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Weber State aids veterans in transitioning from service to nurse educator careers

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 10, 2024

Photo supplied, Weber State University

London Draper Lowe, left, and Michael Humphrey, right, of Weber State University launched the Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing's SkillBridge partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.

OGDEN — Weber State University is helping veterans make the transition from the military to civilian life less onerous through a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.

In the spring, Michael Humphrey — a women’s health and family nurse practitioner — became the first person to complete a faculty internship at WSU’s Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing through the DOD’s SkillBridge program.

The program provides opportunities for service members to gain experience as they prepare to retire/separate from the military and reenter the civilian workforce, taking place during their final sixth months of service.

London Draper Lowe, a professor at the school, comes from a military family and had contemplated designing a SkillBridge program. When Humphrey, who was set to retire after two-plus decades of service with the U.S. Air Force and multiple deployments to the Middle East, reached out about the program and a potential internship, she was inspired to get the ball rolling.

“Mike emailed an inquiry in January of 2023 saying, ‘Hey, do you guys have a SkillBridge program?'” Lowe told the Standard-Examiner. “Because we had an interested military member, I thought, ‘You know, this is the incentive I need.'”

Said Humphrey: “Historically, (the SkillBridge program) kind of focused more on the trades … electricians, plumbers, a lot of aircraft-related fields as well. (Information technology fields) are big ones. So it’s always there, but there really weren’t any opportunities for health care providers. So, that’s kind of what motivated me to reach out to Weber and work with London to get something going.”

From there, it was a multiple-month process for Lowe, who received training through the DOD and worked within program guidelines to establish a curriculum as part of an extensive application process.

WSU’s nursing faculty internship — the first of its kind worldwide, according to Lowe — finally became an approved SkillBridge program in October; Humphrey entered the program in December.

Over the ensuing months, he shadowed experienced nurse educators, performed site visits with nurse practitioner students — grading them and providing mentorship — and also attended curriculum development meetings. Upon completing his internship, Humphrey was able to join WSU’s faculty as a nursing instructor in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

“I got a really good idea of how all of that worked, which definitely has been helping since they hired me in April,” Humphrey added.

It is his and Lowe’s hope that other military personnel can follow a similar path as they brace for the challenges of post-service life.

“If you do a SkillBridge, you’re still getting your full pay, your full benefits; like, you’re still active duty,” he said. “So nothing changes, versus when you’re out and there’s a lot more on the line.”

Added Lowe: “We will try to give others in his footsteps the same opportunity to take a look at everything they would do and what it’s like to be a nurse educator.”

Retiring or separating military nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree can apply for the five-month nursing educator internship at WSU. Lowe noted that other departments at the university also are exploring SkillBridge partnerships, and she advises veterans to check the SkillBridge website for a list of programs/partner organizations.

For more information, contact a SkillBridge program representative online, go to https://skillbridge.osd.mil or check https://www.weber.edu/nursing.

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