Best "What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?" Answers

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"What sets you apart from other candidates?" is a question that gets asked in interviews quite often. But despite this, it still trips up many applicants! This in-depth guide will teach you how to approach answering this question in a way that leaves a great impression and improves your chances of getting hired. Why Interviewers Ask "What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?" There are many questions you expect to hear during a job interview. Conversations about your work experience and education are pretty standard. But then, you get hit with a curveball question like "What sets you apart from other candidates?" Why is this question asked? Hiring managers love to ask seemingly... Read more

No slowing down: Get VA's mobile app and keep moving

By VAntage Point Contributor | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

VA is making it easier to take charge of your benefits and health care with its new Health and Benefits mobile application. Download VA Health and Benefits with the click of a button and get access to the resources you need — wherever you are and whenever you want them. The VA Health and Benefits mobile app is a smarter, more convenient way to manage your VA health and benefits information. You can enable face or finger ID to skip the login, view and cancel health care appointments, view claims and appeals status, upload documentation, message your doctor, locate facilities, and access the Veterans Crisis Line — right from your phone. The app also makes it easy to prove your status as a Veteran so you can take advantage of available retailer discounts.... Read more

17 Job Interview Do's And Don'ts You Need To Know

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Being familiar with the basic interview "do's" and "don'ts" can go a long way when it comes to your job search. But unfortunately, many of these golden rules often get ignored! This list of the "do's" and "don'ts" of interviewing will help you walk into the room with confidence that you're putting your best foot forward. Interview Do's. Ready to show what you can do and leave a lasting impression during your job interview? You can't do that by merely showing up and hoping for the best. Here are the most important job interview "do's" to ensure that things go smoothly, and help you improve your chances of getting a job offer. Do Your Research. Always show up to interviews well-prepared. You can't expect to... Read more

VA launches updated Access to Care website

By Rick Fox | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

VA recently launched an improved Access to Care website. The site offers updated information and a user-friendly, streamlined search process that will make it easier for Veterans to plan their health care visits. In addition, the website includes more of what Veterans told us matters to them beyond average wait times, such as Veteran satisfaction and experience information. They will also be able to view data for expanded mental health care services and specialities, including Individual and Group Therapy, General Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder programs, Primary Care-Mental Health Integrated Care, and PTSD Specific programs. VA is planning to include additional specialty care services and more site improvements on Access to Care in the near future.... Read more

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Best "What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?" Answers

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"What sets you apart from other candidates?" is a question that gets asked in interviews quite often. But despite this, it still trips up many applicants!

This in-depth guide will teach you how to approach answering this question in a way that leaves a great impression and improves your chances of getting hired.

Why Interviewers Ask "What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?"

There are many questions you expect to hear during a job interview. Conversations about your work experience and education are pretty standard. But then, you get hit with a curveball question like "What sets you apart from other candidates?"

Why is this question asked?

Hiring managers love to ask seemingly unconventional questions like this. It's a chance to get to know you on a deeper level and go beyond the confines of a staunchly professional conversation. It provides insight into your personality and lets you have more of an open-ended discussion that's not overly rehearsed.

The "what sets you apart" question seems innocent at first, but they can leave a lasting impression that ultimately makes or breaks your chances. What are interviewers trying to know by asking this question? Hearing what you think sets you apart from other candidates does a couple of different things.

First, it helps them learn what you can bring to the table. Your resume and application painted a pretty good picture. That's why you've made it to the interview phase. But now is your chance to sell yourself and talk about your unique experiences and strengths.

They want you to sell yourself a little — talk about the things you've accomplished. It's not about bad-mouthing other applicants. It's about highlighting what you have to offer and relating how those achievements and skills will add value to the role and company. When you connect the dots of how your experience matches what the hiring manager is looking for, you'll convince the hiring manager that you're the best person for this position.

Your answer is also a fantastic opportunity to show that you're motivated and driven. Obviously, hiring managers want people who have that inner drive to succeed and who know what is needed to get the job done.

Your answer to "What sets you apart from other candidates?" can be a display of confidence. Your answers show the interviewer exactly what you value in yourself and how you feel about your past experiences and current capabilities.

This question, among others, will also provide interviewers with information they don't get from your resume or application. They're looking for soft skills and strengths you might not have mentioned elsewhere. They also pay attention to how much you know about the company and the job you're trying to get.

How to Answer This Interview Question

Questions like "What sets you apart from other candidates?" are multi-faceted. This one might seem like a straightforward way to list your relevant skills, but interviewers expect more than that. How you answer unveils more about you than you realize!

