According to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs secretary Robert McDonald, a visit to 125 VA sites across the nation revealed that one of the medical system’s biggest problems may be a low morale among employees. The employees feel like they’re trapped in a system that won’t change, McDonald was recently quoted as saying in an article from the Salina Post. So what can be done about it? Six Sigma training, McDonald said.

McDonald says training the employees of the Veterans Administration in Lean Six Sigma will give them the tools necessary to change the system. Additionally, he hopes to change the culture of the department to one that is more transparent and open.

Currently, the VA faces critical staffing shortages at places such as the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center, in Topeka, where the emergency room was closed because there were not enough physicians to staff it. VA centers across the nation face long patient waiting lists and budget constraints. In addition to Six Sigma training for staff, the department is seeking a 7.5 percent budget increase in order to hire even more employees to meet the needs of veterans returning from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. McDonald stated that if staff is not built up now, the future care of these veterans as they grow older could be compromised.

Lean Six Sigma improves employee morale by enabling trained staff to participate on teams that can bring about change in the organization through the elimination of wasteful steps in processes. These changes usually result in the saving of time and money, as well as the improvement of services.

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