Defense Media Network

Education and Advancement the VHA Way

Educational incentive programs the VA has offered its employees and trainees during the past five years include:

  • Women’s Health – provides care specific to the needs of female veterans
  • Whole Health 101 – provides training to veterans to directly counsel each other on mental health care and suicide prevention options
  • VA Voices – provides training and information for veterans transitioning to civilian life
  • Warrior to Soul Mate – training to repair spousal relationships after deployment
  • Stepped care for opioid use disorder train-the-trainer conference – improves access to substance use disorder (SUD) specialty care
  • Improve access to SUD specialty care by increasing knowledge of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder – saves lives by reducing the risk of overdose, suicide, and all-cause mortality
  • National Veterans Wheelchair Games educational sessions and National Blind Services Conference – serve veterans with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, amputations, and other central neurological impairments, with the goal to increase their independence, healthy activity, and quality of life through wheelchair sports and recreation
  • Clinical Team Training (CTT) Champions Course – participatory leadership, followership, and assertive communication, situational awareness, team decision-making, and just culture; content is delivered via simulation and use of adult learning principles
  • VA/Department of Defense (DOD) Suicide Prevention Conference – a forum for sharing state-of-the-art practices and state-of-the-science findings related to suicide prevention efforts among service members and veterans
  • Peer Support Specialist Blended Learning Certification Training – transforming VHA’s mental health programs to the recovery model

“About 1,200 people participate in these programs each year and we’ve had requests for more offerings,” James said. “These programs – and emerging programs based on identified needs – will continue to be developed and executed as required.”

The VA also has scholarship programs that could be compared to DOD’s ROTC programs, awarding competitive scholarships to students receiving education or training in a direct or indirect health care services discipline in exchange for a commitment to work in a VA health care facility.

While NNEI scholarships are designed for nurses already employed at the VA, the VA Nursing Academic Program (VANAP) reaches out to those still in nursing school. VANAP scholarships are intended to expand the VA’s future cadre of BSN-prepared nurses to provide quality veteran-centric care designed to improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall cost of care.

“These programs – and emerging programs based on identified needs – will continue to be developed and executed as required.”

A sister nursing program scholarship is offered to those pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in nursing and requires a two-year minimum post-graduate commitment to the VA as a full-time clinical employee.

The Physical Therapy Program awards scholarships to students working on doctor of physical therapy degrees. The scholarship requires a minimum two-year commitment to full-time clinical employment with the VA as a physical therapist.

The Physician Assistant Program awards scholarships to students working toward a Master of Science in physician assistant studies. As with other VA scholarships for non-employees, it requires a post-graduate commitment of at least two years as a full-time clinical VA employee.

“The VA’s goal in offering these incentives is to increase opportunities for care for the whole veteran to maintain positive and productive quality of life,” James said. “Through them, the VA has gained a cadre with enhanced skills to better understand the patient population of veterans and facilitate development of complete, effective care regimens.”

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J.R. Wilson has been a full-time freelance writer, focusing primarily on aerospace, defense and high...