A report from VA OIG shows VA is still failing to hire enough doctors and nurses despite record taxpayer funding and heightened focus on increasing hiring in those vital categories.

A survey conducted in January 2018 of VA medical center directors revealed continued staffing shortages in key roles without the agency. At the top of the list were doctors and nurses. Human resources professional and police were also on the list of shortages.

The top reasons cited for the shortages were:

  • Lack of qualified applicants
  • Non-competitive salary
  • High staff turnover

DOWNLOAD: IG Hiring Shortage Report

Basically, the list reveals widespread corruption in the agency and well-known whistleblower retaliation has damaged hiring capabilities in key occupations. The damage is so bad that record funds and increased spending in propaganda to deflate negative news still is not working to increase the applicant pool.

And who would want to take that risk with their career?

Think about it. As a medical doctor, the individual spent over ten years in training and invested over $200,000 to become a doctor. If that doctor, while at VA, reports malpractice or some other wrongdoing, the agency immediately retaliates by revoking the doctor’s privileges and destroying their reputation.

Shazam.

10 years and $200,000 down the drain. And let’s not forget the massive emotional damage that comes with being retaliated against. Plus the lost earnings once they are fired and unable to locate work elsewhere.

Who would not want to sign up after seeing that the agency’s leadership still refuses to relinquish its well-documented ability to destroy its doctors?

After four years and countless millions on propaganda to polish its image in the public, the White House should take notice of the bigger looming problems. The reality is the Accountability Act is not creating a culture of competence but instead fueling greater retaliation and hostility against whistleblowers.

Joke

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Not a doctor.

VA OIG Executive Summary

In italics is the executive summary excerpt:

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this review in response to newly established requirements in the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 (VCQEA). The law requires the OIG to report a minimum of five clinical and five nonclinical VA occupations that have the largest staffing shortages at each medical facility. This is in contrast to the prior mandate to report the five largest staffing shortages throughout VHA. This is OIG’s fifth annual determination of staffing shortages in VHA. 

VCQEA outlines ways in which VHA may use the information presented in this report, including the recruitment and direct appointment of qualified applicants for the identified occupations. The direct hire authority outlined in the Act resides with VHA.

In light of the changes in law, the OIG adjusted its approach to this year’s iteration of the mandated staffing report and conducted a facility-specific survey to determine current staffing levels and identify staffing shortages at the facility (local) level. The OIG relied on VHA facilities to produce accurate assessments of occupational shortages as of December 31, 2017. The OIG did not independently validate the information provided by the facilities. It is important to note that this was a general survey and not a compliance tool. This review and survey was designed to gather information and not assess facility adherence to VHA guidance on staffing.

The survey included a list of occupations developed from (1) Office of Personnel Management (OPM) occupational series codes and (2) VA assignment codes in order to provide further refinement to the physician (Medical Officer) and nursing occupations. Facility directors were asked questions specific to their facility for each occupation: 

  1. What was the number of staff within the occupation as of December 31, 2017?
  2. Do you consider the occupation “clinical” or “nonclinical”?
  3. Do you consider there to be a shortage in the occupation?
  4. If yes to #3, why do you consider there to be a shortage?
  5. How would you rank the designated shortages in priority order?

While the facility directors were free to delegate the task of populating the survey, they were ultimately responsible for sending the survey back to the OIG indicating their review and agreement with their submission.

The OIG found significant variation in the number and types of shortages reported, as well as the reasons why.

The most frequently cited shortages were in the Medical Officer and Nurse occupations. The OIG also found that several nonclinical occupations were frequently designated by VHA facilities as a shortage. For example, Human Resources Management had the second highest frequency, and Police had the seventh highest frequency. While this information captures the number of times a particular occupation was designated as a shortage by facilities at the local level, it does not consider other dimensions that would be needed in order to make a national ranking determination.

Ultimately, the number of facility staffing shortage designations ranged from one to 89 shortages, including both clinical and nonclinical occupations. Facilities designated between one to 76 clinical shortages and zero (no designated shortage) to 26 nonclinical shortages. Currently, VHA does not have a standardized list of which occupations are considered clinical and which are considered nonclinical beyond the appointing authority (Title 38, Hybrid Title 38, and Title 5). Due to the absence of a consistent standard, and in an effort to most accurately represent what is occurring at the local level, the OIG requested each facility director provide the clinical and nonclinical information for each of the designated shortages. As a result of the guidance provided to facilities regarding how to complete the survey, facilities might identify occupations differently based upon the skills and experience of the individual who holds the position and specific facility needs.

Facility responses to reasons why there was a shortage varied significantly. In addition, not all facilities chose to provide a reason for each designated shortage, and the level of detail and specificity differed among facilities. The OIG did not make a judgment with respect to the accuracy or strength of each reason provided. However, due to the difference in how facilities responded, the OIG used a thematic analysis approach in order to review the information. 

