Soon to be nursing student wants to work with elderly!

Specialties Geriatric


Hello to everyone!! I will begin nursing school next month. I live in Mobile County, Alabama and I want to work with the elderly after graduation. I'm specifically interested in working with Veterans. We do have a VA outpatient clinic in Mobile, and the VA hospital in Biloxi. I don't know where to look to find the nearest VA LTC center. I have known for awhile that I wanted to work with veterans. I am a veteran and I had a surgery at the New Orleans VAMC in 1997. Not only was I the only woman on the floor for my 7 day hospital stay, but the only one under the age of 55. It was horrible how those elderly (and mostly minority) veterans were treated. Can anyone that works with Vets in a VA hospital, outpatient or LTC clinic give me some advice---good or bad? Thanks to all!!!!!!


27 Posts

Hi, this is a navy veteran reply regarding va, you were lucky to even get the care you got for your problem. 1997 in new orleans va was bad news,the positions of licensed people had a hiring freeze and the staff was depleted,to say the least it has improvedespecially for the women,as a new nursing student i would take any hospital experience first and then when you choose BILOXI would be a good place to relocate especially if you are a family person. dont let the va give you the runaround, you choose as you need to,its been the same all over the country,take your time and the long term care area is always going to be wide open,i have friends who have been to Texas and the va is in better than average shape for hiring good people who want to work with the elderly. take care,an old sailor:D

night owl

1,134 Posts

ok, let's try this again!

hello weathergirl,

i just posted you this long reply and lost it in cyberspace when i pressed the send button... :( now if i could remember what i typed, i'll be alright.

ah yes, the va... well, i've been a va nurse for 25 years now(lpn). when i first started in 1974 as a na (they weren't certified at that time) , the place was the pits! the buildings were old, never had modern equipment, and the "wards" all stunk badly of urine. to this day now that i think about it, i'm not sure how i managed to stay there this long. i've given my heart and soul (my back, my uterus) to all the patients that i have come in contact with whom have appreciated it all and continue to do so to this day.

in the past 5-7 years, the va has gone through tremendous changes. hospitals have merged, alot of lost jobs. we used to have a 1400 bed facility. now we have a 240 bed nursing home care unit, 3 units left open but soon to close behavioral science building, 1 locked "ward" in psych and an ambulatory care clinic which is old, but a new one is under construction. all equipment is state of the art, everything is computerized including the bar code medication system which is supposed to be the best, but is the most pain in the a$$ to do!no more pt charts...all in the computer.

the care and treatment of the pt.'s have improved 75%. it could be better if we had the staff to do so, but isn't that the dilemma in every facility across this country??? no care facility is going to be perfect delivering care to the pt.s. they all want to be, but you need more staff to do it.

i love my veterans as crazy as some of them can be and i wouldn't trade them for anyone else in the world. after all they've done for me and my country, it's the least i can give back to them...them's my boys and girls!

nhcu lyons, new jersey... the caring place

~night owl~ ;)


27 Posts

hi, glad to hear that jersey is improved,slowly but surely all over,i hope,the old va is slowly disappearing,keep up the spirit all the veterans appreciate you everyday,thanks darby.:D

I am also in Mobile, Alabama. I didn't realize there are so many options for nurses. I started the ADN program this past spring.

I have worked for two years in Texas Mental Health Hospital. I loved it!!! You would not believe the abuse the patients are subjected to!:( It makes me so angry.

Here is my story: There was a woman that had spent seven years in this hospital after trying to commit suicide by driving her truck into a power pole. This woman was tube feed, wouldn't walk, or sit up, or talk since her attempt.

I had worked there for about three months when I went into her room to get her ready for her day when I heard her, 'The birds are singing'. Remember she had not spoken in seven years. I looked around the room, we were the only two in there. I left confused. :confused:

The next morning, I heard, 'Goodmorning'. I WAS NOT CRAZY, SHE DID TALK.:) I walked over and asked this silent woman if she told me Goodmorning and she shook her head, yes. Slowly, I backed out of the room actually scared of her and ran down the hall and out of breath at the nurses station. 'SHE'S TALKING!!, SHE SAID GOODMORNING TO ME'. Oh, course no one believed me. I got strange looks from the staff as well as the Charge Nurse who rolled her eyes.

I went back down that hall and walked up to her bedside, 'Please talk to me'. She began telling me that I was the only person that had not pushed, tugged, or hit her when she did not cooperate. Some workers had dropped her on the floor, slapped her, and called her horrible names, and worse exposed her without regards to her privacy to humiliate her.

For the next six months, she participated in her treatment and accomplished alot. I would talk to her as often as I could. She had so much to say! (Her childhood, her failed marriage, her children, and her feelings about why she wanted to die.) My gosh, she bottled up seven years of life and to hear her now, she was ready to live again.

I want to be there for many more people, like this woman. She taught me so much about compassion and life. Those people become my family. Are we that different from them? Don't they deserve the same respect you do? Maybe they are 'crazy', but aren't we all 'crazy'?

Goodluck. :cool:


6,011 Posts


Bless you, every one of you.

I've also heard some of the awful VA stories. My brother-in-law contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome several years ago. He went to the neurologist who RECOMMENDED he not go to the Medical University Hospital but to go to the VA! It seems that the VA in Columbia SC had a really great neuro who was a GB specialist.

Well for literally several MONTHS he was totally paralyzed. Nothing worked except his eyes and his mind. As does happen with GB the resources come back generally in the order they were lost.

He said that one day he decided that he wasn't going to stay in that wheelchair forever. He thought and thought, and one day as the tech left him in the bathroom to brush his teeth, he plotted that he would get out of the chair and get ON the toilet.

He did just that, and when the tech returned.....they said they could hear her down the hall........MR. W CAN WALK! MR. W CAN WALK!!!! The whole staff of that unit came to his bathroom to see! That pretty uch said to me that there were some pretty good and caring folks at the VA Hospital!!

Like I said.: Bless you every one!


16 Posts

Hi Guys,

It's interesting hearing about your VA units. We don't have such things in the UK other than a few charity nursing homes for ex-service personnel. I work with the elderly and find veterans fascinating. I was in the Royal Army Medical Corps myself so I have a personal interest in it!



12 Posts

Hi! I'm so happy to hear that someone is interested in working with the elderly. I don't and never have worked at a VAMC but I have taken care of alot of veterans. I have worked in extended skilled care for nearly nine years now. I must tell you that when I was in nursing school I just knew that I absolutely didn't want to work with orthopedics or the elderly. well I was wrong. I have

gained tremendous knowledge and compassion for our nations elderly and I wouldn't trade my career path for anything in the world. When you rehabilitate or bring a 80 year person back from the brink of death and help give them a quality of life nothing in this world can compare. Please keep reaching for the fulfillment that comes with nursing and the elderly.

Just remember that everyone had a life, and a story to tell before they ever crossed their path. Listen. That's the most caring thing you can do. Good Luck KMP, RN


305 Posts

I work at a Veteran LTC facility. New building (1995). Most days I love my job, but there is the occasional @#$%^&% day just to keep you honest. I hope Alabama has as good of a setup for it's veterans as Oklahoma does. I feel very fortunate to work with these HEROS.

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