Affirming UTHSC-VA Healthcare System Partnership, Celebrating 100 Years of VA Service in Memphis

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The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the Memphis Veterans Affairs Healthcare System are strengthening their partnership to care for the military veterans in the Mid-South and to train the next generation of health care professionals who will provide that care. 

The Memphis Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, which is anchored by the Memphis VA Medical Center, celebrated 100 years of providing services to the region with a ceremony recently at the medical center on Jefferson Avenue.

Ken Brown, JD, PhD, MPA, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC, spoke passionately about the partnership and the formative role of the VA in the community.

He said one of his first jobs after serving in the military was at the Memphis VA Medical Center working with veterans suffering from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues.

As a military veteran, he said he appreciates the work the Memphis VA Healthcare System does to care for those who have served. Dr. Brown said he also is keenly aware of its value as a training platform for the university.

“As someone who has been a part of both worlds, it is exciting to see this renewed commitment for us to work together and maximize the relationship,” Dr. Brown said.

 Both institutions have enjoyed a longstanding relationship. “We are most grateful to Dr. Thomas Ferguson (chief of staff) and all our VA colleagues for supporting our trainees,” said Scott Strome, MD, executive dean of the UTHSC College of Medicine. “We are proud that our faculty, residents, and fellows make up a major portion of the clinical staff at the medical center.”

One in five physicians nationally has trained in the Veteran’s Affairs Health System. In caring for the Mid-South’s veterans, the Memphis VA Medical Center offers a venue for training in all major medical and surgical specialities. UTHSC’s faculty, who staff the center, guide this training for medical and dental residents and fellows, as well as students. 

The center also is a venue for training nursing, pharmacy, and other health professions students and residents.

The VA also pioneered research that has, over decades, continuously improved care for both veterans and non-military patients. UTHSC and the Memphis VA Medical Center partner in research in areas including arthritis, high blood pressure, cognitive impairment and dementia, rehabilitation, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases.

“We are fortunate to have Joseph Vaughn as the director of the Memphis VA Healthcare System,” said UTHSC Chancellor Peter Buckley. “He brings tremendous experience from North Carolina’s Veteran’s Affairs Health System, which has very strong affiliations with its university partners.”

“While looking back on the last 100 years of our Veteran’s Affairs Healthcare System serving Memphis, we are also looking forward with great enthusiasm for the next 100 years being even better than the last,” Chancellor Buckley said. “Then, now, and into the future, our partnership will remain focused on improving the health of veterans and all Tennesseans and on training tomorrow’s health care workforce.”