The most commonly cited challenges to staffing fell into three categories:

  • Lack of qualified applicants
  • Non-competitive salary
  • High staff turnover

The reasons provided by facilities in response to the 2018 survey were consistent with many of the barriers noted in OIG’s 2017 staffing survey.

The 2018 survey highlights the need for a staffing model that identifies and prioritizes staffing needs at the national level while allowing flexibility at the facility level. The OIG has made recommendations related to the development and implementation of a staffing model in each of its previous staffing determination reports. The OIG does not repeat its recommendations for a staffing model in this report as expected due dates for implementation of all recommendations published in the 2017 report are after the completion of data analysis for this report. However, the OIG re-emphasizes the need for VHA to develop and implement a robust and targeted staffing model and will continue to follow VHA’s progress related to previous recommendations through its normal follow-up process.

The OIG recommended that the Under Secretary for Health refine and formalize VHA’s position categorization of individuals (clinical and nonclinical) who are necessary to VHA’s mission of delivering health care by looking at various dimensions of each occupation, including staff skill set and function, enabling identification of positions based on the specific role a person would fill. The OIG also recommended that the Under Secretary for Health ensure the consistent implementation and use of the position categorization approach across all facilities.

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40 COMMENTS

  1. cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

    Yeppers, thats who did my C+P exam, one of those “lack of qualified applicants” that sniffs crack, I mean slips through the cracks.

  2. cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

    Happy Fathers Day to all you papa Vets.
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  3. I smell the prelude to the groundwork being laid for yet another congress critter cash-grab for more Billion$ under guise “to attract better qualified candidates again”…

    …I also sense the VA is using their very own created disaster to justify utilizing nurses and medical assistants to stand in-place of the usual jaba-da-hut witch dr’s….wait for it…

    • namnibor,
      And after VA, with hundreds of billions of taxpayers monies, built or refurbished all those beautiful new hospitals and/or clinics throughout the United States and beyond! And the VA can’t staff them!
      What a pity!!!!??
      Maybe we’ll get lucky and the rest of the reprobates will see the light and quit!

    • With all the new Max-Headroom clinics springing up in all of the discount center malls across the states to provide Tele-Health. Since they have already been replacing Doctors with nurses. They must be getting ready to come out with the next step. Replacing the Tele-Health nurses with Video Call centers out of India and Pakistan staffed by anyone who can afford to purchase a fake degree in those countries.

  4. 7:30am and only 2 comments. We need another flag article to get the pissy bitch crowd out of bed.

    • WC. Hey pissy. Cough… keyboard Kommando. Got some brand new cross necklaces in. I can copy some art work from a local college art prof and send it to ya. One in female urine with or without small religious icons inside them, one in watered down menstrual blood just for you hard core lefties and antagonist. Could arrange for some fine anti-right/Christ college art work painted in same too! Looking into buying some old port-a-potties too for people like you. I can pull one behind my truck on a small trailer during my protests, paint it pink, and those like you can use them to cry in during their safe space time outs after just seeing me drive around. Since they/like you can’t seem to defend themselves and side-step some questions in their diatribe against some of us, or me. Never said why a simple necklace gets your panties in such a twist but keep being ‘pissy’ with me or us out here. Or like calling us “pissy.” How much Soros money do you get… like you’d be truthful. Ouchy! Didn’t mean to bruise that thin skin of yours. Pardon. Bet you’re a VA employee too. G-day.

      • Oh T, where to even begin with you…I’d love to have some of your local artwork. Unfortunately, all my wall space is taken over by my new Jim Carrey prints. Who knew he was such a fabulous and talented artist and Canadian too! I find his portrayals of Trumps administration thus far to be both spot on and uniquely insightful. Besides everybody knows us “hardcore lefties” like our menstrual blood uncut and straight from the tap. As for urine well…that’s purportedly your hero’s thing, not mine ;). Honestly I’m really unsure why “people like me” would need a safe space to cry in…unless you mean tears from all the laughing we’re doing at your hate filled and bigoted life. Don’t really need a safe space for that since I’m both man enough to laugh in your face and deal with any consequences that may arise.

        Fairytale jewelry doesn’t offend me one bit. I find it both highly ironic and hypocritical that a person who identifies with a group historically known for persecuting other groups that don’t adhere to their views, starts screaming about persecution the minute he’s told to hide his hate symbols. I will absolutely keep on laughing about that.

        I wish I got Soros’ money!!!! I wouldn’t be hanging around on this coat hook for 4.5 fucking years waiting for the incompetent and corrupt VA to get it’s belt banging balls in gear.
        Truth? I’m just a vet with a claim and a huge case of PTSD. Despite my mental difficulties I find it odd and questionable that members of a group that are often marginalized themselves can take the time to focus their hate off the true target, the VA, and onto a subset of the group that is even more marginalized than they are. How’s that for Truth? Can I get an amen?

        It’s funny that when I make a comment that’s directed at nobody specifically you just have to jump in feet first. Where you Airborne by any chance?

        If anybody in this conversation has thin skin it is most definitely you, afterall, I’m not the one loosing my mind and shitting my pants over a government agencies brief recognition of a group of people.

