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H.R. 3974 (114th): Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2016

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Sep 6, 2016.


Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2016

(Sec. 2) This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a five-year Grow Our Own Directive or G.O.O.D. pilot program to provide educational assistance to certain former members of the Armed Forces for education and training as VA physician assistants.

The VA shall provide eligible individuals with program information about application requirements and partner entities.

An individual is eligible to participate in the pilot program who:

has medical or military health experience; has received a certificate, associate degree, baccalaureate degree, master's degree, or postbaccalaureate training in a science relating to health care; has participated in the delivery of health care services or related medical services, including military training regarding identification, treatment, and prevention of diseases and disorders; and does not have a degree of doctor of medicine, osteopathy, or dentistry. The VA shall select at least 250 pilot program participants and give priority to persons who:

participated in the Intermediate Care Technician Pilot Program between January 2011 and February 2015, and agree to be employed as a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physician assistant in a community designated as a medically underserved population located in a state with a per capita veterans population of more than 9%. The VA shall:

provide educational assistance to pilot program participants for the costs of obtaining a master's degree in physician assistant studies or a similar master's degree, use VA educational assistance programs to provide such assistance, and provide at least 35 scholarships to pilot program participants each year. The VA shall enter into an agreement with each pilot program participant to serve a period of obligated service as a VHA physician assistant. An individual who breaches such agreement shall be liable to the United States for a prorated portion of the amount paid to such individual under the program.

The VA shall ensure that a physician assistant mentor is available at each VHA facility that employs a pilot program participant.

The VA shall seek to partner with:

at least 15 institutions of higher education that offer an accredited master's degree program in physician assistant studies or a similar area of study and agree to guarantee places for qualifying pilot program participants, other accredited institutions of higher education that offer similar programs, the Transition Assistance Program of the Department of Defense, the Veterans' Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor, and pilot program marketing and advertising programs. For purposes of carrying out the pilot program, the VA shall appoint or select within the VHA's Office of Physician Assistant Services: (1) a Deputy Director for Education and Career Development of Physician Assistants, (2) a Deputy Director of Recruitment and Retention, (3) a recruiter, and (4) an administrative assistant.