UTHealth Celebrates First Class of Students in New Veterans Nursing Program
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Credit Newswise —

Nearly 100 members of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) community and visitors celebrated the opening of the UTHealth Veterans’ Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) program in Jan. They welcomed the first three VBSN students, who were admitted to the new program this semester.

A three-year federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration and a grant from the Vivian L. Smith Foundation are helping launch the program, which will facilitate the transition of United States military veterans into professional nursing by providing an opportunity for up to 10 veterans per semester to receive academic credit for prior military training and experience.

To help address the unique needs of veterans, each VBSN student will be matched with a mentor from the U.S. Veteran’s Initiative and will work with a case manager to help them adjust to the rigors and challenges of nursing school.

On their dark blue scrubs, U.S. Navy retiree Jason Crume, U.S. Army veteran Laterria Anderson and retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant Robert Duran wore “Veteran” patches provided by the PARTNERS organization and its chair, Roberta Prazak, B.S.N., R.N.

Special guest Georgeann McRaven, wife of The University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven, spoke about the importance of “helping veterans continue to serve in civilian life.” She expressed admiration for UTHealth’s “dedication to the welfare and advancement of our vets,” as exemplified by the VBSN program and noted that “education is the absolute key to making a successful transition to civilian life.”

As a military spouse for 37 years and mother of a serving Air Force officer, McRaven talked about her “appreciation, respect and reverence for nursing” and the “intangible attributes” that veterans offer employers.

McRaven was introduced by UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., who called the VBSN program “another milestone in the university’s mission to support veterans.”

After recognizing special guests, UTHealth School of Nursing Dean Lorraine Frazier, Ph.D., R.N., said “none of us would be here without the generosity of our donors who supported us and helped make this program a reality.”

Frazier noted that, in 2013, UTHealth School of Nursing became a member of the national “Joining Forces” initiative to increase access to education for veterans and their families. As a result of that commitment, the VBSN program was developed.

VBSN program director Bridgette R. Pullis, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of clinical nursing in the Department of Nursing Systems at the School of Nursing, described the two-year effort to bring the program to reality. She promised “wrap-around service” to support the success of current and future VBSN students, which is planned to reach a total of 60 students in three years.

Pullis said that in her own clinical work – much of it at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center – she sees the healing power of the “veteran-to-veteran connection in nursing care.”

“When a nursing student is caring for a veteran and the veteran finds out that the student is also a veteran, the air in the room changes, a common bond enables trust and hope,” she said.

Veterans interested in the VBSN program can find more information at www.go.uth.edu/vbsn.