Podiatry Paths: Caring for Those Who Serve – Working in the Veteran Health Administration
Working as a podiatrist for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides different advantages than a career in private practice. The VHA offers compensation, which, when combined with comprehensive benefits, can be an attractive option for some podiatrists. It also has the additional benefit of providing much needed care to patients who have served our country. As a federal employee, there are also unique opportunities for advancement in clinical practice, leadership, research, education and national policy development.
In addition, because the VHA is its own integrated health care system, clinicians are able to focus solely on the practice of medicine, without the time and effort associated with billing and reimbursement issues. However, this also means practitioners give up the ability to control certain aspects of their business, such as ordering supplies, hiring and firing staff, marketing, etc.
“For me, the ability to focus on the practice of medicine without the hassles associated with insurance was very attractive,” said William E. Chagares DPM, Chief Podiatry Section at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. “I am able to concentrate on my patient priorities most of the day, throughout the work week.”
For those interested in a career with the VHA, it’s important to understand that the VHA runs on a step and grade system. Salary scale (or the specific step and grade) is determined by many factors, including post graduate training, years of experience, board certification, research and publications, and academic faculty appointments. Each employee’s step and grade are assigned during what is called the new hire “boarding process”. Taking time to ensure your CV is current, accurate and easily understood is the best way for a new employee to ensure they are boarded according to their individual qualifications and experience.
For more information about careers with the VHA, visit www.vacareers.va.gov/.