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Celebrating Health Professions Education Week

Last week, March 11-15, health professions trainees, Veterans and clinical staff in VA medical centers across the country took time to celebrate Health Professions Education (HPE) Week through special events and award ceremonies.

HPE Week is an annual campaign to recognize the contributions of VA faculty, health professions trainees, clinical educators, academic partners and Veterans who all work together to train future health care professionals for VA and the nation.

Each year, VA trains more than 120,000 health professions trainees in more than 60 disciplines, making VA the nation’s largest provider of health professions training.

“We thank everyone involved in our mission, especially the Veterans who put their continued trust in VA’s health care system,” said Chief Academic Affiliations Officer, Dr. Marjorie Bowman. “Without Veterans, our academic partners and the outstanding clinical staff at the medical centers, we could not train so many high-quality health professions trainees each year.” 

Ann Arbor VA

Ann Arbor VA awarded two trainees for demonstrating excellence in their educational pursuits within VA.

Emily Sluiter, fourth-year medical student and aspiring plastic surgeon, was presented with the 2024 Furstenberg Award for Excellence in Pre-graduate Education.

Dr. Elizabeth Scruggs-Wodkowski, a second-year fellow in Infectious Disease and graduate of the Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency, was presented the 2024 Mary East Award for Excellence in Post-graduate Education.

Caribbean VA

Associate Chief of Staff for Education Dr. Maricarmen Cruz-Jimenez said the theme of HPE Week was humanism in medicine. “We dedicate educational content to learn about health care disparities and the attitudes that help minimize barriers to care, bias, cultural humility, empathy, self-reflection and clinical curiosity.”

The top three winners of an abstract poster presentation: first place went to Dr. Alondra Velez Santiago, a first-year post-graduate resident. Second place, Dr. Stephanie Colón-Marrero, a first-year post graduate resident. Third place, Drs. Wilfredo M. Pedreira-García and Jose Irrizarry-García, both third-year post-graduate residents.

Southern Nevada VA

Southern Nevada VA trains approximately 750 health professions trainees every year in a variety of disciplines. This year’s trainees are pictured above.

Clinical instructor Dr. Janelle Espersen: “With every student, my goal is to inspire confident and intentional clinicians, and [to] make the next generation of physical therapists a step above the rest.”

Minneapolis VA

Dr. Ezgi Tiryaki cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of the Interprofessional Education and Collaboration Center located in the Minneapolis VA

Minneapolis VA held a ribbon-cutting for the grand opening of the Interprofessional Education and Collaboration Center to coincide with HPE Week. The new state-of-the-art center will provide a dynamic learning environment where VA clinical caregivers and health care professionals can come together to learn and collaborate on best practices.

“We are thrilled to open the doors of the IPECC and host health care professionals from all disciplines in a variety of learner-centric simulation labs, multipurpose classrooms and computer lab settings,” said Dr. Ezgi Tiryaki, associate chief of staff for education. “Access to professional development in proximity to clinical care spaces is critical for providing Veteran-centric care.”

Marion VA

Marion VA celebrated by highlighting two nurse practitioners.  Carrie Staggs and Elizabeth Hardy are set to graduate from the program in August. Hardy’s decision to train was influenced by her experience when her father had a stroke when she was 19 years old. He was transferred to a VA hospital and the care he received there left a lasting impression. “That experience with him and the care he received showed me that was my plac,” Hardy said.

A big thank you!

Without contributions like these from everyone involved in health care training across all VA medical centers throughout the nation, VA could not continue to advance its academic mission and keep VA on the cutting edge of clinical care. The Office of Academic Affiliations thanks everyone who supports VA’s education mission during HPE Week and throughout the year.

The mission of training future health professionals for VA and the nation, established more than 78 years ago, is one of VA’s four statutory missions and is overseen by OAA. More than 120,000 health professions trainees in over 60 clinical disciplines train at VA each year as they care for Veterans.

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