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VA Grant to Fund Training of UW Nursing Students

VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington’s Schools of Nursing and Medicine announced the formation of a Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education. The center will be funded for five years by the Office of Academic Affiliations in the Department of Veterans Affairs with a grant of $5 million and be based at VA Puget Sound.

The new center will become part of VA’s New Models of Care initiative and will take advantage of VA Puget Sound’s strong primary care setting to develop and test innovative, team-based approaches to prepare the next generation of health care providers. This will include medical residents and students, advanced practice nurses, undergraduate nursing students and associate health trainees.

Professor of Biobehavioral Nursing and Dean Emeritus, Dr. Nancy Fugate Woods, PhD, RN, FAAN, led the School of Nursing in developing the project. She said the grant funding will focus on training students in the doctor of nursing practice program with medical residents and other health care professionals.

Woods said, "It is all about preparing the workforce of the future. The DNP program is preparing graduates for a complex world of primary care."

The Center of Excellence will use an innovative curriculum to create healthcare teams comprised equally of nursing and medicine trainees. The teams will work together to deliver patient-centered care for a three-year term, a third of which will be spent in rotations based at VA medical centers. The center will allow VA Puget Sound to pilot changes in medical education with a goal to transform primary care training.

School of Nursing Dean Marla Salmon, ScD, RN, FAAN, said this collaborative venture is a platform for continuing to develop and test cutting edge approaches to improving the care that healthcare teams, including advanced practice nurses, can supply.

"The partnership with VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the School of Medicine provides an exciting opportunity to advance the education of physicians and advanced practice nurses through a team practice model," Salmon said. "Interprofessional collaboration is crucial for the future of health and healthcare."

School of Nursing student Amy Binder said she is excited to watch how this program develops over time.

"It is inspiring to be a student in an environment where professors, professionals and researchers are working so hard to bring change and improvement to education and the healthcare system at large," Binder said.

Lawrence Robinson, MD, vice dean for Clinical Affairs and Graduate Medical Education for the School of Medicine, said the shared expertise of the School of Nursing in areas such as communication, team dynamics and cultural change contributes significantly to this initiative.

"This work will enhance the development of training models that will ultimately facilitate other residency programs making the huge transformation to significantly increase focus on primary care training," Robinson said.

VA Puget Sound was one of five VA facilities selected out of 37 national applicants, with Boise VA Medical Center being the second site selected within the VA’s Northwest Network. The three other VA sites selected sites include VA San Francisco, Cleveland VA Medical Center and the VA Connecticut Health Care System.