Reducing Medical Support Assistant (MSA) Vacancies at VA
Human Capital Management

Reducing Medical Support Assistant (MSA) Vacancies at VA

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Office of Workforce Management and Consulting

Our Challenge

The Office of Workforce Management and Consulting oversees the Medical Support Assistant (MSA) workforce at VA medical centers and clinics. MSAs play a critical role in scheduling appointments for Veterans and providing them with customer service in clinics and hospitals, and as such they are largely responsible for Veteran satisfaction because they are the first point of contact for most Veterans and their families when they visit.

Unfortunately, the MSA workforce has a high turnover rate, which in turn causes many positions to go unfilled. With a high number of MSA vacancies, appointments can be uncoordinated, scheduled in error, prone to failure, and delayed. Likewise, phones may be unanswered, or nurses and providers may use their time to schedule appointments rather than provide care to Veterans, causing more delay, inefficiency, and poor customer service. The Office of Workforce Management and Consulting contracted with DFC to conduct a workforce analysis of MSA staffing and scheduling at VA medical centers and clinics.

Our Strategy

DFC created a current workforce assessment of MSA supply and demand and developed recommendations to improve job satisfaction and performance. We examined the workload of MSAs, as well as the processes in place for scheduling appointments.  In doing so, we collected both qualitative and quantitative data, conducting over 100 interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders and analyzing workforce and workload data.  As a result of our analysis, we provided the following services to the Office of Workforce Management and Consulting:

  • identification of critical MSA competencies and functions
  • development of supply and demand models for the MSA workforce
  • development of a productivity model for the MSA workforce
  • identification of ways to reduce the hiring cycle for MSAs
  • identification of barriers to employee onboarding
  • creation of an implementation plan to address hiring and onboarding issues
  • development of tools and strategies to allow VA facilities to predict future vacancies

Our Results

The analysis and recommendations of DFC led to improved job satisfaction and performance for the MSAs by providing them with the tools and resources they need to be successful in their role.  Our work also identified barriers to the recruitment and retention of MSAs and outlined recommendations to address these issues.  Additionally, we were able to help decrease MSA turnover, increase customer satisfaction, and improve customer service for Veterans.

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