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VA Case Management

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Good afternoon all!

I applied for a case manager position at the VA, can anyone tell me about the job? I rarely see any openings for case mangement with the VA, which is possibly a good sign. Can you tell me the pros and cons. I have 12 years experience as a nurse with about 5 years being a case manager. I would really like some insight on the job as well as the salary..room for negotiation and things of that nature. Thanks in advance.

Peachpit

Has 31 years experience.

I have worked for the VA a few times in the past on short term assignments. Case Management included.

Salary with the VA is based on education, certifications and experience. Prior military experience or being married to someone in the military is given preference for interviews if requirements are met. There is no negotiation of salary. They go by a "step/grade" system which should've been mentioned in the job posting and would give you an idea of what "step/grade" you would be in. The actual salary (after that is determined) would also vary by where in the US you live (salaries are usually higher on the West Coast & up North than they are in the South). Same with the hours you would work which are referred to as your "tour of duty" The fact you have CM experience is a plus.

Case Management, the actual job responsibilities, with the VA depends on where you are CM - I.e. on a specific unit, in a CBOC, for home health, etc.

The process for getting hired at the VA is long - can take upwards of a year with the average time frame 6-8 months after being interview.. If you are in a hurry or need a job in a few weeks, you will need to find something else while you wait to see if you are selected for an interview. There should be a "closing date" in the job posting. Most of the time interviews are done after that date. All except one of the 3 interviews I had w/the VA were via telephone. PACT model of care is the VA way now so you may want to read up about it if you are notified of an interview. All interview questions are behavioral based.

The VA conducts in depth background checks - it's more than just the civilian type and they take much longer. You can look through other posts on here regarding VA hiring process.

I assume you applied though usajobs.gov. Make sure everything they ask for - transcripts, etc - are uploaded as all of that is used to determine employment. Also, if you are selected for the job, all of your information will go before "the board" NOT the BON in your state but "the board" at the VA who then looks at everything, determines your grade/step and sets the salary.

Make sure to find out where your on boarding and orientation will be. My last one was 2 1/2 hours one way from my house for 4 weeks. That was not told to me until AFTER I had accepted the position.

Good luck -

Hello thank you so much for responding!!

I appreciate the information. I have applied and had the interview, it was panel interview done over the phone. However the next step was a little strange, I had to do a pre placement physical, fingerprints as wells as background checks, but they have not advised of the salary. It is odd they would do this first, as I may not accept the offer that is decided on by the board, as you mention there is really no room for negotation, as well as the orientation location.

Did you like the case management postion. Was it a constant pace, were you busy non stop?

Thanks for sharing your experience...Im interest in the job, but have never experienced doing all of this before the offer is given to me.

Peachpit

Has 31 years experience.

It is not like the civilian sector at all. The process you are going through (physical, etc) including the telephone interview, is how it's done. The salary will be the last thing you will get notified of. Normally someone from HR will call you with the salary after all your information goes to "the board" and how fast that goes depends on how often they meet (weekly, biweekly, etc). Most meet weekly. The board reviews all your information then looks at education, etc and from there your step/grade is decided. No one I know has been able to negotiate salary because of how the feds determine it - based on the step/grade system.

They must've made a tentative offer based on your clearing all the items or they would've have had you do the physical etc. You should be able to check online where you applied if everything is back. Most people have a very difficult time getting in touch w/the HR contact but it may be different for you. The HR person should be able to tell you when they plan to send you to the board and it's normally a week or so after that you are notified of the salary. At that time, if it's acceptable to you ASK the HR person about the orientation (where it's held etc). I can tell you all new employees go through a 2 week orientation about the VA, etc. It's a lot longer than private sector orientation. You still may be required to attend some or all of nursing orientation, which is usually week 3, even in CM.

As far as the job itself, it was frustrating as there is a LOT of turn over, lack of response in the VA system, various steps to take to get something approved, etc and if someone was out sick/vacation then you had to wait most of the time, so something that should take 20 min may take a week or more. The "this is how we've always done it" or just lack of care/response was common among workers who have been in the system for years. It was very busy but the days went fast. You have to be able to deal with a LOT of complaints and repeated requests for things from internal and external sources which I guess could be anywhere but I'm in CM now and it's nothing like it was there. I had worked there in 2019-2020, 2012 and also another area in 2000. The VA has improved some but not as much as people think so when I was offered to position permanently earlier this year I declined. Overall, how the VA system isn't for me and I wouldn't work for the VA again. But again, some people have worked there for decades but I think most of the time it's for the benefits.

