New partnership aims to improve care for state’s veterans

Two resident doctors from Rowan University helped kick off a new partnership between the school and the VA.

“It’s about the partnership with the VA and the experience that the VA, the veteran population, and to learn how to deal with the mental health that’s related to the veterans. And it going to be eye-opening for all the residents, and later on in their career they’ll be able to help the patients in that field,” said Sean Lee, a psychiatry resident at Rowan University.

“Family medicine residency basically paired up with the VA so we could come here and get a different outlook on what’s available to us in primary care practice options once we graduate residency,” said Amenie Jawani, a family medicine resident.

In a showing of bipartisanship, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and outgoing Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo announced new federal aid for a program aimed at improving medical access for South Jersey veterans.

The program provides for residents of Rowan’s School of Osteopathic Medicine to rotate through the clinics, which are run by the Wilmington VA Medical Center.

“This is what I’ve termed, for a very long time, the mission that will never end. And that mission is to make sure we keep our promise as a nation to our veterans and continue to move the ball forward,” LoBiondo said.

The program comes as the Department of Veterans Affairs seemingly faces constant bad news. Overcrowding and long waits for care nationally are common complaints. Booker says in New Jersey they are making progress.

‘To see the way that we have moved to meet those challenges, to address those concerns. The progress we’ve made gives me a tremendous amount of pride, but really are coming from the leadership provided by our veterans,” Booker said.

“Graduates of our school are more likely to go into the fields that are most needed — primary care — and to practice in this state. And what this opportunity does for us is it enables us to expand our residency programs, but it also enables us to be sure that our residents are trained to provide this special care for the needs of veterans,” said Thomas Cavalieri from Rowan’s School of Medicine.

The program starts this year with residents from internal and family medicine and psychiatry. The residents NJTV News spoke with say the type of experience they get at the VA is unparalleled.