Confidently Tackling QI Dilemmas & Publishing:

When I started the VAQS program, I was in awe of the alumni and their accomplishments. I wasn’t sure if I could measure up. However, through the VAQS program I developed self-confidence as I progressively acquired the skills needed to create/conduct QI projects and publish in peer-reviewed journals.

I applied my VAQS training to create a solid foundation upon which to build practical QI skills within real world setting of a VA Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) office. During the course of my VAQS program, I was able to leverage knowledge gained in the VAQS program to confidently tackle multiple real life dilemmas faced when examining clinical care in large systems. I designed and implemented projects that allowed me to understand the root causes of care deficiencies across various healthcare networks within my VISN. I addressed system-wide clinical care dilemmas including suboptimal diabetes care among Veterans in one very large healthcare system and elevated SMR-30 rates in 4 VA medical centers. I completed other smaller QI projects including interpreting massive IPEC data into clinically meaningful terms for multiple medical centers.

In addition to completing quality improvement projects, I gained invaluable professional writing skills through the mentoring I received from Dr. David Ganz (GLA senior scholar). I honed my ability to create journal-worthy manuscripts when I translated my extensive clinical experiences working with Post 9/11 combat Veterans into informative peer-reviewed journal articles.

My latest article (July 2017) promotes awareness of common, nonpathologic post-deployment transition symptoms in combat veterans who are National Guard members or reservists. Such knowledge will enable providers to evaluate transition symptoms among these combat veterans reentering the civilian world, normalize common transition reactions, and recognize when further intervention is needed. This article fills a gap in the medical literature which tends to focus on post-deployment mental health diagnoses without acknowledging nonpathologic transition symptoms.

As an alumnus I encourage all VAQS fellows to recognize the power of the VAQS training and leverage it for your professional success. The health care profession needs your talent and skills!