Wanted: 1,800 New VA Physicians

HealthLeaders Media News, June 28, 2016

Making the Department of Veterans Affairs health system an attractive place to work is a key priority in the wake of negative reports about wait times and reimbursements to physicians in the private sector.

David Shulkin
David Shulkin

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is looking for 1,800 physicians and 44,000 employees of all kinds, David Shulkin, MD, the department's undersecretary of health, announced last week at the American Medical Association's annual meeting in Chicago.

The VA health system currently employs more than 300,000 people.

Making the VA an attractive place to work is a key priority in the wake of negative reports about wait times, cost overruns and delays at VA facilities being built in Orlando and Denver, and complaints of slow reimbursements to physicians under the Veterans Choice program.

To help achieve this goal, the VA is focused on five initiatives:


  • Reducing wait times for patients
  • Engaging employees once again in their sense of mission
  • Adopting best practices consistently across all VA facilities
  • Partnering with the private sector to expand access to care
  • Restoring the confidence of veterans and the public in the VA

Some benefits to working for the VA already exist, Shulkin noted, such as not having to contract with insurance companies or worry about medical liability issues.  

VA physicians "don't have to deal with a lot of the things that create burnout in the private sector," he told physicians at the meeting.

Indeed, a 2015 report from The Medicus Firm revealed that 36% of physicians in practice said they would be "very likely" to at least consider a government practice opportunity, with the VA health system being the most popular choice.

More than a quarter of physicians (29%) said, however, that they would "definitely not consider" government employment.

The VA's announcement of its recruiting effort comes closely on the heels of a proposal to allow advanced practice nurses to practice independently within the VA system.

The AMA and other organizations swiftly denounced the proposal, claiming it would "significantly undermine the delivery of care within the VA."

The VA's APRN proposal will be open for comment through July 25.

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