By Strengthening Anesthesiology Partnership at Minneapolis VA, Everyone Wins

The University of Minnesota Academic Health Center has a long history of collaboration with the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System (VAHCS). The Minneapolis VAHCS is affiliated with the UMN Medical School and serves as a site for training for over 700 UMN residents and students each year, and is the major training clinical site for the UMN Nurse Anesthesia Program.

In 2017, the Department of Anesthesiology took critical steps to deepen its partnership with the Minneapolis VAHCS by supporting a Vice Chair of Academic Anesthesiology at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Hospital, Dr. Ioanna Apostolidou.

“This is one of the top VA’s in the country, consistently ranked as a 5-star VA. This affiliation can be a win-win situation for both institutions in the domains of clinical care, education and research,” said Dr. Apostolidou. “Standardizing clinical pathways and creating anesthesia specialty expertise lines in regional and cardiothoracic anesthesia to provide the best care for veterans is a top priority. It’s a wonderful population to care for; veterans have unique needs and deserve the utmost respect, as well as excellent medical care.”

Another goal in this partnership is to expand the education of residents, fellows, student nurse anesthetists and medical students and develop further partnerships in research, not only in Anesthesiology Department but also the University of Minnesota Student Nurse Anesthesia Program.

“The Minneapolis VAHCS is a leader in the country performing high-end open cardiac surgical and interventional procedures, performing 400 open heart surgeries and over 150 structural cardiac procedures annually,” said Dr. Apostolidou. “Some of these procedures such as the atrial appendage occlusion and transcatheter mitral valve procedures are not performed at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, which is our main training. Our partnership with the Minneapolis VAHCS allows our fellows and residents to participate in these procedures and expand their training.”

For residents and fellows making the decision where they want to practice after finishing their training, working at the VA also shows them what a job at the VA could look like. University of Minnesota trainees have previously joined or are currently employed at the VA.

VA-employed anesthesiologists benefit from this partnership by receiving adjunct or affiliate appointments at the University of Minnesota to gain access to University and Department resources such as grant-writing and research support. Selected University of Minnesota faculty can also practice at the VA, under specified working parameters defined by both institutions.

“The University of Minnesota exists to serve the people of Minnesota, and our state’s veterans are an important part of our population,” said Michael Wall, MD, FCCM, Head of the Department of Anesthesiology, “This partnership benefits residents, fellows and doctors from both systems, but most importantly it improves the quality of care our veterans receive.”

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