Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
GCVHCS Nursing Service Employees Earn Degrees
BILOXI, Miss. – More than 50 Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) nursing service employees completed degree programs or registered for continuing education efforts during 2020 according to the GCVHCS Nursing Service Annual Report.
Published in January, the report, which annually captures GCVHCS nursing service accomplishments, initiatives and situations covering the previous year, indicated that 25 GCVHCS nursing service employees completed either bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. degree requirements while 31 nursing service employees enrolled in continuing education degree paths. GCVHCS Associate Director for Patient Care Services and Nurse Executive Dr. M. Christopher Saslo said individual initiatives such as these are a testament to the organization’s culture of providing top-notch care for Gulf Coast area Veterans.
“With each accomplishment in higher learning, the individual becomes the potential subject matter expert in sharing that information and delivery of care as it affects our America’s Heroes,” he said. “The GCVHCS and the [Veterans Health Administration (VHA)] become stronger with each success in higher learning and contributes to a stronger, more well-prepared workforce.”
More than 80,000 registered nurses (RN), advanced practice nurses (APN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and nursing assistants, staff the Veterans Health Administration, the largest employer of nurses in the Nation. As part of Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs), Saslo said nurses play a critical role in Veterans’ long-term, holistic health, working collaboratively across disciplines and treatment settings with a designated medical team to help coordinate the full spectrum of patient care, particularly during challenging times.
“Healthcare is an ever-changing environment, something which 2020 certainly highlighted with the ongoing global health crisis,” he said. “The rapidly changing science, technology and delivery of care requires health care professionals to be ever ready, and our nursing workforce is clearly reflective of that pursuit, passion and continued readiness as they have persevered to complete education despite the pandemic, hurricanes and other challenges this year.”
Saslo added that several Veterans Health Administration (VHA) programs are available for nursing service employees interested in pursuing different sorts of degrees, representing an opportunity to further individual educational goals and provide continued service to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs
“There are a variety of scholarship and tuition assistance programs available, depending on the degree being pursued,” he said. “These can come with service obligations if approved and do require a satisfactory rating and at least a year of service before eligibility.”
Despite individual accomplishments, however, Salso stressed the importance of health care professionals’ continued dedication to the concept of teamwork, an initiative he said is critical in providing care to the more than 75,000 Veterans served through the GCVHCS.
“GCVHCS nurses continue to demonstrate incredible strength, resilience and passion in caring for our Veterans and one another,” he said. “While nursing continues to rank as one of the most trusted professions in the world, it does not fall solely on the actions of nurses but relies on all our healthcare partners in the system that support each and every step in the health care process to ensure the safe, quality and complete care of our heroes.”
The Biloxi VA Medical Center and the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics are all part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System (GCVHCS) which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provide a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 75,000 Veterans.