Recruitment and Retention of Veterans Administration Health Care Workers Are Not Major Problems

HRD-77-57: Published: Mar 31, 1977. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1977.

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Certain health care occupations have a large number of employees, critical responsibilities, and relatively high-turnover rates. These occupations were chosen for review in an analysis of recruitment and retention problems of health care personnel, other than dentists and physicians, in the Department of Medicine and Surgery with respect to basic pay and premium and overtime pay rates: registered nurses; licensed vocational practical nurses; nursing assistants; physical therapists; occupational therapists; medical technologists; radiology technicians (diagnostic); pharmacists; nuclear medicine technicians; and inhalation therapy technicians.

VA does not have widespread problems in recruiting and retaining health care workers: (1) VA hospital workers' salaries generally were comparable to or higher than those in the nonfederal facilities; (2) most workers who quit VA did not cite pay as the main reason; (3) current workers were generally satisfied with their salaries; and (4) turnover rates for VA workers were usually lower than for similar nonfederal workers. Recruitment problems were caused by: (1) shortages of personnel in certain occupations; and (2) isolated locations of some VA hospitals. Retention problems were caused by employees leaving the area, with family responsibilities, seeking self-development, and leaving for personal reasons. Morale problems have been created by the differences between the pay systems used to employ hospital workers, primarily between the Federal Wage System, under which many unskilled workers are hired, and the Department of Medicine and Surgery systems, under which college-trained, skilled workers are often hired. Workers under the former system earn much more.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should not enact special pay legislation to deal only with VA hospital workers. The problems should not be dealt with piecemeal. The recommendations of the President's Panel on Federal Compensation and in prior GAO reports regarding pay setting and adjusting, multischedules and determining pay by locality for many federal employees and eliminating the legislative restraints to achieving comparability with the nonfederal sector, have merit and should be implemented.


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