VA Hospitals

  1. Hi

    I was just wondering if anyone has experience working in the VA system? I may have a possible job opportunity and was just wondering . . .

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    About AngelsRN

    Joined: Sep '05; Posts: 153; Likes: 16
    Specialty: 8 year(s) of experience in PACU


  3. by   rbs105
    I have worked in the system. Good job security. When you travel you can use your hospital ID and get government rates on everything (hotel, car, etc). Great credit union, tax-free shopping (similar to the military).

    Nice benefits, but you have to remember you are working for the government. In other words, changes are difficult to implement and everything moves at a snails' pace. You are working for a national system and although it may not apply really well to your particular area, because it is national, you still need to follow it. And don't park illegally-the cops that are on the VA campus' are federal police! One of my co-workers had to go before a federal judge because he'd gotten a few parking tickets!

    The other thing to remember that I found and never thought of before I started, is that because it is unionized and there are those protections in place, there were more than a few people working there who, if it was a private system, would have been fired for their laziness, lack of skills, unprofessionalism, etc. There were also some who would have quit because they didn't like what they were doing (which IMHO, if you are coming to work miserable and making everyone miserable, its time to find a new thing to do!), but because of the benefits, retirement, tenure, etc, they didn't quit and just came to work miserable! So that is the downside.

    I LOVED the patients! I am not military, nor is anyone in my family, so I felt like that was my way of serving the nation, by caring for the vets. I felt a lot of value in my job because of what i did for them. I loved stopping to give them directions, listening to their stories about being fighter wing pilots in WWII and comforting them when they had anxiety from what they had been through. I also thought it was REALLY cool that the first day of orientation was all history about the VA, taking the constitutional oath and learning about how the system works.

    So it isn't a great place for creative working freedom, or if you like to be in a place where you can be a mover and a shaker, and you may find yourself surrounded by miserable people (this depends on your particular area-and that could be said for anywhere you go!), but the security is nice (you can also transfer easily to other VA facilities if you move and keep your benefits) and the patients are wonderful…..hope that helps?
  4. by   mmc51264
    I have some friends that are starting there and they are being offered limited contracts ( mostly a year) that may or may not be renewed. I don't know if that is position specific or not.
  5. by   AngelsRN
    Thank you so much for your feedback . . .I am very undecided about this and have an interview scheduled. My hospital, which I love, just filed for bankruptcy and is looking for someone to buy their assets . . it could work out, it could not and I feel a little stuck in the middle and not sure what to do . . I cant be without a job, but I love my current hospital and would be heartbroken if I left and then it all worked out . . .any advice I would greatly appreciate it!!
  6. by   Sam J.
    Something to consider- the VA hiring process is so cumbersome and exhaustive that it might be months before you are offered a job there. And once you begin that process there is zero chance your current hospital won't be aware of that, because the VA checks back on your life like you can't believe, verifies even minor details, requires extensive reference checks, and on and on- and that might get you put on the short list of nurses to get rid of if your current hospital is bought out. More so if you have seniority and make more than someone cheaper they can easily replace you with. If you really can't be off work for any length of time you should prepare for the worst- hospitals are closing all over the country. But it doesn't hurt to also hope for the best?
  7. by   HarryTheCat
    Your observations are very similar to those of my wife, who also works for the VA. She is also a vet, so this makes the "mission" a bit more special for her. She also absolutely loves her WWII patients, and loves to hear their stories. Some of the negatives that you noted, such as having to work with some lazy unprofessional co-workers are very true where she is. They rarely fire anyone, but I think it has more to do with the fact that it's "government" than with the union (which doesn't really seem to do anything useful). Many of the nurse managers were promoted based on who they know, not on their management skills, so sometimes management is hit-and-miss, and it can be very political and "cliquish".

    On the positive side, the VA pay scales are higher than any other hospital in the area, the benefits are great (8 hours of vacation earned per two week pay period, for example, which translates to the equivalent of 5 weeks of vacation per year), and you don't have to account for every bed pan or box of tissues for billing purposes. If a patient needs an MRI, CT scan or some other expensive procedure they get it, with no concern for what it would cost. My wife has had a couple of surgeries in the last two years, both at prestigious private, for-profit hospitals, and she found that the level of nursing care and professionalism was actually below that of the VA.

    All things considered, the VA is probably one of the best places for nurses. If you have an opportunity there, go for it!