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Nursing Student Reflects on Her Time Training at Beckley VAMC

MyPlate project presentation
Madison Lilly and Emily Harrah stand in front of the "MyPlate" presentation they did for their BSN nursing school capstone project.

Beckley, W.Va. — Madison Lilly was one of 29 students who spent eight weeks receiving first-hand experience during a clinical rotation at the Beckley VA Medical Center.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program offered at West Virginia University Tech in Beckley requires all students to complete a rural clinical practice as part of the degree.

Lilly, who is from Beckley, first spent time on the Community Living Center Floor and then went on to work with Community Health.

“I got to experience seeing different patient populations, including home health visits. I had a well-rounded experience collectively,” she said.

Lilly enjoyed her time at Beckley VAMC and acknowledged the dedicated nursing practices that go on “on the backside of health care.”

“It really gave me greater appreciation for the hidden parts of nursing you don’t typically see or think of, but can make or break a patient’s health, especially after discharge,” she said.

From observation, she said it was touching and motivational to see how Veterans are served within healthcare after they’ve served us.

For her capstone project, she partnered with fellow student Emily Harrah to tackle the medical issue of obesity. From their observations, speaking with patients and conferring with health care staff, they noted that there was an increase risk in the elderly Veteran population for obesity.

The duo produced a project featured a highly visual concept called “My Plate,” which focused on portion control, high protein, low sugar, and other practical advice. They recently had it on display and were available to talk with Veterans who had questions. When presenting these teaching points to Veterans, they demonstrated alternatives for ingredients used in Appalachian or southern West Virginia comfort food and talked about the importance of portion control.

Lilly acknowledged that several of her classmates were interested in pursuing a career serving Veterans in health care after their experience at Beckley VAMC.

Lilly was one of 175 health professions trainees (HPTs) at Beckley VAMC from July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021. Beckley VAMC currently has a total of 70 academic affiliations nationwide. The Trainee academic levels included undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate students, interns, and residents.

The HPTs included physician residents, medical students, physician assistant, nursing (RN-BSN/AND), nurse practitioner, LPN, pharmacy (doctorate), social workers, occupational therapists, phlebotomy, radiology/sonography, and respiratory.

“Being able to provide a clinical environment for the trainees enhances our care for the Veterans and the ability to recruit high-quality professional staff,” said Beckley VAMC Clinical Nurse Educator Debbie Murdock.

As a medical Center, Beckley VAMC is meeting the mission of the VA to “educate for VA and the Nation.”

VA is a leader in defining the education for health care professionals and is the largest education and training effort for health professionals in the Nation.  In 2018, 120,890 trainees received some or all their clinical training in VA.

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