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V.A. Plans To Increase Physician Salary Hire More Providers

V.A. doctorsBy Brad Broker

As part of its campaign to improve access and care, the Department of Veterans Administration has announced a major recruiting plan to bring more physicians and other providers to its hospitals and clinics.

“At VA, we have the most inspiring mission and the greatest clients of any healthcare system in the world,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald recently said to a crowd of medical students, doctors and residents at Duke University’s School of Medicine. “In the long-term, in order to provide timely access to care, we need to build capacity by hiring more clinicians.”

VA officials are considering proposals to increase the salaries of current VA physicians to be more in line with their private practice and academic colleagues. “In order to recruit and retain the highest quality medical professionals, VA needs to be competitive with other healthcare systems,” said Interim Under Secretary for Health Carolyn M. Clancy. “Ultimately that is how we provide the best care to our Veteran patients.”

Some of the other initiatives announced by Secretary McDonald include:

  • Collaborating on a new nursing academic partnership focused on psychiatric and mental health care
  • Working with the Dept. of Defense, Army, Navy, and Air Force to better recruit recently or soon to be discharged providers
  • Expanding a program to bring combat medics to VA facilities as clinicians
  • Expanding the loan repayment program

In August, VA physicians published in JAMA their ideas to improve care for veterans.  First on the list was hiring more doctors. “With the increased number of veterans enrolled in the VA health care system, more physicians, nurses, and support staff should be hired to remain commensurate with this growth rate,” according to authors. In just the past three years, primary care appointments have increased by 50 percent.  However, the number of primary care physicians has increased only by nine percent.

“We need the best doctors and nurses serving Veterans, and that is why I will be out recruiting…and talking directly to medical professionals about joining us to fulfill our exceptional mission of caring for those who ‘shall have borne the battle,'” said Secretary McDonald.

(Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr)

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