It’s all about the Veterans: Why physicians choose VA



It’s all about the Veterans: Why physicians choose VA
When we ask physicians why they work at VA, their answers run the gamut – flexibility, a supportive atmosphere, loan repayment, the chance to research and teach, and more time to spend with patients. But there’s one common theme we hear again and again from our doctors about why they have chosen VA. It’s all about the Veterans. “It is the purpose of taking care of our Veterans – that is, to give the best of ourselves to those who served our country to protect the life the rest of us live,” said Dr. Eric Sargent, M.D., a urologist at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center. “From a doctor’s standpoint, there is no better opportunity to achieve this purpose than making the health of our Veterans the highest priority.” These sentiments are echoed by other physicians around the country. From Nashville, Tennessee, emergency room physician Dr. Michael Ward, M.D., said, “It is an absolute honor to take care of Veterans and it’s what motivates me to return each day.” “The sense of mission really does permeate all aspects of the job. No one forgets that our patients are Veterans, and that makes a difference in care,” added cardiologist Dr. Jacob Doll, M.D., of the Puget Sound Health Care System.

A common goal

A recent addition to the Cheyenne VAMC staff, Dr. Sargent was drawn to the chance to bring quality care to rural Veterans, a group that can sometimes lack easy access to health care. “I have enjoyed most the spirit of camaraderie at the Cheyenne VA since I started here two weeks ago,” Dr. Sargent said. “Already I feel myself becoming part of a bond that rests strongly among staff and connects staff to the Veterans we serve.” Dr. Sargent has worked in many different clinical settings around the country – including private practice, community and university hospitals, and other VA medical centers. With such a varied career, he’s developed a wide perspective on the practice of medicine. “I have found a VA urology practice to be especially valuable in teaching doctors their skills while inspiring them to be at their best in bedside manner with empathy, devotion and commitment to their patients,” Dr. Sargent said.

The support you need

The mission of caring for the nation’s heroes is what unites us at the nation’s largest, integrated health care system. But physicians also list a number of other items that make VA more attractive than the private sector.
  • We offer generous time off, including 26 days of annual leave, 13 sick days, 10 paid federal holidays and now 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Flexible scheduling is often available. You’ll have more time to spend with your family, take a break to refresh or travel.
  • As a leader in health research, we conduct thousands of studies at VA medical centers, outpatient clinics and nursing homes each year. Dr. Doll and Dr. Ward both took advantage of the support they found at VA to advance their research. “I’m very grateful to VA Puget Sound for taking a chance on a young researcher,” Dr. Doll said.
  • Have a hand in shaping this next generation of physicians. We train tens of thousands of physicians every year. Dr. Stephen Gau, an emergency medicine physician at the Loma Linda Healthcare System, always enjoyed teaching but never had the time to pursue it. That changed when he came to VA. “This job has reignited my passion for that, which has been a wonderful benefit,” Dr. Gau said.
  • Education support. We help make it easier to pay off your medical school debt through loan repayment and reimbursement programs. Dr. Gau took advantage of the Education Debt Reduction Program (EDRP) to receive up to $200,000 of loan repayment. “The EDRP program helps to accelerate the payoff dramatically,” he said.
  • Lighter patient load. You’ll have more time to spend with your patients, getting to know them and their unique health care needs. Our patient-aligned care teams (PACTs) are designed to deliver patient-centered, personalized care. “I’m able to provide care for my patients that I wasn’t able to do in the private sector,” said Dr. Ward.

Work at VA

Enjoy the rewards of working at the nation’s largest, integrated health care system. Consider a VA physician career. NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.


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