        In closing I find your low brow attempt at a witty response to my post lacking in both content and substance. I award you no internets and may Dog the Bounty Hunter have mercy on your soul.

      • Dear WC. You started it. Can’t stand the rebuttal, jokes, and questions? Suffer, while your attempts to cover your butt and your own actions sound like a man/person with a paper asshole that just ripped out. If a necklace is going to offend you that bad, it is you and your attitude and personal issues you should reflect on, not others. Sounds like you need to get a group hug from your local college student union lefty groups.

        You have done a great job for losing focus and distracting. You obviously don’t pay attention to what is written. Plus simply cannot take what you deal out to others. Typical far left behavior I am well accustomed to dealing with along with your brand of argument, lefty labels, or conversation. The thin skinned call the thick skinned…. thinner than yours. Funny. Plus claim to be or suffer whatever, prove it. Don’t hide behind anonymity especially after claims you’ve had visits since using this board or being violent. Until then you are just a keyboard Kommando antagonist playing libtard games to me. Don’t like me, don’t read me and don’t bother commenting, simple. If you ARE a vet you’re just one of those I can’t believe or count on like those locally to be more enemy than friendly and have proven it like you have. Since politics, religions, and division seems to mean more to you than an oath, Constitution, or harm being done to others by the likes of YOU. Man?! Go public I have. Until then, stifle thy self, reflect, do your mental masturbation, stand on your head, smoke your hooter, maybe pray and you might wake yourself up from some delusions and attack mode then blaming others for not being silent over your own self describing conflicting diatribe.

        Hell, go to a meeting and learn. Go out and do some real volunteer work in the local gutters. Go into the desert for 40 days maybe. If you are that violent, got issues, stick to a PTSD alone board. Maybe you too can have a Dannion Brinkley or Paulian spiritual awakening to soften thy tongue, nonsensical labeling, your boo-boos real or not. I am not here or real life to feed pablem, teats, to the babes, kiddies, “snow-flakes” or activist. I’ll sugar coat just so much. You get meat of facts and heart language here sucker, straight up. Trying to threaten in the soft tone? Bring it, you are not the first buddy, or girly whatever you may be in truth.

      • Christ what a screwed up individual you really are…I mean I at least try to stay on point and refute but this…it’s funny that you call my issues into focus and doubt yet I’m sure I’m supposed to take your persecution complex at face value right?

        if you would like I can give you the contact info that I was given by DHS I’m sure they’ll be happy to neither confirm nor deny as they do. I have posted this information on this board in the past. As for my veteran status…

        Not that I have to prove a damned thing to a malcontent right-wing fuck stain such as yourself but here goes.

        I am a former 13B trained at Ft. Sill OK home of the artillery also known as the King of Battle. I trained on towed pieces specifically the 119 and the 198 the former you tow with a humvee the later you tow with a deuce and a half. At least they did in 1996. After graduation I was stationed at Ft. Benning GA. Kelly Hill 1-10 FA I did a stint in the battalion S-3 as an operations clerk tasked with in/out processing personnel as well as assisting the FDC with fire missions in the field before being assigned to the gun line with Charlie Battery where I was an M109A3 medium self propelled howitzer driver commonly referred to as the Paladin. 3rd ID (Mech) Rock of the Marne! Steel behind the rock! You can google it.

        I can take shit fine. PTSD has a way of thickening the skin. I do have to ask though. Why would I bother to prove anything to you? What proof could I provide that would satisfy you in light of our current conversation? Your laughable attempts to crawl under my skin are amateur and serve to reflect your own screwed up environment. Honestly I though I was bad, it must suck living in fear that everybody’s out to get you.

        As for not paying attention to what was written. The solution is simple. Write something worth paying attention to. Most of the shit that falls out of your mouth is exactly that, shit.

        Thanks for the life advice fucko. Let me give you some in return. Go suck on the end of a shotgun and become one of the 22. Then you can finally be useful.

      • Nope, you can’t comprehend much. Right wing? LOL Go lefty go. You must be a big hit at Antifa and MoveOn gatherings. Done with you idiot. I still think you’re up in a dorm room having fun. Sound just like them. Not trying to crawl under that hating skin of yours either, got enough issues in my own. Yours seemingly has already been dyed in the wool Demoncrat Party double dunked in the Communist Manifesto/Rules For Radicals. By your words must have got you upset showing your true colors. I was just playing with ya little pecker… didn’t mean to make you turn so hard. Have a nice night. Done with you. Got enough of your real comrades, brothers and sisters here to deal with and to easily agitate.

      • We never know who or what we deal with or live by do we?

        “http://www.ourvetsbeforeillegals.com/avowed-army-communist-receives-other-than-honorable-discharge/”

        By the way things look, and are, he could get the VSOs, many VA staff among many others including MSM (media) and start his own freaking army.

