Veteran-centered primary care inspired Dr. Candler’s VA career

Dr. Sarah Candler coordinates care for Veteran patients across many specialties as part of the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT).


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Collaborative care. Whole health care. Team care. These are the qualities of care that drew Dr. Sarah Candler to choose the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for her physician career.

“What we’re learning more and more about primary care is that it’s a team sport,” she said in a video. “So I was looking for a place that practiced that way.”

Choose to make a PACT with patients

VA pioneered the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) primary care approach nearly a decade ago. The model assigns Veterans to a multidisciplinary team that addresses all of the Veteran’s healthcare needs and goals.

For physicians like Dr. Candler and members of her team, it’s a more holistic way of delivering care that aims to generate better outcomes and experiences for Veteran patients.

“We’re a very cohesive team,” said Brianna Pittman, advanced medical support assistant who works with Dr. Candler, in the video. Pittman noted that “we communicate well from the front line,” when patients are checked in, their vitals are taken and they prepare to see Dr. Candler. “I feel like it’s an overall great experience for the Veteran.”

Choose VA for collaboration

VA PACT teams usually include the Veteran and a primary care doctor, clinical assistant, nurse case manager and administration clerk. Together they develop healthcare plans designed to achieve Veterans’ physical, social and emotional goals by promoting wellness and preventing and managing disease.

PACT teams also coordinate care with other clinicians, including private providers, to manage Veterans’ care in emergency rooms or inpatient hospitalizations.

Dr. Candler said the team-approach transformed how she practices medicine.

“When I first started, I thought it was still all up to me,” she said. “And what I’ve learned, and how I’ve changed, is that I now can lean on some people a lot more than I used to, and it makes my job much easier.”

Choose VA for dedicated colleagues

PACT care naturally brings VA primary care physicians into contact with other care providers, such as pharmacists, who offer valuable insights into Veterans’ care.

Dr. Candler credited her team members for their effective working relationships and dedication to Veterans. The feeling is mutual.

“She’s a great physician, and she really really really cares about her Veterans. She remembers them by face, by name,” Pittman said. “If I was a Veteran, I would want Dr. Candler to be my physician.”

Choose VA today

Dr. Candler chose VA to practice primary care as a team sport and heal the whole Veteran.

See if a VA career in primary care is the right choice for you too.

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VA Careers