That's why it's crucial to self-reflect and have a fantastic answer prepared. Not sure where to start? Use these tips to come up with the best answer possible.

1. Research the Company

If you don't do any research before going into your interview, you're already missing out. Doing your due diligence is a must regardless of what questions you expect to hear. Going into an interview without knowing a decent amount of information about the company is like going in blind.

Don't make that mistake!

Performing some in-depth research goes a long way. You want to learn more about the organization and its values. Look at all the obvious sources, such as the corporate website and social media profiles. However, it's also a good idea to think outside the box to get a clear picture of the work environment.

For example, you can look at LinkedIn profiles of current employees, reviews, and more.

After you do that, study the job description and posting. Understand what the company is looking for and what the organization is all about.

You should also research your potential new manager and teammates to get a sense of their backgrounds and experience. Do they all come from Fortune 500 companies? Did many graduate from the same school or have similar degrees? If you don't have the same background, be ready to present why your background would add a different viewpoint and how that would be valuable.

Research is a critical piece of the puzzle. It gives you the knowledge to talk about what sets you apart from other candidates in a way that improves your chances of getting hired. Use the information you learn to shape your response accordingly and make relevant connections to your own experiences.

2. Compile a List of Your Unique Advantages and Strengths

Here's where you'll need to do ample self-reflection. Most people don't realize this, but applying for a new job is all about looking at your past and finding ways to connect the dots to your potential future. "What sets you apart from other applicants?" is a perfect example of that!

One of the best ways to prepare an answer is to jot down a list of your strengths and qualifications. Think about your past successes and why you got there. Don't add basic items that an interviewer can find on your resume. This isn't supposed to be a list of your credentials.

Focus on the strengths that are difficult to incorporate into a job application. Highlight those areas of expertise and the personal qualities that led to your successes. Don't forget to add any significant milestone in your career or touch on accomplishments that speak to your dedication and confidence.

It's not easy making a list like this, but it goes a long way. And remember, that list stashed away. It'll come in handy when preparing many other possible interview questions.

Once you have your list ready, compare it to the information you learned about the company and organization. You don't want to answer this question by listing every item on your list. Choose a few of the most relevant and shape your answer from there.

3. Connect Your Background Into the Job You're Applying For

The entire point of an interviewer asking you "What sets you apart from other candidates?" is to give you an opportunity to explain why you're the right person for the job. What better way to do that than to use your background as inspiration? In addition to self-reflecting and talking about your strengths, find ways to connect your personal and work history to the job at hand.

There are many ways to do this.

You can pull inspiration from your previous job or even go as far back as your education. Whatever you do, bridging your history with this open position can help you stand out.

It gives the interviewer a glimpse of who you are. But more importantly, it provides irrefutable proof that you know your stuff and are fully capable of fulfilling the requirements of this role.

It gives you the chance to show the interviewer that this is more than just a temporary gig or a job that you'll move through on your way to something better. Show why you care about getting the job and how your background serves to help you excel in it.

4. Provide Some Examples

It's one thing to say that you have a specific set of skills that set you apart. But it's another to paint a detailed picture and provide real-world examples.

As we said in the last tip, always relate your background experience to the job you're trying to land. But go beyond that to provide actual examples of your strengths and qualifications in action. Think about times when you made a difference in your job.

For example, maybe you used your expertise to land a lucrative client or used soft skills to keep a project moving forward when it was on the brink of falling apart. Be as specific as possible and talk in detail about that experience.

When an interviewer asks you what sets you apart from other job candidates, these are the stories they love to hear. You don't have to be long-winded. Keep things concise. But when you talk about your past, those examples stick out in the interviewer's mind.

It's a better way to leave an impact than simply reciting a list of traits you believe they're looking for in an applicant. Think about what makes you unique and how your history helped you get to where you are today.

5. Keep Your Answer Professional

Of course, always keep your answers professional and relevant. Don't be that candidate that's memorable for all the wrong reasons! You'd be surprised by how often people get this question wrong because they go off on unrelated tangents or talk about things that have nothing to do with the job.

While it might be exciting, your interviewer doesn't want to hear about those oddball skills or that one time you did something remarkable to impress your friends. Don't forget that you're trying to get a job here!

