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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA's Innovative Employee Educational Program Wins Award

August 18, 2005

Houston VA’s Innovative Employee Educational Program Wins Award

HOUSTON - South Central VA Health Care Network recently honored Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in Houston, Texas for an innovative employee education program. The Innovations in Education Award, given quarterly by the network’s director, recognizes an educational program at one of the network’s ten medical centers that is the most innovative.

The winning program, Building a Career Ladder in Healthcare: School at Work (SAW), is a career development program that targets VA employees in entry-level positions at MEDVAMC. The eight-month long program is designed to provide participants with the needed skills to move one rung up the job ladder or to pursue additional educational opportunities.

MEDVAMC is one of many hospitals in the United States to use SAW but its successes with it have set them apart from the rest.

“What really stood out about Houston’s program were the results,” said Robert Lynch, M.D., network director. “This program has enabled many of its participants to receive promotions, enroll in college, or take other steps to better their careers. It is a very empowering program for employees.”

This year marks only the second year of the eight-month long program at the medical center and already MEDVAMC has become a national benchmark with its number of participants and its results. So far, 53 participants have graduated from SAW. Of those, six have since been promoted to higher positions and 14 have enrolled in college. The program is managed by a site coach, Ralph DeVaul, PhD, and an assistant coach, Shannon Dennis, both employees at the medical center.

Six VA medical centers and 115 hospitals participate in SAW.  The educational program was initiated in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Labor and Catalyst Learning to meet emerging U.S. labor force needs in the health care industry.