UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Veterans Administration of Greater Los Angeles, Community Care Department
Los Angeles, CA
James McGuire, LCSW, PhD
Student Name: Duyen Mai
Year: 2005

To improve the health of homeless veterans and the services available to them, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has implemented programs to improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of homeless veterans. Veterans are overrepresented in the homeless population, they are at increased risk for chronic and acute illness, and they often have a co-occurrence of a substance abuse problems and mental health illness. All of these factors make it difficult for veterans to access the complicated VA health system and to practice self-care regarding their health.

From October 2005 to March 2005, I spent the duration of my Community Health Sciences field study as an intern for the Community Care Department of the West Los Angeles VA campus. My preceptor was James McGuire, LCSW, PhD, who is the project director for homeless prevention programs. The official name of the internship was called the Graduate Student Health Internship.

The primary objectives of my field study were related to improving the health of homeless veterans and the services available to them. These objectives included: 1) Increase the health literacy, health self-efficacy and health activation of homeless veterans through a Healthy Lifestyle Course (HLC); 2) Write a grant application to get funding for evaluation of HLC; and 3) Plan, implement, and evaluate a patient flow and satisfaction study of the Primary Care Clinic. To achieve these objectives, two rounds of the HLC were taught, an outcome evaluation was designed and a grant application was started, and a patient flow study was completed. The target population of these objectives was homeless veterans with substance abuse and mental health problems who were currently enrolled in residency programs on the West LA VA campus.

I chose this position to gain more experience with health education, the homeless population, and program evaluation. During the course of my field study I learned about issues surrounding homelessness and veterans, I developed presentation skills, and I saw how health research can also impact the community.


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