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75-year Partnership Between Veterans Affairs, Academic Medicine Ensures Better Access to Care for Veterans

January 29, 2021

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MEDIA CONTACTS
Stuart Heiser, Sr. Media Relations Specialist

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued the following statement in recognition of the 75th anniversary of academic affiliations with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): 

“Over the past 75 years, the VA has forged and maintained a unique partnership with the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals. This relationship—built on the shared missions of education, health care, and medical research—has improved the lives of veterans and ensured they have access to advanced health care.  

The VA and academic medicine work together to provide millions of veterans with every type of patient care they need and very much deserve. We are proud to play this role. 

The VA has greatly shaped the way doctors are trained in this country by acting as an essential part of the process. Through this historic collaboration, the VA has become the largest single provider of medical training in the country, with approximately 70% of all physicians in the United States completing at least part of their training in VA facilities. Additionally, physicians who have medical training at VA facilities are more likely to consider careers at the VA.  

Thanks to the partnership between academic medicine and the VA, we have been able to enhance the quality of care that veterans receive by getting groundbreaking treatments and state-of-the-art technology to them more quickly, bringing these advances from the research bench to the bedside and to the patients who need them most. There are many exceptional examples of this collaboration, from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System that worked with the University of Michigan to invent a device allowing two patients with different needs to safely use the same ventilator, to the researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System who developed a safer, non-addictive alternative to morphine.  

The VA holds a special place in my heart. Throughout a large part of my career, I’ve had the privilege of training and working in VA facilities. I was fortunate to gain clinical knowledge and experience during medical school at the Lakeside VA in Chicago associated with Northwestern University (now Feinberg) School of Medicine. I also conducted part of my cardiology fellowship at what was then the Wadsworth VA in West Los Angeles, where I learned about echocardiography from an international leader in that field. During my first faculty job at The University of Iowa, I was honored to serve at the Iowa City VA Medical Center, where I led the echocardiography laboratory and supervised residents at a general internal medicine continuity-of-care clinic. Treating veterans at these VA facilities made me a better doctor and strengthened my belief that the ongoing partnership between the VA and academic medicine is an important component of improving the health of veterans and their communities. 

The AAMC and its member medical schools and teaching hospitals have an unwavering commitment to those who have so bravely served this country, and we will keep working to ensure they have access to health care services that they need when they need it. We look forward to another 75 years of this vital partnership.” 

To learn more about this vital partnership, check out our VA webpage here.

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The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health through medical education, health care, medical research, and community collaborations. Its members are all 155 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems, including Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 70 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC leads and serves America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 179,000 full-time faculty members, 92,000 medical students, 140,000 resident physicians, and 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.