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Office of Academic Affiliations

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A History of VA's Academic Mission

"To educate for VA and the Nation" remains one of VA's foundational missions. For 78 years, VA has worked with academic institutions to provide high quality, state-of-the-art health care to America's Veterans and to train new health professionals to meet the rapidly evolving health care needs within VA and the nation.

Learn more about OAA's academic mission and its accomplishments in the 75th Anniversary annual report.

History of VA Academic Mission

The remarkable partnership between VA and our academic affiliates reaches back to the end of World War II. Following the allied victory, VA faced the imminent arrival of over 100,000 new patients without the capacity to meet their needs. To meet this challenge, VA struck a landmark deal outlined in Policy Memorandum No. 2, Policy in Association of Veterans’ Hospitals with Medical Schools. The emerging partnership created a dynamic, talented workforce of students, physician residents, and faculty who provide world class care to our Veterans while providing training to generations of future physicians. In fact, about 70% of physicians in the United States have received at least some of their training with VA. Annually, VA provides training for about 120,000 trainees.

What's Next?

The VA, with its affiliates, has historically been a leader in developing new disciplines to meet the changing needs of the population. Today, the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) maintains more than 7,000 agreements with over 1,500 institutions, ensuring that training programs are available in every U.S. state and territory. Through these partnerships, OAA has built and diversified the Nation’s talent pipeline in over 60 health professions, including psychology, nursing, and social work. Unique partnerships ensure health professionals gain invaluable knowledge and experiences that help them better serve the special needs of Veterans and the nation.

Building on strong academic partnerships and a commitment to improving care, the future is bright for the educational mission of the VA.

Explore Passion to Learn. Power to Heal. to read more about OAA's mission, history, and impact.


After World War II

VA issues landmark policy establishing partnerships with medical schools

VA sets goals of providing comprehensive care for more than 100,000 Veterans returning from World War II


68 schools were placing residents in VA hospitals


Federal government spurs medical research by funding more than half of medical schools’ budgets, most of which supports biomedical and behavioral research

90 medical schools affiliated with VA medical centers

Post-Vietnam, VA begins push for physician assistants to be recognized as profession to ensure Veterans receive appropriate, interdisciplinary care


50% of physicians practicing in the U.S. receive a portion of their education in the VA medical centers

1,120 colleges and universities affiliated with VA


VA leads development of Palliative Care and Traumatic Brain Injury specialties to address needs of a new generation of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan


VA provides training for more than 118,000 persons; 70% of the Nations physicians receive a portion of their education in the VA

More than 1,800 institutions affiliated with VA medical centers

Training and innovation continue in 2021 and beyond

After World War II

The academic mission was essential to VA’s ability to treat the number of injured and ill Veterans returning home


1,600 medical residents and 1,800 senior cadet nurses enter the VA’s teaching programs, beginning VA’s efforts to build a health care talent pipeline


VA plays a key role in the development and acceleration of the clinical discipline of Psychology


VA hospitals and clinics provide training to more than 56,000 trainees

More than 70 VA hospitals are located within 5 miles of a medical school

Anticipating 25% of Veterans will be 65 or older by 1990, VA plays an integral role in the development of Geriatric Medicine as a specialty

First two of three VA researchers win Nobel prize; work includes peptide hormone and radioimmunoassay


Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) evolves from VA’s Office of Academic Affairs

Third VA researcher wins Nobel prize for work on nitric oxide


OAA expands Graduate Medical Education by implementing Veteran Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA) and the MISSION Act of 2018, and supports rural health by standing up Rural Interprofessional Faculty Development Initiative (RIFDI)

VA is the largest U.S. provider of telehealth, which improves Veterans’ access to care