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2020 Legislative Priority Goals

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) is the professional organization for nurses employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our members are the front line faces who provide the best care for Veterans.  The following legislative priority goals identify several areas we feel need attention to continue providing the best care for our Nation’s Veterans.


 Implementation of The VA MISSION Act/Community Care Network:

  • Require that training, competency and quality standards for Community Care Network (CCN) providers are equal to those of VHA providers.

  • Request Third Party Administrator to verify that providers meet those standards before assigning to CCN panel.

  • Simplify rules for eligibility and access to Community Care without depleting VHA funds. 

  • Ensure that VA continues to be the first point of access and coordinator of all health care for enrolled Veterans.

  • Implement a care coordination system allowing Veterans to return with ease back to the VA when resources are available.  

  • Employ mandatory training for VHA personnel and all community providers to improve the coordination of care, understanding of military culture and health care needs across networks.

Staffing/Recruitment and Retention:

  • Address difficulties of USA Jobs including complexity and excessive time required to complete application, properly respond and provide feedback of completed applications.

  • Ensure HR has sufficient trained staff in order to review and streamline policies and procedures to improve the efficiency and speed of the hiring process.

  • Support competitive wages for ALL levels of Nursing.

  • Undertake a thorough review of downgrades, reclassification of critical positions and implement salary surveys annually with corrective steps for all nursing staff across VA.

  • Increase training of HR personnel on use of Locality Pay, and congressional authorizations to improve entire hiring process.

  • Revise the cap on Nurse Pay structures and RN pay schedules and reclassification of critical positions so that VA can ensure competitive salaries.

Electronic Health Record/VA Modernization:

  • The new Electronic Health Record must support VA’s model of health care delivery.

  • Implement IT that can successfully consolidate programs used to track and trend patient health care records across the system. 

  • Allocate funding so proper IT support and training can be provided to the field to improve patient safety, software usability and data standardization.

  • Support a Modernization Plan that includes appropriate use of funding, and inclusion of nursing in strategic decision making, access, operational efficiency, and training. 

Tags:  CCN  Community Care  Electronic Health Record  Recruitment  VA MISSION  VA Modernization  VHA 

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Congratulations to the 2020 Scholarship Winners

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Thursday, February 13, 2020

NOVA on the Hill Day Scholarship Awardees are Selected! 

Two scholarships will be awarded in the amount of $250 each for the following two nurses to attend NOVA on the Hill Day on March 5, 2020. 

Congratulations to:

Ashley N. Jones, MS, BSN, RN, OCN, CHPN
VA Maryland Healthcare System

Steven D. Powell, MSN, BSN, BA, RN-BC
Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Criteria for the scholarships:

Applicant must be a member of NOVA for one (1) year. Must attend NOVA on the Hill Day 2020. Scholarship recipients will be required to submit to NOVA within 30 days after the conclusion of NOVA on the Hill Day 2020 a written narrative describing: How they plan to use and/or have used their experience at NOVA on the Hill Day 2020 and why they would return to NOVA on the Hill Day in the future.

Current members of the NOVA Board of Directors are not eligible to apply

Tags:  2020 Scholarship  NOVA  NOVA on the Hill  VA 

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NOVA Chapter 226: VA Boston Healthcare System

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Thursday, February 13, 2020

NOVA Chapter 226

VA Boston Healthcare System

Kelly D. Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN

Get Together

Some of our NOVA Chapter 226 Board Members met after work on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at Joe’s American Bar & Grill in Dedham, MA. Since several board members were recently elected, we took this opportunity to discuss the role and expectations of the board members over dinner. We also started planning future events. Our chapter just purchased a popcorn maker and will be having several popcorn socials in the near future. Stay tuned!



Congratulations to Maytilda (May) Park! She just recently obtained the Wound Care Certified  (WCC) Certification from The National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy. May is a NOVA member who works as a registered nurse on the long-term care spinal cord injury unit at the VA Boston Healthcare System.



Red Sox Nurse Night

NOVA Boston Nurses are going to Red Sox Nurse Night on May 20th at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays at 7:10pm. We are already looking forward to a fun-filled evening at the ballpark. ROOT! ROOT! ROOT! for Nurses!


