Most VA Centers admit they're understaffed

Jonathan Kaupanger
June 15, 2018 - 1:43 pm



The most critically understaffed VA Medical Centers are located in the Pacific Northwest, according to the annual report just released by VA’s Inspector General.  There are 193 critical and 64 non critical jobs that remain unfilled.  The most common reasons for this are lack of qualified applicants, salaries that aren’t competitive with the area and a high staff turnover rate.

This is the fifth year in a row that the VA has released a report detailing staffing shortages, but for the first time 140 out of VA’s 141 medical centers have announced that they are understaffed.  In total there are 2,339 critical positions and 708 non critical jobs open.  Because of this, 14 occupations have been granted direct hiring authority (DHA) as a way of filling these positions. 

Direct hire usually means that the supervisor can hire a qualified applicant on the spot.  The positions that qualify for this at VA right now are: Accountant, Boiler Plant Operator, General Engineer, Health Science Specialist (for Veterans Crisis Line), Health Technician, Histopathology Technician, Human Resources Assistant and Specialist, Information Technology Specialist, Personnel Security Specialist, Police Officer, Realty Specialist, Utility Systems Operator and Utility System Repair. 

The occupational staffing shortage report sheds a little light on why it’s harder to get appointments for some medical needs than others.  Out of 141 VAMC’s, 98 have reported a shortage in Psychiatry.  Next on the list is Human Resources Management and 92 medical centers are understaffed in this area.  Not having HR positions filled makes the hiring process more difficult for the other positions too.   

To apply for most government jobs, you would use  You can also find position openings on VA’s website by going to each VAMC page.  Application instructions specific to each job posting and the DHA status is located at the end of the announcement.

When responding to one of these job announcements, there are a few things to remember.  Send the signed, completed application with any other required forms to the contact that is located at the end of the job announcement. Make sure the announcement number is written on your application.  And lastly, keep a copy of the ENTIRE package for your records.

Application for physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and chiropractors is here.

Application for advance practice nurse, certified registered nurse, anesthetist, nurse practitioner and registered nurse is here.

You can download these applications if you’re interested in applying for Associated Health Occupations or Health Professions Trainees. 

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