Chronicles of a VA APRN Resident

Specialties Advanced Nursing Q/A

Updated:   Published

I interviewed today and was offered one of six resident positions. I lost it. The panel laughed and said my reaction was the best one so far. ?

I was asked nine questions. They were along the lines of "Tell me about yourself; How will you contribute to VA care; Flexibility and describe a time when it was required; Career goals; Rate yourself 0 - 10 in the following aspects, etc.". I was sweating the whole time, but displayed a cool (I think) exterior.

It starts towards the end of September, so plenty of time for me to go over all my material from school and beef up my knowledge so I don't look like a total dunce.

I will periodically update this thread with all my trials and tribulations for those who are interested in applying for a spot in the future and want to know what the year will look like.

Specializes in hospice, HH, LTC, ER,OR.
Mergirlc said:

?

So, either the others felt they were so darn well-trained and decided to take their talents elsewhere OR it was so bad they just said @#*! it, I'm leaving.  Not sure which of the two is the best case scenario. LOL  Could you give us any insight as to why they all left? I know earlier you mentioned you just weren't getting the variety of rotations and it was a new program. 

Do you think now that this "new" program, which has gone through the first year, are aware enough to make changes to improve it for the next group which comes in next year?

I have to give you kudos for making a commitment and sticking with it, even if it hasn't been the best of experiences sometimes.  If people weren't getting anything out of the experience, I can totally understand why they left.  The unfortunate thing is, those who left may not have the chance to work for the VA again if they ever wanted to work at any location in the future due to leaving.  The VA has so many locations, it's incredible.

Hang in there!!  You're almost done!!  

I think it was a little of everything. It was only 3 of us to start. The fact that basically we have been in the same department  for 90 percent of the time; there  really isn't much else to learn. I am seeing my same set of patients. I spoke to the director and this person does know they don't have the resources that are needed. I just  hope this person advocates for the next group, because this is totally unacceptable as a residency. I was offered a position in the department we are in but I rather try outside the VA first.

Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, ICU/CCU, GE Lab.

If you were offered a position, I would seriously consider taking it.  The pay may not be what you expect/want, but benefits, time off & job security is worth it.  You can always transfer to another dept or VA.  Good luck

mumarada said:

If you were offered a position, I would seriously consider taking it.  The pay may not be what you expect/want, but benefits, time off & job security is worth it.  You can always transfer to another dept or VA.  Good luck

@mumaradaAre you currently working for the VA?  If so, could you tell me if the VA are very proactive in helping nurses obtain certifications to advance their career? I'm just curious if they help pay for education AND do they work w/ you, for example, if you need to complete hours in another department or need to leave for face-to-face meetings for educational purposes. Are they accommodating?

Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, ICU/CCU, GE Lab.
Mergirlc said:

@mumaradaAre you currently working for the VA?  If so, could you tell me if the VA are very proactive in helping nurses obtain certifications to advance their career? I'm just curious if they help pay for education AND do they work w/ you, for example, if you need to complete hours in another department or need to leave for face-to-face meetings for educational purposes. Are they accommodating?

Yes, I currently work at the VA as an RN, I'm starting NP Program this Fall.  As far as help pay for education, each one is different.  DC does NOT pay for NP school, but I have read other postings that do. Here's a screen shot:

 

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Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC.
Mergirlc said:

@Freckledkorican  How has it been going for you?  Would love to hear about your progress!!

Life is good. In my last week of the derm rotation. The NP preceptor is flipping awesome. She has educated the crap out of me this past month and I've been doing procedures like crazy. See one, do the rest. I have found my field. I love it. If anyone is interested, there's a two year NP derm fellowship in MA you can apply to: https://www.lahey.org/lhmc/research-residencies/fellowships/dermatology-nurse-practitioner-fellowship/

Once I send my kid off to university in five years, I plan to apply and hopefully get accepted.

