Hello, just joined this forum. I work at the Dayton VA Medical Center in SW Ohio. I've been there for 22 months now, and after having many job changes over my nursing career, I know I will never leave this job. There are many good AND bad things about working at the VA. I'll try to be concise and brief.
1) 5 weeks paid vacation/year beginning immediately
2) 10 paid sick days/year, which you can build up to a maximum of 6 months (then it's "use or lose")
3) 10 paid holidays/year
4) Free education (includes ALL levels of nursing)
5) EDRP (Education Debt Reduction Program), which pays off your student loans
6) Paid CEU's (for example, I went to Southern CA this past May and the VA paid the $480 conference fee, which was all that I asked for, but then they gave me an additional $500.00 for "incidentals" which I used to pay for rental car and hotel AND I got the money UP FRONT!)
7) EXCELLENT health insurance packages, in fact at my location there are more than 10 different plans to choose from)
8) NO TIME CLOCKS (at the Dayton location)
9) Longevity-people who stay never leave! (that's IF they make it through the first few months)
11) Free Parking
12) Voluntary membership in UAN-United American Nurses Union
13) The Vet's need, and DESERVE, great nursing care and not one bit less than that!!!
14) ALL meds and charting are done on computer, which is a big time saver
15) And last, but definately not least, THE BEST PAY I've ever gotten in my entire career (and that's 22 years)
1) You'll hear over and over again when you first start "That's the VA way", which you WILL find very frustrating
2) The LAZINESS of many of the employees; I find myself saying over and over again, under my breath, "Close enough for government work"
3) Resistance to change-this system has been around for a long, long time
4) Patient's getting substandard care from the lazy nurses on your shift (and believe me, this IS an issue)
5) Feeling frustrated when you try to address the substandard care delivered by the lazy nurses (again, this goes back to resistance to change and seniority of the employee)
6) Management seems to not care, or listen (but I've encountered that at many jobs I've had)
7) Rotating Residents every 2 weeks on the units (it IS a teaching facility and the residents have the power, especially on night shift when you have NO ATTENDINGS in the entire facility!)
8) Less pay if you don't have at least your Bachelor's Degree (you are shown the pay scale before you are even offered the job, and are also told exactly where you will be)
9) Watching the vets get substandard care by lazy nurses breaks my heart
- I work CCU/ICU and can tell you that the best nurses with the longest experience work in this area in our hospital-I can't speak for any other VA
-6 out of the 10 nurses hired just since I've started (22 months) left within the first 6 months. The main two reasons seemed to always be the same: "The VA Way" and every one of the nurses who left had their Associate's Degrees and were upset about the difference in pay between the ADN and BSN (or higher) nurses. BUT, as previously mentioned, the VA pays 100% of tuition and books!
-if you choose to work nights, you must be a very responsible, independent thinker and bold! Since there are no attendings on nights, you have to be able to "suggest" alot of things the docs need to do, and/or order, if you have a not-so-bright doc on rotation
Hope this helps!! THE VA NEEDS EXCELLENT NURSES!!!