National Student Nurse Day, which takes place on May 8 as part of National Nurses Week, honors student nurses – approximately 25,000 of whom train at VA each year – as they pursue a career in medicine.
More than half of VA’s 80,000 nurses are currently eligible for retirement, and a national nursing shortage is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age. VA’s training of pre-licensure nursing students, registered nurse residents and nurse practitioner residents is critical to VA and the nation’s nursing workforce.
“Nurses are a mission critical occupation,” said Jemma Ayvazian, the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) director of nursing education. “VA has an enormous impact nationally on training nurses.”
VA nursing trainees include pre-licensure nursing students, post-baccalaureate registered nurse residents and nurse practitioner residents. Partnering with nursing schools across the U.S., VA is creating a pipeline of highly trained nurse professionals.
They are equipped with the knowledge and skills to address the specific needs of Veterans in VA and the community.
Learning through competency-based curriculums
Nurse trainees at VA are at the cutting edge of technology. They learn the latest evidence-based practices as they hone their skills through competency-based curriculums.
While 98% of student nurses training at VA are pre-licensure, VA’s OAA has also pioneered unique Post Baccalaureate Registered Nurse (RN) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) residency programs.
These develop confident, practice-ready RNs and NPs to help ensure VA sustains a cadre of experienced clinical nurses and providers.
More than 80,000 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites and other factors.
Taking care of the needs of the nation
“The nursing programs struggle at times to expand their programs. They have to have places for nurse trainees to do clinical rotations,” said Ayvazian.
She added that some nursing schools have to pay private sector hospitals to place their trainees there for rotations, an opportunity VA provides at no charge.
“VA’s academic mission is huge in terms of providing the platform for quality nurse training,” she added. “That’s what’s great about our mission. We’re not just taking care of our own needs in nurse training. We’re taking care of the needs of the nation.”
Tonya C. Lobbestael is a public affairs officer for the VHA Office of Academic Affiliations.