I start my three week women's health rotation next week. Not my cup of tea, but it has to be done. After that, I only have two week rotations in GU, geriatrics, and home based primary care and then I am done!

I interviewed for a VA primary care position, back in the Tampa Bay area, a couple months ago. The initial interview was with the CMO of the CBOC I may work in; lasted two hours. The second was with three assistant section chiefs. I have the third interview with the director of the Tampa VA primary care next week. Crossing fingers all goes well. I enjoyed and hoping to work with the staff at the CBOC.

Thank you for checking up on me! Hope all is going well with you and all my NP peeps!

Freckledkorican said:

Life is good. In my last week of the derm rotation. The NP preceptor is flipping awesome. She has educated the crap out of me this past month and I've been doing procedures like crazy. See one, do the rest. I have found my field. I love it. If anyone is interested, there's a two year NP derm fellowship in MA you can apply to: https://www.lahey.org/lhmc/research-residencies/fellowships/dermatology-nurse-practitioner-fellowship/

......

Thank you for checking up on me! Hope all is going well with you and all my NP peeps!

Well congratulations -- almost done!!  It sounds like your program went very well and was very worthwhile.  After reading through various posts on this topic, at least it seems your clinic is well put together and has a very well-run program.

I will definitely be applying to a few VA residencies w/ the hope of getting into one of them.  Of course, I'll also consider regular positions, but I like how these residencies do the various rotations and you seem to get one on one time with the preceptor to guide you.  That's golden!!

Just curious, how soon after you heard you got this position did you go out and find an apartment/place to live?  Do most of these residencies give you some time so at least you might be able to fly in and check the general area?   Did anybody give you recommendations as to safe areas?  I'm a little nervous applying to places across the US from where I live, but if it gives me a chance for a residency,  I'll do it.  

Freckledkorican said:

For example, the incoming cohort was contacted of their acceptance into the program this past week and they are set to begin Mon 25 Sep. I believe half are moving from out of state, so they have a little over two months to find a place in Gainesville. No one gave recommendations on safe areas to live, but just do your research, of course.................... 

...... In primary care, patients per day are capped at 12-13(?) for a provider. We get all the Federal holidays off. The Veterans are such a great group to serve. I feel honored and lucky. 

So now it makes sense why the pay is a bit lower at the VA than the outside sector; 12-13 patients in a day compared to double that amount in a private practice sounds like heaven to me!  I enjoy speaking to patients.  For me, it's a definite plus if I get a little more time with patients so 12 - 13 sounds ideal for me.

I think it is very fair, at least at your location, the amount of time they give you to look around for a place to live. It seems like when you began this topic, there were a lot of people getting last minute notifications, and that would be very difficult to just pick up and fly/drive across the US and figure out in two days or less where you want to live, rent an apartment, etc.  I would definitely be one of those people who, if chosen, would be booking my flight asap to go check out the area.  Even if you don't find the exact area just by going ahead of time, at least one could always do Airbnb in a safe, close area for a month or so until you figure it out.

I'm sure the future cohorts will appreciate all the feedback you gave your director.  And just as in any other school or rotation, there will always be hiccups. The differences: some directors will just sit back and ignore it while others at least will take in the feedback and try to make it a little better at that moment. It makes a world of difference when at least you see that there's an effort put in to improve something rather than just sit back and collect the "top-dog" paycheck, as many people in charge do.

I definitely have my eye on the VA.  I like that they are located in every state!  There are a handful of states I have always wanted to go and see and work at. At the VA, that is an actual possibility. There isn't any other healthcare system that has locations in every state; some come mighty close where they may be in 15 states or so, but none are like the VA where they are everywhere -  even if it's a CBOC in the middle of nowhere in a mobile home-like office (yes, some years ago I recall seeing one just like this..... They might have been in the process of building the building, but who knows!?!?!??? ) ?

Thank you for the update @Freckledkorican.    Keep us posted. This is seriously the best and only thread about the VA Residency program and it's so informative!!

