Veterans Health Course Co-Director Janet Hale, PhD, (right) is pictured with SNB alumnus, nurse practitioner and UMass Memorial Medical Center course instructor Michael Spiros, MS, NP. Both are military veterans.
A new class for medical and nursing students at UMass Medical School focuses on the unique and complex health needs of Americans who have served their country and invites veterans and military personnel to the UMMS and the central MA community to share their experiences.
âUnderstanding cultural perspectives and work experience is important when providing care,â said course co-founder Janet Hale, PhD, professor and associate director of interprofessional and community partnerships for the Graduate School of Nursing and Col. retired to the US Army Reserves. âSince more than 9% of the residents of central Massachusetts are veterans, it is essential that doctors and nurses understand military culture and the impact of military service on health. “
The Military Culture and Military / Veteran and Family Health Assessment course covers the basics of military culture and its potential impact on health. Students will learn to ask questions about military service and take the story of someone who has served or who is close to someone who served in the military, and follow the approaches, answers and appropriate references.
Topics include the incidence and prevalence of health problems, including invisible wounds of war and understanding the challenges of adjusting combat to a soldier’s past life, habits and behaviors. Students will also gain an understanding of how the VA and private health care serves veterans, as well as other available community resources.
Active duty and veteran military personnel from central Massachusetts as well as UMMS professors, many of whom have served in the military, will instruct. In addition, more than 25 military members from the community accepted invitations to attend the lunch for an informal discussion with the students.
âWe think it will be very important for students to hear from faculty and staff who have military experience,â said Linda Cragin, MSW, director of Massachusetts Area Health Education Centers at Commonwealth Medicine, who co-founded and co-directs the course with Dr. Hale. âThe commitment to the continued service and support of their brothers and sisters in uniform was clearly visible in the response of veterans, military personnel and their families to spend their time with our students during the busy holiday season. Everyone said yes, then also referred a friend or family member, or spread the word in their network. “
The Veterans and Military Health Course is one of nine compulsory one-day courses for the third year of medical school and all students of the Graduate School of Nursing School. Called an interstitial curriculum, these courses address interdisciplinary themes that are of great importance to medical education and medical practice. Advocacy of patient and community interests is highlighted in each thematic area. Small group learning includes a variety of workshops, simulations, patient interviews and skill building sessions.
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