One of the biggest challenges facing Veterans Affairs in carrying out its mission to provide high-quality medical care to our nation’s veterans is ensuring access to that care. A national physician shortage, particularly in rural areas and in primary care specialties, has made it difficult to provide easy access to care for all veterans. President Trump’s revised executive order banning immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan), which was struck down by another federal appeals court this week, would worsen the shortage of health care personnel in ways that would harm our veterans.
One objective measure of the extent of the VA physician shortage is the number of unfilled physician job postings. At the time of this writing, there were over 1,000 unfilled physician positions nationally in the Veterans Health Administration facilities across the country. Many of these unfilled positions are for primary care physicians (for example, internists in Greenville, N.C., and Oklahoma City, Okla.), and some are for medical specialists (an oncologist in Des Moines, Iowa; an interventional cardiologist in Shreveport, La.), surgeons (a general surgeon in Jackson, Miss.; a gynecologist in Martinsburg, W.Va.) and others (a psychiatrist in Parma, Ohio; a radiologist in Philadelphia, Pa).