Tuesday June 30th 2015

VA Nurses: Honoring and caring for America’s heroes

By Joan Clifford, MSM, RN, FACHE, NOVA, and Nancy Claflin, PhD, RN, CCRN, CPHQ, FNAHQ, NOVA

Joan Clifford

On Veterans Day, our nation honors those men and women who have served in the armed forces–something that VA nurses are privileged to do every day. VA nurses are committed to providing exceptional health care to veterans. Caring for those who have given so much of themselves in service to our country is a unique mission that draws nurses into the VA system. It’s a major reason why we stay.

The mission of the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) is to shape and influence health care within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Established in 1980 as a voice for VA nurses, NOVA is celebrating its 34th anniversary this year. There are more than 55,000 RNs in VA who are at the forefront of providing quality, safety and value, caring for more than 8.5 million veterans. Using evidence to drive practice ensures quality care for our veterans. The Office of Nursing Services 2012 Nursing Innovations Awards included nurse-led innovations on topics such as pressure ulcer reduction, excellence in end of life care, reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections, redesigning care to prevent readmission, and using simulation with interprofessional team training to improve rapid response and code performance.

NOVA supports VA nurses through educational programs, scholarships and advocacy.

Nancy Claflin

NOVA scholarships promote the advancement of nursing practice by encouraging VA nurses to advance their education. This past year six scholarships were awarded to VA nurses across the country. NOVA’s annual meetings provide a forum for nurses to gain knowledge, exchange information, and enhance skills. We are proud to be part of the Joining Forces Initiative, alongside the American Nurses Association (ANA), and have focused our educational activities on the partnership of NOVA and those in the community who help care for our veterans.

Since its inception, NOVA has become a strong voice for VA nurses, emphasizing legislative affairs to speak for our veterans and the nurses who care for them. NOVA is deeply involved in the legislative process and is a recognized force in Washington, DC.  Every February, NOVA hosts a Legislative Roundtable to network and dialogue with VA Central Office representatives, Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee members and staffers, Veterans Service Organizations, and other interested groups about our legislative agenda. NOVA members have testified before Congress and participated in developing legislation to improve care for veterans.

Local chapters are the backbone of NOVA. Many local chapters are involved in supporting veterans and nurses at the local level, including awarding local scholarships and supporting stand down activities for homeless veterans.

NOVA is proud to be the nonprofit professional organization that is recognized as the powerful voice for veterans and nurses within the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA nurses are sending a strong, unified, informed message on behalf of the nursing profession, its rightful place in health care, and its impact on optimal care for our patients.

On Veteran’s Day and every day we appreciate the work of our VA nurses. Because veterans seek care throughout the healthcare system, we encourage all nurses to get involved in providing the best care for our nation’s heroes.

Joan Clifford is immediate past president and Nancy Claflin is past president of the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs.

NOVA is proud to be an organizational affiliate of the American Nurses Association.

For further information about the NOVA, go to www.vanurse.org.

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