Park Ridge, Ill. -- Today First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced a commitment from nurses across the country eager to serve our veterans and military families as well as they have served us. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) and numerous other nursing schools and organizations have committed to educating 1.3 million current and future advanced practice and registered nurses about how to recognize and care for veterans impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other combat-related issues, in ways appropriate to each nurse’s practice setting by 2015. The AANA was represented at the ceremony by AANA President Debra Malina, CRNA, DNSc, MBA; Kelly Wiltse Nicely, CRNA, PhD; and Bette Wildgust, CRNA, MS, MSN.
In a broad, coordinated effort, the AANA and more than 150 other state and national nursing organizations including over 500 nursing schools have committed to further educate our nation’s 3 million nurses so they are prepared to meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families. This initiative has been spearheaded by the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the National League for Nursing, and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.
“The invisible wounds of war, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), have impacted approximately 1 in 6 of our troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq – more than 300,000 veterans. And since 2000, more than 44,000 of those troops have suffered at least a moderate-grade traumatic brain injury,” said AANA President, Debra Malina, CRNA, DNSc, MBA. “In fact, in an upcoming issue of the AANA Journal, research involving anesthesia care and PTSD will be featured. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia in every setting in which anesthesia care is delivered including the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system and in hospitals and communities across the United States, where the majority of veterans and military families usually visit for their healthcare needs. Nurse anesthetists have been the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on the front lines since WWI, including current conflicts in the Middle East,” said Malina.
“Whether we’re in a hospital, a doctor’s office or a community health center, nurses are often the first people we see when we walk through the door. Because of their expertise, they are trusted to be the frontline of America’s health care system,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “That’s why Jill and I knew we could turn to America’s nurses and nursing students to help our veterans and military families get the world-class care that they’ve earned. It’s clear from today’s announcement that the nursing community is well on its way to serving our men and women in uniform and their families.”
“Nurses are at the center of providing lifesaving care in communities across the country -- and their reach is particularly important because our veterans don't always seek care through the VA system,” said Dr. Jill Biden. “This commitment is essential to ensuring our returning service men and women receive the care they deserve.”
Nursing leaders have also committed to disseminating effective models for care and to sharing the most up-to-date information on these conditions across academic and practice settings.
Key commitments include the following:
- Educating America’s CRNAs to care for our nation’s veterans, service members, and their families facing post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other clinical issues;
- Enriching nurse anesthesia education to ensure that current and future CRNAs are educated and trained in the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for military service members, veterans, and their families;
- Disseminating the most up-to-date information as it relates to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Growing the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for our military service members, veterans, and their families; and
- Leading and advancing the supportive community of CRNAs, institutions, and healthcare providers dedicated to improving the health of military service members, veterans, and their families.
“CRNAs can make a dramatic and positive impact on the long-term health of hundreds of thousands of veterans for years to come. And it is an important part of our education to understand the needs of those who have served, to recognize the warning signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or suicide, and to know where to send them for help,” said Malina.
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