FIU launches Miami’s VA Hospital first nurse residency program

Florida International University (FIU) Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, (FIU NWCNHS) is answering the call to recruit and prepare nurses to care for the country’s military veterans with the launch of the Veteran Affairs (VA) Office of Academic Affiliation (OAA) Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program (PBNR) administered by Miami VA Healthcare System (“Miami VA”) in collaboration with the university.

The nurse residency program is the first in the college’s and Miami VA’s respective histories, and promotes the Miami VA into an exclusive group of only 14 VA hospitals in the country to offer this specialized training program for nurses.

“The integration of veteran-centric subject matter and experiential activities embedded into the curriculum that extends over 12 months with dedicated preceptors in the VA clinical setting is what sets the PBNR apart from traditional undergraduate nurse residency programs,” said Ora L. Strickland, dean of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

“We will leverage academic and clinical resources to support a specialized nursing program focused on the care and management of health problems impacting military veterans, active service members and their families,” Strickland added.

The residency program stems from $8.2 million in funding received from OAA to implement a federal education initiative to assist in providing an adequate supply of health personnel to the nation that can address military health concerns.

The Veterans Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership (VANAP) is illustrative of the VA commitment to fostering relationship between VA facilities and schools of nursing to leverage academic expertise and VA clinical resources. The college and the Miami VA Healthcare System were awarded VANAP in 2014, which it has rolled out in two phases.

The first phase involved creating a baccalaureate nursing curriculum addressing military-specific health issues and conditions. These include, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), suicide and other mental health issues, chemical exposure, major traumatic limb loss and rehabilitation. The PBNR represents the second phase, in which nurse training, recruitment and retention for the VA system are the primary objectives.

The residency program is open to Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates who have obtained their Registered Nurse license and selected to receive the OAA training administered at the Miami VA in collaboration with FIU. Residents will continue their practical training alongside Miami VA staff to gain extensive experience providing care solely to the veteran population as they make the transition from student to working nurse. Five FIU Nursing residents are currently in the PBNR, with another 100 students and 20 nurse residents expected to exclusively rotate through the VANAP program over the next five years.

“The complexities of caring for military patients and veterans are like no other in the healthcare system, which makes specialty training programs like the PBNR all the more essential,” said Marcia Lysaght, associate director of Patient Care Services at the Miami VA.

“Partnering with FIU Nursing reflects a shared commitment to elevate the quality of care to this unique patient population and train a specialized workforce for the future of our VA hospitals.”

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