VA experiences

  1. I'm an LPN and I start my new job with the VA in November. I was wondering what experiences people have had with the VA. I'm a 10 year veteran and know a little about issues pertaining to veterans.

    Right now I'm working on RN via Excelsior. I about half way there.

    Thanks for your replies.

    Christy in Gulfport, MS
    •  
  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   p0969
    I am a 11yr VA Psych RN in VISN 16. I have worked in the private sector and much prefer the VA. The benefits are very good. One of the great things about the VA system is their Computerized Patient Record System. You have immediate access to all areas of a patient's care. If the patient came from another VA you have immediate access to their records at that VA or any other VA in the country. As with all health care facilities there is good and bad. The VA can at times overload you with policies , educational requirements, performance measures, etc. it is still a good place to work. Of course, it is only as good as its administrators, managers, MDs and Nurses. I feel that the overall satisfaction of the nurses at this VA is very good. One more thing. If you are seeking a position with the VA as an ADN, you will only be able to go so far without obtaining a BSN. The system is putting its emphasis on BSN. I do feel there is considerable disparity in the VA system between LPNs and RNs.
  4. by   exnavygirl-RN
    Quote from powell
    I am a 11yr VA Psych RN in VISN 16. I have worked in the private sector and much prefer the VA. The benefits are very good. One of the great things about the VA system is their Computerized Patient Record System. You have immediate access to all areas of a patient's care. If the patient came from another VA you have immediate access to their records at that VA or any other VA in the country. As with all health care facilities there is good and bad. The VA can at times overload you with policies , educational requirements, performance measures, etc. it is still a good place to work. Of course, it is only as good as its administrators, managers, MDs and Nurses. I feel that the overall satisfaction of the nurses at this VA is very good. One more thing. If you are seeking a position with the VA as an ADN, you will only be able to go so far without obtaining a BSN. The system is putting its emphasis on BSN. I do feel there is considerable disparity in the VA system between LPNs and RNs.
    Thank you so much for replying. I'm working on my RN right now but I'm already planning for my BSN.

    Christy
  5. by   elkpark
    I worked psych for the VA a number of years ago, and was v. happy with them as an employer. I enjoyed my co-workers and the clients v. much. I only left (after a few years) because "my" program was going to be discontinued and I wasn't interested in any of the options that would have been available to me if I stayed.
  6. by   crb613
    I have a question. I was sent an application w/payscales. How in the heck do you read them? It has 3 steps, grade 01 (nurse 1), grade 02 (nurse 2), & grade 03 (nurse 3). The 1st one goes to s23, the other two go to s12. What the heck is this, & how do you know where you fit in? Thanks
  7. by   exnavygirl-RN
    Your application will go before a board and they decide your payscale. At least that is how it worked for me. The Human Resource manager called me and told me what mine was. I start in November.
    Good luck,
    Christy

    Quote from crb613
    I have a question. I was sent an application w/payscales. How in the heck do you read them? It has 3 steps, grade 01 (nurse 1), grade 02 (nurse 2), & grade 03 (nurse 3). The 1st one goes to s23, the other two go to s12. What the heck is this, & how do you know where you fit in? Thanks
  8. by   Daytonite
    hi, exnavygirl!

    i was never in the military, but i worked at an acute v.a. hospital for 5 years. it was a bit different from civilian acute hospitals.
    • mostly male patients.
    • many patients are smokers, so you need to know your facility policy on smoking and ways to soothe and compromise with those who don't want to follow the rules.
    • patients are up, around and all about the facility--especially when you need them for meds or treatments!
    • we actually had pajamas for the guys to wear rather than patient gowns!
    • some are quick to point out to you that they are going to contact their congressman to complain if they are upset with the treatment you are giving them
    • there were a lot of volunteers, more than i ever saw in civilian hospitals that performed all kinds of services for the guys.
    • our hospital also had a unit where vets could get a room for the night. so, homeless vets who knew about this were literally just dropped off on the doorstep in the evenings.
    • we had the largest male nursing and nursing assistant staff that i had ever seen compared to civilian hospitals so lifting help was not a problem.
    • i don't know if this is true of all v.a.s, but med students and residents rotated through on a regular basis and were usually the primary care docs of these patients. can we say teaching facility?
    • the actual staff doctors were all involved in research and we only saw them about four months out of the year when they were required to see patients in the clinical area. otherwise, they were holed up in their research labs.
    • some patients were on experimental drugs and some new, experimental surgeries were done.
    • each v.a. specializes in the treatment of specific things. the v.a. will transfer patients who need open heart surgery to a v.a. that specializes in that. there are v.a. facilities that specifically treat neuro problems and substance abuse problems, etc. the v.a. has the resources to make and sustain the cost of the patient transfers.
    • they are great places for advancement if you are looking to get more education and advance in a career.
    i'm sure i'm forgetting things, but this is what sticks out in my mind at the moment. one year my facility hosted the annual wheelchair games which is a very big event for the vets. it was in planning for a whole year and many employees were part of it. big activities were always going on. we had a huge expansive lawn and on any day during the summer you could come to work and find workman putting out the huge tents and chairs for some ceremony. huge american flags flew on flagpoles all along the drive up to the hospital on those days. how much more patriotic and secure can you feel? patients and staff were always welcomed. the v.a. was also one of the two facilities where i was exposed to scabies. we had a lot of homeless vets as patients. don't know if there are any victims of agent orange still around, but i saw several there as well as the first to come forward with gulf syndrome. very interesting medical problems.
  9. by   smilin_gp
    I've only been with the VA as a nurse since June, but I agree just about word for word with Daytonite's post. The VA that I work with does still see victim's of agent orange-particularly my floor, which specializes in posttransplant care. Many of the patients are very appreciative of their care, and many love to talk about their service history. I don't now how the pay scales work for LPN's (sorry). Where I work, LPN's are mainly working on the IV/lab draw team. There are also a few working on the acute care floors in RN-LPN teams. The pay scales are somewhat dependent on experience, but they also depend on degree-ADN vs BSN. After a year or 2 of VA experience, an ADN who started out as a new nurse in the VA would catch up to the step of the BSN. Staff nurses are usually categorized as Nurse 1. A new grad ADN would probably start at step 1 and move to step 3 in a year (I think, someone correct me if I am off the beam here), but I don't know how your LPN experience would affect this. Good luck!
  10. by   exnavygirl-RN
    thanks for the great information!!!

