In 2013, HRSA funded nine Schools of Nursing through the Veterans’ Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (VBSN) program to increase veterans' enrollment, retention and graduation of veterans from baccalaureate nursing programs. The goals of the VBSN program are consistent with HRSA’s goals to increase the numbers of baccalaureate prepared registered nurses and help to improve the quality of the nursing workforce. In addition to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs are also committed to improving veterans’ employment opportunities. The nine selected Schools of Nursing that were awarded VBSN grants will build on the healthcare knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired by veterans during their military experience by awarding academic credit for prior healthcare training and other nursing-related learning experiences.
The Schools of Nursing also have diverse programs which include traditional four-year programs, campus-based programs, online models, and hybrid projects. Accelerated one-year to two-year programs are also available for veterans that have successfully completed pre-nursing course requirements or have healthcare experience as emergency medical technicians, corpsmen, medics, licensed vocational nurses, associates or diploma degreed nurses. Veterans with baccalaureate degrees in a field other than nursing may also be eligible.
The Schools of Nursing will also offer clinical training experiences at various veteran-friendly, and community-based clinics, hospitals, and other organizations. Veterans that successfully complete the VBSN program will receive assistance with National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) test preparation, career planning guidance, and transition into civilian professional registered nurses.
In addition, in 2012 HRSA funded 70 schools through the Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) program, with 55 of the grantees assisting veterans to earn advanced nursing degrees. Grantees of this program support traineeships for enrolled registered nurses to practice as primary care providers and/or nursing faculty, and have project periods ranging from 2 to 4 years. While the strategies vary, many focus on community outreach and partnership with veteran’s organizations as well as with local military bases. Additional strategies include awarding nursing academic credit for military health care experience, and developing retention activities that target the unique physical, psychosocial and economic needs of veterans.