The Catholic University of America

Sept. 9, 2015 

$2 Million Grant to Fund Nursing School-VA Partnership

  Nursing faculty (front row, from left) Dean Patricia McMullen and Janet Selway and (back row, from left) Mary Paterson, Teresa Walsh, Petra Goodman, and Elizabeth Hawkins-Walsh, and Timothy May, research coordinator.

As part of a grant of up to $2 million, the School of Nursing is entering an academic and clinical partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to enroll VA nurses in a program that will educate them as adult gerontology practitioners with master’s and doctoral degrees.

The selection of Catholic University’s nursing school — one of just six schools nationwide chosen for the VA grant — “is a coup,” said Patricia McMullen, dean of nursing. “The grant selection process was very competitive. We're in a league with some very heavy hitters.”

Starting with about eight students in the fall semester, the nursing school will partner with the Washington DC VA Medical Center in northwest D.C. The partnership represents “a win-win situation” for the nursing school and the VA, notes McMullen.

The arrangement — part of the VA Nursing Academic Partnerships for Graduate Education program — helps to address the health-care needs of an increasing number of elderly veterans as well as the shortage of nurses with advanced degrees, says McMullen.

McMullen notes that nationwide only 13% of nurses have a graduate degree in nursing and less than 1% have doctorates.

In addition to educating VA nurses for advanced degrees, the program will enable Catholic University nursing school professors to train other VA nurses who already have master’s degrees as adjunct faculty. In turn, those adjunct faculty members will serve as preceptors or mentors for students seeking advanced degrees. 

“This partnership addresses a bottleneck in the health-care system — the lack of faculty to teach in these roles and the lack of clinicians to educate students in the field,” says McMullen. “The grant is bringing these two together, making it easier for the University to identify and educate VA employees as adjunct faculty.”

The nursing dean notes that securing the grant was the result of a collaborative effort by herself, Research Coordinator Timothy May, Associate Professor Petra Goodman, Clinical Associate Professor Elizabeth Hawkins-Walsh, Professor Emerita Mary Paterson, Assistant Professor Janet Selway, and Clinical Assistant Professor Teresa Walsh. Goodman and Selway are serving as project managers for the grant.

“The School of Nursing is well suited to provide this service to the VA,” says McMullen. “We are highly respected for our clinical expertise, in part, because so many of our faculty are actively engaged in clinical practice.”




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