The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest organized healthcare system in the United States and is the second largest globally (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein & Garthwaite 2002). Our nation’s veterans receive healthcare services from 163 hospitals, over 600 community based outpatient clinics, 134 nursing homes, 42 domiciliaries, 163 home care programs, and 206 counseling centers (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein, & Garthwaite). The VHA has numerous affiliations with medical schools which it uses to seek to impart an expectation of high standards in the delivery of healthcare (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein & Garthwaite).
In 1995 Dr. Thomas Garthwaite who was the Undersecretary of Health recognized a need to develop and maintain a process which enabled the VHA to delivery high quality healthcare services in a cost efficient manner (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein, & Garthwaite). Author Value System Mentoring future healthcare professionals is an important aspect of ensuring future high standards. Veterans deserve the highest quality of healthcare because of the sacrifices that one made during the service period. Providing quality healthcare services to this special group of people needs to be different from the general population.
Many veterans have special needs that directly result from one’s service to our country which the VHA is obligated to provide for these. Each veteran returning from combat presents to a VHA facility requesting that these unique needs related to one’s experience be addressed. The VHA has recently identified the need to respond to these needs and has developed strategic plans which are presently in use to care for these unique patients. Every employee undergoes specific training and continued education to maintain an optimal knowledge of the veteran’s needs and how to address them.
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Author Values and VHA Mission The Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award (MBQNA) was created in 1987 with the healthcare award becoming available in 2001 (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein & Garthwaite 2002). The MBQNA measures organizational compliance with seven common values to determine the quality of healthcare service delivery: leadership, strategic planning, patient focus, information analysis, staff focus, process management, and organizational performance (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein, & Garthwaite 2002). The Department of Veterans Affairs uses a MBQNA related tool called a the Robert W.
Cary award which was named for a pioneer in the development of performance measures (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein & Garthwaite 2002). The author does agree with the values instilled by the MBQNA and the VHA and believes the organizational leaders are continually striving to meet these. A recent example is the development of post deployment health care clinics and the Seamless Transition Team which seeks to provide a smooth transition of service members from combat to civilian life. A conflict with the VHA values to the author’s is the amount of resources that are spent training staff which detracts from the delivery of patient care.
The author seeks to resolve that conflict by carefully evaluating the information to be gained by the conference prior to registering and seeking information from colleagues who attend conferences not attended by the author. The author also shares relevant information gleaned through experiences with colleagues. Personal Values as a Leader As a healthcare provider in the VHA the author’s seek to emulate these values in actions as I share many of the same values. Mentoring is very important to me as I seek to provide a positive example of veteran care to future professionals.
Engaging in the mentoring process enables future healthcare professionals to continually improve the quality of care for the veteran by identifying new problems or seeking alternative solutions to old ones. The MBQNA focuses leadership to design organizational processes to maximize the quality of healthcare service delivery (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein & Garthwaite 2002). The VHA senior leaders seek to improve the delivery of healthcare services within the organizations by critique, planning, and directing new processes (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein & Garthwaite 2002).
The four goals initiated by the VHA senior leaders through the National Leadership board is: a continuous process of self examination, documentation of the progress made, promote an understanding of the organization’s performance tools, and engagement of the entire workforce (Ohldin, Taylor, Stein, & Garthwaite 2002). Conclusion The author has learned that a leader needs to continuously expand one’s knowledge to meet the needs of the consumer. In this case the VHA and its leader on all levels national, regional, and local levels need to continually adapt to the needs of the returning veteran.
As a future healthcare leader the author will need to expand the focus of improvement beyond the clinical aspects of healthcare and include the administrative functions of the healthcare industry. One method the author can use is to attend more meetings to become familiar with the future strategic planning of the organization.
Ohldin, A. , Taylor, R. , Stein, A. , Garthwaite, T. , (2002). Enhancing VHA’s Mission to Improve Veteran Health: Synopsis of VHAs Malcolm Bridge Award Application. Quality Management in Healthcare 10 (4) 29-37. Retrieved on January 1, 2009 from the ebscohost database.
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