  5. Here’s another take on this, from;
    “Military.com”

    Titled:
    “VA Hospitals Across the Country Have More Than 3,000 Unwanted Jobs”

    Originally from: “Stars and Stripes”
    15 Jun 2018
    By “Nikki Wentling”

    “WASHINGTON — Thousands of jobs at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country remain vacant because VA leaders contend they can’t find qualified candidates who want them, an agency report released Thursday revealed.”

    “Directors for 140 VA hospitals reported a total of 3,068 staff vacancies that they are struggling to fill because of a severe shortage of candidates, according to an annual VA Office of Inspector General report on staffing problems.”

    “For the first time, the report included a breakdown of shortages for each hospital. However, the numbers don’t include all vacancies, but rather the ones that the hospitals can’t fill.”

    “A lack of qualified candidates is not the only reason that VA directors can’t fill some of their open positions. Most of the hospitals also reported they are unable to offer competitive salaries.”

    “Undesirable hours and inflexible schedules were listed as other challenges. High turnover was a problem for about half of the hospitals.”

    “[One] facility stated that when a position had high turnover, it resulted in significant overtime, which resulted in even more turnover,” the report reads.”

    “The Atlanta VA Health Care System in Decatur, Ga., reported the most shortages — 89, of which 76 are medical providers. The hospital with the fewest shortages was the West Haven, Conn., campus of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, which reported only one job opening for a dermatologist.”

    “Mental health providers topped the list for the most-needed occupation. Of the 140 hospitals, 98 reported a shortage of psychiatrists and 58 hospitals needed more psychologists. Other in-demand jobs included primary care doctors, human resources staff and police.”

    “Congress passed legislation in August last year requiring the IG to report the shortages for each hospital. Each facility director provided the number of shortages as of the beginning of 2018.”

    “There’s no question VA needs to look at its hiring and retention programs nationwide, which is exactly why the committee required this OIG report,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.”

    “VA Inspector General Michael Missal said the new data could help inform the VA about how to recruit for its hardest-to-fill jobs.”

    “This report should prompt meaningful discussions at both the local and national level about how to implement, support, and oversee staffing in VA medical centers that will result in the highest possible quality of veteran care,” Missal said in a prepared statement.”

    “Carolyn Clancy, the executive in charge of VA health care, wrote in a response that the IG report was “very informative” and would support the agency’s staffing plans. She also said the VA was working to stand up a permanent “manpower office” by May 2019.”

    “The Cincinnati VA Medical Center in Ohio and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston had some of the fewest shortages, with each reporting only four jobs that they were struggling to fill.”

    “Second to Decatur, the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Ill., reported the most — 83 shortages, 66 of which were medical professions. The Oklahoma City VA Health Care System reported 69.”

    “Appropriate staffing allows a medical facility to function at its full potential,” IG official Nathan McClafferty said in a statement. “It is critically important that VA medical facilities are properly staffed to ensure veterans are provided the best possible health care.”

    “A House subcommittee is meeting June 21 to discuss the IG report and VA job vacancies in general. The hearing is titled, “More than just filling vacancies: A closer look at VA hiring authorities, recruiting and retention.”

    “Clinician and other medical facility staff shortages are not unique to VA, but the committee is continuing to look for opportunities to improve the department’s hiring and retention programs,” Roe said.”
    _________________________________________

    In my opinion, more VHA employees should quit. That way veterans could receive healthcare from outside VA! It may, or may not, be better – but at least vets would be able to choose who they want for their provider!
    As Seymore Klearly had posted months ago, where VHA healthcare professionals were not really professionals. They were on those “visa’s”! Some may have even “bought their diplomas”!
    How would anyone know if the professional one is seeing, is really a freaking doctor, nurse, etc., etc., etc.?!?!?!

    • One thing that would help maintain good medical personnel is hire better director, high level managers and mid level mangers are lousy, there poor management styles are the reason so many medical people quit the VA. Some are bullies, some are incompetant to supervise anyone. When a vet has to deal with a director or mid manager they tell you what you want to hear just to get you out of their space they have no intention of following up on a question or a problem, they just draw their pay. Another big problem with the VA is that incomptetent supervisor or directors are not fired for being incompetant, they are moved along to another facility to screw it up they become some one elses problem. The personnel offices could use some help in evaluating personnel apply for job who are well qualified but are told they aren’t qualified until someone complains the when the person is evaluated by personnel in Wash DC all of a sudden they are qualified.

  6. The accountability act that was signed is worthless. Hell, as a grunt, I put more value on a roll of cheap toilet paper.
    Namnibor was correct…….wait for it…..we need more money!!!

    FUCK VA
    FUCK AFGE

    • Can’t even crumple up and soften the paper the accountability act was printed on to make a good butt wipe. I’d put more value on a roll of toilet paper too. Hey at least toilet paper is designed and for the most part used as intended, you know to make life better.

