In this week’s episode of Chats with the Chief, VHA Chief of Staff Jon M. Jensen is joined by Dr. Jonathan Perlin, former Under Secretary for Health, longtime adviser to VA, and newly appointed President and CEO of The Joint Commission.

Dr. Perlin’s favorite quote is also his best career advice

Perlin shares that the best piece of career advice he’s received is to “just say yes.” This advice is inspired by the factor of luck concept described in James (Jim) Collins’ book “Good to Great.” According to Dr. Perlin, when you say yes, you create new opportunities. When you say no, you inadvertently close doors.

His inspiration for a career in service

Dr. Perlin says that his health care career was inspired by his father, a physician who received his education while serving in the Navy. He describes his father as oriented toward service and notes his father’s work standing up community mental health clinics in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Perlin knew early on he would also end up working in medicine. Later in his medical career, he realized his passion for service and caring for patients could be amplified by working in health policy, which he says is his calling.

His role developing VA’s Special Medical Advisory Group

Dr. Perlin discusses his role in standing up the Special Medical Advisory Group (SMAG), the oldest and largest of 27 VA advisory committees charged. SMAG advises the VA Secretary, Under Secretary for Health and other leadership on issues related to Veterans’ health care.

During his period as Under Secretary for Health, Perlin assembled a coalition of “the best and the brightest” experts in health care practice and policy across a broad spectrum of essential health disciplines to serve on the SMAG.

He was able to get many notable individuals, including Robert (Bob) Brook, who ran the RAND Corporation’s health practice, Wayne Lerner, who ran the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, who at that time was the head of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and former VA Secretary Peake, who was Army Surgeon General.

His predictions for the future of health care

Dr. Perlin quotes baseball legend Yogi Berra: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” He remarks that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t change the future of health care, but instead accelerated it. He notes the rise of telehealth and virtual care during the pandemic. While VA has been a leader in hospital-at-home for the past two decades, the trend has recently expanded for the rest of the world.

Dr. Perlin predicts that the health care workforce and staffing shortages will be the defining challenge of the next decade. However, due to VA’s large size and influence, he believes VA has the capacity to contribute to the nation’s workforce and define how provider curriculum evolves in response to new changes and challenges.

By VAntage Point Contributor

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Published on Apr. 27, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 317


  1. MSG Lopez May 1, 2022 at 8:39 am

    I hear the host is leaving VA unexpectedly.

    We know not the extent of the damage he caused, but for now, we can all rejoice that this goofy show has mercifully come to an end.

  2. A.S. April 27, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    This series is literally the dumbest thing on VA’s blog. Why are the “professionals” in the communications office encouraging this trash? Some executive talks to some former executive about crap no Veteran cares about. Great. Fantastic. Stupendous. Veterans should click on VA’s Inspector General page ( or contact their Congressional member ( and ask them to investigate the following:

    1. How much manpower hours and money is spent on Jon Jensen interviewing his buddies?
    2. What strategic goal is met by this series for helping Veterans?
    3. What is the return on investment for this production in terms of views and benefits to Veterans?
    4. What Veteran need is met by this series?
    5. If this series went away, would any Veteran stop receiving health care?
    6. Has Jon Jensen used this to advance his career?
    7. Is there any accountability if this series has accomplished nothing other than blowing smoke up VHA leader skirts?
    8. How many manpower billets can get erased by discontinuing this clear waste in fraud, waste, and abuse?
    9. Has any member of VHA comms actually had a backbone and told Jon Jensen he sucks at topics, interviewing, and being the VHA chief of staff?
    10. Are there any FOIA emails about any of these topics?

    Last, why doesn’t Jon Jensen (or his comms lackey) address these concerns in writing in this blog? Veterans leave questions or comments all the time, but it seems like VA is a one-way pusher of bad information instead of answering legitimate questions.

    Oh, wait, he’s in hair and makeup for another episode of Chats Veterans Don’t Care About with the Chief.

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