Talking about off-topic things isn't going to do you any favors. Keep your answer professional and work-related. Always come back to the job at hand, and don't let your penchant for colorful conversation get in the way of sounding put-together. There's nothing wrong with showing some personality, but you need to ensure that your answer to "What sets you apart from other applicants" adds value and relates to the position.

6. Rehearse Before Your Interview

Our final tip is to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

There are many questions that you can answer on the spot. You've probably answered those a million times before. But this one requires some preparation if you really want to impress.

You don't want to wing it and come off sounding frazzled. A question like this can easily lead to tangents and incoherent thoughts. You want to prepare your answer early, rehearse it frequently, and have it in your mental bank of responses.

Of course, you don't want to overdo things. The last thing you want is to sound like a robot reading off a script! That would only come off as insincere.

Instead, know the key points you want to cover and rehearse a few different ways of responding. Be comfortable providing your answer to impress the interviewer with how concise and prepared you are.

What to Avoid When Answering

Now that you know how to form your answer, let's talk about what you shouldn't say. Personality questions like this can be challenging. There's a delicate balance between impressing the interviewer and saying the wrong thing that leaves a bad taste.

Take time to form your response and avoid the following red flags.

Lying

If you're thinking about lying, reconsider. Some applicants decide to lie during this question because they have difficulty coming up with genuine skills that set them apart. So, they create these over-flourished answers that bend the truth.

That's not the right approach. The hiring manager can always check your references and find the truth. Lying offers no favors, and it may even hurt your chances of getting hired. Who wants to hire a dishonest applicant.

Instead of being untruthful, take time to develop a realistic answer. Use our tips above and dig deep. It's not always easy, but it's far better than lying.

Being Negative or Sarcastic

It's so easy to get a little spicy when answering this question. It practically begs you to put down other potential applicants. But that's not the point of the query.

When an interviewer asks you "What sets you apart from other candidates?" they're looking for you to highlight what you have to bring to the table. You should be able to do that without bringing others down. Ditch the negativity and leave the sarcastic tone behind.

Being negative can have some ugly consequences when it comes to job interviews. It shows that you could bring that into the office, which is not something hiring managers want. This is NOT a way that you want to set yourself apart from other applicants.

Overtly Pompous Responses

Earlier, we mentioned that this question is an opportunity to brag about yourself a little. That's still true, but there's a limit.

You want to pat yourself on the back and talk about your successes. Be proud of your history and be self-aware of your strengths. But avoid being super pompous.

Overly braggy responses are a bit insufferable. Once again, there's a fine line to walk. You should be proud, but you need to have some humility as well.

Overly Simplified Responses

One of the worst things you can do is simply respond with a list of traits or qualifications. One-word answers without any explanation don't provide much insight. Interviewers can see a lot of that information on your resume.

The point of this question is to open up a conversation and give the interviewer a chance to learn more about your capabilities. It's about having a discussion, and simple responses cut them short.

Sample Answers

Like most other personality interview questions, it's impossible to use a script. Your response will be unique to your capabilities and experiences. How someone answers it isn't going to be the same as how you should answer it.

That said, there are plenty of great answers for "What sets you apart from other candidates?" that you can use for inspiration. We have a few of the best ones to help guide you in the right direction when planning your response.

Example 1

In this first response, the applicant wants to highlight their relevant skills and experience. They do that by talking about their work history and providing clear examples of what they can do. It's a powerful response because it's detailed and nuanced while driving a particular point about their capabilities home.

"The thing that sets me apart is that I have the relevant work experience. I've spent the last three years working on similar projects. I understand the complexities of your work here at [COMPANY], and I know what problems will arise and how to avoid them.

Just last year, I was able to save a project that was experiencing problem after problem. I took control and worked with my teammates to put the project back on track. We ended up delivering on time and within budget.

My work for that project was so successful that my previous boss asked me to create a template that eventually became a staple in my department. I'm eager to bring that expertise here and contribute to [COMPANY]."

Example 2

The following example is a little more concise than the last one. It highlights how much the applicant knows about the company. They've connected their work experience to what the job entails, connecting the dots and illustrating why they are the best person to hire.

"Your job description mentioned that you're looking for someone who can manage large projects while communicating with clients directly. I have experience doing just that.

In my last position, I was a client-facing project manager. I was the first line of communication for large clients, but I also worked behind the scenes to ensure that the client got the product and service they needed. I believe that experience provides a unique advantage."

Example 3

With our next example, you'll see how you can highlight a skill that you won't necessarily see on a resume. The applicant talks about their originality and innovative thinking. They use their past experiences as proof and craft a compelling story a hiring manager won't soon forget.

