By Jenna Kerwin
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we thought we’d introduce you to a course especially designed to teach health care workers of the needs of military members and their families.
NUR 340 Caring for Our Nation’s Heroes and Their Families is an 8-week, 3-credit elective course that provides critical insights and skills that are required to assess the unique healthcare needs of the military, veterans, and their families, and ensure they receive culturally sensitive and superior health care. The course takes a deep look at the military and veteran culture, the military and veteran health care systems, veteran health care resources, and the military family. It explores veteran-centric health-related topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder, transition issues, poly-trauma, homelessness, women veteran health issues, LGBT topics, and applicable theories.
“The content on the military family is important, especially for nursing students, as nurses provide holistic care,” says Patti Cannistraci, assistant dean of the School of Nursing, who oversees the RN-BS & MS nursing programs. “The nurse is providing care for an entire family unit with the focus being the patient.”
Students needn’t be a nurse, however, to take advantage of what this course offers. Anyone with an interest in understanding military and veteran culture more deeply would benefit, says Cannistraci. “Even for students who just work alongside veterans—those students would be significantly enriched by the course content,” she adds. The course is important to nursing students, though, because it allows them to expand their thinking skills to be a better care provider to veteran patients and families.
So far, course evaluations show students have “loved this class!” and thought it is “a great course.” One student said, “I found this course to be very interesting and I found myself wanting to learn more. It is surprising that others are not wanting to learn of our military. It has to be that others are not aware of this course. This is a class I would definitely recommend.”
The inclusive learning environment may be a contributing factor to students’ high approval ratings. Cannistraci points out that veteran students are encouraged to bring their own experiences to the discussion boards. She explains, “This type of sharing can facilitate the civilian student as seeing their own world as ‘other,’ and they may begin to change assumptions as they develop a better understanding of the military and veteran culture and experiences.”
With all the discussion surrounding veteran health care, it is important that our health care workers and nursing professionals be prepared to aid this population. One faculty member who recently taught NUR 340 said, “I love this course and think that every nurse, especially those in direct care, should take this course.” So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for Caring for Our Nation’s Heroes and Their Families as your next elective!