Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System Finds Employee Investment is a Cure for Improving Veteran Care

The primary goal of Veterans Affairs is to provide the highest quality of care and service to veterans. This goal is accomplished, in part, through investments in their employees.

Investing in Frontline Workers Ensures High-Quality Care for Veterans

Recently Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System (SLVHCS) recognized that to better serve veterans, they needed to make investments in frontline workforce development programs. Investing in their employees’ skill development improves the lives of veterans both as employees and patients. With nearly 30% of SLVHCS employees being veterans, it was critical to train and promote from within when possible.

  • SLVHCS provides healthcare to veterans throughout 23 parishes in southeast Louisiana.
  • In the last year alone, SLVHCS served nearly 45,000 veterans.
  • SLVHCS services include a community living center, primary care, mental health, telehealth, medicine, surgery, and other specialty care.

Two Programs Support Entry-Level Workers

Emerging VA Leaders Program and The Hudson Thomas Program. The Emerging VA Leaders Program is a comprehensive program designed to identify employees who want to grow their careers within the VA and have demonstrated leadership potential. The Hudson Thomas Program combines skill development, career coaching, and mentorship. Nearly 83% of participants are veterans. Both programs are fundamental to the health system’s commitment to advancing the careers of frontline workers.

To date, 179 employees have been through one of our development programs, with an additional 24 enrolled in the 2018 Hudson Thomas class and six enrolled in the 2018 [Emerging VA Leaders] class. While this is a success in and of itself, this number does not capture the larger sample of patients who have been impacted by employee training. To better serve our veterans, it is necessary to create spaces that are conducive to the growth and satisfaction of our employees.

– Fernando O. Rivera, FACHE, SLVHCS Medical Center Director

Emerging VA Leaders Program

Participants are paired with a mentor and work to enhance their skills in alignment with VA values and priorities.

The Hudson Thomas Program

The Hudson Thomas Program is unique to SLVHCS and prepares current entry-level employees with the fundamental skills needed for upward mobility within the VA system. The three-month, work-based program includes basic academic skills, interpersonal and soft skills, financial literacy, job shadowing and career coaching, and mentorship.

The Results

Since 2015, 29 frontline staff participated in Emerging VA Leaders, 38 people in the Hudson Thomas Program; 179 people participated in the two programs since 2007. Nearly 60% of program alumni have received promotions within and across departments, and SLVHCS has retained 92% of participants.

CareerSTAT’s Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion program recognizes healthcare organizations investing in the careers and skills of their frontline workers. Organizations are designated as Champions and Emerging Champions. Champions meet all of CareerSTAT’s recognition criteria, including making skill and career development accessible, offering programs at a significant scale, measuring program business impact, and building sustainable programs. Emerging Champions are in earlier stages of investment and working with CareerSTAT leaderships to strengthen their programs. Learn more at

This blog is a part of a series highlighting the 2018 CareerSTAT Frontline Worker Champions. See our other blogs featuring Champion organizations: Staten Island Performing Provider System, Loretto,  Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health CentersEast Alabama Medical CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock, and District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund.