Posted on Sep 30, 2016

USF Nursing extends partnership with local VA hospital [VIDEO]

For decades, USF Nursing has partnered with James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in the areas of education and clinical practice.

The two partners recently extended that relationship – adding research to their longtime partnership.

Part of that extension includes the collaboration between Susan McMillan, PhD, distinguished professor at USF Nursing, and the hospital’s center of innovation on disability and rehabilitation research. Dr. McMillan has been working with respective research partners at the VA hospital to mentor pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows about how to conduct research.

“My collaboration with James A Haley Veterans’ Hospital has come full circle,” said Dr. McMillan. “I conduced my first research study there, so I’m happy to use my experience to influence the next generation of scientists.”


Dr. McMillan is using her decades of research experience to teach junior faculty, students and professionals from various healthcare areas about research methods, how to write proposals and conduct data analysis.

Gail Powell-Cope, PhD, associate director of the research center at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, said a research collaboration between the hospital and USF Nursing is critical.

“I look at this as a new era of collaboration between us,” said Dr. Powell-Cope, who was a former faculty member at USF Nursing. “The doors have opened in the research arena. There are incredible opportunities that we can build on.”

Dr. Powell-Cope also said that working with Dr. McMillan, who is one of the premier research mentors at USF, is a blessing. “She has tremendous experience. She adds great value to our fellows and their research work.”

One of those fellows benefiting from the opportunity is USF Nursing PhD student and adjunct faculty, Debbie T. Devine. She is completing her dissertation in women’s health at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. Dr. McMillan is mentoring her in the process.

PhD Student at VA

“This mentorship group has made my dissertation research experience a lot easier,” said Devine. “They have helped me emerge into my research, focus on the right research method, collect data, and even ask the right questions. I couldn’t do it without their help.”

USF Nursing’s partnership with James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, started in the 1970s. Since then, undergraduate and graduate students have completed clinical placements at the VA hospital. In collaboration with the hospital, the college also created the VA Nursing Academy Program (VANA), to help students gain veteran-related experience before they graduate. Faculty and students also conduct research at the hospital to address the health needs of veterans and their families.

For related stories, click here.

Story by Vjollca Hysenlika
Video by Ryan Noone and Vjollca Hysenlika