Caring for the Veteran, military and family member, nursing competencies: strategies for integrating content into nursing school curricula


This paper argues that nursing care is an essential part of the care veterans receive and furthermore, providers of nursing care must understand the uniqueness of military culture. Nursing curricula should therefore be developed to integrate content to aid learning about the veteran context.


In the United States, one in every 15 persons is a Veteran ( U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2016; U. S. News & World Report, 2017 ). An estimated 27% of these Veterans receive healthcare through the Veteran's Health Administration (VHA), leaving 73% to seek care in civilian hospitals (Bagalman, 2014). Realistically, most nurses in the United States will care for military members, Veterans or family members in a variety of healthcare systems and settings. Nurse educators are positioned to lead efforts in providing nursing students with the knowledge necessary to provide competent care and serve as advocates for our nation's heroes. Recent military deployments and news about the VHA have increased awareness of this population. This article describes competency development resulting from an academic-practice partnership experience between two baccalaureate programs and a national military medical center. Project SERVE, Students' Education Related to the Veteran Experience, utilizes a didactic-experiential model consisting of activities designed to teach students core concepts, including understanding military culture, poly-trauma, traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and issues facing families and care-givers. This article includes competencies, delineating the Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes, and resources for the provision of care to the Veteran population. The authors offer strategies to integrate care of Veterans, and military/family members content into nursing programs and replicate similar experiences. Opportunities for future development, challenges, faculty resources for curricular inclusion, and student reflections of the experience are presented.

Full Reference

McMillan, L. R., Crumbley, D., Freeman, J., Rhodes, M., Kane, M. and Napper, J., 2017. Caring for the Veteran, military and family member nursing competencies: strategies for integrating content into nursing school curricula. Journal of Professional Nursing, 33(5), pp. 378-386.