    Quote from daytonite
    hi, exnavygirl!

    i was never in the military, but i worked at an acute v.a. hospital for 5 years. it was a bit different from civilian acute hospitals.
    • mostly male patients.
    • many patients are smokers, so you need to know your facility policy on smoking and ways to soothe and compromise with those who don't want to follow the rules.
    • patients are up, around and all about the facility--especially when you need them for meds or treatments!
    • we actually had pajamas for the guys to wear rather than patient gowns!
    • some are quick to point out to you that they are going to contact their congressman to complain if they are upset with the treatment you are giving them
    • there were a lot of volunteers, more than i ever saw in civilian hospitals that performed all kinds of services for the guys.
    • our hospital also had a unit where vets could get a room for the night. so, homeless vets who knew about this were literally just dropped off on the doorstep in the evenings.
    • we had the largest male nursing and nursing assistant staff that i had ever seen compared to civilian hospitals so lifting help was not a problem.
    • i don't know if this is true of all v.a.s, but med students and residents rotated through on a regular basis and were usually the primary care docs of these patients. can we say teaching facility?
    • the actual staff doctors were all involved in research and we only saw them about four months out of the year when they were required to see patients in the clinical area. otherwise, they were holed up in their research labs.
    • some patients were on experimental drugs and some new, experimental surgeries were done.
    • each v.a. specializes in the treatment of specific things. the v.a. will transfer patients who need open heart surgery to a v.a. that specializes in that. there are v.a. facilities that specifically treat neuro problems and substance abuse problems, etc. the v.a. has the resources to make and sustain the cost of the patient transfers.
    • they are great places for advancement if you are looking to get more education and advance in a career.
    i'm sure i'm forgetting things, but this is what sticks out in my mind at the moment. one year my facility hosted the annual wheelchair games which is a very big event for the vets. it was in planning for a whole year and many employees were part of it. big activities were always going on. we had a huge expansive lawn and on any day during the summer you could come to work and find workman putting out the huge tents and chairs for some ceremony. huge american flags flew on flagpoles all along the drive up to the hospital on those days. how much more patriotic and secure can you feel? patients and staff were always welcomed. the v.a. was also one of the two facilities where i was exposed to scabies. we had a lot of homeless vets as patients. don't know if there are any victims of agent orange still around, but i saw several there as well as the first to come forward with gulf syndrome. very interesting medical problems.
  11. by   JentheRN05
    I do agency for a local VA and boy did it ever suck. Never been on the floor and had 30 patients BY MYSELF with only CNAs to tell me what I need to be doing. Never seen any of the patients at all prior to this. All and all a horrible experience and I try to avoid going back there at all costs.
  12. by   jamangel
    I'm an LPN in VISN 7 and I've been at the VA almost 3 years. Each facility is different I believe.
    There is a lot of divide between LPN's and RN's because we are not looked at with the same eye as RN's. RN's have their own union which I might add is a very good one that looks out for theor RN's. the LPN's are lumped together with the rest of the staff of the VA and representation isn't as great. I don't particularly believe it's the unions fault because the atmosphere really is "if you're not an RN then you're not as vital." This was difficult for me to deal with initially because I worked in the private sector for so long where we were acknowledged equally even though you knew there was a difference. Their pay said that. MAny times you do the same work the RN does only to be treated as if you're easy to replace. The benefits for RN's are greater.

    I agree that your BSN should be on the horizon. Don't stop at ADN. Know that Indiana State University has a LPN-BSN program entirely done online and you don't hae to go throuh College Network to do it. I myself have chosen to go a different direction and be a Social Worker.

    Also, if you ever want a position above staff nurse you will have to get your MAster's. Even then it's not guaranteed because the people in the positions stay a long time and there are tons of people who've had their master's for years waiting. Again, this does depend on your visn and even your facility.

    I'm also glad I had experience before I came to the VA because the pay I see these new LPN's make is disgusting. I made $10,000 more when I started as a new nurse.
  13. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Good luck with whatever choice you make.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Oct 13, '06
  14. by   jamangel
    Wow!

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