  7. More than two years ago, the VA. sent me a notice stating that commencing immediately, patient demographics, privacy, modesty, dignity, and respect for veterans would be V.A.’s number one priority. That never happened! Instead, they went the OTHER way! In most V.A. hospitals and clinics, veterans are still insulted, talked down to, and disrespected. Male veterans who do the fighting, bleeding, suffering and dying in our wars are treated especially poorly, and have to BEG for EVERYTHING! If you are male, and need intimate surgery, (colon, reproductive, urinary tract) forget about all male surgical teams, because it is’nt going to happen! This, despite the HUGE number of female “professionals” caught ridiculing and disparaging male veterans who are totally helpless and defenseless while heavily sedated under powerful anesthesia! The most egregious example is the admitted lesbian and manhater Dr. Twana Sparks in New Mexico, but ridiculing of helpless male patients is endemic in the U.S., in and OUT of the V.A. NO male should have to beg and grovel for same sex staff for intimate exams and surgeries! The V.A. needs a LOT more male nurses and doctors, and must do a FAR better job of ensuring male privacy and modesty!!

  8. Is your CBOC a VA staffed clinic or an Accountable Care Organization Contractor?

    I find the ACO in Scottsbluff, NE to be much more efficient than the VA staffed facilities. A neurology appointment in two weeks. Never been less than 6 months at a VA staffed facility. The ACO contract staffed clinic has all the appearances of a VA staffed clinic. But it is a private contractor. Changing my mind on privatizing. It’ll get rid of the deadwood protected by the Federal Employees Union.

  9. Admittedly, I laughed at the knock, knock joke.

    Jokes aside, I’m curious about the OIG finding as it relates to the “lack of qualified applicants,” “non-competitive salary,” and, “high staff turnover.” As far as qualified applicants go, I remain skeptical of this assertion. Using anecdotal evidence gathered from personal experience, much of which may rightfully be challenged by cynical commenters, it has been my observation that there are plenty of “qualified applicants” who are prepared to seek and maintain gainful employment within the VA. While I can’t speak about other clinical or non-clinical occupations with any degree of certainty, I can address the field of social work which is listed in the OIG report. Let’s venture into the rabbit hole and see where it takes us.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 (most recent data) there were 682,100 social workers employed in the U.S. (Occupational Outlook Handbook, Community and Social Service, Social Workers, 2018). The same source lists the median pay as $47,980, as of 2017. I’ll address the “competitive salary” element in a moment. According to the VA, “The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest employer of Master’s level social workers in the United States” (VA, Health Care, VHA Social Work, VA Employment as a Social Worker, 2018). Per another source, the VA currently employs well over 8,000 social workers (The New Social Worker – The Social Work Careers Magazine, Rachael Dietkus Miller, Nov. 11, 2017). While I suspect the actual number of VA social workers exceeds this figure, we’ll stick with the proposal for the sake of argument.

    If there are well over 600k social workers in the U.S. and the VA employs only a fraction of these individuals, it would be safe to presume that despite the VA remaining as the largest employer of master’s-level social workers there are exceedingly more candidates who may add to this number than to presumptively state there is a “lack of qualified applicants.” The VA proposes that “Persons hired or reassigned to social worker positions in the GS-185 series in VHA must be licensed or certified by a state to independently practice social work at the master’s degree level” (VA Handbook, Transmittal Sheet, Staffing, Feb. 13, 2009). At minimal, a master’s-level degree plus further training and fees towards licensure is expected for social work employment at the VA, which isn’t an unusual requirement within the field concerning non-VA agencies.

    Regarding the “competitive salary” issue, and keeping in mind the median pay of U.S. social workers is $47,980, a qualified (licensed) social worker can gain entry-level employment at either a GS-11 or GS-12 pay scale, depending on prior experience. There are rare instances in which a GS-09 position (master’s-level) can be obtained as a new social worker is employed while working towards an independent license. Because the median pay scale for 2017 is used for this example, let’s examine the 2017 General Schedule (GS) pay scales for GS-09, GS-11, and GS-12s. They were $43,251, $52,329, and $62,722, respectively. Again, it is a rare occurrence for a GS-09 master’s-level social work position to exist, because full licensure is preferred. Therefore, one may conclude that the VA already provides a “competitive salary” and the OIG report fails in substantiating its claim in this category.

    What about the “high staff turnover” aspect of the report? This issue has been reported for a number of years. If one has ample time and nothing more to do, simply Google “Veterans Affairs high turnover” and enjoying venturing down the rabbit hole of varying dates which address this issue. I believe the OIG’s findings for this matter are verifiably sound, given the sufficient data available which correlate with similar findings all across the nation.

    Again, the cited OIG report lists social workers among the unfulfilled positions, with a shortage of 40 (VHA, OIG Determination of Veterans Health Administration’s Occupational Staffing Shortages FY 2018, p.75). It isn’t as though there’s actually a “lack of qualified applicants.” While “high staff turnover” is arguably valid, it doesn’t suggest why social worker positions aren’t rapidly replenished, given the plentiful number of candidates available (682,100). Further, VA social workers by and large are paid more while employed by the VA than their non-VA counterparts. What, then, could account for the shortage? I propose the matter is quite simple. It’s a matter of money.

