Florida International University helps military veterans enter nursing
A program at Florida International University’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences is helping recent veterans, current reservists, and national guard members integrate into education and prepare for a future as a nursing professional.
The Veterans Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) program is open to service members who trained and served in select military classifications and who were discharged in the past two years, or within five years for those who have been employed in a civilian healthcare role as combat medic, flight medic or hospital corpsmen.
The VBSN program, which was founded in 2013, has seen close to 100 graduates since its inception, said Maria Olenick, chair of Undergraduate Nursing at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences and champion of veteran programs in the college.
While there is no expectation that program graduates will return into the armed services, some do, while others transition into civilian life.
The curriculum is designed to accelerate graduation and provide credit for military training by examination whenever possible.
The VBSN program is a special project sponsored and partially funded by a grant from the Health Research Services Administration. It runs through December.
After December, program students will become eligible to transfer to non-military accelerated programs, said Ora L. Strickland, dean of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences.
“The program graduates have been very successful and very confident and very sought out for critical care environments,” Dr. Olenick said.
Students are also assigned a dedicated advisor, program tutor or coach, and registered nurse veterans who provide individualized mentoring.
“This program has stimulated interest in veterans for other programs,” Dr. Strickland said, such as the nurse anesthetist and nurse practitioner programs.
“By having a group of veterans come together in a cohort – as classmates – is a real advantage to them after coming out of the military and for adjusting to life as a new nurse,” she said.
The VBSN program is only one of multiple programs that the surgeon general of the US Army, Nadja West, will learn about when she visits FIU in May.
Dr. West will explore ideas for higher education programs geared at getting veterans back to school.