September 2, 2014, WASHINGTON – Speaking to a crowd of medical students, residents and faculty at Duke University?s School of Medicine, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald today launched a recruiting initiative aimed at bringing the best and brightest health professionals to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which will ultimately expand access to care for Veterans.
?At VA, we have the most inspiring mission and the greatest clients of any healthcare system in the world. That?s exactly the message I?m going to share as I speak with health care professionals and students about the value of serving at VA,? said Secretary McDonald. ?We have taken action to get Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics in the short-term, but in the long-term, in order to provide timely access to care, we need to build capacity by hiring more clinicians. We need the best doctors and nurses serving Veterans, and that is why I will be out recruiting, leveraging the existing relationships and affiliations VA has with many academic institutions, and talking directly to medical professionals about joining us to fulfill our exceptional mission of caring for those who ?shall have borne the battle.??
VA is taking multiple steps to expand capacity at our facilities, to provide Veterans the timely care they have earned and deserve. In addition to Secretary McDonald?s direct messages to clinicians and clinicians-in-training, these steps include:
* Collaborating on a new nursing academic partnership (VA Nursing Academic Partnerships or VANAP) focused on psychiatric and mental health care to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships between nursing schools and VA facilities.
* Partnering with the Department of Defense Health Affairs, Army, Navy, and Air Force to improve recruitment of recently or soon to be discharged health care professionals. VHA is already taking advantage of known separations of military health care workers.
* Expanding of a pilot program to bring combat medics and corpsmen in to VA facilities as clinicians.
* Improving the credentialing process for VA and DoD health care providers which will involve sharing credentials to speed up the process.
* Expanding of the loan repayment program, as included in the recently passed Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.
* Considering options to revise pay tables to offer more competitive salaries for VA providers, in comparison to their academic and private practice colleagues.
These actions build on existing recruitment tools, including partnerships between local facilities and academic institutions, loan repayment programs, and scholarship programs.
?In order to recruit and retain the highest quality medical professionals, VA needs to be competitive with other healthcare systems, and ultimately that is how we provide the best care to our Veteran patients,? said Interim Under Secretary for Health Carolyn M. Clancy.