Expanding Culturally Competent Care to Veterans at Non-VA Providers
October 15, 2019
In recent years, there has been an increased reliance of veterans on health care provided in non-VA settings.
One study found that community health centers saw a 43% increase in visits by veterans between 2008 and 2015. While there has been an increased reliance on private health care, the sector is not fully ready to meet the needs of the veteran population. A 2018 NYSHealth-funded report by the RAND Corporation found that only 2.3% of private providers in New York State fully met readiness criteria for effectively serving the veteran population. To improve provider readiness, the RAND analysis recommended improving provider screening practices, increasing provider understanding of and engagement with the VA, and increasing provider familiarity with military culture and service-connected health conditions. In 2019, NYSHealth awarded a grant to Teachers College, Columbia University, for its Resilience Center for Veterans and Families to implement a veteran cultural competency training program for New York State health providers.
Under this grant, the Resilience Center implemented an innovative veteran cultural competency training program for health providers not affiliated with the VA to educate them about the unique health needs of veterans. The training program equipped providers with skills to better meet the needs of veterans and appropriately referred them to resources at the VA and within the community. The Resilience Center collaborated with provider sites to host five day-long trainings across New York State (one each in Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany and two in New York City). The trainings helped physicians, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and college health and wellness staff develop a more thorough understanding of the health care needs of returning veterans. In addition, the Resilience Center screened, selected, and trained a cadre of participants to replicate this training for other colleagues and community providers. All participants received continuing education credits—an incentive for attendance—through a partnership of the Resilience Center and Syracuse University’s School of Social Work. Through this project, providers became more familiar with and better prepared to address veterans’ health care concerns.