University of South Florida

VA selects USF Health CAMLS to host training sessions

Called the Women’s Health Mini Residency Program, the sessions will help prepare VA health care teams who treat our nation’s women Veterans.

USF Health CAMLS (Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation) was selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be the dedicated facility to host sessions that train VA health care providers from across the country who treat women veterans.

In the five-year agreement with the VA, CAMLS is hosting VA health providers up to twice yearly for training focused on breast and pelvic health, when more than 300 physicians, nurse practitioners and other health professionals travel to Tampa to tap into the expertise offered at CAMLS, including team training facilities, standardized patients and simulation training.

Called the Women’s Health Mini Residency Program, the effort is meant to bolster the expertise of the VA’s primary care health teams for a range of medical needs specific to women veterans.

In a press release sent out earlier this week, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said: “More women Veterans are choosing VA for their health care than ever before. This mini residency program provides a unique learning opportunity for our clinical teams while addressing the extraordinary growth in VA services to women Veterans.”

Dr. Haru Okuda shares details about CAMLS and the Women's Mini Residency Program with local reporters.

Dr. Haru Okuda shares details about CAMLS and the Women’s Mini Residency Program with local reporters.

“We are proud that the VA has tapped into the expertise here at USF Health and at CAMLS for their efforts to enhance care for women veterans,” said Haru Okuda, MD, FACEP FSSH, executive director of USF Health CAMLS, executive director of USF Health Interprofessional Education and Practice, and professor in the Division of Emergency Medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

“For CAMLS, for USF Health, and for the greater Tampa Bay region, this is a significant achievement. We are now the national training site for incredibly important training for the coming five years, when health providers in VA medical facilities and clinics from across the country will train at USF Health CAMLS so they can return to their facilities to provide enhanced care for our increasing population of our nation’s women veterans.”

The number of women serving in the military is growing significantly, and a flagship training program is key in VA’s effort to have a workforce prepared to care for women Veterans, said Christine Kolehmainen, MD, director of Women’s Health Education, Women’s Health Services for the Office of Patient Care Services/Veteran Health Administration.

Dr. Christine Kolehmainen, director of VA Women’s Health Education, is interviewed about the Women’s Mini Residency Program hosted at CAMLS.

“Women veterans is the fastest growing veteran population in the VA and accounts for 30 percent of all newly enrolling Veterans,” Dr. Kolehmainen said. “Since 2001, women veterans seeking care within the VA has grown 200 percent from 160,000 to over 500,000 patients. The Women’s Health Mini Residency Program is part of VA’s continued effort to provide cutting-edge health care to the ever-increasing number of women Veterans seeking VA health care. The facilities at CAMLS, including their standardized patients, are invaluable to these trainings and are often cited on evaluations as the best part of the training.”

Central to the success of these training sessions are the standardized patients offered through CAMLS. Gynecologic teaching associates (GTAs) are specially trained standardized patients who helps facilitate medical scenarios during medical histories and examinations for these VA training sessions.

Barb Palmer, deputy field director for Women Health Services, describes the standardized patients used in the VA training.

“GTAs are such a critical component of this training,” said Barb Palmer, deputy field director for Women Health Services at the Veterans Affairs Central Office. “Their efforts contribute significantly to improving providers’ ability to perform or assist with a breast and pelvic exams and help them modify their approach in practice to completing pelvic exams for patients who have military sexual trauma.”

Central to the VA training sessions are standardized patients, offered through the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. In an early practice session at CAMLS, Marcia Weller (center), meets Heather Rogers (right), a nurse practitioner, and Liane Marshall, a nurse, both with the Hershel Woody Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington WV. Photo by Allison Long.

Other scenes from the media event at CAMLS:

Rhea Law, chair of the Board of Directors for the USF Health Professions Conferencing Corp, which oversees CAMLS.


Dr. Susan Perry, vice dean for Faculty and Community Affairs, USF College of Nursing, and a retired Colonel from the U.S. Air Force., with Josh Harris, associate director of sales for Hilton Tampa Downtown.


Dr. Lisa Hardman, deputy director of VA Women’s Health Education, and Elizabeth Jackson, a veteran who shared details of her health care experience with a provider trained through the Women’s Mini Residency Program.




Photos by Freddie Coleman, USF Health Office of Communications.

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