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School of Nursing and Atlanta VA Medical Center awarded grant to train advanced practice nurses to care for aging veterans

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Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and the Atlanta VA Medical Center (VAMC) are teaming up to prepare nurse practitioners to provide specialized care for aging veterans. The VA Health System is facing a severe primary care shortage, which will intensify due to a wave of health provider retirements and an increased need to deliver primary care to veterans as they become older.

Emory is one of six nursing schools nationwide selected for the VA Nursing Academic Partnership for Graduate Education through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The new partnership will provide $2.9 million to fund five additional faculty positions at the School of Nursing and increase Emory's adult/gerontology nurse practitioner program by 32 students over a five-year period.

"We are delighted to expand our collaborations with the Atlanta VA Medical Center with this new program," says Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, dean of Emory's School of Nursing. "American veterans are faced with more complex health care needs than the general population, and this program will prepare a strong cadre of advanced practice nurses to respond to their specialized health care needs."

"The Atlanta VA is committed to providing timely access and high quality care. This exciting new collaboration with our longstanding academic partner will enhance our ability to provide the care our veterans have earned and truly deserve," says Sandy Leake, the chief nursing officer at the Atlanta VAMC.

Students admitted to Emory for this program will be part of a four-semester educational cohort focused on veteran care. The students will participate in clinical rotations at the Atlanta VAMC, where they will gain clinical experience caring for American veterans with an interdisciplinary health care team. They will participate in clinical preparation focused on primary care, women’s wellness, mental health, geriatrics, home-based primary care, palliative care and HIV/AIDS care. 

Upon completion of their educational requirements, these advanced practice nursing students will earn a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on adult health and gerontology. Students will then have the opportunity to participate in a paid nurse residency program at the Atlanta VAMC, where they will further hone their clinical skills in veteran health care.

"Advanced practice nurses will assume a greater role in veteran care over the next decade," says McCauley. "I am excited that Emory will be at the forefront of helping to fulfill the health care needs of the individuals who have made sacrifices for our nation."

Emory’s leadership in adult health and geriatric nursing provides a solid foundation for this new initiative. U.S. News and World Report ranked the School of Nursing’s adult/gerontology specialty No. 14 among more than 500 graduate nursing programs. It is the top-ranked program in Georgia. 

Other nursing programs selected for this partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans include Duke University, University of Utah, University of California, San Francisco, Catholic University of America, and MGH Institute of Health Professions.

Emory’s School of Nursing is building upon its more the 60-year partnership with the Atlanta VAMC with numerous collaborations focused on nursing education and research, including:

  • Launching a fellowship program to improve research for veteran health care. This fellowship program trains nurses and physicians to develop innovative approaches to enhancing health care services for veterans.  
  • Establishing a veteran-centric clinical preparation program for undergraduate nursing students. In 2013, Emory was one of six nursing schools nationwide selected for the VA Nursing Academic Partnership. This partnership provided $4 million to fund 10 additional faculty positions at the School of Nursing and is expected to increase Emory's undergraduate nursing class by 100 students over a five-year period.
  • Created dedicated education units (DEUs). Since 2009, the school has developed DEUs designed to provide one-on-one clinical training to students in the Atlanta VAMC’s psychiatry/mental health and geriatric units.  

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