Working for the VA


Quick question for those who work for the VA. I know the initial application process takes a while (I was told to expect 6 months), but once in the system, how easy is it to move to different specialties, if I wanted to try different things (i.e. floor nursing to ICU or ED, or vice versa)



5,345 Posts

Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Trauma Rapid Response. Has 16 years experience.
Quick question for those who work for the VA. I know the initial application process takes a while (I was told to expect 6 months), but once in the system, how easy is it to move to different specialties, if I wanted to try different things (i.e. floor nursing to ICU or ED, or vice versa)


**** It's a matter of there being an opening in the department you want to work in and applying for it. VA nurse managers like to hire internal applicants as the process is much shorter. If a manager wants to hire you and there is an opening then it is very easy to move to a different unit.

I would say it is pretty easy when there are opening. Your prospective nurse manager will look very closely at the number of times you call in sick or are late. RNs get 4 hours of sick time and 8 hours of vacation time per two week pay period. My observation is that the sick time is regularly abused in the VA.

Specializes in Emergency, MCCU, Surgical/ENT, Hep Trans. Has 20 years experience.

Amen. I work with a few RNs, for that very reason, will never be transferred, nor hired anywhere else. I'm sure this is not only at VAs, but most VAs are smaller, the nurse managers are very tight and the abuse of paid time, is not tolerated well. Most VA nurses are older, therefore sicker, but it amazes me, how much the paid time is abused for "other" reasons, which certainly wouldn't be tolerated at regular hospitals. As a former manager at an outside, major medical center, I thought we had a liberal HR department, but they still allowed firings and after a few write ups, bam, we terminated the employee. The VA? Never.

Otherwise, I find the VA to be a great place to work. Most of the old vets are tough, appreciative and are a hoot to talk with. Now, as for the employees, not so much. Most of the physicians are rather laid back, a lot of foreign docs, but for the most part, they are easy to work with, the pace is a lot more enjoyable vs outside hospitals.

I know some VAs are run-down, but the .gov is pouring a lot of money into remodeling a bunch of centers. Hiring is slow, but once your in the .gov, you really have it made as far as transferring and retirement. Nice to travel to different parts of country and know you are still counting toward retirement. Best of luck!


16 Posts

I just started at the VA. I work in telehealth. From the time I applied until my first day of orientation, it was about 4 months. I was working so I wasn't in a bind and needing employment. So far, I love it! I went from floor nurse to office and that in itself is a big difference. At the facility I'm at, RNs seem to be treated as more "professional" than the community hospital I came from. There are all kinds of training I can take and they pay extra for every certification you have to or get. I say go for it! I did and I'm happy I did!

Specializes in cardiology/oncology/MICU. Has 3 years experience.

I have worked at this VA for 7 years now. I started as a CNA and then finished school. I like the VA and know that as far as benefits and pay, you cannot beat it anywhere. As some have mentioned, there are a lot of older nurses here. I look at this as a good thing because they will be retiring within the next several years creating more opportunity to advance. We do receive great amounts of leave, and yes, some people do abuse this. In my experience it is not the old nurses that call in, it is the younger ones. You have job security with the va. The VA is the largest healthcare network in the world. We do not have all of the glamour as private hospitals, but at the end of the day the pay, benefits, and patient population make this the very best place to work.


54 Posts

Easy as said above especially if you know the manager hiring.


832 Posts

I call the VA the VA Spa. Even though the ICU I work in isn't a spa a lot of the time. It is what it is. The scooters some of them ride-VA Harleys. Change is slow but it does happen. Even though I'm an older nurse, I've only been in the system for 10 years after working in the private sector. Each VA has it's own personality. It took me a while to get accustomed to how things work. I love working with the vets. They are tough! I especially love the WW 2 guys.

I transferred from one VA to another one 400 miles away. Because it is more expensive to live where I am now, they have locality pay. This adjusts your income if you move to an area where it costs more to live. I make more money because it costs more to live in this area.


3 Posts

Have worked at a VA for over a year now. I do think each has their own personality and I do strongly believe standards are higher/lower at different hospitals. Accountability does not exist which is a shock compared to private sector. Nobody is EVER fired because the union is too strong. Management is hit/miss and the same acountability issue applies there. If you are a staff member with good work ethics, be warned, you will be in placed in the situation of carrying the work burden for the incompetents and lazy people. You must be able to say no. The benefits are unheard of in this day, particularly compared to private sector. I think the VA is a great place to work IF you get into one of the hospitals with good reputation. Look for Magnate status, positive online reviews...I think the smaller ones do better overall. I plan on staying and improving my skills and relocating to a better VA.


6 Posts

when you say internal candidate (for VA), does it include volunteers as well?


116 Posts

Hello All, I have an interview at the VA and I spent the last 4 days studying about behavioral interviews. I wonder if any came help with how many "experiences" I should have filed away in my brain (or on index cards). I am wracking my brain and having trouble. I have been a practicing NP for 8 1/2 years, but I am stumped and need a little guidance.

Thank You guys!


99 Posts

Has 4 years experience.

I must agree with others responses but I love working at the va hospital. It's the patients that make it special!


116 Posts

I had my first interview and now just had the second interview. It is down to 3 of us. They said it could take a month before we know.