The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is currently facing a vacancy of almost 41,000 critical intake workers, physicians, nurses, and assistants as of July 2015, according to USA Today. As America’s largest integrated healthcare system serving over 24.1 million veterans, the deficit of healthcare providers has become particularly highlighted due to recent scandals concerning long wait times for medical appointments across the VA healthcare system. Job vacancies have a direct impact on wait times for veterans. Even a 1% increase in job vacancies contributes to wait times of over a month for more appointments; and long wait times can have a critical impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our nation’s veterans. For example, vacancy rates for psychologists stand at approximately 21 percent at the VA regional health centers. With about 20 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experiencing some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, or thoughts of suicide, appointments with a psychologist are some of the most sought after and vital. According to Jeffrey Melvin, spokesperson for the Fayetteville VA regional health center, long wait times are a result of a lack of healthcare providers, and a difficulty in recruiting healthcare professionals to the area. Searching for and staffing VA healthcare providers is a lengthy process, and has become truncated by bureaucratic red tape. According to Phoenix VA spokesperson Jean Schaefer, staffing for one clinical position can involve up to 18 steps and take anywhere from four to eight months. During this lengthy review process, “the department may need to turn to temporary staffing agencies,” such as locum tenens firms, to provide continuous care to its patients. Locum tenens providers deliver the necessary staffing coverage healthcare organizations need during the search for a permanent employee – permanent employees who may be extremely difficult to find in the current state of the healthcare world. Utilizing such resources as those found with Barton Associates would allow VA to address delivery of care issues immediately, maintain continuity of care, and provide necessary services to veterans, until a permanent provider can be hired. For more information on services provided by Barton Associates and how we can help your organization work through the physician shortage, please visit Bartonassociates.com.