"One quality that I believe helps me stand out is my creativity and ability to think outside the box. I've always been a naturally creative thinker. During my time in school, my ideas were often utilized during group projects, and I've earned many accolades for developing unique ideas.

I was able to land a major client in my previous position because I took a different approach than some of my other colleagues. Rather than making a standard sales pitch, I crafted it to their distinct needs. I appealed to a side of the client's business that no other sales professional had before.

I'm excited to bring my creativity to this role and come up with innovative ideas to overcome any challenge that comes my way."

Conclusion

Figuring out what sets you apart from other candidates can be a challenging process, but it's worth it. Not only will it help you answer this interview question more effectively, but it will also give you more confidence in your abilities when you step into the room.

Everyone has something that can make them stand out, so use it!

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No slowing down: Get VA's mobile app and keep moving

By VAntage Point Contributor | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

VA is making it easier to take charge of your benefits and health care with its new Health and Benefits mobile application. Download VA Health and Benefits with the click of a button and get access to the resources you need — wherever you are and whenever you want them.

The VA Health and Benefits mobile app is a smarter, more convenient way to manage your VA health and benefits information. You can enable face or finger ID to skip the login, view and cancel health care appointments, view claims and appeals status, upload documentation, message your doctor, locate facilities, and access the Veterans Crisis Line — right from your phone. The app also makes it easy to prove your status as a Veteran so you can take advantage of available retailer discounts.

"I went into my local hardware store and opened my VA Health and Benefits mobile app. I was logged in so a quick glance at my phone showed them I was a Veteran, and I was able to get the Veteran discount without any paperwork. It was easy and convenient," said a Veteran and VA app user review.

VA has heard from Veterans since the mobile app launched, and the reviews are positive! Nearly 700,000 users in the Veteran community have already downloaded the app, which has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Apple App Store and 4.6 out of 5 on Google Play Store. As usage grows, so will the app. New features expected in the coming year will allow you to:

  • Refill prescriptions;
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  • Manage debt.

Learn more about the service already discovered by many Veterans. VA Health and Benefits is available via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Download today!

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17 Job Interview Do's And Don'ts You Need To Know

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Being familiar with the basic interview "do's" and "don'ts" can go a long way when it comes to your job search. But unfortunately, many of these golden rules often get ignored!

This list of the "do's" and "don'ts" of interviewing will help you walk into the room with confidence that you're putting your best foot forward.

Interview Do's

Ready to show what you can do and leave a lasting impression during your job interview? You can't do that by merely showing up and hoping for the best. Here are the most important job interview "do's" to ensure that things go smoothly, and help you improve your chances of getting a job offer.

Do Your Research

Always show up to interviews well-prepared. You can't expect to have a rock-solid interview if you know nothing about the company or the position. Do your research well before the interview.

Understanding what the company does, what it stands for, and what type of applicant the hiring manager is looking for goes a long way. It helps you determine if it's a job you genuinely want. But more importantly, it gives you the insight to shape your answer, ask questions in return, and make it sound like you know what you're talking about.

Make a Great First Impression

This interview "do" is broad and all-encompassing. The ultimate goal is to leave a lasting impression. Your interviewer will likely speak to many people during this hiring process. You want to stand out!

There are a few ways you can do this (we'll go over all of them in a bit).

However, the best way to stand out is to be personable. Practice your interview questions before the big day and get comfortable speaking about yourself. Do what you can to leave the nerves at the door and focus on being confident and having a good conversation.

Listen

Always listen to the interviewer. Once again, that sounds simple enough. But so many people are flustered with nerves that they forget to listen actively.

Unfortunately, it shows. Not listening will result in a sloppy answer that doesn't provide the information that the interviewer is looking to get. Keep your ears open and listen to every question that comes your way.

Get The Details

Job interviews are a fantastic opportunity to ask questions of your own. You might find it hard to get clear answers on essential job details during your research. Now is your chance to ask them!

Get clarity on the little things. For example, you can ask about work culture, job advancement opportunities, and anything else you want to know more about during this conversation.

Asking questions can leave a lasting impression. They show that you're genuinely interested in the company and position. Plus, it keeps the conversation going and makes you a bit more memorable.

Mention What Sets You Apart

During an interview, the best thing you can do is explain what sets you apart from other candidates. That doesn't mean you should go off on a tangent or dominate the conversation. The trick is to weave those explanations into your answers.

