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An analysis of the Veterans Administration health professional scholarship program: An educational strategy to recruit and retain professional nurses

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  • Health Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Economics


The Veterans Administration (VA) Health Professional Scholarship Program was established in 1980 "to assist in providing an adequate supply of trained physicians and nurses for the Veteran's Administration and for the Nation" (PL 96-330).^ This study compared two groups of scholarship participants selected by different methods to determine correlations among the selection method, completion of the academic program, performance of the service obligation, and variables influencing the participants' satisfaction and intent to remain employed by the VA after completion of their service obligations.^ Factor analysis of data from 312 participants who were performing their service obligation yielded six scales: five scales measuring influences on intent to stay with or leave VA employment after completion of the service obligation, and one scale measuring satisfaction and intent to remain with the VA. Scale reliabilities ranged from.75 to.92.^ Despite the difference in selection methods, the participant groups were similar except for grade point average (a major selection criteria for one group), licensure as professional nurses (RN status) prior to receiving the scholarships, and employment at VA Medical Centers as Graduate Nurse Technicians prior to becoming licensed as professional nurses (RNs) and starting their service obligations.^ Regression analysis showed that two scales (General Professional Issues and Schedule) significantly contributed to the prediction of the participants' satisfaction with their current positions. These two scales plus the Time Off, Job Security and Salary Scale predicted the participants' feelings about their future in the VA after completion of their service obligations.^ The study concluded that, in addition to the Health Professional Scholarship Program, strategies by the Veterans Administration to recruit and retain professional nurses should include improvements in the working environments and the salary structure. Replication of the study in VA and non-VA health care organizations could identify similarities and differences among VA nurses and non-VA nurses and between VA and non-VA nurses, as well as organization-specific variables that should be addressed in recruitment and retention strategies. ^

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