Former Navy Officer Helping Veterans Become Nurses Faster at UNCG

GREENSBORO – Starting in 2015, medically trained veterans can become nurses faster at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. UNCG earned a nearly $1 million grant to help veterans who are registered nurses earn their bachelor's of science in nursing, or BSN, in one year instead of two. Veterans with medical training can become nurses with bachelor's degrees in 18 months, about a year less than what it would take.

Susan Letvak, who works as the Adult Health Nursing department chair for UNCG, will head up the program. And, she's a veteran herself. Letvak served 13 years in the U.S. Navy Reserves and was promoted to officer. She said when she learned about the grant, she immediately started figuring out how UNCG could earn some of the federal funds.

"Saw the opportunity and worked with my dean and director of research and a team and wrote the grant and we were so pleased in early July to receive the grant," Letvak said.

The money will pay for teaching faculty, a tutor, part-time counselor and family orientation days. Letvak said she will help teach a course where the veterans discuss the transition from serving in the military to going back into the civilian world.

"Dealing with everything from fitting back into your community to how the military medicine is different from the civilian medicine, how to get along with your boss when it's not someone you salute every day when you come in, so there's just some behavior changes that have to occur," she said.

According to the school, there are more than 776,000 veterans in the state and about 1,5000 medically trained veterans live in the state. Letvak said veterans need programs like this to make for an easier transition after they leave the service.

"You can be a medic for 15 years and you come out and it doesn't make you a nurse. You have to pass licensure and go through a formal program. So, these veterans they have a lot of experience, but it doesn't lead to a high paying career," she said.

Letvak said she cares about our veterans, especially since she's one and knows what it's like to serve. She said veterans deserve programs like the one starting in January 2015 at UNCG.

"We would not be sitting here discussing this the way we are without worrying about a bomb falling on our head if we didn't have the veterans that we have in the military that we have that are not just protecting us, they're around the world. And I just think they make such sacrifices," she said.

If you are interested in the program, Letvak said to apply to attend UNCG with a nursing major and check that you're a veteran. She said UNCG will follow up with these applicants.


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