I would like to hear from VA nurses or US govt nurses. Do you like your jobs, pay and benefits? Two of my friends worked for the VA Dallas hospital and they reported the med surg/ ICU staffing was dangerous! Is that the case in your facility? Is your retirement based on the FERES system? (ie part Social Security, part 401K type matching, and small retirement supplement? How is your OWN health care;it looks like stingy HMO care, unless you pay extra? Full retirement after 20 years? Would be interesting in hearing the pluses and gripes/frustrations before I consider VA/govt hospital based work.
Sep 7, '01
I have both enjoyed and been extremely frustrated by government service. The system it self is bad because it is practically impossible to get rid of a lazy worker and the intricate web of government red tape can be frustrating. At times it does seem like everyone is just trying to ***** the soldier.
But I serve the VERY best people. For me this is what I like, I help take care of the soldiers and thier families who have made everything we have possible. Once you learn the system you can really help them by sort of manipulating the system to get them what they need. Now that TriCare (for profit Corp) has taken over management. We like to call Tricare (try to get care).
I get to talk with people who were there on D-Day, or had ships torpedoed out from under them in the North Alantic. Those that were there at the "Frozen Chosen" in Korea, and were there at Khe San.
For me yes it does frustrate me at times but I love being able to take of my fellow vets and there families because they have given more than most.
Nov 6, '01
I would have to say that after being a VA nurse for the past 6 years, I've only been a nurse 7 years, that this has been one of the most rewarding experiences. I worked in our local "civilian" faciltiy and only lasted there 3 months before returning to my VA job. The people I work with and the people I take care of make this job worthwhile. As the other comment stated, these people are the reason that we have life as we do today. The stories you hear and sometimes relive with these veterans make our job seem so much worthwhile that I can give back to them in such a small way. The benefits are also better here than locally, 5 weeks paid vacation, sick days, and family care leave are just some of the benefits. I personally do not have health care through the VA, but I haven't heard too many complaints from co-workers on their insurance. The retirement plan is combo thrift savings plan and FERS, they match funds up to 10% of what you contribute, not too bad, even with the economy the way it is now. Staffing ratios are usually not the best, but in ICU where I work, we are a team for the most part and work together to get the shifts filled and help out each other during critical times. The medical floor is busy as well as the Rehab floor, difficult to find staff and fill positions, but I believe it is like this all over now with the nursing shortage hitting us everywhere. I guess I would have to say, that for the most part, my experiences here have been for the most part positive and would recommend this place to anyone.
May 6, '02
I have been employed with the VA for 10 years, 3mos. and 24 days. I was an LPN within the system for a little over 7 years and now I am an RN.
The system can be frustrating as one person mentioned , and yes, it takes an act of Congress to get rid of a lazy person. No offense to the male nurses; however, if your nurse manager happens to be female( who happens to show favoritism toward the male RN) and there is only one male RN on the floor who happens to come in to work anytime they feel like it, it discourages and disheartens the rest of the staff.
If you don't have a BSN you will not advance unless of course you were hired before the mandate went into effect in January 2000.
The VA does have a program to help pay with furthering one's education called NNEI (National Nurse Eduacation Incentive).
I have enjoyed the health insurance coverage that I have; however, I do not have any chronic illnesses / ailments. The only downfall that I have regarding the health insurance is the dental portion. It would be great if the VA offered dental coverage for braces and the such.
The VA does have an employees' labor union; however, it is only as strong as the membership and it counts if the local president isn't "sleeping with the enemy."
I would suggest that you tour your local VA and if you know of anyone who works there ask them for a "rundown".
It also disheartens staff when the PA(physician assistant) doesn not want to hear staff input regarding patients' assessments; especially when the PA has not been in the health care field as long as the staff.
Aug 16, '02
Like rnmom3x, I too returned to the VA after 8 months in home health. I enjoy the team spirit here, the organization that empowers the nurse, the better benefits. I started w the VA in 1997, and am grateful that I was able to return. Would like to know how other VA nurses are accessing the education funding for advanced practice or masters degrees.
Aug 17, '02
Our Education Dept. is helping me get started on my masters thru the U. of Phoenix online. They (UOP) know about our NNEI program. Our Education Dept. has some RNs that they've helped with the BSN program of UOP online.
I would image that your Education Dept. has all the information; you just need to set up an appointment and get the packet from them. There is usually someone in the Education Dept. that will be asssigned as your mentor.
Aug 17, '02
Thanks for the heads up re UOP. Let me know how it goes for you, if the funding is there, and the programs available.
Aug 18, '02
I believe the next available time for the NNEI program people to start is in January so you need to get the paper work in way before then. The Enrollment advisor for me is Linda Lauer. She said that the way it is set up there are two times a year that we can start. She was suppose to get back to me as to when I need to submit my paper work.
The nice thing I liked about the program is that the faculty are actually working in the area they are teaching, according to the enrollment advisor. No need for a GRE or statistic course (my BSN didn't require it). It is NLN approved. You just have to a an RN license and computer (if I remember correctly).
Last edit by DelGR on Aug 18, '02
Aug 18, '02
I worked for the VA in San Francisco for 1 1/2 years and it was the best hospital I've been in. Up to date equipment and medications (since we were a test lab for many companies), good pay, vacation, etc. It is nearly impossible to get rid of lazy people (some of whom are supervisors), and there is a lot of paperwork to get hired (including official transcripts from your nursing school!).
But be aware that some VA facilities have very unpleasant reputations, while others have excellent ones, so you would want to spend some time at any one you might be interested in, hang around and ask questions. Spend some time n the cafeteria and talk to people.
The VA has a good, thorough web site for more research, as you probably know, vacareers.com
Aug 20, '02
Thanks for the advice re UOP. What program are you considering? Have other rn's at your facility succeeded w online degrees??
Jul 11, '03
I absolutely love working for the US Army as a civilian nurse. I work in a TMC (troop medical clinic) where I take care of our soldiers both active duty and reservists/guard on their drills. I see the soldiers before they leave and when they return home. I'm any Army brat and my husband was active army at one time. This was the best way for me to serve my country without joining the service. The civilians make up at least 80% of the workforce in the MEDDAC. Pay is ok, benefits are good and the hours are awesome! (0700-1600 m-f, one hour lunches--no weekends or holidays)
Nov 18, '03
I work at the Albuquerque VA and I just hate it here. I have never seen so many lazy good for nothing Nurse Aides in my entire life gathered in to one place! It really must be completely impossible to fire anyone that works for the VA. I work with a couple of Nurse Aides that have dozens and dozens and dozens of AWOL's on their record and my nurse manager just keeps saying that it is a complicated matter.
Short staffing is the norm, overtime has doubled my annual salary and I seldom get time to chart on a patient because I just don't have the time to do any paper work because I am usually the only RN on the floor with 23 patients. I have been at this VA for 3 years and have had 2 lunch breaks in that time, but I do make an extra $400 a month just from the overtime I log for missed meal breaks.
Thank goodness I have only 5 more years to go, if I can make it that long.
Nov 18, '03
I'm sorry that you're not having the best experience with govt nursing. Were you prior service? Are you 5 years from retirement? Have you thought about moving to a different location? Try www.cpol.army.mil.
Lots of job postings. Remind me never to transfer to your VA...........
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