In an effort to better address the medical needs of the thousands of women veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) started a “mini residency program” to refresh doctors and nurse practitioners, many of whom are more accustomed to treating male veterans, on women’s healthcare. Approximately 1,100 health care providers have completed the course, which offers training on pelvic and breast exams, as well as services for women veterans who have been sexually assaulted.
Women veterans are limited in their ability to ability to obtain gender-specific health appointments. According to Patty Hayes, the VA’s chief consultant for women’s health, only 16 percent of women who are eligible for care at the VA use it.
The VA aims to have a designated women’s health provider in each of its medical facilities. Currently the VA has practitioners specifically trained on women’s health in approximately 60- 65 percent of its clinics.