The UCLA School of Nursing and VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System will launch a post-baccalaureate nurse residency program in September 2020. The program will prepare nurses to address the health care needs of our nation’s veterans and their families.

“This program will provide support for our new graduates as they transition from an educational environment to a demanding clinical environment,” said Linda Sarna, dean of the nursing school. “With strong mentorship and guidance, these new nurses will gain extensive experience in providing quality care to our veterans.”

The 12-month training program will improve the quality of care for veterans by providing additional training and support to newly graduated nurses. It will incorporate clinical and experiential learning using an evidence-based practice curriculum, aligned with military and veteran-centric care competencies and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation standards, involving nurses from VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System and the UCLA School of Nursing.

VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System’s mission is to provide exceptional patient-centric health care to America’s veterans, which makes it essential to recruit and retain skilled, dedicated employees who function at the highest level of competency.

Funded by the Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affiliations, the program illustrates a commitment to fostering relationships between VA facilities and schools of nursing to leverage academic expertise and VA clinical resources. Office of Academic Affiliations academic nurse residency program positions are funded centrally by OAA trainee funds. The OAA training program is a 12-month program during which trainees have 100% protected time to master the complexities of caring for veterans.

The post-baccalaureate nurse residency program is the only VA post-licensure residency program in the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

“The veteran population has specialized needs often linked to their service to our nation,” said Marcia Lysaght, VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System’s associate director for patient care services and chief nurse executive. “It is therefore a moral imperative to ensure that new nurses are well prepared to take care of our nation’s heroes.”

According to Lysaght, the program will ensure that new graduate registered nurses meet or exceed the high standards of care that are owed to the veterans. A total of six positions will be open to pre-licensure graduates from the UCLA nursing school’s bachelor of science in nursing and master’s entry clinical nurse programs. Applicants must be within one year of the date they graduated in order to be eligible for the program.

Studies have shown that residency programs ensure a supervised transition to independent clinical practice and are a key recommendation in the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report, The Future of Nursing. Competition for nurses is high and studies have shown one way to attract more post-licensure graduates is through a nurse residency program. The program offers new nurses the opportunity to develop confidence and a level of comfort in their nursing practice.

“The program is designed to increase the knowledge of new graduate registered nurses across the continuum of care,” Lysaght said. “A veteran-centric residency program that is evidence based and well-structured can be a solution to mitigating the high rate of turnover for newly licensed registered nurses during their first year as they transition into professional Veterans Affairs nurses.”

VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System and the UCLA School of Nursing have a long and rich tradition of successful collaboration and clinical education. For more than a decade, pre-licensure nursing students have rotated through the medical surgical units, the emergency room and the operating room where they have received mentorship from VA nurses.

In addition, the two entities have been involved as team members in various VA programs including the VA Centers of Excellence in Interprofessional Academic Homeless Primary Care clinic, or H-PACT, and as advisory board members for the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center.

“This new partnership will strengthen our mutual commitment to provide innovative, quality-driven and transformational nursing care for veterans,” Sarna said.

Veterans in need can call the VA hotline toll-free at 877-4-AID-VET.