Veterans teach VHA how to be a learning organization

When Vietnam War veteran Michael Nicoletti needed surgery to treat hearing loss, he invented GioStent, a straw-like device inserted into the external ear canal that prevents it from collapsing and allows the sound to pass through. He hired his audiologist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC, who worked with the 3D Innovation Center at the Charleston VA Advanced Manufacturing Hub to create and perfect the 3D-printed atrial stent to customize needs. unique Nicoletti hearing aids. This veteran-led innovation is just one example of how VA’s Office of Discovery, Education, and Affiliate Networks (DEAN) partners with veterans to create innovative, cost-effective solutions. and which often change the lives of veterans.

Since its inception in 2018, DEAN has led how VHA becomes a learning organization through its affiliate offices: Office of Academic Affiliations, Office of Research and Development; the Office of Health Learning and Innovation, including the VHA Innovation Ecosystem, the Simulation Learning, Evaluation, Evaluation and Research Network and the Center for Health Innovation care and payment; and the VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships.

Much of this change has been led by the learners DEAN is privileged to serve: our nation’s veterans. “Our veterans are amazing partners,” says Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, Deputy Undersecretary of Health for DEAN. “They have such a strong sense of service that they choose to serve their country twice: first in uniform and later as collaborators, teachers, researchers and innovators.”

Veterans also collaborate through DEAN to help VHA promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). For example, when Pamela Black, veteran and Equal Employment Opportunity Manager at the Orlando VA Healthcare System, wanted to train and empower DEI advocates, she turned to the VA Diffusion Marketplace within DEAN as a resource for bringing an innovative idea to market: the VA Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Program (VADIAP).

Black designed the program to help VA leaders, employees, and veterans disseminate information about facility DEI events; promote DCI ideals in their work; and cultivate a safe place where everyone can report concerns, such as workplace discrimination, harassment or wrongdoing. This emerging program is embraced by Clermont VA Clinic, Crossroads VA Clinic, Deltona VA Clinic, Kissimmee VA Clinic, Lake Baldwin VA Clinic, Tavares VA Clinic, Viera VA Clinic, and William V. Chappell Jr. Veterans’ Outpatient Clinic.

Other notable examples of veterans at the forefront of innovation include Dr. Gabriel Gonzales, whose military service inspired him to become a research biologist and find treatments and clinical applications to improve quality life of veterans. There’s also Dr. Yani Levya, a veteran researcher whose disability inspired her to encourage other veterans to participate in research studies that can improve the level of care they receive at VA. Additionally, there is VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP), one of the largest genetic and health databases in the world, where more than 870,000 veterans partner with VA Research to make groundbreaking discoveries in precision healthcare. These are just a few examples of how VA engages veterans to identify and develop health care solutions that address veterans’ specific concerns and needs.

Learn more about these extraordinary partnerships and other stories highlighting the unique and lasting contributions of veterans in DEAN’s 2021 Annual Report.

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