VHA Training Providers in Health Care for Women Veterans - VHA SimLEARN
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VHA Training Providers in Health Care for Women Veterans

Conference Attendees

Submission by the Women Veterans Strategic Health Care Group (10P4W) and Patient Care Services

(Right) Lisa Roybal, from the Loma Linda VA Medical Center in California, discusses anatomical products used to train proper pelvic exam technique.
Photo by Mary Kay Hollingsworth, VISN 8 Communication Manager

ORLANDO, FL - A groundbreaking training program to further VA's goal of implementing comprehensive primary care for women at all VA sites continued in July when the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Employee Education System (EES) partnered with VHA's Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group (WVHSHG) and SimLEARN.

More than 300 health care providers were trained during a large-scale mini-residency in Kissimmee, FL, including the 1,000th provider trained through the first part of the program. Developed by WVHSHG, the Mini-Residency Program on Primary Health Care for Women Veterans is furthering VA's goal of implementing comprehensive primary care for eligible women at all VA sites.

The Combined Mini-Residency incorporates pelvic and breast exam instruction using several types of simulation, including simulation training equipment and gynecological training associates.

The conference used examination and training space at the University of Central Florida School of Medicine Simulation Center, where 30 trained standardized patients (gynecologic teaching assistants) from the University of South Florida conducted sessions on pelvic and breast examination.

"We launched these mini-residencies in 2008 as a way to proactively prepare our providers for the record influx of women Veterans," said Patricia Hayes, Chief Consultant of WVHSHG. "I am thrilled that we have trained so many providers, and confident that every woman Veteran who comes to VA will be seen by a provider who is interested and proficient in women's health care."

The number of women Veterans using VA health care has doubled in the last decade. This is largely due to the growing number of women serving in the military, as well as increased awareness by women Veterans of the high-quality health care services offered by VA.

Of the 22.7 million living Veterans, more than 1.8 million are women. They comprise nearly eight percent of the total Veteran population and six percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services. VA estimates women Veterans will constitute 10 percent of the Veteran population by 2020 and 9.5 percent of VA patients

In addition to the large-scale training in Florida, seven regional training events are occurring nationwide over the coming months.

The mini-residency program consists of two courses, each taking two-and-a-half days to complete. Part I focuses on the needs of women Veterans of childbearing age and is made up of lectures, group discussions and hands-on instruction. Part II complements the first course and includes participation by a clinical pharmacist experienced in women's health prescribing issues.

Since the event in June, more than 1,100 VHA primary care providers have completed Part I, and almost 900 providers have completed Part II.

The mini-residencies are an ongoing program. WVHSHG is also developing ways to allow health care providers trained in women's health to maintain their proficiencies and stay up to date on the latest advancements in women's health care.