For example, you can use your responses to talk about your strengths and how they can benefit your work in this position. Alternatively, you can utilize personality-based questions to talk about what makes you unique. Whenever possible, use STAR interview method to answer questions.

This job interview "do" is about showing that you're the perfect candidate and a cut above the rest.

Ask Great Questions

Earlier, we mentioned that asking questions is a big plus. But don't just ask generic queries. Think outside the box and ask unique interview questions the interviewer doesn't typically hear.

You can ask about work culture, the interviewer's history with the company, or even recent events that affect the entire organization. Once again, it's about building that connection and showing your genuine interest in working with the company.

Dress Appropriately

We've all heard the phrase, "Dress for success." When you're going in for an interview, take that old saying to heart! How you dress has more of an effect than most think. It's the interviewer's first impression of you, and it comes before you utter a word.

There's a delicate balance between overdressing and underdressing. You don't want to be super casual, but you don't want to wear a three-piece suit if the job doesn't call for that.

One good tip is to look into company culture during your research. Look for photos and consider reaching out to current employees for information about the dress code. Use that information as a guide, and go one step further to add a little polish to your aesthetics.

Act Calm & Confident

Here's an interview "do" that's quite challenging for many applicants. Given what's at stake, it's easy to let your nerves get the best of you. Interviews are a big deal and could affect your future. But do what you can to ease your nerves and act calmly.

Hiring managers usually don't want to hire someone who seems easily shaken. They want people who can go to work and get things done!

Practice your responses early and unwind a bit during your interview. You can be shaking in your boots internally, but don't let that reflect in your demeanor or how you speak.

Interview Don'ts

Interview "do's" are important, but you should also make sure to avoid common mistakes as well. The following job interview "don'ts" can leave your interviewer less than impressed. Committing these cardinal interview sins can hurt your chances and even kill your chance of getting hired altogether.

Don't Be Late

There are few things worse than showing up to your interview late. Punctuality is crucial in any workplace environment. Showing up even a few minutes late doesn't leave the best impression.

It's a red flag that makes interviewers wonder if you'll be late frequently if you get the job. Plus, it makes it look like you're not taking things seriously.

Before your interview, do everything you're supposed to like setting multiple alarms and getting plenty of rest. Additionally, consider driving to the interview location the day before. Know how to get there, look at traffic patterns, and make a game plan for parking.

A number of things can go wrong on the interview day, so it's best to plan for every worst-case scenario to ensure that things go smoothly.

Don't Lie

When you're in the moment, the urge to lie can be ever-present. What's the worst that can happen, right?

Resist that voice telling you to bend the truth! Hiring managers will do their due diligence before making an offer. Many will contact previous employers, and they might even ask about something you said during the interview.

The truth always comes to light. Lying will get you into trouble more often than not. Not only will it ruin your chances of getting the job you're seeking, but it can tarnish your reputation. Word gets around fast, and you might lose opportunities you never knew you had.

Don't Bash Your Previous Employers

Many job-seekers go into interviews thinking it's alright to bash former employees. But it doesn't matter if you're going to your old employer's biggest rival or an entirely different industry. Speaking badly about your old boss or company is a big interview "don't" that you should avoid.

Here's why:

Hiring managers want to see positivity. Focusing on the negative things will only make you look down and pessimistic (which are traits that nobody wants in a coworker). But that's not all.

If you're speaking badly about your old employer now, what will stop you from doing the same in the future? A hiring manager will think twice about negative applicants because they know that they'll turn around and do the same thing about them if they seek employment elsewhere.

Do yourself a favor and focus on positive things. You can bring up bad experiences but wisely choose your words and attitude.

Don't Brush Off Your Weaknesses

You're supposed to talk about your strengths during an interview. But that doesn't mean you should brush weaknesses aside. Be upfront about them (if they come up) and address those shortcomings head-on.

Interviewers will appreciate the honesty. You can highlight how you've changed and what you've done to work on those weaknesses. It could be a bad experience, an old termination in your work history, a hole in your skillset, etc.

Whatever the case may be, find a way to address it and put a positive spin. This is your opportunity to handle any potentially negative impacts those weaknesses might have before it becomes something that affects your chances of getting a job offer.

Don't Dominate the Conversation

Interpersonal skills are a big plus for any job. But if you're dominating the conversation and speaking over the interviewer, you're showing that your interpersonal skills aren't good at all.

