College of Nursing Gets $5M for VA Nursing Academy Partnership

Veterans Affairs Program to help educate 96 new nurses in New Mexico.

UNM's College of Nursing joins five other prestigious universities in a program devoted to educating the next generation of nurses who understand the special needs of America's military veterans. This $5 million dollar grant will help UNM's College of Nursing educate 96 new nurses over the next four years.

The UNM College of Nursing has partnered with the New Mexico Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System as one of six schools to be selected for the Veterans Affairs Nursing Academy Partnership (VANAP) Program. Other VANAP partnerships include Emory University, Marquette University, University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, and Oregon Health and Science Universities.

The VA established the program in 2007, partnering with the country’s leading nursing schools to expand the number of academic and VA collaborations with the goal of developing, compassionate, highly-trained nurses to serve the health care needs of the nation’s Veterans. Specifically, VANAP enables competitively selected VA-nursing school partnerships to expand the number of nursing faculty, enhance the professional and scholarly development of nurses, increase student enrollment and promote innovations in nursing education to improve the care of veterans and their families.

UNM’s CON will develop the program to increase undergraduate nursing enrollment, faculty, and clinical placement; and prepare nursing students to meet the needs of veterans in New Mexico. The college already is recruiting and hiring faculty, and will admit an additional eight students this fall, and 16 additional students next spring, for a total of 96 new nurses funded by the grant.

“Veterans comprise nearly 20 percent of New Mexico’s population,” remarks Nancy Morton, MS, RN, UNM College of Nursing undergraduate program director and the VANAP co-director. “This partnership will significantly advance care for our veterans statewide, as we develop clinical sites to prepare nurses for the future of health care delivery – like telehealth and patient-centered medical home models.”

“Educating and training a high-quality workforce in veteran-centric care is a challenge for today’s healthcare leaders,” adds Cynthia Nuttall, Ph.D., RN, NMVAHCS’ associate chief of nursing for professional practice and VANAP co-director. “This VANAP Grant will allow us to increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico, who will be knowledgeable of the impact that military service has on veterans’ health and will know how to treat the many health care needs related to military service.”

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The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center will work with community partners to help New Mexico make more progress in health and health equity than any other state by 2020.