(WASHINGTON) Recruiting and retaining highly-qualified physicians has long been a challenge for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate seeks to turn the tide by allowing the department to compete for the best and brightest doctors coming out of medical school.
The VA Hiring Enhancement Act—introduced by Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT)—aims to overcome the competitive disadvantage the VA faces in recruiting medical students by aligning the department’s hiring processes with private sector providers. The hiring process begins much earlier for the private sector than it does for the VA.
“Under its current hiring processes, the VA loses too many great medical school graduates to private sector employers. The VA Hiring Enhancement Act will fix that by leveling the playing field for the VA and allowing the department to attract the best and brightest doctors. In terms of closing the VA’s recruiting gap with the private sector, this bill is a gamechanger,” said Boozman.
“The VA must have a qualified medical workforce ready to serve veterans,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The VA Hiring Enhancement Act makes the VA more competitive with the private sector when it recruits talented doctors, clinicians, and medical students.”
The VA Hiring Enhancement Act has the support of key Veterans Service Organizations including the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans & Military Families for Progress.
Specifically, the VA Hiring Enhancement Act seeks to:
Allow the VA to release physicians from non-compete agreements, provided they commit to VA services for at least one year. This makes it easier to hire local doctors, since non-compete contracts are often designed to prevent doctors from competing with their previous employer in the same local area;
Grant the VA authority to make binding job offers up to two years prior to completion of residency, which would help the VA become more proactive in its healthcare provider hiring practices and is particularly important to attracting specialists; and set the minimum education requirement for VA doctors as completion of residency.