Tags:  Certification  Chapter 226  Get Together  Maytilda Park  Red Sox Nurse Night  VA Boston Healthcare System 

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A Message from Our President

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Thursday, February 13, 2020




Dear NOVA Members,

Have you ever thought about using your knowledge and experience as a nurse to advocate for improving VA health care beyond the local facility level, at the state or national level? Does policy and advocacy interest you? If so, you should seize the opportunity to join us, your fellow NOVA members, at NOVA on the Hill Day on March 5th Click Here to Register and NOVA’s Annual Legislative Roundtable Click Here to RSVP on March 6th in Washington, D.C. Getting involved and creating change can have a significant positive impact on both your professional development and Veterans’ care.

Nurses instinctively protect their patients’ rights and welfare. They are advocates for quality of care improvements, and are in an ideal position to engage in political activism. However, this isn’t a new concept. Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, also known as The Lady with the Lamp, utilized evidence and political tactics to improve sanitary health conditions for the British soldiers during the Crimean War which led to changes in the health care delivery system.

If nurses don’t participate, policy decisions will be made without nursing input, which is unacceptable. Decision makers need to hear from nurses. The Institute of Medicine’s Report, The Future of Nursing: Leading change, Advancing Healthcalled for an increase in leadership from nurses at all levels, including front line staff nurses to nurse executives. All nurses can demonstrate their role as a leader by serving as an advocate and addressing public policy through the legislative process. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing your personal experiences. Politicians want to know how legislative issues affect their constituents. 

Having a voice on Capitol Hill is pivotal, and NOVA is the Voice of VA Nurses on Capitol Hill. Therefore, we must band together to improve health outcomes and effect change. There is power in numbers. The VA employs more than 80, 0000 nurses, so we should be a force not to be reckoned with. I encourage you to participate in advocacy and policy to strengthen NOVA Nurses’ impact in Washington D.C. by attending NOVA on the Hill Day and NOVA’s Annual Legislative Roundtable in March 2020. These are wonderful opportunities for you to meet face-to-face with your representatives in Congressmen and Senators from professional nursing organizations as well as Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). Don’t miss out!

In closing, I would like to thank you for providing exceptional care day in and day out to America’s heroes across this great nation. Your passion is commendable. 

With appreciation,

Kelly D. Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN


Tags:  Capitol Hill  health care  Hill Day  Kelly Skinner  NOVA  NOVA on the Hill Day  Nurses  President  Roundtable  VA  VSO 

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NOVA Member of the Month

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Betty M. Ogren, LPN



Betty M. Ogren is an active NOVA member and the first LPN to serve as a NOVA Board of Director. She functions as a Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) LPN at the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System (VANIHCS) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As a nurse, who cares for our Nation’s heroes every day, Betty is committed to enhancing access, coordinating care and improving the health care provided to our Veterans. She is passionate about developing her leadership skills and making a difference. Honesty, Integrity, Hard-working, Dedication and Advocacy are key characteristics that are extremely important to her. Betty recognizes the significant role nurses play in health care innovations and the delivery of care and is committed to influencing change in the VA and the profession of nursing.

On February 13, 2020, Betty was notified that she was awarded the full Nurse In Washington Internship (NIWI) scholarship which covers airfare expenses, up to three nights lodging expenses, and the registration fee for the conference. She can’t wait to attend NIWI in March 2020 so she can learn more about the legislative process, advocacy, health care policy, and Capitol Hill meetings while networking with other nurses who are also interested in influencing health care in the legislative arena. Congratulations, Betty!


Tags:  Betty Orgren  Feburary  Member of the month  NOVA  nurse  VA 

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Certified Nursing Impacting Quality, Safety & Practice

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Shawn Meadows BSN, RN, CWON

NOVA Chapter 308

Charles George VA Medical Center Asheville,NC  

I am a Certified Wound Ostomy Nurse (CWON) at the Charles George VA Medical Center, and am also proud to be a NOVA member. I am currently serving my third year as a board member for the Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB). WOCNCB is the certifying body for wound, ostomy, continence, and foot care nursing. They are  accredited by ABSNC and NCCA and are included in the VA Office of Nursing Services recommended certification list.

Board certification is a voluntary process that requires consistent evaluations of a nurse’s professional knowledge and skills in specialties beyond RN licensure. WOCNCB certified nurses provide cost-effective and high-quality care by bringing real solutions and benefits to organizations and their patients to maintain strong clinical practice components along with education for each of the specialties. WOCNCB is honored to be an associate member of NOVA offering a 30% fee reduction for initial wound, ostomy, continence, or foot care examinations for VA nurses. Information regarding this discount can be found at

Over the last year, I have served as a course coordinator for the WOCN Wound Treatment Associate (WTA) Program which was designed to provide specialized education to enhance nurses’ abilities to provide optimal wound care to patients with acute and chronic wounds. The Charles George VA Medical Center had several registered nurses complete the WTA program.