    If one maintains knowledge of how fiscal budgets are utilized within the government, it remains easy to understand this issue. The proposed VA fiscal year budget for 2019 is $198.6 billion, which is up by $12.1 billion from 2018 (VA, Office of Budget, Annual Budget Submission, Office of Budget, 2018). The idea is to use an entire budget and request more funding in the following year. Clearly, the funds aren’t currently being allocated towards hiring qualified personnel to staff the VA, per the OIG report. Where, then, is the money going? The Choice Program? Benefits? Costly construction projects (Overdue and $1 billion over budget, Aurora VA hospital is still incomplete and will likely be understaffed, document says; Denver Post, Mark K. Matthews; Jan. 12, 2018)? Lavish European vacations to the tune of $122,000 (Report Faults V.A. Secretary Shulkin Over Travel to Europe, New York Times, Dave Phillips, Feb. 14, 2018)? VA-funded “gender transition surgeries” (VA; Veterans Health Administration; Transgender Vets, the VA, and Respect; Tom Cramer; Jan. 3, 2017)? Who’s to say?

    What is clear, however, is there seems to be a festering mismanagement of government funds, an unsustainably-growing fiscal budget, and resulting staff shortages to show for the exorbitant amount of money allocated to the VA. Follow the money as far down the rabbit hole as you can.

    • “Just Passing Through”,
      Good argument.
      On the other hand, in my opinion, when anyone in the private sector healthcare system is hired by VA, they end up hitting road blocks with the administration system! Especially when it comes to helping veterans.
      Think of it this way.
      I’ve had PCP’s, and other providers, quit over NOT being allowed to practice their profession. Because the administrators wouldn’t follow rules, regulations and procedures set down by Congress!
      That being said, WHY would anyone put up with that kind of bullshit!
      That’s WHY I believe there’s a large turnover at VA!

      • @Crazy elf
        I agree with your point regarding roadblocks. This is precisely why I stated, “While ‘high staff turnover’ is arguably valid […],” and continued addressing the field of social work specifically. I, too, have had PCPs assigned to me who quit unexpectedly. One year, I had three separate PCPs assigned to me, one who I never met because he was assigned to me for only two weeks. Turnover of that proportion is exactly why I didn’t argue against the OIG’s reference to turnover.

    • It’s not the money, its the incoherent disruptive bullshit the VA dishes out daily and the workplace environment, I mean who would want to work around a bunch of overpayed, overgrown juvenile delinquents at a VAMC anyways, especially if your qualified and have the education and awareness to know better.

      • “march hare”,
        You just described what I said in a different way!

        Your correct! Why would anyone want to work in an environment like you and I commented on?

      • @march hare
        I’m raising my hand, though you can’t see it. Me. I would want to work in that chaotic environment, because I realize the challenge veterans face when seeking medical care at the VA. Not all veterans have the option of seeking care from providers in the community. Not as a matter of altruism, though more as a desire to continue serving those I pledged to serve with when in the United States Marine Corps—and those who unfortunately served in lesser branches (insert laughter at inner-service rivalry joke here __________)—I wanted to work in the VA. In all seriousness, I didn’t volunteer to work at the VA because I thought it’d be a great environment to gain employment in. I could have easily gone elsewhere. I was there for the veterans and not the VA.

        That stated, you contended with my point regarding money. As has been customary when I respond to these posts, I expect pushback from people simply for having worked within the VA at one time and for being a member of the AFGE. Fair enough. I scripted my original response to this post with the suspicion that someone would challenge me. Notice that I proposed money was a reasonable possibility by which the problem could be addressed, not the be-all, end-all issue. I began with the proposal, “I propose the matter is quite simple. It’s a matter of money,” and later added, “Who’s to say?” as a means to suggest that I didn’t have all the answers.

        I provided evidence to support my proposal. Hitchen’s Razor dictates that the burden of proof regarding the validity of a claim lies with the one who makes it, and if the burden is unmet the claim is unfounded, and its opponent needn’t argue further in order to dismiss it. Therefore, and without any evidence submitted by you to oppose me, I stand by my proposal. Again, I didn’t suggest that I had all the answers. I simply identified a single possibility of perhaps many.

      • @jpt
        You say its a matter of money, I say its not a matter of money. Money is just a medium of exchange, your saying follow the money, ok, and what do you find, greed, corruption, and the lying, obfuscation and obstruction that goes along with that kind of activity, a “a festering mismanagement of funds”.
        Anyways I don’t have all the answers either, and of all the possibilities greed and corruption should be pretty close to the top of the list on just about anything the VA does. Come Monday morning, go tell your supervisor you found corruption in the system and report it, if you really want to help veterans, tell them you don’t have the tools to do your job properly as a social worker, why because you understand what a challenge it is to get care at a VA, you would be fired and don’t tell me its a matter of money.

