Veterans Health Care Specialty

Military fatigue and stethoscopeThe veterans health care specialty is a legacy of the previous Duke University School of Nursing/Durham VA Nursing Academic Partnership in Graduate Education (VANAP-GE). The restructured veterans health care specialty has been expanded to include additional VA sites across the United States, additional majors, didactic courses, and a certificate of completion. It is available to DUSON students preparing to become certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses or nurse practitioners with an MSN or higher from a regionally accredited institution.

Students selected for this specialty participate in veteran-centric courses that focus on the specialized healthcare needs of military service members, veterans, and families. The veterans health care specialty prepares students with additional knowledge and skills necessary to deliver high-quality, veteran-centric healthcare to the veterans and families in private practice and VA healthcare systems. Students will gain a portion of their clinical hours at dedicated primary care practice sites within Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

The Foundations in Veterans Health Care course, open to all health professions students, provides a unique and innovative educational opportunity to impact veterans' health outcomes from a holistic perspective.

  • Currently, the only non-VA academic partnership Veterans Health Specialty of its kind

  • 3 course (8 credit) requirement

  • 168 clinical hours of training in veteran-centric settings

  • Precepted clinical experiences at VA Medical Centers and VA-affiliated community-based outpatient clinic facilities

  • Academic enrichment activities beyond the traditional Nurse Practitioner curriculum

  • Focus on the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver health care to the veteran population

  • N771: Delivering Evidence-Based Mental Health Care to Vulnerable and Underserved Populations (Spring Only)

  • N806: Foundations in Veterans Healthcare (Summer Only)

  • N807: Advanced Practice Nursing - Veterans Health Care Specialty Synthesis (Fall Only)

Q&A with Lead Faculty Michael Zychowicz

Q: What attracts you to veterans' health care?
A: I am passionate about ensuring that all individuals and populations receive healthcare based on the highest standards. Military service members and veterans sacrifice and deserve specialized care to meet their unique healthcare needs.

Q: What makes the Veteran's Health specialty unique?
A: The Veteran's Health Specialty is unique in that no other specialty is dedicated to explicitly highlighting the additional healthcare needs of veterans and service members. Students can receive specialized didactic and clinical training to equip them better to meet those needs and improve health outcomes for service members and veterans.

Q: What type of nurse should consider a DUSON certificate in Veteran's Health?
A: All whose training has an adult component included.

Q: Describe an excellent candidate for the Veteran's Health specialty?
A: Any nurse passionate about excellence in healthcare, compassion for service members and veterans, and a commitment to supporting equitable health outcomes.

Q: How can the Veteran's Health specialty enhance a nurse's career?
A: This specialty can enhance a nurse's career because they will have unique knowledge and skills that qualify them to care for veterans and service members beyond foundational healthcare skills. It allows them to expand access to care for service members and families beyond VA Healthcare Centers, making them more attractive/marketable to all healthcare organizations.

Enrollment Options

Current Duke University School of Nursing students interested in adding this specialty to their academic plan must complete the Add a Specialty Form as the first step in the application and acceptance process. This form must be submitted to the MSN Program Office via email (son‐ at least one entire semester before starting a student’s first clinical rotation.

Nurse practitioners with an MSN degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution and nurse practitioner students from other regionally accredited colleges or universities interested in earning a certificate in this specialty should follow the instructions for the Specialty Certificate application. Enrollment decisions are made by the lead faculty of the specialty based on space availability.

Acceptance and enrollment decisions regarding the veterans healthcare specialty are made on a space-available basis.


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