August 1, 2017 – Reffett Associates has been awarded a five-year blanket purchase agreement by the Department of Veterans Affairs for a national effort to recruit clinical executives and medical personnel. The assignment includes recruiting for medical center and network director positions, as well as physicians, nurses, specialists, and other healthcare providers in the department’s 1,233 healthcare facilities, which includes 168 VA medical centers.
“We are honored to have been selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist them with this immensely important project,” said William Reffett, the firm’s managing partner. “As a veteran-owned small business, we know firsthand the challenges that our nations’ veterans face every day, and our team will work tirelessly to ensure that our veterans receive the high quality of care that they deserve.”
Mr. Reffett said his firm is grateful for the opportunity to assist the VA, and that he and his colleagues will work with them hand-in-hand to provide their hospitals with the quality personnel that they need to meet the demand for fast, efficient, and excellent healthcare for veterans. “A number of our team members are veterans, or are associated with the veterans’ community; we understand the urgency of our mission.”
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a federal agency that provides near-comprehensive healthcare services to eligible military veterans at VA medical centers and outpatient clinics throughout the country. Non-healthcare benefits including disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education assistance, home loans and life insurance. The VA also provides burial and memorial benefits to eligible veterans and family members at 135 national cemeteries.
Healthcare Search Providers
Reffett has partnered in this effort with Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH). The non-profit health and social services system includes 50 hospitals, 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and other health and educational services across Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Last year alone the firm placed 1,100 physicians in provider positions.
Reffett Associates was established in Seattle in 1992 as a boutique search firm. Since then, it has grown to six offices nationwide. The firm began undertaking federal contract work in 2010, with a General Services Administration schedule contract. Subsequently, it has completed assignments for numerous federal agencies, in addition to its national commercial practice.
Hunt Scanlon Media recently caught up with Mr. Reffett, a Vietnam veteran with 27 years of active and reserve service, and discussed this new partnership.
Bill, how did the partnership come about?
As the scope of the project grew, it became clear to us that we needed the best subcontractor possible to help us with these assignments. A number of us are veterans and are familiar with the VA and their needs; we also needed to work with someone who understood the veterans’ community. Additionally, we wanted to work with a group that reflected the values of our firm—a high-touch, client focused group that measured their success through client satisfaction. Our team identified search firms across the country, and we spoke with those that seemed to meet our criteria. But, in the end, that partner was right here in Seattle. Providence St. Joseph has a great reputation, and the folks that we are working with have a tremendous track record in placing healthcare professionals.
Did you have previous relationship with the VA?
We have not worked with the VA in the past. Approximately 14 months ago the Department issued an RFP (request for proposal) for search firms to compete for this project. Our team discussed it in detail. A number of us are veterans, and all of us know a friend or relative who uses the VA healthcare system. We decided to look at it and, if we felt that we could add value, to compete for it. The team spent an extraordinary amount of time breaking down the elements of the RFP. Our objective was to develop a concept that would help resolve the VA’s issues, and would lead to their success. Most importantly, we wanted to be part of the solution that provided the best healthcare possible to our fellow veterans.
What are some advantages in working with a client on a long term project such as this?
“In this business, the relationship and trust levels between the parties are the keys that hold everything together. You get to understand each other, the issues, and expectations.”
If things are done right, a true partnership develops. This has certainly been the case with our private-sector clients, and we have every belief that we will develop the same type of relationship with the VA.
What types of roles do you expect to be filling first?
So far, our discussions have centered around the immediate need for physicians and other in-hospital personnel. As you know, the VA is currently experiencing a shortage of physicians, so we expect this will be their initial priority.
What are some nuances in recruiting veterans or for military-related organizations?
Normally, when you recruit for the government, all applicants are required to apply through USAjobs.gov, the government’s hiring portal. It’s a process that civilians are unfamiliar with, and we spend a lot of time coaching candidates through it. We are fortunate in this instance that Congress has given Secretary Shulkin “direct hire authority” for many of these positions. Just last month he was given that authority for medical center director and network director positions. This makes our job immeasurably easier. We can now work directly with the hiring authority without needing to use the government portal. It makes it easier for the VA, the candidate and us.
What are some other projects where you had to fill multiple roles for a client?
As you know, our private sector practices have been built around this concept—building a relationship that enables us to partner with a client on a continuous basis. We have applied the same principle to our government practice. Some examples of this in the government sector are: the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media