MOOC Launches to Improve Awareness and Understanding of Veteran Healthcare

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

This month, the Service Transformed – Lessons in Veteran-Centered Care for Health Professionals MOOC launched with the goal to teach health professionals about providing veteran-centered care. This MOOC focuses on two components for providing healthcare for veterans: increasing awareness regarding patient veteran history and lessening the generalizations surrounding veterans and their healthcare needs. Professors Monica Lypson and Paula T. Ross developed this course  in order to instruct civilian providers on the unique physical, mental and emotional needs related to military service and assist them in understanding veteran-centered care. The MOOC provides learners with a comprehensive overview of veteran-centered care while helping them develop skills in military cultural competency, empathy, assessment and triage of several mental health conditions.

“As educators, we have to do better at preparing our learners for this increasing population both inside and outside of the VA healthcare system.”
– Dr. Lypson in U of M Health Blog

Person standing next to military backpack and boots

Considering that 30 percent of veterans receive their care outside of the Veterans Health Administration system, providing civilian healthcare providers with the knowledge base and skills to be aware of and address the specific needs of veterans is essential for improving the healthcare that veterans receive.

“Participants [in the MOOC] learn how to use and apply principles from the course to improve assessment and triage for patients with PTSD, MST, TBI, anxiety and depression – all the conditions that are more prevalent in the military population than in the general civilian one”
– Dr. Lypson and Dr. Ross in The Conversation US

Dr. Lypson and Dr. Ross also incorporate multimedia content, such as podcasts, video clips from the acclaimed documentary, Where Soldiers Come From, and a photo gallery that juxtaposes photos of veterans in military and civilian settings. This content helps to individualize the veteran voice, combat veteran stereotypes and showcase the diverse range of veterans within the healthcare system.

These photos help medical students and physicians in our course visualize the trajectory of US service members from soldier to civilian. We challenge learners to think deeply about the experiences, concerns and perspectives of U.S. military veterans, and to reshape previously held unconscious biases, stereotypes or attitudes toward veterans.”
– Dr. Lypson and Dr. Ross in The Conversation US

The photo gallery serves as a tool to help health professionals dismantle preconceived biases around veterans by showcasing the mix of ages, ethnicities and gender within the veteran population. The photos highlight the increased number of women serving in conflict areas and the number of minorities that serve. By doing so, these photos serve as a visual stimuli for healthcare professionals to address and dismantle biases towards veteran stereotypes and ensure health professionals actively assess their own bias when confronted with the photos.

“Healthcare providers often make clinical diagnoses or develop treatment plans based on visible characteristics or societal norms. The art of history taking may be the best defense against unconscious bias and misdiagnosis by providers”
– Dr. Lypson, Kathryn Goldrath, Chiu Yueh Yao and Dr. Ross in Service Transformed: Illustrations of Women Veterans Past and Present

This exercise leverages veteran photos to enable healthcare professionals to actively consider personal bias, acknowledge the diverse range of veterans within the health system and foster empathy for the individual patient’s experiences, concerns and perspective. By doing so, healthcare professionals can improve care for veterans by inquiring, addressing and provide healthcare for veterans and their unique needs.

We are excited about this collaboration with Dr. Lypson and Dr. Ross and the University of Michigan Medical School, which harnesses digital technology to recognize, address and dismantle biases surrounding veterans while highlighting the unique needs of veterans in the healthcare system. Service Transformed – Lessons in Veteran-Centered Care for Health Professionals provides yet another example of how faculty, in partnership with DEI, are enabling engaged, personalized and lifelong learning for the entire Michigan community and learners around the world.

For more information on this MOOC: Service Transformed – Lessons in Veteran-Centered Care for Health Professionals

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