Robert A. Petzel, M.D., was appointed Under Secretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Feb. 18, 2010. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Petzel had served as VA's Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health since May 2009.
As Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Petzel oversees the health care needs of millions of Veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the nation's largest integrated health care system. With a medical care budget of more than $54 billion, VHA employs over 277,000 staff members at more than 1,700 sites, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, domiciliaries, and Readjustment Counseling Centers. In addition, VHA is the nation's largest provider of graduate medical education and a major contributor to medical research. More than eight million Veterans are enrolled in VA's health care system, which is growing in the wake of its eligibility expansion. Last year, VA treated more than six million patients during 83 million outpatient visits and 703,500 inpatient admissions.
Previously, Dr. Petzel served as Network Director of the VA Midwest Health Care Network (VISN 23) based in Minneapolis. In that position, Dr. Petzel was responsible for the executive leadership, strategic planning and budget for eight medical centers and 42 community-based outpatient clinics, serving Veterans in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, western Illinois and western Wisconsin.
Dr. Petzel was appointed Director of Network 23 (which was formed from the merger of Networks 13 and 14) in October 2002. From October 1995 to September 2002, he served as the Director of Network 13. Prior to that, he served as Chief of Staff at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
Dr. Petzel graduated from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., in 1965 and from Northwestern University Medical School in 1969 and is a former faculty member of the University of Minnesota Medical School. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.