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Ed Henry (BSN '95/MS FNP '02)

Diversity of Experience in the VA

Ed Henry discusses nursing at the VA

We normally talk about diversity in regard to going to other countries and working with other cultures. 
But Ed Henry has found incredible diversity in his experience within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Read on!

Diversity in regard to the veterans themselves

My experience in the past four years, working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, has allowed me to experience a wide spectrum of diversity. First, I see diversity in the veterans I take care of daily, from the WWII veteran involved in nine Pacific invasions to the 20-year-old returning from the middle east, to the Vietnam and Korean War veterans, to those who have served and have never seen combat.

Diversity in medical and mental issues

Secondly, I see diversity in the types of medical and mental issues seen within the VA, from females and males who have experienced sexual trauma to the vet who suffers from PTSD; from the aging vet with multiple comorbidities to the young soldier in perfect health. I might see in one day a 20-year-old returning Afghan vet; a 60-year-old with diabetes, hypertension, chf, neuropathy, and liver failure; and an 80-year-old who is dying from chronic renal failure and CHF. Not unlike the civilian population—but perhaps more profound—there is a great deal of substance abuse, as veterans try any way possible to deal with mental and physical injuries suffered.

Diversity in provision

Thirdly, I see diversity in what I am asked to do for these patients, from supplying prosthetic devices to arranging specially care in cardiology or gastroenterology; to supplying or arranging urgent orthopedic care for a vet involved in a 4-wheeler accident over the weekend and who waited until Monday morning to be seen.

Diversity in delivery of health care

Fourthly, I see diversity in how health care is delivered, from providing tele-health care to vets at remote sites, to doing the same for our vets receiving specialty care such as mental health services, tele-dermatology and tele-orthopedics at our Afton Clinic, to seeing patients in the traditional face-to-face manner.

Diversity in adaptation

Finally, and what I see is most important, is the diversity in how I must adapt to each individual’s particular circumstance. If I have learned anything in my experience with the VA, it is that every one of our veterans has sacrificed in some way to help provide the freedoms we enjoy in this country. I must be diverse in how I individually treat these veterans, helping to optimize their physical and mental health.

December, 2014

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