuous learning is a key element in keeping our employees at the forefront of clinical practice. That’s why we offer VHA nurses a multitude of opportunities for learning and career advancement through programs such as RN Transition to Practice, TMS Genomics Education and VA Nursing Academic Partnerships.
- Every day, there is a steady stream of Veterans and military service members returning to our communities. As a neuro nurse at VHA, your contributions will be essential to improving the health of our Nation’s heroes and preparing them for a life in the civilian world.
- The variety and scope of work at VHA allows neuro nurses to work with cases and patients outside the typical assignments of the private sector. At VA, you’ll mainly serve Veterans with war-related illnesses and injuries, including spinal cord injuries and disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and various psychiatric conditions such as substance abuse, dementia and personality disorders.
- At VHA, you won’t be just a nurse. You’ll invent a new model of health care. While working at one of the largest research organizations in the U.S. you’ll play an integral role in developing patient safety initiatives, conducting research to evaluate and improve care delivery and taking on leadership roles to help guide the next generation of nurses.
Are you ready to learn, grow and launch your career in an environment with a wealth of opportunity? Join VA.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.