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Opening Statement of Hon. Jeff Miller, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida (Statement for the Record)

VA physicians, nurses, physical therapists, mental health and other health care professionals are at the side of every veteran patient.  They are the front line of VA health care.  They use their expertise, experience, and compassion to provide a continuum of care that our veterans need and deserve.

As a large employer of health care providers, VA must compete with the private sector to attract qualified personnel into the VA system.   

One of the major challenges VA faces is the recruitment of Registered Nurses (RNs).  The rising demand for nursing care, with an aging RN workforce and fewer new nurses entering the profession is creating a shortage of RNs.   It poses a problem to maintaining RN staffing levels across the United States. 

For the past four years, VA has reported an increase in the average nurse vacancy rate.    In an effort to mitigate this situation, VA recently created a new multi-campus Nursing Academy through partnerships with baccalaureate nursing schools.    While I am pleased with VA’s actions, it is my hope that VA will expand its partnerships to include associate degree nursing schools.  Expanding the program will help increase the number of nurses that will see VA as a desirable employer.

VA’s ability to recruit and retain a first-class health care workforce is critical to addressing the dynamic health care needs of our veterans.