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U of M and Minneapolis VA awarded $5.3 million to educate more nurses

The expansion of the nursing program will provide students with more education and experience working with the healthcare needs of veterans and their families, too.

The partnership will yield 100 additional bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses over five years.

This fall, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing will admit its largest class of undergraduate nursing students in history, with 148 sophomores entering its bachelor’s degree program – 20 more than in any previous year. This expansion is possible due to a $5.3 million competitive award from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to the Minneapolis VA Health Care System announced this month.

The grant enables the VA and the University of Minnesota to partner on preparing bachelor’s degree nurses for the workforce who can provide high quality, coordinated care to America’s veterans.

“We are incredibly excited to be part of this program,” said Helen Pearlman, nurse executive at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System. “About 20 VAs around the country offered proposals; we are one of only six to receive the award. The experience at the VA will be unique and unlike any other hospital in the Twin Cities.”

Students who choose to participate in the Veterans Administration Nurse Academic Partnership will spend much of the last two years of their four-year bachelor’s degree nursing program in clinical service and study at the Minneapolis VA. Students will have unique opportunities to participate in interprofessional healthcare teams in the care of veterans.

Students will be exposed to the wide range of services offered to veterans and gain an understanding of unique veteran healthcare needs. As one of the largest clinical teaching facilities in Minnesota, the VA offers learning opportunities in multiple trauma, long-term rehabilitation, home health, telemetry, spinal cord injury, psychiatric mental health and chronic pain treatment.

“Each year, we are not able to admit many outstanding, well-qualified applicants to our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program primarily due to the limited capacity for student clinical placements in the community,” said Connie White Delaney, Dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. “This partnership with the VA will enable us to educate more bachelor’s degree nurses effectively while increasing the knowledge and understanding our students and faculty have of the unique health challenges facing veterans and their families. This outstanding initiative addresses the Institute of Medicine’s call for 80% increase in the registered nurse workforce with bachelor’s degrees. This is an excellent time to take our partnership with the VA to a new level that capitalizes on the strengths of both organizations.”

Funding will also be used to support 10 additional faculty who will be fully devoted to the education of these students and engaged both at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the Minneapolis VA.

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