Vets tar­geted for health jobs

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE - Jes­sica Zig­mond

Days af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said all U.S. troops in Iraq would re­turn home by year’s end, the ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced two new ini­tia­tives to cre­ate health­care jobs for vet­er­ans. The first ef­fort urges com­mu­nity health cen­ters to hire 8,000 vet­er­ans in the next three years. The ad­min­is­tra­tion said ex­ist­ing funds will pay for the ini­tia­tive, a joint ef­fort of HHS, the De­fense, La­bor, and Vet­er­ans Af­fairs de­part­ments, and the National As­so­ci­a­tion of Com­mu­nity Health Cen­ters.

The sec­ond ini­tia­tive seeks to broaden op­por­tu­ni­ties for vet­er­ans to be­come physi­cian as­sis­tants. HHS’ Health Re­sources and Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion will give pri­or­ity grant fund­ing to col­lege and uni­ver­si­ties that train vet­er­ans to be­come physi­cian as­sis­tants. HRSA also will work with pro­grams so the field train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence of re­turn­ing medics and corps­men can be ap­plied to­ward their physi­cian as­sis­tants ed­u­ca­tion, a HRSA spokesman said.

Kevin Lo­henry, a vet­eran who flew searc­hand-res­cue mis­sions as a hos­pi­tal corps­man in the U.S. Navy dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm, is now pres­i­dent of the Physi­cian As­sis­tant Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion. Vets re­turn­ing from Iraq and Afghanistan have tremen­dous clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence but lack the di­dac­tic ed­u­ca­tion that physi­cian as­sis­tant pro­grams can pro­vide, Lo­henry said.

And while the ini­tia­tive will help physi­cian as­sis­tant pro­grams be­come more aware of re­turn­ing medics, the chal­lenge will be to help vets tran­si­tion from mil­i­tary to ed­u­ca­tional set­tings, as the ma­jor­ity of physi­cian as­sis­tant pro­grams are at the mas­ter’s-de­gree level, Lo­henry said. “Some of those re­turn­ing in 2004, 2005 and 2006 are now fin­ished with bach­e­lor’s (de­grees) and get­ting into PA pro­grams.”

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