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VA Secretary Visits School, Touts Importance of Nursing
Faculty member with VA Secretary

McDonough (right) with Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Admissions and Student Affairs Lisa Muirhead, who facilitated the roundtable discussion.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough emphasized the vital role that nurses play in the U.S. health care system, and particularly among the nation’s veterans and families, during a March 25 visit to the School of Nursing.

“Nurses are key to how we provide care,” McDonough told the group. “President Biden says, ‘Nurses not only save your life, but they make you want to live,’ and that is surely the experience we have with our nurses across the VA system.”

McDonough joined in a roundtable discussion with Emory nursing school students, faculty, staff, leaders, and VA clinical and research collaborators, many of whom are veterans. He fielded questions and discussed VA benefits, initiatives, research, employment, and patient care.

McDonough said nurses will be key as the VA seeks to move care closer to its patients. “That care will be outpatient driven, so we are going to need more and more nurses to lead that care,” he says. “That’s good news for us because we think nurses provide the best care.”

The Emory School of Nursing has shared a 70-year partnership with the Atlanta VA Health System, participating in VA-sponsored fellowship programs, nursing academic partnerships, residency programs, and faculty appointments. Funded by the VA Office of Academic Affiliation, the school has worked on national competencybased curriculums and evaluation measures that more than 100 VA residency programs have adopted.

The school and the VA have also collaborated to develop a model on social determinants of health among older veterans, an initiative on workforce resilience training among VA personnel in Atlanta and Boston, and research on the effectiveness of yoga among women veterans with military sexual trauma-related PTSD.

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