Specializes in hospice, HH, LTC, ER,OR.
mumarada said:

If you were offered a position, I would seriously consider taking it.  The pay may not be what you expect/want, but benefits, time off & job security is worth it.  You can always transfer to another dept or VA.  Good luck

There is nowhere to transfer to. I don't plan on moving and the next hospital is 3.5 hours away. I cant trust people, when the dealings have been shady this long. The director  of this department said the last resident she offered a job to left because HR was so slow with the paperwork. This place is always in the news about patients care, deaths, and shootings and they just earned a 2/5 star rating. This is up from the previous 1/5 stars. Also they rank the lowest in this region among VA hospitals.

Specializes in hospice, HH, LTC, ER,OR.
Freckledkorican said:

Well, my peeps, the third interview came and went. The primary care director did not offer me a position. I must say, it was disappointing to say the least. It was a two months long, three interviews, and driving 6 hours roundtrip twice ordeal that ended in a no. The CBOC I was hoping to work at was all MDs, so maybe that had something to do with it or I just don't have enough experience. Who knows these things. I finish the program in two months with no job. I'm applying to private practices and crossing fingers I get hired to work by October. I have a family to support and bills to pay. I hope everyone else is doing better than me. 

So sorry you didn't get the job. One of my classmates move 3.5 hours away with her family for this residency and she was the first to leave about 3.5 months during the program. My director said she need to know/ working on the residence having a guaranteed job from now on. Also the primary care group last day was today. They graduated 2/4. The other 2 left about 2 weeks ago. I don't think any of them were offer a job at this VA. One did move to florida for a job at a CBOC but she is a veteran and also interviewed in many other states as well for VA jobs.

Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC.
prettymica said:

So sorry you didn't get the job. One of my classmates move 3.5 hours away with her family for this residency and she was the first to leave about 3.5 months during the program. My director said she need to know/ working on the residence having a guaranteed job from now on. Also the primary care group last day was today. They graduated 2/4. The other 2 left about 2 weeks ago. I don't think any of them were offer a job at this VA. One did move to florida for a job at a CBOC but she is a veteran and also interviewed in many other states as well for VA jobs.

What a mess. I hope the others who were not offered jobs at their VA landed on their feet elsewhere. It's tough in my area. Either the private sector pay is not that great or they want more experience than I have. Silly me thinking it would be easier to secure a VA position because I am in a VA residency.

Specializes in hospice, HH, LTC, ER,OR.
Freckledkorican said:

What a mess. I hope the others who were not offered jobs at their VA landed on their feet elsewhere. It's tough in my area. Either the private sector pay is not that great or they want more experience than I have. Silly me thinking it would be easier to secure a VA position because I am in a VA residency.

Yes, they all have jobs. I don't think anyone really wanted a job there besides one person because she was already in the system for over 22 years( not the one that moved to FL).She was stabbing people in the back and didn't get a job. She is going back to the floor until she can get an FNP job in the system. Also, we were told up front no guarantee for a job; but the we in our group were told by our directors boss they would create 3 openings for us. As we went along we say they will tell you anything. Also someone let me in on a secret at this location. Jobs are not posted because they are being saved for friends. Even my director says she was called about this position and it was created for her. So it makes since from the beginning, they states you must network your behind off to get what you want. I see that didn't work for the person with 22 years in the same system. She was always in some department kissing butt, and telling on others on the residency. 

This is awful news.  It just does not make sense the VA wants to have these residencies in order to train APRNs, but make it so difficult to get a job. Even if there is a main hospital somewhere, there's always a lot of the community clinics, or CBOCs, a few hours away. There has to be a need somewhere. 

I'm starting to think, you really have to be a wandering nomad in order to land a job at a VA.  Unfortunately, some of the clinics that are far away from the larger cities pay less, so not ideal with people who have families to raise or loans to pay.

I'm sure something will come through for all of you.  You have experience, extra education, and that has to count for something!!

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