During National Hispanic Heritage Month, here’s a look at VA’s programs that support educational and career opportunities for Hispanic minorities.
VA’s Office of Academic Affiliations offers many educational opportunities through its affiliations with more than 1,800 colleges and universities, including nearly 200 minority-serving institutions.
Through these affiliations, VA fills a critical role in educating more than 120,0000 VA health professions trainees each year.
New Mexico VA Medical Center: Cultivating diversity
VA has a strong partnership between the New Mexico VA Healthcare System and the University of New Mexico College of Nursing. OAA is increasing cultural and linguistic competencies among health professions trainees.
“Cultivating diversity in our nursing workforce improves health care for all Veterans,” said Dr. Cynthia Nuttall.
“To provide the best possible care for all, providers must be able to communicate with patients and understand their needs in a culturally competent manner.”
Nuttall is chief nurse for Academic Affairs, Professional Development and Research. She also is adjunct professor at University of New Mexico College of Nursing.
New Mexico VA hosts approximately 100 undergraduate nursing students annually to increase the diversity and competencies of its nursing workforce.
Dr. Cynthia Nuttall, Chief Nurse for Academic Affairs (left) and Nurse Marianna Block.
It is through partnerships with academic affiliates that VA is able to train and recruit a diverse workforce. Nearly 30,000 staff across VHA are of Hispanic heritage, an increase of nearly 2,000 since 2019.
“By integrating ethnic diversity in our training programs, we promote wellness strategies, such as prevention, nutrition, health promotion, holistic health, and spiritual health and well-being.”
Miami VA: Prepared to help Hispanic students excel
Miami VA is affiliated with Florida International University. Their students benefit from a variety of educational programs, including classes using simulation technology and interdisciplinary teams.
Miami VA’s Post Baccalaureate Registered Nurse Residency Program (PB-RNR) allows students to rotate through different clinical units. This makes an easier transition from school to work.
Registered Nurse Marianna Block is an Ecuador native and graduate of the program. She found Florida International University is well prepared to aid Hispanic students overcome any social, cultural and language barriers a student could have.
“Veterans Affairs, being a completely diverse entity, also prepared me to assimilate into my chosen profession,” she said. “The collaboration between these institutions helped me to obtain the proper abilities and knowledge to transition into the specialized healthcare professional that I am right now.”
Block went on to join the Miami VA team after completing her residency program.
“It is important to have healthcare professionals who can understand the cultures of different ethnicities,” she said. “I have found that Hispanic patients have been able to communicate their emotional and physical problems better in their principal language.”
Passion to learn – power to heal
VA conducts training programs for more than 120,000 health professions trainees annually in affiliation with over 1,800 educational institutions across the country, including 97% of U.S. medical colleges.
These academic affiliations, some of which began 75 years ago, are coordinated by VA’s Office of Academic Affiliations. Find out more here and by watching this video.