VA Hospital Med-Surg vs Private Hospital Telemetry?

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Hi everyone I am a new grad recently offered an RN position at the VA hospital I currently work as a tech at, on a med surg unit. I also have an offer for John Muir new grad program on a telemetry unit. 

I like where I currently work as everyone is nice and the commute is about 30-45 minutes. However, I am not sure if I am taking interest to the veteran patient population anymore. John Muir is about 60-70 minutes away but the pay is about $15~/hr more. Both 12 hour night shifts. 

I am wondering what would be best for growth as a new grad? And if that commute would be worth the money/experience. I precepted on a med/surg unit so I am also wondering how the telemetry learning curve would be. Eventually, I would like to transfer to an emergency department position.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience. 6,878 Posts

Working for the VA is priceless. You will not find better benefits.

As far as the $15/hour difference , compare benefits... in the long run. 

You  will eventually learn telemetry @ the VA.  The learning curve is not that hard... you will be given adequate time and training to learn.

Best wishes.


gere7404, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room, CEN, TCRN. Has 5 years experience. 658 Posts

the VA sucks, especially for paying new grads. you can put that $15/hr into a 401K and make more than whatever the current FERS benefits are.

telemetry is easy to learn, check out; you'll also probably have to get ACLS to work tele so that will help you understand and identify rhythms.

ThePrincessBride, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 7 years experience. 1 Article; 2,569 Posts

The VA hands down. Benefits are better, you get a crap ton of vacation and sick time, there is FERS with TSP matching. Plus it is a lot closer.

60 to 70 minutes one way commute would be a non-starter. That extra 15 per hour will quickly be eaten up by gas money, higher insurance premiums, and taxes.  

mtmkjr, BSN

371 Posts

A 60-70 minute commute for 12 hour shifts would be the biggest negative for me. I would not do that to myself. For one thing I get sleepy driving especially after a night shift that would be unsafe. However I know many people do it. 




314 Posts

I retired from federal service (Indian Health Service) and you can’t beat federal service. I found working in the federal system was more of a mission and that it aligned with my personal values. I would never would work for a private system as the corporate money aspect is always the most important focus along with the dreaded patient satisfaction. Ugh. But that is just me and my 40 yr career outlook. 

You can’t beat the VA for benefits and vacation time. And also, you can transfer anywhere in the country and even worldwide if you want adventure. And lots of educational opportunities as well. And don’t forget that when you retire, you keep your benefits for life. My husband is disabled and we have really good federal insurance. We would be broke if we had to pay large premiums, co pays, etc. please check out OPM for retirement ages. It’s not just retiring at 66.4 months as it is for most people and your time will go by fast. 😢 Money isn’t everything. And the long commute would be a killer especially after a 12 hour night shift. Me after a 12 hour night shift on my drive home. “Hmm, both my eyes are closed” Eek. 

Also, I know VA’s pay differ by locality but at IHS, I always made about 30,000 more a year than my private sector friends. FYI


Edited by jobellestarr


OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 7 years experience. 1,198 Posts

I work VA and I make more than the private sector hospitals around me. The one downside to VA is that depending where your VA is at you may not get to see things very often that are seen everyday at a private sector hospital. The acuity is also probably higher at the private sector hospital. I have no desire to go back for CRNA or NP so I am fine with riding out my career at the VA. You can't beat the benefits and you can transfer to any VA in the system without having to get a new RN license. 



1,570 Posts

I would never work at the VA.  The care there is crappy.  Yes, they have great benefits including a pension.  I’ve seen one too many horrific things come out of there that has had to be cleaned up by other hospitals.  



314 Posts

I think it probably differs from facility to facility. I worked at the Phoenix VA and thought that the care was really good.

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 10 years experience. 3,098 Posts

Fed benefits are amazing!  My husband works for Dept of Homeland. Insurance is great. I'd stay at the VA.