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VA recognizes Dr. Laura Zambrano-Vazquez for excellence in health care professional education

Portrait of Laura Zambrano-Vazquez
Laura Zambrano-Vazquez, Worthen Award Winner

VA's highest honor for health professions education is the David M. Worthen Award for Excellence in Health Professions Education.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) honored the David M. Worthen Award recipients by recognizing their achievements in health professions education and their contributions to the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) mission. Each recipient provides education and training programs for health professionals, enhancing the quality of care provided to our Veterans and improving the nation's public health.

The David M. Worthen Award is presented annually in three categories:

  • The Rising Star Award recognizes an early-career champion of health professions education.
  • The Innovator Award recognizes an individual who created and is sustaining or expanding a significant educational innovation.
  • The Career Achievement Award recognizes an outstanding health professions education champion whose lifetime contributions have profoundly advanced and impacted the education mission of VA.

This year, Laura Zambrano-Vazquez, Ph.D. program manager, training, education & dissemination core director at VISN 17's Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, Waco, TX, was presented the Rising Star Award.

Dr. Zambrano-Vazquez's work helps expand diversity in VA health professions trainees and increases VA providers' understanding of Veterans with diverse backgrounds.

In addition, she established a new academic affiliation with Prairie View A&M University, a public historically Black university (HBCU), bringing undergraduate students interested in health care careers to VA for a two-week intensive and ongoing mentoring by VA clinicians. The idea is to work with students early to expose them to multiple health career options and guide them as they seek to enter graduate education programs.

The program, developed more than ten years ago, starting with Baylor University and Tarleton State University, has helped nearly 70% of its participants with acceptance to graduate programs in medicine and mental health, with many working at VA.

"We are proud of Dr. Zambrano-Vazquez's achievements at our Center of Excellence in Waco," said Dr. Wendell Jones, VISN 17 network director. "We look forward to more in future years."

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