Hello everyone again. I haven't had time to post much here lately, but do still read the posts and threads. Well, I FINALLY got a call today from the local VAMC in KY. The budget apparently passed after over a year of waiting and they are currently hiring RNs. I did most of my rotations at the VA in M/S and that is where I requested I'd be placed if hired back last year at graduation. Well, my real goal would be to go into the psych unit as I think that was a better fit for me. She asked me today what 'areas' I would consider and I did mention M/S, CCU/ICU, ER, and psych, but emphasized the psych unit. Last year when they had the hiring freeze she did mention that they normally don't start new grads in the psych unit, however, when I mentioned this today, she didn't really say that. So, I'm hoping maybe with the budget and being understaffed, etc, I 'might' have the opportunity to get into the psych unit straight off. But, here is some questions/advice I wanted to get from you all and maybe for those that work at the VA in KY.
Do you think I should start off in psych? Or should I get my first year into M/S, ICU, ER, etc for good background nursing than transfer into the pysch unit later on? What did you do? And if you do think I could pull off going straight into psych, what type of advice could you give me in terms of landing the job? What should I emphasize, etc to her in my interview?
Now, since it has been a long time, I have been doing research into the VAMC and have heard that the benefits with federal gov't aren't really all that I was led to believe back a year ago. However, I dont know if that is for every VA or just the local one. But I heard the medical insurance is terrible, but yet the vacation (5 weeks straight off), OT, money, etc is great compared to a 'private' hospital. Plus they have the student loan payback program that was a really big incentive for me. They also have many continuing education opportunities so I've heard from many people the federal VA system is the best place to work compared to the private hospitals. I do have some severe (but stable) medical conditions that require good insurance, and I have very good insurance now that I'd hate to leave even if it would be more money down the road. Plus I heard retirement for federal is not as great as in state govt. State is 25 years here with full medical benefits and I believe I heard federal was 30?
Anyways, just thought I'd talk to more of you about the ins/outs of the federal VA system and maybe you could offer me some career advice
on your end. Hope you don't mind. I know a lot of these answers could be handled with HR, but thought maybe I'd ask you here first. Take care and I hope to hear from some of you soon.