Which is another thing, it's mandatory to participate in the retirement program (FERS) so money is taken each paycheck. If you leave before retirement age you have to wait 30 days after you leave the VA then request your money back and it takes about 60 days after that to get your money.

Again, it just wasn't a good fit for me but it may be for you.

Thanks for the information regarding the orientation. The whole entire process seems a little bittle foreign to me, that is whay I reached out to others to see if I could get some information on the hiring process, the job etc.

I did reach out to the HR regarding salary, before I did the physical, fingerprints and all the other thngs they require and was told that they would not be able to disclose that information to me at this time. .............so I was like you want me to do all all of that and I may not accept depending upon the salary. They said, "yes that is correct"........I have never in all of my years in nursing, had to do physicals, labs, background check, fingerprinting without even knowing if I am going to accept the offer. That portion of the process is VERY STRANGE.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I really appreciate your honest opinion it was very helpful.!

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 4 years experience.

I will say it's an adjustment. I work at the VA and have been there for 2.5 years and it still frustrates me to no end why they do some of the things they do and the refusal to change. Overall though I do like my job (currently work the floor) and for the most part enjoy the pt's. If you feel like you are getting short changed you can appeal the board's recommendation but that also takes time.

Thanks for the information. This was the first time that I was offered the job-BUT- without knowing the salary. I am kind of heistant of going through all the testing, fingerprints and background check without even knowing how much the salary will be, the range on the job offer is a mimium to maxium range with different steps, however thanks for the suggestion about the appeal.

BSNbeDONE, ASN, BSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 35 years experience.

26 minutes ago, TeamRNs said:

Thanks for the information. This was the first time that I was offered the job-BUT- without knowing the salary. I am kind of heistant of going through all the testing, fingerprints and background check without even knowing how much the salary will be, the range on the job offer is a mimium to maxium range with different steps, however thanks for the suggestion about the appeal.

I know it is frustrating. "Welcome to the VA" as they say. Remember, even if you don't accept the job, the physical is yours and you can request your records as they may come in handy for another job search. 😉

On a similar note, hopefully your resume and application reflects EVERYTHING that you feel you should be compensated for, salary-wise. Otherwise, you could be looking at a not-so-appealing pay package. Do you have a BSN, MSN, or BSN w/Masters in another area? An ASN only will more than likely keep you in the Nurse I category, even with 12 years of experience.

Hello. Yes it is frustrating. That is a good point of requesting my medical records. Do you know how long they stay valid, if I don't accept the offer for this job and may apply for something within the VA.

I do have a Masters degree in Nursing, and I have about 7 years case mangement experience.

BSNbeDONE, ASN, BSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 35 years experience.

8 minutes ago, TeamRNs said:

Hello. Yes it is frustrating. That is a good point of requesting my medical records. Do you know how long they stay valid, if I don't accept the offer for this job and may apply for something within the VA.

I do have a Masters degree in Nursing, and I have about 7 years case mangement experience.

Oh, then you should have no worries at all, salary-wise. As far as the validity of your records, that would depend on the results. Some things even you may want repeated. But overall, I would say that the quantiferon test for TB may need to be repeated if not employed/position accepted within 3-6 months of test results, and definitely the drug screen would need to be repeated probably with each contingent offer.

Mind you, these are all my opinions. These are things that I had to repeat with every travel assignment (except the quantiferon....that was good for a year). I don't know how long or even if the VA will transfer anything in your file. But I will say, get those records and look at the results with your own eyes (that's all I'll say about that).

Thank you, I did not even think about requesting the results for my own personal records and well as "look" at the results, I will definately do that. I really appreciate your feedback.! All the information I can get is very helpful in this process!

Peachpit

Has 31 years experience.

Your Quanterion test is good for a year unless there would be am exposure of some kind where you would need to be retested. Same w/all your lab work and drug test. You won't be retested if you accept the position regardless of how long it is before that takes place. Drug tests are only done after hire if there is a situation that warrants one - suspicious of being under the influence, some mistake where they want to make sure, etc.

With your degree and experience, at least in the South, you would come in salary wise at least mid 80's but again, it depends on where you live region wise as they adjust for cost of living and in Jan of this year a raise went into effect for nurses over all - at least it did where I live. In the CM position you "may" be entitled to uniform allowance so ask HR about that. It was $400/yr.

