Military women have significantly higher rates of breast cancer than civilians. Although young women veterans represent the fastest growing VHA patient population, breast cancer screening with mammograms before age 50 is inadvisable.  In response, SimLearn and VHA introduced pilot training programs using tactually accurate breast models and instruction that teaches the hands of physicians and nurses the skills required to perform clinical (manual) breast exams. The training was provided to twelve clinicians at each of 21 continental U.S. VISNs and a shortened version was introduced to clinical staff at VHA mini-residencies. More than 80% of the physicians and nurses who participated reported that their confidence and accuracy in performing breast exams increased significantly.

  1. National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Office of Patient Care Services, Veterans Health Administration. (2011). Clinician Guide: Discussing Breast Cancer Screening Decisions with Average Risk Women in Their 40’s [PDF].
  2. Zhu, K., et al. (2009). Cancer Incidence in the U.S. Military Population: Comparison with Rates from the SEER Program. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 18, 1740-1745.
  3. Friedman, S.A., Phibbs, C.S., Schmitt, S.K., Hayes, P.M., Herrera, L., and Frayne, S.M. (2011). New women veterans in the VHA: a longitudinal profile. Womens Health Issues, 21(4 Suppl), S103-S111.