A U.S. House committee is considering whether to let VA hospitals recruit and hire future doctors up to two years prior to completion of required training. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, is proposing the bill that she says would include a competitive hiring timeline. Hartzler tells Missourinet doctor offices and hospitals recruit future doctors while they are completing their residency.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler

“They (VA hospitals) currently do not do that until the very end and I think that puts us at a disadvantage,” she says.

Hartzler, whose district includes Columbia’s Truman VA Hospital, says her bill would help veterans receive better care.

“The veterans hospitals in our area, including Truman VA there in Columbia, will be able to have a level playing field when recruiting the best physicians possible to serve our veterans,” she says.

Hartzler goes on to say she thinks failing to recruit doctors during the residency period has contributed to a shortage of VA doctors nationwide. The bill comes at a time when the VA reports more than 30,000 vacant positions.

The American Legion has voiced their support for the bill by saying, “The VA Hiring Enhancement Act will help address the shortcomings in recruitment and retention of highly qualified physicians. The bill, addressing health care within the VA system, is especially welcomed by some at a time when Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) like American Legion have expressed growing concern about the privatization of veterans’ health care.”

The bill would release physicians from non-compete agreements to serve in Veterans Affairs. It would also update the minimum standard for VA physicians to include the completion of a postgraduate medical residency.

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