Dr. Shereef Elnahal was appointed by President Joseph R. Biden to serve as Under Secretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and confirmed by the Senate on July 21, 2022. In this role, he leads the largest integrated health system in the nation alongside a team of nearly 400,000 professionals delivering world-class care to 9 million enrolled Veterans.
In the first year of his tenure, Dr. Elnahal has overseen the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) implementation of the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, the largest expansion of Veteran benefits in a generation. To prepare the enterprise to provide more care and more benefits to more Veterans, caregivers, and survivors than ever before, he has spearheaded initiatives to improve access, expand infrastructure, and train employees to serve Veterans impacted by toxic exposures. Under his direction, VHA also embarked on an aggressive hiring effort, growing its workforce at historic rates despite recruitment and retention challenges in the broader health care market.
Prior to his appointment, Dr. Elnahal served as President and Chief Executive Officer of University Hospital in Newark, NJ from 2019 through 2022, leading the hospital through the COVID-19 public health emergency and providing a model for urban hospital and regional response efforts. Under his leadership, the hospital also realized substantial improvements in care quality and patient safety against national benchmarks.
Previously, Dr. Elnahal served as New Jersey’s 21st Health Commissioner, appointed to the Cabinet post by Governor Phil Murphy and confirmed unanimously by the New Jersey Senate. During his nearly two years as Commissioner, he expanded the New Jersey Health Information Network, worked to improve infant and maternal health outcomes and reduce health disparities, and made strides in curbing the opioid epidemic.
This is Dr. Elnahal’s second tour of duty at VA, having served as VA’s Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety, and Value from 2016 through 2018, overseeing national policies around quality of care for the VHA, and as a White House Fellow in the VA from 2015-16. During that time, he co-founded the VHA Innovation Ecosystem, a program that continues to foster the spread of innovation and best practices that improve Veteran care across the nation.
Dr. Elnahal holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and an M.B.A. with Distinction from Harvard Business School.