Jocelyn Turner is an RN and NOVA member of Chapter 308  who earned her WTA certificate in January 2020. Jocelyn works on a busy medical oncology unit, and we look forward to her becoming WOCNCB certified as a WTA and sharing her expertise in wound treatment with her colleagues.

2018 WOCN Society Conference

Shawn Meadows, BSN, RN, CWON (left)

2019 WOCNCB Fall Board Meeting

Shawn Meadows, BSN, RN, CWON (center)

 Jocelyn Turner, MSN, RN

WTA Graduate and NOVA Member

Tags:  blog  certified  CWON  NOVA  nursing  Ostomy  Ouality  practice  safety  Shawn Meadows  WOCN  WOCNCB  WTA 

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Thinking About Going Back to School?

Posted By Ashley Lovelace, Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Do you know about the partnership that Excelsior College has with NOVA?  Read more here  about the current discounts and partnership advantages that are available to you. Excelsior offers associates, bachelor’s and master’s in Nursing and Heath Sciences. Now is the time to focus on your educational and career goals.  

If you are a veteran, Excelsior College specializes in serving the academic needs of military and veteran students. Excelsior is ranked Best for Vets, 10 years running! With our Center for Military and Veterans Education, active duty military, spouses, and veterans are in good hands with educational professionals who know and understand your educational and career needs. Click here to find out more about how to utilize your GI Bill and more about Excelsior College programs and services.

If you think going back to school is going to be too difficult with all the current obligations, responsibilities and goals you already have, read this article about a U.S. Sailor who balanced it all!  She balanced her service to our Country, her family and earned three degrees. Just when you thought you had too much on your plate, there was someone that showed you it can be done!  Or read about Laura Davis who turned her tragedy into a passion for nursing. Our students are amazing, just like you. Join our Excelsior family today! 


Tags:  Excelsior College  Laura Davis  Military  NOVA  partnership  Veterans 

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2020 Year of the Nurse | Self-Care

Posted By Samantha Kresz, Friday, February 7, 2020

In the year 2020, nurses are being recognized for their hard work and dedication to our healthcare system. That is why this year has been designated as the ‘Year of the Nurse.’ The initiative was spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, but the recognition goes beyond just her. It is a tribute to all nurses who play a critical role in health promotion, disease prevention, and who are on the front lines of healthcare. They play an essential role in providing high-quality care to humans all across the globe.

As a way to show our gratitude for all our incredible VA nurses who work so hard every day, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you to take a moment for yourselves. Occupational stressors can occur on a daily basis, and that is why nurse self-care is so important. It is a necessity when it comes to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. We know first hand that nurses give the best care to patients when they are operating at their own peak wellness. So here is a list of tips we have put together on how to implement self-care into your routine. 

During your workdays:

  • Listen to music when you are at your desk or on your break - music is a known stress reliever and can give you the momentum you need to continue the rest of your day.
  • Take a moment to relax at your desk, meditate and drink some herbal tea or hot lemon water.
  • Take a short break to stretch or go for a 10-minute walk.
  • Repeat a personal mantra (a word or phrase with a spiritual meaning) to yourself when stressed. This is an innovative form of stress management that is portable, immediate, and inexpensive.
  • If you have children or a family member you’ve been wanting to catch up with, take a moment to call them and ask them how their day is. Tell them if you’re having a good day or a bad day. You can use this time as a mini therapy session if needed.
  • Download a new podcast about a topic that interests you, and listen to it when you are working at your desk.
  • Bring a nutritious snack or lunch with you to work and enjoy it while reading your favorite book.
  • Keep a journal with you at work for times when you feel stressed and need a way to release it.
  • Practice mental imagery or visualization.
  • Use breathing exercises to center yourself. 

During your days off: 

  • Take a bubble bath with some relaxing salts to help your weary muscles have a break.
  • Check into the spa for a massage, pedicure, or other relaxing treatment.
  • Spend 20 minutes reading about a new hobby you’d like to get started on soon.
  • Call an old friend you’ve been wanting to catch up with.
  • Go to a nearby yoga studio, dance space, or spin class for a recharging workout.
  • Cozy up to your cat, dog, or even a nice, big pillow.
  • Take a good old-fashioned nap.
  • Go for a run or walk around your neighborhood or to your local park. 
  • Go catch that movie you’ve been dying to see.
  • Put on a favorite record you used to love in high school and take a trip down memory lane.

