Vets targeted for health jobs
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.”