Nursing disrespect and the Veterans Administration

Nursing disrespect and the Veterans Administration

The politicalization issues with our Veterans Administration healthcare woes misrepresents the role of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

Those interviewed in the newscast may perceive that there are no vacancies within the VA healthcare system, and therefore no need to utilize APRNs in VA healthcare facilities. However, upwards to 80% of veterans receive their care OUTSIDE of the VA setting by providers—MDs, APRNS, and PAs—in the community due to lack of providers and VA facilities across the country.

Those who have served in harm’s way and were promised care by the VA deserve to be cared for by providers, both MD and APRNs, who are knowledgeable about military culture, service connected physical and psychological co-morbidities and health risks. There is no better place for these individuals to receive care than in the VA setting by healthcare providers who are trained to meet the unique healthcare needs of veterans.

When you discredit the competency and credibility of the APRN in the VA setting, you are discrediting the competency and credibility of the APRNs who provide care for the over 80% of veterans receiving care in the civilian sector. Furthermore, you undermine the credibility and confidence of military APRNs who provide care to active duty military, wounded warriors, and their family members in military treatment facilities across the country and around the world as well as in the deployed combat setting in remote, austere environments. The Department of Defense funds a university geared towards training military APRNs to care for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, veterans, and their family members while also delivering humanitarian aid. Many of today’s veterans received healthcare from APRNs while serving in the military and are familiar with the care they provide.

The lack of responsible reporting of the facts in this news report discredits every single APRN caring for those who have served in harm’s way—many of whom have been the only healthcare provider in a field or deployed setting in a combat or disaster zone—and could have a catastrophic effect on the care our active-duty military members, veterans, wounded warriors, and family members receive.

While I agree that there are many improvements that need to be made to VA healthcare facilities, limiting veteran’s access to qualified providers is counterproductive and flies in the face of reason. The proposed rule change would authorize APRNs to practice to the full scope of their education and preparation and would increase access to care for veterans in VA healthcare facilities. All I ask is that you do your homework and get your facts straight.

Provide our veterans with evidence-based healthcare options that highlight patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, and access to quality providers. The Institutes of Medicine, Federal Trade Commission and National State Boards of Nursing have reviewed patient outcome data and research and find that APRNs are part of the solution to quality health care and not a harbinger of doom and failed standards. Don’t our veterans deserve the same access? A retraction and focus on what this unique population needs and who can be part of the solution would address your skewed reporting. You are now faced with the opportunity to discover APRNs and what we can bring to the table – we are not here to dominate but contribute. The patient is the focus for us and we would hope that would be the case for you. There are several organizations who can provide you with accurate information about APRNs. I highly recommend that you reach out to them, and learn and share.


Alicia Gill Rossiter, DNP, APRN, FNP, PCPNP-BC, FAANP

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