In-Depth: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to bolster shadowing and training opportunities for medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, who provide healthcare services to veterans:
“Congress has a duty to ensure that our veterans, those who sacrificed so much for our country and for the liberty we all enjoy, receive the highest quality health care from the most highly trained health professionals. This bill furthers that effort.”
After this bill passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the 115th Congress, Rep. Kaptur said:
“There are few duties more sacred than our Nation’s charge to deliver quality care to our veterans who have bravely served liberty’s cause. Those willing to serve are owed the best care possible. We must do more to train health professionals in order to decrease the impact of a physician shortage. Our bill creates more opportunities for students to get the training they need to care for our veterans.”
Last Congress, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Vice-Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said:
“In order to meet our veterans’ needs for health care providers, we must look to all steps of the medical education process to build a diverse pipeline of students. Expanding access to clinical observation is one of those key steps. The VET HP Act will help build a pipeline of health care providers with veteran-specific experience and fill our health care workforce shortage.”
This bill has three bipartisan cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican, in in the current session of Congress. Last Congress, it passed the House by a voice vote after Rep. Kaptur introduced it with the support of three bipartisan cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican. However, it didn’t receive a vote in the Senate. The American Legion and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) support this bill.
Of Note: As part of their admissions applications, all schools for health professions either require or recommend clinical observation hours, but there’s no formal process to apply for these opportunities. Students attending schools outside major cities, as well as those whose families don’t have connections to the medical and healthcare community, are at a disadvantage when seeking clinical observation hours and, therefore, admissions. This puts otherwise qualified students who don’t have the opportunity to shadow, and who’d benefit from the diverse, and often specialized, care provided in the VA health system at a disadvantage.
Currently, all VA programs have VA voluntary service programs, which provide scholarship programs to students who volunteer at VA medical centers. Student volunteers get exposure to health career options, gain experience in a health care environment, learn new skills, and are eligible to be nominated for multiple college scholarships and the James H. Parke Memorial college scholarship.
The VA also has partnerships with affiliated colleges and universities across the country to train new healthcare professionals and enhance veteran healthcare. This program includes an internship program, which offers current students the opportunity to learn about various career paths at the VA and earn a salary while continuing their educations; a recent graduates program, which gives recent graduates from qualifying institutions valuable training, mentorship, heads-on experience, and professional development opportunities; and the Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF), which lets advanced degree candidates take charge of their own learning and advancement. Under these programs, 120,000 participants received training in 2017.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / jetcityimage)