      • @march hare
        I’m glad we can agree that money, as I proposed, is a means to an end. As I previously suggested, money isn’t the sole issue. I offered it is, however, indicative of a larger issue under the surface (“What is clear, however, is there seems to be a festering mismanagement of government funds, an unsustainably-growing fiscal budget, and resulting staff shortages to show for the exorbitant amount of money allocated to the VA”). Your echoing of my statement (“Money is just a medium of exchange, your saying follow the money, ok, and what do you find, greed, corruption, and the lying, obfuscation and obstruction that goes along with that kind of activity, a ‘a festering mismanagement of funds”) supports my original point.

        So why counter me in the first place? It is perhaps because I stated a point you largely agreed with, though I didn’t pose it in a manner you preferred? I say that money essentially suggests underlying elements concerning what is wrong with the VA. You highlighted those elements by name (i.e., “corruption,” “obfuscation,” and, “obstruction”). This isn’t dissimilar to me stating, “I like Spam,” and you retorting, “It isn’t Spam, it’s canned meat.” It’s a frivolous conversation to engage in when agreeing upon a point, as one party serves an egocentric role by restructuring the dialogue to fit one’s own perspective. Bottom line: We agree.

        Addressing another matter, I find your use of a “should” statement (“Anyways I don’t have all the answers either, and of all the possibilities greed and corruption SHOULD be pretty close to the top of the list on just about anything the VA does”) to be symptomatic of a principle addressed in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy regarding a cognitive distortion. When people state that others “should,” “must,” or “ought” to do something, they are actually asserting that their own perspectives, values, beliefs, morals, ethics, etc. are superior to others and that it is the responsibility of others to acquiesce to unreasonable demands. I assure you, I’ve no interest in yielding my point of view at this time, considering the fact that we essentially agreed. As I’ve previously suggested, money is one aspect of an overarching matter—“not the be-all, end-all issue.” Equally, I’m not in the market for unsolicited advice at this time (e.g., “Come Monday morning, go tell your supervisor you found corruption in the system and report it, if you really want to help veterans, tell them you don’t have the tools to do your job properly as a social worker […]”).

        While I find it fascinating that you see fit to lecture a stranger concerning what you believe “should” be done, you didn’t bother to actually read, pay attention to, or remember a previous post (AFGE Union Sues President Trump Over Executive Orders) in which I plainly stated, “As a former VA employee and current AFGE member, I’ve utilized the legal services of AFGE council when contacted attorneys either thumbed their noses at the idea of representing me or requested astronomical fees regarding my Equal Employment Opportunity case against the VA.” It may be stated that you didn’t read the post in which I ended with a quote from Alfred Pennyworth, yet your reply to my post (“For Just Passing Through, and cut down on the batman movies”)—in which you maintained consistency with delving out unsolicited and impractical advice—suggests otherwise.

        I’m not employed by the VA anymore and you were, at minimal, aware of this fact. As well, I stated in the aforementioned post that I was challenging the VA in the legal realm (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Therefore, your disobliging suggestion (e.g., “Come Monday morning, go tell your supervisor […]”) is perplexing. Rather than actually taking my words as presented, you’ve interpreted them through a subjective lens, employed the use of confirmation bias by failing to deal with the discomfort of cognitive dissonance that prevents you from actually believing there is anyone within the VA who truly tries to help veterans, twisted the meaning of my overall message through a cognitively-distorted process, and ultimately chose to take issue with your mangled analysis of what I stated by projecting a predetermined theme upon me.

        You’ve added nothing meaningful to this dialogue. We both agree that there are multiple challenges related to the existence of the VA, as I proposed one place to begin when addressing this matter related to money. From there, and keeping with your I-must-be-right-and-others-must-be-wrong-so-I-will-correct-the-problems-of-the-world-by-giving-inoperable-guidance method, you virtue-signaled to a degree that is worthy of Oppression Olympics gold. Well done! You may choose to celebrate in your victory of the inept response category, or perhaps you may do something completely different. It matters not to me. What I originally stated continues to stand on its merits. Money is a starting point that may lead to the underlying issues of VA operability.

      • Ok, a difference in prose, Alright you want to help veterans too, good. Yes I am biased against social workers that work at the VA, because for the most part all they are, are glorified community informants and everyone knows that except you. I SHOULD give it to you load and dirty so you’ll remember it, I’m always virtuous when it comes to matters of live and death, and make no mistake we are dealing with matters of live and death here, being more precise veterans lives and their quality of life. Your union is responsible for giving cover too corrupt employees, the VA got your union in their back pocket, but you can’t see it. What’s your union doing to solve the problem of VA corruption, nothing. You obscure what you write about, which defeats and complicates the purpose of communication, I understand its a complicated issue, but why try to obscure it, it’s a matter of greed corruption, and mismanagement of funds, because of no accountability., and your union is involved.
        Obfuscation of your kind could only have been learned at a VAMC.

  10. more propaganda to ingrain the idea that we need doctors. you never expose the fraud of the medical field. even when you wrote the article about the sunscreen and the problems associated with side effects. cannabis resin extract will cure those pre-cancer lesions and the cancer as well. ben never ever talks about those topics. it’s just more beating a dead horse right here.

