Rural Scholars Fellow
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Health Administration
Caitlin Rawlins, BSN, RN, drives innovation at VHA as the Innovation Specialist for the Western North Carolina VA Health Care System and as co-lead of the VHA Extended Reality (XR) Network. Ms. Rawlins has over 10 years’ experience in nursing, the last 5 of which she served as a registered nurse with the VA. After joining the VA, Ms. Rawlins noted a lack of non-pharmacological options for pain and anxiety in clinical settings. This experience triggered her exploration of Virtual Reality (VR) for use with post-operative patients, and, in 2017, Ms. Rawlins initiated VA’s first distraction-focused VR program for pain and anxiety management in Veteran populations. Since then, Ms. Rawlins has received grants through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Pathway Award and investments through VHA Innovators Network. Additionally, in 2021, she became a VHA Shark Tank winner, which will allow her to expand VR use and support more Veterans in need. As co-lead of the VHA XR Network, she serves as the field expert for implementing XR modalities across all VA, consulting with VA sites across the country in the development of XR programs.