Helping Veterans Transition to Careers in Nursing



Portrait of Mary Wakefield, PhDMany Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans received training as health care providers while they served in their deployments.  The Obama Administration is committed to helping these Veterans translate the health care skills gained during their enlistment into nursing jobs when they return home.

However, Veterans have found that their training in medic and certain other health care roles do not fully meet the standards of academic training for nursing programs.  As a result, Veterans have encountered difficulty gaining academic credit for their health care training while enlisted.

To bridge this gap, the Obama Administration plans to take several steps.  An award will be made to the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CONHS), which will allow the nursing school to work with key military leadership and training staff at the Medical Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Texas to identify strategies to align enlisted health care training and nursing academic credit.

The TAMUCC-COHNS has an existing federal grant to help residents of Texas who are members of the military–and Veterans with previous medical experience–become registered nurses through distance learning technologies.  In implementing this program, TAMUCC-COHNS has seen firsthand the obstacles that arise from the gap between enlisted health care training and academic training requirements.

The award will augment TAMUCC-COHNS current activities to allow it to work with the Medical Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Texas, which has recently been designated as the central site for all health care-related training for the Tri-Service (Army, Navy and Air Force).  The project will focus on opportunities to create replicable models for bridging the gap between enlisted training and academic coursework, improving the documentation of health care training, and working with other key stakeholders such as state licensure boards.

In addition, the Administration will give funding priority to nursing schools that offer pro-Veteran learning environments, recruit and support Veterans interested in pursuing nursing careers, and facilitate academic credit for enlisted health care training.  Grant programs are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration and support RN and advanced degree nursing programs.

Nursing school applicants receive competitive scores on their applications, which determine the schools that will receive funding through these programs.  The Administration’s action will give nursing schools with Veterans-friendly approaches additional points in the scoring of their applications.

These important steps will not only build health care career opportunities for veterans, but also help to expand the health workforce to meet the needs of the growing and aging population.

Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., is the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Mary Wakefield

Comments

  1. Iraqi Freedom Medic    

    Ok, this is all great…… but where is a list of the funded programs…. it would be nice to know which schools are looking favorably at veterans….. my fear is this…… colleges are given the money (tax payers money) to assist vets, BUT the vets still do not receive the benefit….. lets say a medic who has been deployed 3 times in 5 years wishes to apply to a nursing program, yet finds the pre-req courses are extensive ( the medic has been down range saving lives, and has not had adequate time to take all the pre-req courses), he/she is told by the college sorry you need to take more classes in A&P, or introduction to healthcare, or medical terminology to be eligible to apply to this program…… before we hand out more money to these colleges and universities shouldn’t there be some oversight… like say…. the college must identify / develope a bridge program specific to military medics…. AND provide a count of the number of vets accepted to a program…. maybe even initiate a “VetGoal” that is… in order to recieve all the money a college would have to admit 10 vets a term/semester to it’s nursing program, if it admited only 8 then it would get 80 % of the money…….. I apologise for the poor grammar…. this is the worlds longest run-on sentence…. I’m writing this on my lunch break. Ok, back to work……..

  2. Liz    

    I am seeking information: my daughter joined the Navy and went through training in San Antonio to be a “first assist’ and was certified as a surgical technologist (CST). She is now stationed in Europe. My concern: how does a CST translate into a civilian job here in the States? Can she come back to enter a nursing program straight off or will she have to go back to school and get all the pre-requirements to go to an expensive post baccalaureate program (she already has her college degree in International Relations). I think she went into the Navy thinking that the training she received was going to translate into a real job outside of the Navy. It is looking like this is not the case, and she was misled.

  3. Tom    

    California also has a program that can help some highly qualified corpsmen get their LVN/RN License, “Military Corpsmen – California law permits military corpsmen to take the national exam for RN licensure if they have completed RN level education and clinical experience.”

  4. Lee (Chief Hospital Corpsman - United States Navy Reserves)    

    Outstanding initiative – will ensure to pass on to transitioning Corpsman (and Medics). These individuals have proven experience in outpatient care, inpatient care, trauma care (poly trauma too) – and have served with honor, courage, and commitment. They need this opportunity to truly transition in to the civilian sector – and they will be a wonderful asset to the civilian healthcare system. Thank you Mary for your leadership and support!

  5. Ginny    

    Jim-I think you missed the point of the article. I think it’s a wonderful initiative! Nothing but great new changes coming from the VA!

  6. Kent    

    I was trained as a Navy Corpsman and served in Vietnam. Afterwards I graduated from nursing school and then was commissioned as a nurse officer in the USAF. The amount of practical experience that I had attained as a corpsman was extremely beneficial during and after graduation and has served me throughout my career both in the military and civilian settings.

    This is a good idea whose time should have been executed sooner.

  7. Kathy    

    To Jenny -I had to comment on your post. I am a veteran and was the primary family caregiver for my youngest sister who had ALS. I was with her for 7 years. I understand how difficult things can be – know that you will be in thoughts and prayers and you are on this journey.

  8. Jim Doran    

    What’s the big deal? VA health care professionals are not required to be licensed in the states where they work. Those that are licensed, for the most part, had previously been in private practice or work part-time for the VA and part-time in private practice. Some, of course, do have state licenses and have never worked in the private sector, but that number is reasonably small.

    1. Combat_brandy    

      Jim,
      The big deal is that medics and corpsman, especially combat veterans in this field, come out of service with nothing to show for their knowledge. I was a medic in the Army for 6 years, and when I got out of the service I had to go through ALL the pre reqs and ALL the nursing classes, as if I had no experience in the field. I did a 2 year RN prgram and honestly, I learned near to nothing in the first year that I didn’t already know. This isn’t about VA employees, its about being able to get some credit for our experience so we could obtain a nursing license faster and work anywhere.

  9. Jenny    

    I think this is a wonderful program! I have a question. I am the fulltime caregiver for my husband who has ALS-Lou Gehrig’s disease. I have been looking for competent, caring and trained caregivers, who can drive. It there any program in place for these veterans to potentially work as caregivers, while they attend school? I would LOVE to hire a veteran to help care for my husband while they finish their education. Thank you.

  10. Barbara Merlo    

    Please also look into the Texas-wide initiative: http://twc.state.tx.us/news/press/2011/071811press.pdf We are currently working on articulating all credits to be able to provide a transcript to ANY Texas veteran that will provide credit for their military education and training to take to any public institution in the state of Texas. This initiative began by trying to address the transition from military medical fields to high-demand civilian medical jobs, but will include all specialties.

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