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Leaving VA for ED experience


Specializes in Anesthesia. Has 7 years experience.

Hey everybody! i have somewhat of a dilemma here. I've wanted to work ED and ICU since I went into nursing. I actually went into nursing with the intent to work in the ED. i currently work at a VA in progressive care. Decent pay and good long term benefits. However, i am bored and feel like im not challenged. Our pt population is very limited and although I've only been a nurse for about 3 years, i feel like i mastered my unit. I'm even floating to ICU and ER to learn and get more experience, but theyre both kind of lower level and I feel like I'm robbing myself of getting the high acuity experience that i want by staying here. However, when i calculate my retirement (30 years from now-I'm in my twenties) it makes me want to stay. I guess i just don't feel very professionally satisfied here. Our new manager is also very inexperienced at the bedside (about as much as me in a lower acuity area), which has made it somewhat of a more annoying and difficult work environment than it used to be. We also have to work 80 hours/pay period instead of 72(which I loathe), but overall, the work is very doable.

I was offered an ED spot as a new grad in a CRAZY busy hospital, but I went with the VA because at the time I perceived it to be the financially smarter thing. I sometimes regret that decision.

i just got offered an emergency department position at a local private hospital. The pay is slightly better, but the retirement is not as good. It's also 72 hours only, which will allow me to work my per diem job more, so overall I will be making a lot more money. They will also crosstrain me in ICU. This is the experience that i want and crave. However, I'm finding it very difficult to give up a secure and easy federal position. Transferring units at this particular VA isn't an option due to the bureaucracy and red tape that the federal government is known for. What would you guys do?? If you weren't an ER nurse, would you ER nurses give up an easy and secure federal slot to become an ER nurse again? Or would you stick it out and be bored on a PCU floor that floats you all around the hospital to get good benefits and retirement??

Edited by ProgressiveThinking

I'd go ED while your young enough to cope with the craziness that is emergency nursing. You can change to a slower pace one day when/if it's too much.

You sound very sensible and are obviously thinking this through properly. But could you seriously do what ur doing now 'every' day for the next 30 years!


Has 2 years experience.

Can you stay PRN at the VA? Also, you've accrued a few years at the VA. Get out, do what you want, and then go back one day. VA DOES have nice retirement but still, you need to like what you do. If I was floating at the VA, I may stay. But then again, I'm kind of over the ER.

Pixie.RN, MSN, RN

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 13 years experience.

I go with professional satisfaction every time.

ProgressiveThinking, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in Anesthesia. Has 7 years experience.

thanks for the replies. I accepted the job and on Monday I'm going to talk to the manager about going per diem at the va. going from a well-known hospital to somewhat of a ghetto hospital is a risk, but I'm hoping this will open up more opportunities for me. im also hoping that going out and getting private sector experience Will allow me to go back to the VA and get boarded back in at a higher pay grade. definitely is a risk though, but I'm super excited. there is no failing and im ready for the challenge. super stoked.

Edited by ProgressiveThinking

I'm excited to hear you say this! Love to hear how you get on. Good luck!!

ProgressiveThinking, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in Anesthesia. Has 7 years experience.

My boss said I could go per diem (8 hours per pay period), but I would be in a float pool, and I would have to reapply and go through all the red tape that is required to become a federal employee again if I ever wanted to come back. She said that's IF they hire me back because a lot of depends on the applicant pool, vet preference, etc. What's not making my decision any easier to stomach is that the VA secretary is now saying he's going to give VA nurses raises to increase retention.

NickiLaughs, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care. Has 12 years experience.

Hi OP, you PMed me but I cant reply because your inbox is full. If the facility is the one that you mentioned me, I'd stay where you are at until you find a better learning facility. You will not likely get exposed to nearly as much as you would hope. They don't have STEMI or stroke designation, which means missing out on some learning. Yes you will get the walk ins, but they will get shipped out quickly. I don't believe they are a good learning experiences get shipped out fairly quickly. Unfortunately as I've never worked there, I can't speak from a staff nurses opinion.

It sounds like you've already made your decision though? Hopefully it will afford you ER experience to get into a better facility eventually. Good luck in whatever you decide.