THE BLOG
11/22/2013 02:35 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

From the Battlefield to the Health Care Field: Veterans' Experience

I'd like to introduce you to Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Wakefield has an important message to share with you about the Health Resources Services Administration's commitment to advance veterans' employment opportunities in the health care field.

This is Dr. Wakefield's message:

This week, the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) celebrates the second anniversary of the Helping Veterans Become Physician Assistants Initiative. This initiative was launched by the White House in an effort to make it easier for veterans to count their military medical training to become Physician Assistants (PAs). The PA profession has historic ties to veterans. Indeed, the first graduating class of PAs 46 years ago was made up entirely of Navy corpsmen.

The Helping Veterans Become Physician Assistants Initiative focuses on connecting former members of the military - especially those with prior medical training and experience - with training opportunities to become PAs. It has fostered a public-private learning community that includes partnerships between federal agencies like HHS, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to linking these stakeholders, we have developed a resource website, peer reviewed articles, and new data.

Our goal is to help ensure our veterans' health care experience in the military can be turned into opportunities for civilian education and employment, and we are catalyzing more educational opportunities that assist veterans to become PAs and other health care providers. Of the $2.5 million HRSA awarded to 13 PA education programs in 2012, eleven programs have strong recruitment, retention and education programs for veteran applicants and students. One way that HRSA prioritizes veteran training is by giving more weight in the evaluation process to academic programs that target and support veterans' entry and retention in those programs.

As a testament to this Administration's commitment to veterans, including those with health care experience, HRSA has awarded $22 million in grants in the last several years to schools of nursing and medicine, physician assistant programs, nursing centers, academic health centers, states, and local governments to recruit and support veterans who want to pursue careers as PAs and advance practice nurses.

I am proud that the Helping Veterans Become Physician Assistants (PA) Initiative is helping remove barriers that too often stand in the way of former service members bringing their talent, knowledge, and dedication to our country to the civilian health care workforce.