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From Serving to Nursing in 16 Months: A Look At UM-Flint’s Vet’s Nursing Program

Sarah Satkowiak

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In an effort to assist those who have served, the Veteran’s Department at UM-Flint is offering veterans the opportunity to participate in the accelerated nursing program without having a prior bachelor’s degree.

“Veteran students differ from traditional students because they know exactly where they want to go,” John Collins, program manager of the VBSN said. “We want to help get them their as fast as possible.”

At the end of this sixteen-month program, veterans will have a bachelors of nursing degree.

The Veteran’s Bachelors of Nursing program has existed at UM-Flint since July 2014. It is available to students who have retired from their service in the military, current reservists and National Guard members. It is open to every branch of the armed forces. This program is exclusive to veterans, but it is not only for medics and corpsmen. Any service member, regardless of their military occupational specialty, who received medical training during their military career, is eligible for this program.

According to Collins, this program limits the training veterans have received from going unaccredited by the university, decreases veteran unemployment situations, increases the diversity of professional nurses and decreases the nationwide nursing shortage.

The VBSN office is intended as a tool for veterans. The office works closely with students to identify credit they received during their time in service, and then works with the university to give appropriate credit for that training. There are also support services available to VBSN students like additional tutoring, writing assistance and future plans of establishing employer relationships with nearby health care facilities to help VBSN students transition into professional nursing careers.

“We understand that the culture of the military is very team oriented,” Collins said. “We want to be a part of that team, and help every veteran student who may feel like college is disorganized.”

Currently there are five student veterans in the VBSN program. These students applied in the fall 2015 semester and will graduate in December 2016.

“We currently have at least 50 students that are pipelined in this program,” Nicole Altheide, academic advisor and counselor for the VBSN said.

These are students who are waiting to be accepted to the program, and students currently taking prerequisite courses who are working towards the next application period.

Nationally, UM-Flint is one of 30 institutions that offer this program to veterans.

The VBSN office works closely with the Student Veterans Recourse Center on campus. This allows the VBSN office to refer students on questions they have regarding their Veteran Affairs benefits, and recruit pre-nursing student veterans into their office.

As this program progresses, Lisa Pagano-Lawrence, administrative assistant for the VBSN, hopes to see more credit be given to student veterans for their training. The VBSN office is partnering with a credit equivalence committee to discuss ways to give veterans more college credit for their military training. Members of this committee are veterans, nurses and Ph.D prepared individuals that are not faculty members at UM-Flint.

On Friday, April 1, Dr. Marshall Thomas, a veteran educator from California State University at Long Beach, will be addressing university educators and staff members on the culture of the military and student veterans transition in academia. This presentation is called VetNet ally and it is intended for university members to become allies for student veterans on UM-Flint’s campus. That same day, an organization called Journey to Normal will be displaying a portion of their documentary titled Journal to Normal: Women of War Come. According to Collins, the purpose of this presentation is to also help communicate the challenges a veteran may face when transitioning back into the civilian world.

Veteran students who are interested in the VBSN are highly encouraged by the VBSN staff to contact them for advising, additional program information, support services, and other questions they may have. The VBSN office is located on the fourth floor of the White Building.

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