Findings from the recently published Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) 2016 Clinical Learning Environment Review (CLER) Report support the need for mission statements like ours to guide the delivery of graduate medical education. 3 A major finding of this report was that the development and implementation of graduate medical education largely occurs separately from other areas of organizational and strategic focus within clinical learning environments. Our mission statement has served as a road map for aligning the delivery of graduate medical education at VABHS with the specific strengths of the clinical learning environment that VA affords.
Additionally, the 2016 CLER report identified a lack of specificity in training on health care disparities and cultural competency for the specific populations served by the surveyed residency programs. The emphasis we placed on learning about issues specific to the care of the veteran population highlights the potential for other mission statements like ours to bridge the gap between articulation and execution of educational priorities. Finally, through the academic partnerships it holds with more than 90% of medical schools in the U.S., VA already has an integral role in both undergraduate and graduate medical education that positions its hospitals as ideal training environments in which to address shortcomings in medical training like those identified by the ACGME. 4
We propose this mission statement as a model for the delivery of graduate medical education throughout all VA hospitals with academic affiliations and especially those where trainees from multiple institutions work together. As embodied in our mission statement, our goal was to provide a clinical training experience at VA that complements that of our residents’ home institutions and fosters a respect for and interest in the special care provided at VA. The development of a shared mission statement provides an invaluable tool in accomplishing that goal. We encourage chief medical residents and other leaders in medical education in all specialties at VAMCs to develop their own mission statements that reflect and embody the values of each affiliated training program. For our residents, rotating at VA is an opportunity to learn the practice of medicine for veterans, rather than practicing medicine on veterans. It is our sincere hope that shaping our residents’ educational experience in this fashion will foster a greater appreciation for the care of our nation’s veterans.