A year ago in December, TWU was the recipient of a $3.5 million grant on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Houston J. and Florence A. Doswell College of Nursing at the T. Boones Pickens Institute in Dallas was accepted to be a participant in the Veterans Affairs Nursing Academy Partnerships (VANAP).
History of TWU and VANAP
The program is incredibly competitive, according to TWU VANAP Program Director and Assistant Clinical Professor Corey Church. VANAP was established in 2007 and is overseen by the separate U.S. division of the Office of Academic Affiliations. Each university that is accepted into the program will receive funding for veteran-centric training in healthcare for nursing students based on a five-year strategic plan.
According to the VA website, TWU is one of 18 universities, and the only one in Texas, that has been a partner of the VA program. The university continues to develop its reputation as a “military friendly” campus and has been a recipient of this designation for seven years in a row, according to a TWU press release and militaryfriendly.com.
Why nursing students might be interested in VANAP
Church testifies to the impact that a specialized education in nursing might have in giving students an edge: “This is important is to the future of healthcare, especially with veterans…as we have an influx of veterans we are needing more nurses. Because this is a unique population of individuals we are needing to prepare nurses to care for them. If we can essentially provide education to nurses about how to deal with the complexities that arise in veterans’ healthcare…we are setting them up to provide high quality care…”
In addition, nursing students later have an opportunity to apply for Student Nurse Tech (SNT) positions. There are internship possibilities the summer before the S1 semester with VA Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR), where nursing students will work alongside a mentor and assist in caring for veterans living in a residency. After clinicals, TWU nursing are priority for being hired at the VA Center upon graduation and into a post-baccalaureate residency program.
How VANAP applies to nursing students
According to Church, there are 46 Dallas nursing students participating in the program between J1 and S2 looking for a bachelor’s degree. These students will take classes with their peers at the Dallas campus, but have the opportunity to do a bulk of their clinicals at the VA Center. Because it is such a unique opportunity, nursing students recruited to the program must apply and be selected to participate. Church emphasizes that it offers students a consistent clinical environment without having to relearn technology and charting processes each clinical.
Who is involved
Nursing students are instructed by a qualified faculty both at the VA and TWU, including two program directors. Church says that there are 10 people in total on the team and they work together to meet the goals of the strategic plan, send out an annual report and continue to improve and be innovative with their approach to veteran-centric care.
Cory Church, Program Director; Sharon Denham, Faculty; Aleatha Rossler, Faculty; Christina Villanueva, Faculty; Michele Trinka, Faculty
Tiffany Grant, Program Director; Bruce Cox, Faculty; Funmi Makinde, Faculty; Baby Philip, Faculty; Mini Sebastian, Faculty