Just after the end of World War II, an “understaffed” VA formed a unique partnership with the nation’s medical and health professional schools, just in time to meet the challenges posed by the arrival of 100,000 new patients. That partnership—a “shared honor and a shared responsibility”—is 70 years old this year.
During the historic collaboration, 70% of all U.S. physicians have received training at the VA, and 70% of physicians in VA teaching facilities have faculty appointments. By 1980, more than 70 VA hospitals were located within 5 miles of a medical school. The VA has become the largest single provider of medical training in the country: More than 40,000 residents and 20,000 medical students receive clinical training each year, says Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Through its academic affiliations, the VA has been home to 3 Nobel Prize winners.
“VA benefits enormously from its relationship with its partners in the medical academic community,” says VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin, MD. “We have the benefit of the top medical professionals being produced by leading academic institutions. In turn, the medical community and patients around the country benefit from VA innovations—innovations such as the implantable cardiac pacemaker, the nicotine patch…, liver transplants, and electronic medical records. We are both proud and grateful for these relationships.”