UW Today

February 9, 2011

VA Puget Sound and Boise VA to establish Centers of Excellence in Primary Care Education

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the Boise VA Medical Center are among five VA facilities selected out of 37 applicants nationally to receive funding for VA Centers of Excellence in Primary Care Education.  Each will receive a five-year, $5 million grant from the Office of Academic Affiliations in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA Puget Sound and the UW Schools of Nursing and Medicine will work together in forming the Seattle Center of Excellence.

The outpatient clinics at Boise VA Medical Center.

The outpatient clinics at Boise VA Medical Center.

The Boise Center will be directed by Dr. C. Scott Smith, UW professor of medicine and director of the Northwest Regional Faculty Development Center at the Boise VA. To improve interdisciplinary training of health professionals in a medical home model, the educational program focus on “learning-in-practice” across the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and psychology. A medical home is a patient-centered approach to comprehensive primary care. The model encourages partnerships between individual patients, their health-care providers, and, in some cases, the patient’s family.

The Seattle VA Center of Excellence is designed to be a innovative learning community for faculty and trainees.  It will pilot new ideas to help transform primary care training. The center will concentrate on shared decision-making, sustained relationships with patients, and building effective, interprofessional teams through good communication. As one example, a curriculum will be developed that creates health-care teams composed equally of nurse practitioner students in the doctorate program and primary care internal medicine residents. They will train together over three years in delivering patient-centered primary care.

Dr. Joyce Wipf, UW professor of family medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, is the director of the VA Puget Sound Center of Primary Care Excellence. Dr. Nancy F. Woods, dean emeritus of nursing and professor of nursing in the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, is the UW School of Nursing faculty liaison.

The buildings of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System on Seattle's Beacon Hill.

“The Center of Excellence will promote team-based care and a patient-centered practice model that will positively impact the health care we provide to our veterans and to patients in non-VA practice settings throughout the country,” said Dr. William H. Campbell, chief of staff at VA Puget Sound and associate dean for VA affairs at the UW School of Medicine.

“Interprofessional collaboration is crucial for the future of health care,” said Dr. Marla Salmon, The Robert G. and Jean A. Reid Dean of Nursing at the UW. “The partnership with the VA Puget Sound, the School of Medicine, and the School of Nursing provides an exciting opportunity to advance the education of physicians and advanced practice nurses through a team practice model.”

Salmon went on to say that the UW has a long history of leading the field in both nursing research and education. “This collaborative venture,” she said, is a platform for continuing to develop and test cutting-edge approaches to improving the care that health care teams, including advanced nurse practitioners, can provide.”

The new Centers of Excellence in Seattle and Boise will also build on the region’s nationally recognized achievements in primary care training that arose from multi-institutional involvement.

The new centers, according to Dr. Lawrence Robinson, vice dean for clinical affairs and graduate medical education at the UW School of Medicine, “will enhance the development of training models for other residency programs making the huge transformation to a significantly increased focus on primary care training.”

This article was adapted from a news release from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and information in the Feb. 4 UW Medicine Online News.