As far as your physical results, labs results, the person who performed those in Employee Health should've had you complete a self addressed envelope so they would automatically mail a copy to you, if not, you will need to contact that person directly or the Employee Health dept where you went directly for those as HR doesn't have anything to do with it. As far as the background check, I don't know if you can obtain a copy after the fact or not as when mine was done I was asked up front if I wanted a copy - I said yes - and one was mailed to me. That would be an HR item.

If you physical, background, etc is all done and your transcripts have been sent to HR then they will either go ahead and send your info. to the board or they will ask you to complete a questionnaire about your experience to submit with all your other stuff. Then your salary is decided. Best option is to contact HR and ask where you are in the process of being sent to the boards.

Again, if you accept the offer make sure to ask about orientation upfront. If you DO have to travel more than 70 miles one way they will arrange for accommodations including meals and mileage. I opted to drive back and forth because of having worked for them before I knew I would end up having to pay out of pocket for everything upfront then filling out yet another form or two to get my money back and it wasn't worth the headache so I just submitted for mileage once it was over and they threw in meals as well. It was about 8 weeks after orientation was completed I got my money.

Good afternoon.

I am in the South, and hopefully the salary is in the mid range of 80k, at least that is what I am expecting..fingers crossed. I don't know anyone who is in case mangement or who previously worked in case mangement, so the information that you all are providing is very very helpful!! I truly appreciate it.

I will definately ask about the uniform allowance if it is not volunteered. I live 66 miles away from the location...which is only 4 miles short of the 70 for reimburses...what a bummer.😪

I know you mention 2 weeks of orientation. Is that about the specific job role of case mangement or is that just general information regarding benefits, overall operation of VA etc. Thanks and if there is anything else your think of and can share about the specific role of case mangement...please share. Thanks again!

Peachpit

Has 31 years experience.

The uniform allowance I know is given to nurses that work the floor and also the "CBOCs" but I don't know about CM but ask.

The orientation is 2 weeks of general, the 3rd week is nursing orientation which you may be required to attend all or some, after that will be whatever orientation is specific to your job and that may not be where you will be actually working. For instance, where I worked a nurse was hired to work mental health (outpatient clinic), she had 2 weeks of general orientation, 1 week of nursing, then 3 weeks to her job - all 90 miles one way - (I think I said 70 in an earlier post but it's 90 miles from where we worked to the main hospital where everything takes place). She was not aware of this until AFTER she accepted the position and quit her other job so she had no choice - she was also a single parent so she had to drive it every day. The orientation is LONG and getting payroll, computer access, badges etc is a PAIN. It took HOURS to get simple small things done. So be prepared. Also, if there is an uptown division and a downtown division as some VA's have, you may go back and forth on the same day for things. It's not like orientation at a private hospital. You will still get mileage and meals - or should - so ask HR upfront about that - you will have to submit for it after it's all over and again it will take weeks to get it approved/paid and you will need to check on the status weekly. As far as a hotel, I don't think they will pay for one that close to the facility but you can ask.

You should hit mid to high 80's on salary. I can't imagine you wouldn't. I made a little over 94K but between taxes and the mandatory retirement I came out about what I was making when I worked another job at less a salary. Overall, for me, the VA was just not worth the constant stress - even for the money - it was way different that any other place I worked and after the last time I knew for sure I wouldn't go back. But again, your experience may end up being vastly different.

wkndsupervisor, BSN

Specializes in Case Management. Has 30 years experience.

Following this post...Started at the VA in April as an Inpatient Care Coordinator. I have 25+ years experience including case management. It is a new position but the duties described was similar to case management in private hospital. Orientation was expedited and conducted virtually due to covid. I chose to get back into the VA because you can't match the retirement, benefits and they will pay for me to get my MSN.

JENFKB, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Informatics, Home Health, Telehealth.

On 9/25/2020 at 5:27 PM, wkndsupervisor said:

Following this post...Started at the VA in April as an Inpatient Care Coordinator. I have 25+ years experience including case management. It is a new position but the duties described was similar to case management in private hospital. Orientation was expedited and conducted virtually due to covid. I chose to get back into the VA because you can't match the retirement, benefits and they will pay for me to get my MSN.

How are you liking your CM role? I am considering taking on this role at my local VA. How is the workload? Are you able to work remote? Thank you!