Office of Academic Affiliations

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Mission of the Office of Academic Affiliations

Photo of Residents. Image is ©Mission: As one of four statutory missions, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conducts an education and training program for health professions students and residents to enhance the quality of care provided to veteran patients within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) healthcare system. In accordance with this mission, "To educate for VA and for the Nation", education and training efforts are accomplished through coordinated programs and activities in partnership with affiliated U.S. academic institutions.

Program History: Title 38 U.S.C. mandates that VA assist in the training of health professionals for its own needs and those of the nation. For almost sixty years, in accordance with VA's 1946 Policy Memorandum No. 2. VA has worked in partnership with this country's medical and associated health professions schools to provide high quality health care to America's veterans and to train new health professionals to meet the patient care needs within VA and the nation. This partnership has grown into the most comprehensive academic health system partnership in history.

Scope: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) conducts education and training programs to enhance the quality of care provided to Veterans within the VA health care system. Building on the long-standing, close relationships among VA and the Nation’s academic institutions, VA plays a leadership role in defining the education of future health care professionals that helps meet the changing needs of the Nation’s health care delivery system. Title 38 U.S.C. mandates that VA assist in the training of health professionals for its own needs and those of the Nation. Through its partnerships with affiliated academic institutions, VA conducts the largest education and training effort for health professionals in the Nation.
The History of Academic Affiliations (Video)

In 2011, 116,794 trainees received some or all of their clinical training in VA. Of its 152 VA medical centers and 6 independent outpatient clinics (IOC's), 124 hospitals and 3 IOC's have affiliation agreements with 114 of 136 allopathic Accredited Medical Schools and 15 of 26 osteopathic medical schools for physician education, and in 40 other health professions represented by affiliations agreements with more than 1,800 colleges and universities. Many trainees have their health profession degrees and contribute substantially to VA’s ability to deliver cost-effective and high-quality patient care during their advanced clinical training at VA.

  • Over 65% of all US-trained physicians, and nearly 70% of VA physicians have had VA training prior to employment
  • 50% of US psychologists and 70% of VA psychologists have had VA training prior to employment

Teaching Mission: VA's teaching mission contributes to high quality health care of veterans in the following ways:

  • By creating a climate of clinical inquiry between trainees and teachers.
  • By enhancing quality of care through the application of medical advances.
  • Through the provision of excellent clinical care by supervised trainees.
  • Through the recruitment of highly qualified health care professionals into the VA healthcare system.

Resident examining x-ray. Image is © Goals of the Program: VA's teaching mission and its clinical learning environment contribute to excellent patient care for veterans and enhance VA's ability to attract and retain high quality professional staff. VA collaborates closely with academic and professional communities to educate the next generation of health care professions and to identify and develop new specialized areas of clinical training. VA is a highly recognized and valuable national resource in the health care community at large and is valued as a preferred training site for future health professionals.

Successes: VA has led in development of new health care disciplines or modalities of treatment of high relevance to the treatment of veterans. A number of these, such as geriatrics, spinal cord injury medicine and addiction psychiatry, have become nationally recognized specialties within physician education. VA led the way in recognition of pain management as a vital health care concern; was an early leader in development of concepts of a team of professionals delivering health care; and has played a major role in defining the relevant definition of primary care as the context of care rather than the discipline of the provider.