  11. Imagine for a second, an ad from a chain of eateties wanting to hire 50 chefs. The successful applicant will posess a recognized culinary arts degree, have several years of verifiable experience in their preferred discipline and having a team player mindset is an added plus.
    Then finding the job to be cooking pinto beans in only water with no variation EVER! In plain words all thinking and creativity is stuck to rote.

    Is this how the VHA hires it’s practitioners?
    If not, why are so many practitioners using some form of …”not allowed to”… at every single opportunity for standard of practice care, that which every veteran patient is entitled to receive at each appointment and without compromise. Why are specialty providers restricted from doing standard in-clinic proceedures? The practitioners were obviously trained to perform them, but they are not allowed to provide them at clinic visits. Potential nexus prevention? Is this the brand of care that “ONLY the VHA can provide” for the veterans they keep saying they are so specailized at caring for?

    If the VHA practitioner is to be bound by the similar constraints of a muralist, to using only “antique white” without variation or additions, well, what self-respecting professional would want to join that circus?

    @Rick Lipary,
    Please know that I am in no way mocking the point of your post. It has been also, the plight of many females wanting their own gendered practiotioners for their concerns, and many concerns beyond the nether-regions. Unless something has changed, VHA stated that same gendered practitioner request would be honored,…yes, with the obligatory if it’s possible.

    • That is baloney! My ex is in the Sioux Falls V.A. right now, She fell there (she’s a vet also) a couple weeks ago, and sustained a triple shoulder fracture. BAM! Instant private room and ALL female exam and surgical staff! Let’s see you pull that off as a MALE! We are nothing but cannon fodder!

    • @Rick Lipary
      Thank you for sharing one bright spot of care for one veteran patient at one VAMC and know that I am grateful for that contribution. Still, that does not change the gist of my response to your previous post. If you think on it in an historic sense, and empathize just a tad, I think you might see it in a different light. I do hope for you and all veteran’s, to find the care we deserve, rather than the crumbs tossed toward us to catch with near impossible exertion of sheer will.

      • Rosie, YOU are not the one seeing it in the proper light! I don’t know if you are a veteran or not, but V.A. “care” is profoundly inferior, and females are treated MUCH better than the male veterans who do the fighting, bleeding, suffering, and dying! Plain and simple!

    • @Rick Lipary
      Ii is my big mistake!
      I completely forgot your need to engage in a fruitless sparring contest over what you have perceiced a person has stated in any reply to whatever you have posted on Ben’s blog. I have no desire to further your aggrivation. Peace out, Brother.

      • So, I don’t agree with you, and it’s a “fruitless sparring contest!?” Are you even a veteran of ANY kind? Have you worked there, because I have. Could it be that you don’t know the way things work there, and you are flat out WRONG!? Could that BARELY be possible? I’m sorry also. By now, I should expect the woman’s view from you and automatic disagreement. I will let you get back to your spelling lessons now. Toodles, Rosie!

  12. Most of the problem is that on average it takes over 90 days to even have the person step foot inside of the VA after they have been hires. There are not to many people that can wait that long to start a job.

  13. Title of article: “A report from VA OIG shows VA is still failing to hire enough doctors and nurses…”.

    ‘Qualified’, between “enough” and “doctors”, has been left off on purpose?

    Seems like nobody in the Cheyenne VA is qualified to do anything EXCEPT for a very few.

    Even the head chaplain is not qualified for her….yes….I said her…. job. She is a bitch. Bitchy, rude and disrespectful she is. She looks down on patients like they must beg for help. P.O.S. she is too!!!

    There is a pretend disabled patient veteran (small v on purpose for this p.o.s.) who is trying to become a chaplain but nowhere near qualifies since she is a liar too.

    Ya…..I’m pissed. You would be too if you were lied to as much as I have been…..for 22 years.

    When………will the madness stop???

    I hope my recruiter is in the deepest bowels of hell for lying to me during my attempt to enlist during the VietNam war period. “State of the art medical and dental care.” my ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I’v Been going to va hospitals for several years hoping to get treatment for my PTSD, I have had at least 10 intake meetings and 8 of the professionals quit the VA. How can anyone have any respect for these “professionals?” Thank goodness we mow have a choice. The bureaucrats at the VA should find another agency to hide in. Go Choice!

  15. One thing that would help maintain good medical personnel is hire better directors, high level managers and mid level mangers are lousy, there poor management styles are the reason so many medical people quit the VA. Some are bullies, some are incompetant to supervise anyone. When a vet has to deal with a director or mid manager they tell you what you want to hear just to get you out of their space they have no intention of following up on a question or a problem, they just draw their pay. Another big problem with the VA is that incomptetent supervisor or directors are not fired for being incompetant, they are moved along to another facility to screw it up they become some one elses problem. The personnel offices could use some help in evaluating personnel apply for job who are well qualified but are told they aren’t qualified until someone complains the when the person is evaluated by personnel in Wash DC all of a sudden they are qualified.

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