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The VACHS Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education

(l to r) Rebecca Brienza, MD COE Director; Elena Speroff; Shawn Cole, MD; Susan Zapatka; Linda Mele; Andrea Uradu; Ali Khan; Rose Cocchiaro; Anne Hyson, MD; Ted Long; Susan Barringer; Jill Edwards COE Co-Director; and Krisda Chaiyachati

The VA COE in Primary Care Education trains future health care professionals in a team-based, patient-centered care teaching model. Through an innovative curriculum of interprofessional clinical care months, interactive leadership seminars, and health policy classes, the COE offers trainees a unique, transformative approach to post-graduate medical education. Trainees learn and care for patients within protected ambulatory care time where they focus on managing a panel of patients, exclusively seen by the COE members. On a daily basis, you will learn, implement, and practice interprofessional collaboration, health policy, leadership, and quality improvement, which are necessary skills to function in today’s health care system, irrespective of specialty choice.


The mission of the COE is to educate health care professionals with innovative training, producing leaders who can provide outstanding patient-centered health care and master the skills necessary to succeed in today’s healthcare system. The structure of the COE facilitates learning these skills and applying them directly to practice.

Areas of Focus

  1. Shared Decision Making
  2. Sustained Relationships
  3. Interprofessional Collaboration
  4. Performance Improvement
  5. Facilitation and conflict management skills
  6. Health policy and leadership

Examples of COE Curriculum

  • TEACH For Success (VA based training for patient-centered medical homes; focused on patient-centered communication, health education and health coaching skills)
  • Facilitation and Conflict Management Training
  • Interactive Clinical Case Discussions
  • Health Policy/Leadership Course
  • Real time sub-specialty consultations with your own patients
  • Learner driven journal clubs
  • Veteran-Specific Issues
  • Patient Home Visits
  • Interprofessional Skills training (using EHPIC—Educating Health Professionals in Interprofessional Collaboration)
  • Sustained Performance Improvement, Patient Safety and Quality Skills

Program Highlights

Firm A COE Team
  • Intensive 8-week immersion blocks (total of 10 months over your residency training—during which no call or inpatient responsibilities)
  • Opportunity to get to know and provide continuity of care to your patients
  • Patient-Centered Medical Home and team-oriented ambulatory care environment
  • Assignment to MD and Nurse Practitioner (NP) faculty preceptors throughout training
  • Assignment to a specific support team (Registered Nurse/Health Technician) throughout training

About Us

Firm B COE Team

Rebecca Brienza, MD, MPH
Director, VACHS COE In Primary Care Education
Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine

Jill Edwards, MSN, APRN
Co-Director, VACHS COE in Primary Care Education
VACHS Nursing Director, Ambulatory Care

Nancy McKenzie
Administrative Officer, VACHS COE Primary Care Education

The COE is an innovation in health care delivery and training. The patient gets better care, because the team works together to meet the patient's needs. Regardless of the professional pathway you choose, a solid grounding in outpatient-based clinical medicine is essential. VACHS is a national leader in primary care.

Anne Hyson, MD

The philosophy of teamwork and communication skills cannot be overemphasized in today’s health care climate where there is increasing need to rely on effective interdisciplinary teams rather than on the individual provider. This exciting program will pioneer a change in the way we deliver medical and nursing education through integration of a rigorous clinical curriculum with the concepts central to interprofessional development.

Shawn Cole, MD

We are professionals who seek responsibility, accept accountability and are committed to the successful achievement of our trainees.

Susan Zapatka, APRN