Advertisement
  1. Health

The VA wants to take better care of its female patients, with help from USF center

Inside the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa, where Veterans Administration health workers will train to take better care of female patients. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population. [Times (2012)]
Published Aug. 17

TAMPA — Women may still be a minority among veterans in the United States, but they're the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population.

To better serve their needs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has signed a five-year contract with the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation to offer a women's health mini residency program.

The joint effort, announced Wednesday, aims to train VA-employed physicians and nurses on how to better address women's health care issues, said Dr. Christine Kolehmainen, director of education for Veteran Affairs Women's Health Services.

RELATED STORIES: Visit the Times health page for information and trends that affect you and your family.

"Most of these primary care and emergency room doctors in veterans facilities are used to taking care of veterans from previous war eras, which were mostly men," said Dr. Haru Okuda, executive director of the USF simulation center, which already trains medical professionals from around the world in downtown Tampa. "This training will help prepare them to care for women vets."

Okuda previously worked for the Veterans Health Administration at SimLEARN, its national simulation center in Orlando.

Since 2001, the number of women veterans seeking medical care through the VHA has grown by 200 percent, from 160,000 women to more than 500,000, Kolehmainen said.

The residency program began in 2008 as a regional training for some doctors and nurses to address these needs. It was expanded in 2010 and has trained more than 6,000 clinicians across the country.

The three-day training program will be offered twice yearly at the USF center, known as CAMLS, which is on S Franklin Street, not far from the school's soon-to-be-completed medical school. Clinicians will sit in on lectures, read case studies and get hands-on training through USF's simulation expertise. The goal is train 250 to 350 clinicians each session.

The programming focuses on issues including pelvic pain, contraception, sexual assault, reintegration after deployment and even the strain of carrying heavy military packs.

The center employs "actors" who play the role of patients inside a mock examination room. Those role-playing experiences are critical to addressing the needs of women veterans, said Barbara Palmer, deputy field director for Women's Health Services and a registered nurse practitioner.

"These teaching assistants will tell providers things that a real patient wouldn't be comfortable saying," she said. "They're able to use their own bodies as a teaching tool for doctors."

For example, they can tell a doctor if he or she acts in a way that may be offensive, even if the doctor doesn't realize it, Palmer said.

USF hosted its first training in July, where it welcomed more than 230 clinicians. A second training is going on this week with more than 260 nurses and doctors.

The department aims to employ two certified women's health providers at every VA medical facility in the country.

Previously, the Department of Veterans Affairs worked with a medical simulation program out of the University of Central Florida to host women's health training events. But the move to Tampa offers more expertise and a wider range of services, Kolehmainen said.

Elizabeth Jackson, an Army Reserve veteran who was deployed in 2003 to Iraq, noticed a difference after her primary care doctor completed the residency program.

"She took more time with me, after having the training. She was in-depth, and addressed issues sooner," Jackson said. "Even though it's been 16 years (since my deployment), issues still come up."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The exterior of the new Nova Southeast University Tampa Bay Regional Campus, Clearwater can be seen on Friday. September 20, 2019.  SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Nova Southeastern University’s new campus off the Courtney Campbell Causeway was funded by Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel.
  2. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
    Scott renews his talking point in the wake of an investigative story.
  3. Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil says religious leaders must be empathetic to the needs of families members of those who die by suicide. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Attitudes have evolved with understanding about mental illness
  4. FILE  - In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Walmart says it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam's Clubs following a string of illnesses and deaths related to vaping.  The nation's largest retailer said Friday, Sept. 20 that it will complete its exit from e-cigarettes after selling through current inventory. It cited growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity regarding vaping products. ROBERT F. BUKATY  |  AP
    The nation’s largest retailer said Friday that it will complete its exit from e-cigarettes after selling through current inventory.
  5. Erik Maltais took an unconventional path to becoming CEO of Immertec, a virtual reality company aimed at training physicians remotely. He dropped out of school as a teenager, served in Iraq in the Marine Corps and eventually found his way to Tampa. OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES  |  Times
    Software from Immertec can bring physicians into an operating room thousands of miles away.
  6. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  7. Dr. Paul McRae was the first black chief of staff at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Dr. McRae died on September 13, 2019. He was photographed here in the Tampa Bay Times photo studio for the 2008 Dr. Carter G Woodson Museum's "Legends Honorees" gala. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times
    ‘His extraordinary example paved the way for so many others.’
  8. Michael Jenkins spent seven days at North Tampa Behavioral Health last July. Since then, he says his three children have been afraid he’ll leave and not come home. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times
    The patients have no choice, and the hospital is making millions.
  9. Samantha Perez takes a call for someone in need of counseling at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay earlier this year. The center handles calls dealing with suicide, sexual assault, homelessness and other traumatic situations. They also do outreach and counseling, and operate Transcare, an ambulance service. JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Florida’s mental health care system saves lives.
  10. The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County identified a positive case of hepatitis A in a food service worker at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City on Oct. 22, 2018. [JOSH FIALLO | Times] JOSH FIALLO | TIMES  |  JOSH FIALLO | Times
    Slightly more than 200,000 people have been vaccinated this year — a huge jump from the 49,324 people vaccinated in all of 2018.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement