Sec. Bob McDonald (left) speaks with Dr. Chan Park (middle) and Dr. Atilio Barbeito about the Durham VAMC Simulation Center and how it helps physicians care for Veterans. (REYANLDO LEAL/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Sec. Bob McDonald (left) speaks with Dr. Chan Park (middle) and Dr. Atilio Barbeito about the Durham VAMC Simulation Center and how it helps physicians care for Veterans. (REYANLDO LEAL/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Due to a three-year federal pay freeze, the annual pay ranges for VA physicians and dentists haven’t increased since October 2009. That may soon change as VA and the Veterans Health Administration look to enhance clinical capacity and expand access to timely care for Veterans across the nation.

Pay increase graphic

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Since compensation is an important part of attracting and retaining skilled medical professionals, Secretary Bob McDonald proposed an adjustment to the maximum rates of annual pay for VA physicians and dentists based on the skills and qualifications of the professional being recruited.

“At VA, we have a noble and inspiring mission – to serve Veterans, their survivors anddependents. There is no higher calling,” said VA Secretary Bob McDonald. “We are committed to hiring more medical professionals across the country to better serve Veterans and expand their access to timely, high-quality care.”

However, a pay increase in annual income of up to $35,000 is only one of the steps taken by Sec. McDonald and VHA. Additional initiatives include:

  • Collaborating on a new nursing academic partnership focused on psychiatric and mental health care to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships between nursing schools and VA facilities.
  • Partnering with the Department of Defense Health Affairs, Army, Navy and Air Force to improve recruitment of recently or soon to be discharged health care professionals.
  • Expanding a pilot program to bring combat medics and corpsmen in to VA facilities as clinicians
  • Improving the credentialing process for VA and DoD health care providers that will involve sharing credentials to speed up the process.
  • Expanding the loan repayment program, as included in the recently passed Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.

Click here to read more about the proposed increase in pay ranges. Information about working in VA health care can be found at www.vacareers.va.gov.

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Published on Sep. 17, 2014

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21 Comments

  1. Michael Raymond Beckley October 1, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Having run big companies I know the first thing that’s easy to do to have the staff “like” you, is give them a raise.
    It’s a sucker play and short lived. The first thing you do is tell all of them they have to earn their positions and explain exactly why they get to keep their jobs. This organization is FULL of people who are not accountable, think they cannot be fired and run their own fiefdoms….

    • nurses October 5, 2014 at 5:34 am

      okay, you say that now but ebola is here and nurses need more pay if you expect them to stay…why only give more to doctors and dentists, if you need nurses to stay too

  2. nurses September 29, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Pay nurses-you said you need doctors, dentists, nurses. Nurse though gets nothing and they were actually employed along with them so why no pay increase for them?

  3. nurses September 29, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    So you do not think nurses who have been also frozen, do not deserve more pay? Can you actually believe they can be recruited with low pay? If you would read what you wrote, this is insulting to say you want nurses but only want to promote schools for them-no pay, just promote schools…well, that is horrible and morale suffers with this kind of publication about needing nurses, doctors, dentists, pouring thousands into doctors, dentists, but not one penny for nurses.

  4. Bill A. September 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I was just in West L.A. over the last weekend to be started on new heart medicine. The treatment from all the doctor’s, including the student doctor’s was just the best I have ever had. I have been in a lot of hospitals on the HMO side and did not get the treatment like I got at the V.A. Also the nurses where just the best with there care.

  5. kimberly September 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    As a 15 year VA ER physician at a facility that DOES not have the issues so publicized it is unfair to judge all VA facilities by a few bad ones. If so, it does not show much intellectual analysis but rather bandwagon hysteria. If a few accountants in a large system or business are weak that does not make the entire firm incompetent. I am skilled at my position and my patients to do very well and I take offense to earlier comments by Dan F. All VA doctors do not have no other option and if you think otherwise it is an ignorant conclusion. I have my own private practice yet choose to remain to assist individuals often cast aside by society. VA physicians earn 60% on average of what private sector physicians of equal training. I have personally witnessed inappropriate tests and studies by private sector physicians who gouge insurance companies and bill inappropriately which patients are clueless about. My colleagues are highly skilled specialists who are compassionate and willing to sacrifice to work harder for less compensation. It’s not just a dollar and sense decision but rather reflects caring, community service, ethics and compassion.

  6. Donna Harris September 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Mr. Mc Donald, I agree the physicians & dentist need a pay raise. But as some of the veterans have stated, matters should be looked at regarding the veteran. There are many veterans who need many different services that they can not receive. And I feel that is very unfair to the veteran. Just because a veteran has not been declared to a certain percentage disabled. I think this really needs to be looked into. A veteran should be allowed to receive treatment even if they should pay for the service.

    • kimberly September 24, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      They can but will pay out of pocket or have their private insurance billed. But service eligibility has to be established. Some vets come in and don’t make it through basic training or are in the reserves never activated or do not serve the minimum time and are not eligible for care. This is a federal decision not VA individual decision. VA contracts with private sector if they are unable to provide services. Then it is up to the private referring hospital or physician to treat which is often the dropped ball. The VA does pay for care of the veteran. Hope this helps if you are affected.

  7. Kathy September 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Better quality doctors and nurses? Wow.. what did we have before? Doctors and nurses just starting out or that cannot get a job anywhere else? What? Perhaps something like the medicines they supply? VA La Jolla, San Diego purchases ALL medication from the LOWEST, CHEAPEST, bidder. I know this for a FACT. If you are allergic or your body does not react well to any medication given, forget it! VA San Diego is not like the VA Hawaii, who will recommend and prescribe “agreeable” meds to people who cannot tolerate the lowest of quality meds prescribed. I know that for a FACT too. It is the truth, the absolute sad truth. If you “convulse”, if you cannot hold those meds down and your body goes into withdraw, because of a med your body cannot tolerate? Too bad soldier, you are on your own. Don’t go to emergency either, they will not help you. FACT.

  8. Sunny Fun September 19, 2014 at 1:51 am

    It doesn’t matter how many physicians you hire if you don’t provide the foundation. For every physician you need 1 nurses and 2 administrative staff. Doctors don’t make their own appointments and answer all the calls. Is there any wonder why there is a delay in service? You need a backbone that these providers can ride high upon. No Camel – all you get is desert. Our veterans deserve so much more than that!

  9. Ginger G. September 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Specialist do not need a pay increase. However, primary care does for without primary care there would be no referrals for the specialists to see. Primary care doctors are burning out at a high rate and their are not enough graduates to fill their places. Equity in pay should take that in to account.

  10. Burt September 18, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Until doctors at the VA actually start doing things properly, they don’t deserve a raise. McDonald, why don’t you publish your email and phone so you can talk to the people that are affected by this horrific organization? This organization is most careless in it’s treatment of people, and we want to promote mediocrity?

    You’re no better than the previous politician.

  11. patrick jahnke September 17, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    If u increase wages then why do u take$6.00 from our travel pay ? X3 a month why we drive in we should get it all no matter it 1 ,2 ,or 3 x u cc a doctor/lab. I hired new doctors , I ran into one problem they Dont know what paper work fill out , send vets to proper clinic, not give. A run around. I’m still in pain after my doc retired, took pain meds away going on 10 months. I need cc specialist who know scare tissue damaged. I’m get run around send me here their it their not dealing with scare tissue problem where the pain is. The doctor doesn’t know were send me, nurse is he tell him which clinic to send me. She even doing wrong.

    • John September 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Why do you feel you should be paid to go To the doctor? The care itself is the most important thing, not the $6 you put in the tank. I dunno.

      • Jim Luton September 29, 2014 at 10:10 am

        John, I 100% agree that being “paid” to go to the Doctor is rediculous. Not to mention the “travel pay” the “meal pay” and the falsification of addresses so that they will be “reimbursed.” Let’s not forget the vets that come in cocaine positive demanding to have surgery NOW or go to some where ‘private.” REALLY??? I am a Vet (USMC), and a health care worker in the VA and I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO RECEIVE VA BENEFITS even after over 12 years military experience. Yet many use the VA health care system as a revenue generating system for themselves.

  12. Harold Coghlan September 17, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    While increasing pay to be able to attract more, skilled, and dedicated Doctors and Nurses is a great idea and very laudable, it will only fix part of what ails the VA today.

    Part of the other problem is the perception (and remember that perception is reality for most humans) that the VA does not care about the Veterans it is supposed to help, whether it be by providing competent and caring medical care, or by providing prompt and accurate Disability evaluations, rating decisions, and/or appeals to those rating evaluations.

    When the VA takes an average of three years to make a Disability Rating, and then, after that extensive period, makes errors and then, after the Veteran files an Appeal, the VA takes an average of 3-5 years to decide on the Aappeal, it is not only a shameful waste of the Veteran’s time and effort, but an insult to his/her combat service on behalf of his country. Waiting an average of 8 years to get your case decided is a terrible reality for most Veterans, and should be a PR nightmare for the VA Leadership. It just seems (as I said, a perception, but could be the reality) that the VA is intent in dragging it’s feet hoping the Veterans will die before the Veteran has an opportunity to be proven correct in his/her Disability filing.

    So sad!

  13. J. Ross September 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Ridiculous!! Pay them more for what? The military/VA has always been known for hiring substandard medical professionals. Paying them more is going to solve what? There is too much government interference (as usual). These problems didn’t just start with the VA, they have always been there; now that mainstream media is all in it; all of a sudden fire this person, pay these people more, etc, etc.

  14. Robert Lewis September 17, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Yeah, just throw more money into the pot. Hire more of those idiots from india, iran and turkey, yes the ones that could not care less about the veteran and can’t even speak ENGLISH good enough for you to understand. But whatever you do don’t I repeat don’t increase the compensation payments to the disabled vets.

  15. Dan F September 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    So that means the physicians and the dentists at the VA who now only give marginal care are being rewarded with a 15 – 30% increase in pay. The problems at the VA are not just at the administrative level, they go down to nurses and doctors and the quality as well as the quantity of care.

    So what were you doing? If you were paying too little and they are still at the VA, it means they felt the compensation was adequate for their skills. If they didn’t, they would have had the gumption to leave. Unless you make them responsible for their malpractice – and I know of many cases – all you are doing is giving taxpayer’s money away. The government’s answer is always throw money at the problem. What is going to happen by 2024 when there are 25% fewer vets…. lay them off?

    • Cindi September 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Dan – as a surgeon with top notch skills, I take offense at your comments. Marginal care? Malpratice? Put your money where your mouth is and join the VA and see what we’re up against. I could be anywhere, but I believe in this mission. Yes, I’m “Paying the price to believe in the mission,” with lower salary, less respect from people like you, fewer resources. But, it’s not all about money. I can really make a difference in a place like this, serving these underprivileged people – many with nowhere else to turn. So, Dan, sorry it doesn’t sound like you know what you’re talking about.

  16. James Holloman September 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    While this is a benefitial step to take to improve recruitment, it will not solve the problem coming from a shortage of primary care providers. I asked this question at the local town hall a few weeks ago, about how do we find compete for providers with the private hospitals and was told “we approved more positions to be recruited”. Approving more positions means nothing if there are no bodies to fill them with. Paying $20,000 more for an entry level physician means nothing if there is nobody to take it. Instead of paying down student loans for those who take the risk of going to medical school, lets pay more high caliber students to attend school without going in to debt.
    Pay for their tuition in exchance for 4-5 years of service, not only in the military but in the VA or in hospitals and clinics in low income areas.
    Stop putting bandaids on it and start increasing the flow of skilled professionals going into the job force.

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