These are all easy suggestions that you can add to your lifestyle on a daily or monthly basis. We encourage you to start your self-care journey right now! Schedule a block of time in your day to take for yourself and commit to it. Again, self-care for nurses is not a luxury. It is a necessity for the health and well-being of both VA nurses and their patients. Remember, it is ok for you to need time for YOU. After all, 2020 is the ‘Year of the Nurse.’


Tags:  NOVA  Nurse  Self-Care  Year of the Nurse 

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Outgoing NOVA Board Members

Posted By NOVA, Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Outgoing NOVA Board Members


We want to express our heart-felt appreciation for Sharon Johnson and Ron Nardi’s dedication, hard work and commitment during their years of service on the NOVA Board. Their knowledge, expertise and contributions have positively impacted our NOVA nurses and Veterans. We have been very fortunate to have such leaders on the board.

Sharon and Ron, thank you for all your efforts and labor of love. We hope you will continue to support NOVA!


Picture 1: Michelle Salazar, Ron Nardi and Thelma Roach-Serry


Picture 2: Michelle Salazar, Sharon Johnson and Thelma Roach-Serry


Ron Nardi                                                         Sharon Johnson
Membership Secretary                                   Immediate Past President
January 2018 – December 2019                   January 2018 – December 2019


Tags:  Board Members  NOVA Board Members  Outgoing NOVA Board Members 

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President's Message Jan. 2020

Posted By NOVA, Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dear NOVA Members,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2020.

I consider it an honor and a privilege to be serving you as NOVA President for the next two years. It is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. You have my assurance that I will demonstrate the highest level of dedication. I would be remiss if I didn’t express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the support and mentorship, I have received from Immediate Past President, Thelma Roach-Serry, Past Presidents, Ceci McVey, Joan Clifford and Sharon Johnson, and the NOVA Board of Directors (2008 – 2019). The commitment of this group of dynamic leaders is truly inspiring and continues to motivate me to fulfill NOVA’s mission “to educate, communicate and advocate for the Department of Veterans Affairs nurse professionally, personally and legislatively”.

As we enter 2020, a new year with new beginnings, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our two newest members of the board: Yvette Twum-Danso and Betty Ogren. Yvette is an Assistant Nurse Manager for the Acute Medicine Clinics II- Outpatient Specialty Clinics at the W. J. Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. Betty, the first LPN to serve on the national NOVA Board, functions as a Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT) LPN at the VA Northern Indiana Health Care Systems (VANIHCS), in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I anticipate that their skills and expertise will be an asset to the board. Click here to view the updated list of board members. NOVA is fortunate to have such an amazing board that continues to make valuable contributions to the advancement of VA nurses and the health care of Veterans.

We have exciting news to announce. Our quarterly newsletter has changed to monthly NOVA News emails. This is our first one to kick off the New Year. We are thrilled to be able to connect with you regularly and bring you timely news and updates.

2020 has been designated as “Year of the Nurse” and there are several can’t miss events. NOVA on the Hill Day and NOVA’s Legislative Roundtable are scheduled to take place on March 5th – 6th in Washington, D.C. and NOVA’s 40th Annual Meeting: Celebrating NOVA’s Legacy and Promise of NOVA’s Future will be held on October 29th-30th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Washington DC – Crystal City. I hope you can join us. What better time to become involved than this year/2020/an election year and important milestone for NOVA as we celebrate our 40th anniversary.

My top priorities are to strengthen NOVA by increasing membership growth and engagement during my tenure. Therefore, I encourage you to recruit new members, create or build up your local chapter, and join a committee. As you know, you can only get out of membership what you put into it. NOVA membership applications for LPNs, RNs and APRNs, Chapter Formation Guidelines and Become a Chapter Contact can be found on our website: I look forward to working with you as a cohesive team with open communication and transparency. With your ongoing support and active involvement, I am confident that we can achieve great success. Let’s make 2020 a year of positivity and productivity for NOVA.

In closing, I would like to thank you for providing exceptional care day in and day out to America’s heroes across this great nation. Your passion is commendable.

With appreciation,


Kelly D. Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN   

Tags:  2020 President  President 2020  President's Message  President's Message Jan. 2020 

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