The VA’s David M. Worthen Award, the highest award for excellence in health professions education, was recently presented to three VA clinician educators who have developed programs to bring diverse groups of students to learn to VA. Their programs enhance the teaching skills of hospitalized physicians and train advanced fellows to improve quality and patient safety.

The prize is awarded annually in three categories. The Rising Star Award recognizes an early career champion of health professions education. The Innovator Award recognizes an individual who has created and sustains or expands significant educational innovation. The Career Achievement Award recognizes an outstanding champion of health professions education whose lifetime contributions have profoundly advanced and impacted the educational mission of VA.

Laura Zambrano-Vazquez

rising star

The Rising Star Award was presented to Laura Zambrano-Vazquez, Program Manager, Director of Training, Education and Outreach at the VA Center of Excellence for Returning Veterans Research in Waco, in Texas.

Zambrano-Vazquez helps expand the diversity of VA health professions trainees and increase VA providers’ understanding of veterans with diverse backgrounds. She established a new academic affiliation with Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college, bringing undergraduate students interested in healthcare careers to VA for an intensive two-week training followed by ongoing mentorship by clinicians. GO.


Dr. Laura Caputo, a physician hospitalist at Durham VA Medical Center and recipient of the 2022 Innovator Award, led Project MODEL (Maximizing Ongoing Development and Educational Leadership) for VA Hospitalists, a grassroots faculty development project aimed at share best practices in clinical training on inpatient VA units.

Dr. Laura Caputo

“I chose to work at Durham VA specifically because it gave me the opportunity to teach right out of residency,” Caputo said. She knew she had to prepare for this role, so she started the MODEL project to help inpatient physicians improve their teaching skills.

career achievement

Dr. Bradley “Vince” Watts, recipient of the 2022 Career Achievement Award, has led the development of numerous VA fellowship programs to improve quality and patient safety, including the Advanced Health Systems Engineering Fellowship.

The fellowship brings advanced, highly technical fellows with a background in engineering, computer science, and big data science to VA, to learn how healthcare works and use their skills to improve the quality and safety of care across the enterprise. .

Dr. Bradley "vince" watts

Dr. Bradley “Vince” Watts

“These are the people who run companies like Ford or Bank of America, but they don’t usually run hospitals or health care systems,” Watts said.

Improving the quality of veterans’ health care

“These physicians are educators creating new and better ways to teach the next generation of healthcare providers using the latest technologies to improve the quality and safety of care for patients in VA and across the country. “, said Dr. Marjorie A. Bowman. , responsible for academic affiliations. “More than 113,000 trainees in more than 60 clinical disciplines train at AV facilities each year, learning from world-class faculty and staff like these 2022 David M. Worthen Award recipients.”

The VA’s Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) is responsible for leading the nation’s largest education and training program for healthcare professionals in the United States. health professions.

Nearly 70% of physicians in the United States and thousands of trainees who learn their trades as pharmacists, social workers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other specialties receive VA training each year.

Learn more about VA’s mission to educate healthcare professionals at the VA Office of Academic Affiliations.