Be respectful and remember that this is a discussion. It's not a speech where only you have the microphone. The interviewer needs time to respond, ask follow-up questions, and even provide comments. It's a two-way conversation that needs to breathe.

Don't interrupt or try to be the one who gets the last say. Listen to the interview and let the conversation flow naturally.

Don't Let a Bad Past Interview Hinder Your Current One

Many people have heard job interview horror stories. You might have some of your own that makes you cringe every time you think of them. However, you shouldn't let those awful past experiences affect you now.

Treat every interview as an opportunity to learn and grow. Harness those old failures to make positive changes for your following interview. It's easy to get scared or become anxious about how things will go.

However, never let them prevent you from advancing your career. Take time to reflect, figure out where things went wrong, and take steps to ensure that it never happens again.

Don't Inquire About Other Applicants

You might have some interest in learning about other applicants. For example, everyone is curious about the types of people coming in for an interview. You may even want to know where you stand after meeting with the hiring manager or interviewer.

Either way, don't ask about other applicants. It comes off as tacky and somewhat needy. The interviewer is in the middle of an extensive hiring process. They're speaking to many folks, and that process is something they will handle.

Let them do their thing and focus on your own experiences.

Don't Chew Gum

Does this interview "don't" even need an explanation? Chewing gum is a big no-no. You can pop in some gum or a mint before you head in to get some fresh breath. But make sure you toss it out before getting to the interview desk!

Chewing gum can come off as juvenile and unprofessional. No one wants to see gum bouncing around in your mouth as you speak!

While we are at it, don't bring food or water either. The interview is a business meeting. Chewing food or slurping water can be distracting to the interviewer. If you are offered something to drink, you can accept it.

Don't Be Overly Modest

Finally, leave the overt modesty at the door.

Being humble and gracious is always a plus. But this is a job opportunity, and you should spend time talking about what you do well. Interviewers want to know what you have to offer, and they like to see confidence.

There's a difference between confidence and arrogance. As long as you avoid boastful language you should be just fine. Stick to the facts.

This is your time to shine and put your best foot forward. Don't waste it trying to be super modest. You can be confident while still maintaining a sense of professionalism and respect.

Conclusion

Now that you're familiar with the "do's" and "don'ts" of interviewing, it's time to apply these to your own job interview habits.

Make improvements, prepare, don't shoot yourself in the foot, and you'll have a great chance of getting the job you want!

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VA launches updated Access to Care website

By Rick Fox | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

VA recently launched an improved Access to Care website. The site offers updated information and a user-friendly, streamlined search process that will make it easier for Veterans to plan their health care visits.

In addition, the website includes more of what Veterans told us matters to them beyond average wait times, such as Veteran satisfaction and experience information. They will also be able to view data for expanded mental health care services and specialities, including Individual and Group Therapy, General Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder programs, Primary Care-Mental Health Integrated Care, and PTSD Specific programs.

VA is planning to include additional specialty care services and more site improvements on Access to Care in the near future.

Average wait times calculations updated

To better reflect the Veteran experience, VA updated the way it calculates average wait times. The new calculation uses averages from recently scheduled appointments — including those that have been completed and those scheduled and yet to occur in the future — and measures wait times in a way that makes more sense to Veterans' experience.

Prior to this update, the calculation only included recently completed Veteran appointments. This measure applies to VA facilities using VA's existing electronic health record and scheduling system.

Average wait times represent one general measure of access to care. Another way to measure access is using the Third Next Available Appointment (TNAA). As VA implements its new electronic health record, VA is transitioning to TNAA.

TNAA is a measure of appointment availability that displays the number of days between today's date and the date of the third-next appointment available in VA's scheduling system. It is possible a Veteran could be seen sooner depending on their preference and ability to make a first or second available appointment.

TNAA is considered a more accurate measure of elective service availability than the next available appointment or second-next available appointment. Such appointments may become available due to a cancellation or other event that is not predictable or reliable.

Ensuring Veterans have timely access to care

The technology in our new electronic health record system allows us to use this more modern, industry standard measure at these sites.

These updates ensure Veterans will have online access to information and wait times at their local facility and facilities across the country. VA's commitment to continuous improvement ensures our Veterans receive timely access to world-class care, when and where they need it.

Accesstocare.va.gov has been updated with more information that's easier to access and understand. It's a useful tool to help Veterans and their caregivers plan their health care. Veterans now have a more complete picture of appointment wait times at their nearest facility or other medical centers in the VA network. Visit Accesstocare.va.gov, today!

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