Late Breaking News
VA Seeks Increased Mental-Health Staff to Respond to Growing Needs Among Veterans
As for the hard-to-find psychiatrists, VA plans to sweeten the deal by offering more money.
Noting that the most difficult mental-healthcare staff to recruit are psychiatrists, especially in rural or remote areas, Petzel said. “I recently sent a memo to the secretary, that he is about to sign, to change the pay table for psychiatrists and to make available other incentives so we can compete more equitably with [the] private sector and DoD.”
As of May, VA had recruited 37 of the 57 psychiatrists it plans to hire as part of the 1,900 new staff. Of those 37, seven already are serving, and the remaining 30 are being processed.
According to VA, it will take about four to six months to fill these vacancies overall, although the harder-to-fill positions could take as long as a year. VA has an average vacancy rate of 7.23% for mental-health professionals.
The cost in FY 2012 should be approximately $29 million, and, in FY 2013, when most of the new hires will come on board, the funding will come through each VISN’s budget allocation.
“Each VISN is going to get a hiring target,” Petzel said. “And we’re going to keep very close track of their hiring target, essentially looking at it daily.”
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