Advance Your Nursing Career with Financial Support from the VA

Advance Your Nursing Career with Financial Support from the VA

For Debbie Sommer, being a VA nurse has paid off, both personally and professionally.

Throughout nursing school, Sommer always knew she wanted to work at VA. She happily realized that goal in 1999, when the Miami VA Healthcare System  hired her as a registered nurse (RN) for its spinal cord injury (SCI) unit. With a National Nursing Education Initiative (NNEI) scholarship and mentor support from VA, Sommer, who graduated with an associate’s degree in nursing, set out to advance her education and career. Two NNEI scholarships later, she had earned a Master of Science in nursing and now works as chief nurse for operations at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.

VA Nurse Debbie Sommer, RN, BSN.

At VA, we know that helping employees advance their education and careers not only benefits them personally and professionally but also enhances the exceptional care we provide the nation’s Veterans. That’s why we have education support programs like NNEI and encourage employees to take advantage of them. After a year as a VA employee, Sommer qualified for an NNEI scholarship, with which she earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN).

Much-needed support

“As a single mother with a new nursing career, this NNEI scholarship alleviated the financial stress and afforded me the opportunity to advance my clinical knowledge and obtain a BSN,” said Sommer. “While attending school, VA assigned me a mentor, who coached me along the way.”

Through the NNEI scholarship program, RNs who work part-time or full-time at VA for at least one year can receive up to $41,572 tax free toward the cost of higher education, including tuition, registration fees and books. In return, scholarship recipients agree to work in a VA career for one to three years.

After serving as an SCI nurse, home-based primary care nurse and home telehealth nurse, Sommer accepted a position as a quality nurse management specialist. While in this role, she applied for and received a second NNEI scholarship, which she used to earn her master’s degree in nursing administration.

In addition to being continuously employed at VA for one year before applying, NNEI scholarship applicants must:

Following positions as a primary care case manager and nurse manager, Sommer accepted her current role as chief nurse. Having the flexibility to relocate increased her opportunities for career advancement, and she appreciates VA’s investment in her career.

“My NNEI scholarship showed VA believed in me by investing in my professional development,” she said. “My VA mentors provided insight and helped me grow professionally. I am grateful to VA and the NNEI scholarship program for helping me advance my career and providing me with the tools to deliver the best care to our Veterans.”

Work at VA

Financial support and professional guidance to advance your career helps you fulfill the noble mission of caring for our nation’s Veterans. Only VA can offer you that. Start planning your next career move today at vacareers.va.gov.

GWU Receives 2.5 Million for Veterans’ BSN Aid Program

GWU Receives 2.5 Million for Veterans’ BSN Aid Program

The George Washington University School of Nursing has just received the largest philanthropic gift in the school’s history. Through the William and Joanne Conway Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative, $2.5 million in financial aid is being made available to help eligible military veterans working toward a BSN degree. The gift is expected to support more than 65 students over the next five years.

Donors William Conway, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, and his wife Joanne are long-time supporters of nursing education. School of Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries commented, “The Conways’ commitment to our military veterans is unwavering, and so is ours at the GW School of Nursing. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it’s gifts like these that enable us to grow our veteran student population and provide the resources they need to succeed.”

The aid program will be welcomed by veterans. Despite the assistance available through military benefits such as the GI Bill, many vets still find it a challenge to support themselves and their families when they re-enter the civilian world and attempt to pursue a degree. The Conways are happy to offer a helping hand. “The Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative is designed to reward the brave men and women of our armed forces who seek to continue their service to our country as civilian nurses,” Mr. Conway stated. GWU President Thomas LeBlanc responded, “We are grateful to the Conways for enabling this investment when our nation’s nursing workforce and veterans need it most.”

Founded 10 years ago, the George Washington University School of Nursing is currently the sixth ranked school in the US News and World Report assessment of online graduate nursing programs. The gift was presented in May, while the school was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

For further details on this story, visit GWToday at the University website.