Health Services Research & Development

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Director's Letter

David Atkins, M.D., M.P.H., Director, HSR&D

Change is good, but too much change can be disorienting and demoralizing. After almost two years of important, and I think necessary, changes in HSR&D—the initiation of CREATEs and the transition of our Centers to COINS—I am thrilled to have been appointed as the new Director of HSR&D to continue some of the initiatives begun under Seth Eisen. I hope over the next year, while continuing to consolidate the changes we have made, also to restore some of the stability that is necessary for an organization to function effectively and move ahead. I have described the changes we undertook in HSR&D as a "course correction" as opposed to an about-face, and the sailing analogies from my childhood with my grandfather on Buzzards Bay still seem apt. After changing course ("coming about") in a sailboat, there is always that period where one waits for the sails to refill and for the boat to begin to move again. If I lost patience too soon, and started pulling the tiller one way or the other trying to find a slightly better breeze, I often found the boat dead in the water with the sail flapping in the wind. I am confident we are headed on a course that has aligned our research with the needs of the VA and Veterans and that will result in greater impact of our research. From five years in HSR&D I know I can trust the soundness of our research centers and all of our field investigators—our "boat" and "crew." They will do the equivalent of trimming the sails and handling the occasional squall (IT anyone?). But I can already feel our "boat" beginning to pull through the water and pick up speed. Just keep an eye out for pirates.

David Atkins, M.D., M.P.H., Director, HSR&D