Work-life balance? Excellent time off? Education benefits? On-site fitness centers and childcare centers? Respect? If you are already working at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic or hospital, you know the benefits of being a VA employee.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the largest employer of nurses in the nation, and VA nursing careers come with generous benefits. Not all locations come with fitness and childcare centers, but a career with the VA has no end of opportunities for nurses to excel.
RNs in Pennsylvania who want to advance their VA nursing career may want to consider the Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) online program at La Salle University. La Salle's program connects advanced nursing research, theory and clinical practice to prepare nurse practitioners to meet the needs of diverse groups and populations.
What Are Some Benefits of a VA Nursing Career?
When it comes to job benefits, health insurance, paid time off and a 401(k) commonly come to mind. These days, free healthy snacks might even make the list. The VA is known for its robust benefits. But there are advantages to a VA nursing career that are less tangible.
The words of President Lincoln — and the motto of the VA — point to another reason RNs choose a VA nursing career: "to care for those 'who shall have borne the battle.'" Nurses may find personal and professional satisfaction in serving their country and providing compassionate care to veterans.
Other valuable benefits of a VA nursing career relate to education and career growth. Advancing to the highest "grade" of employment within the VA requires at least an MSN. And the VA offers plenty of support to achieve that goal.
For example, RNs who have their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and want to earn their MSN FNP may be eligible for:
- Scholarship opportunities
- Funding to advance formal education
- Tuition reimbursement programs
- The national loan forgiveness program
How Does the VA Support NPs?
An FNP program such as La Salle's MSN FNP prepares graduates as independent practitioners. Some states recognize NPs as primary care providers. However, other states, including Pennsylvania, reduce or restrict the scope of practice for NPs.
NPs in Pennsylvania have what is called "reduced practice." As the American Association of Nurse Practitioners explains, this requires a "career-long regulated collaborative agreement with another health provider in order for the NP to provide patient care."
In support of NPs practicing to "the full extent of their education, training and certification," the VA took the step to grant full practice authority to NPs throughout the VA's healthcare system. This decision takes precedence over state laws that reduce or restrict NP practice.
For RNs who want to advance their clinical practice and gain more autonomy by earning an MSN FNP, browsing some current job openings could provide the incentive to get started:
- Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Services/Women's Health; $72,180 to $122,232 per year
- Fee Basis Nurse Practitioner, $48 to $96 per hour (permanent appointment with intermittent schedule)
- CRNP, Vascular, $73,024 to $131,782 per year
- CRNP, inpatient and urgent care, $80,931 to $138,432 per year
- Nurse Practitioner, Deputy Chief, Community Care Service, $83,700 to $143,171 per year
- Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Department, $61,894 to $131,385 per year
(The above pay information is as of September 2019.)
An NP career with the VA offers diverse settings, varied work schedule options, strong salaries, and even the potential to qualify for the Education Debt Reduction Program. La Salle's MSN FNP online program can help RNs take the next step in their VA nursing career to increase access to care at a new level.
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