President Trump intends to nominate his own personal physician, Admiral Ronny L. Jackson M.D.to replace Shulkin. Former Bay State U.S. Sen. and current U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa Scott Brown was said to be among those considered for the post.
In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as "highly trained and qualified".
Ned Price, a National Security Council spokesman under President Barack Obama who was served by Jackson, described the doctor as "the guy you always want to be around" because he's affable and amusing.
It was former President Barack Obama who selected Jackson to fill the position of physician to the president.
Trump announced Shulkin's resignation and Jackson's nomination on Twitter. He lacks the management and government experience typical of traditional cabinet secretaries, and he's taking over the second-largest federal agency-one that's been chronically mismanaged and would pose a challenge even for an experienced manager.
Shulkin specifically called out those within the agency pushing to privatize veterans' healthcare - a move he has continuously spoken out against to Congress.
Shulkin had continued to insist he had the full confidence of the White House amid continuing investigations over his travel and leadership of the department.
Shulkin also contended that his recent ethics controversies, including a report from the department's inspector general that found "serious derelictions" by him and senior officials while in Europe previous year, were exaggerated and "just being used in a political context to try to make sure that I wasn't as effective as a leader moving forward".
Shulkin, a holdout from the Obama administration and competent Cabinet secretary who Trump had extolled openly and often during his first year as president, saw his support within the administration deteriorate in recent months. Shulkin also blamed internal drama at the agency on a half-dozen or so political appointees who were rebelling against him and Bowman, insisting he had White House backing to fire them.
He said the VA has become "entangled in a brutal power struggle" over the health care options for 9 million veterans. He cited major achievements, including a new G.I. Bill, reducing wait times, processing more disability claims, improved mental health services, and a 24 percent increase in trust with the VA's services among veterans compared to four years ago.
The ouster of Shulkin comes as the VA is finalizing its negotiations with Cerner to award the vendor a $10 billion EHR modernization contract-effectively leaving the acquisition in limbo.
In a tweet Wednesday, the president said Robert Wilkie of the Defense Department will be the acting secretary until Jackson is confirmed.
But a major veterans' organization anxious about whether Jackson had the experience to run the huge department.
Currently, more than 30 percent of VA appointments are made in the private sector.