Want to Be a Psychiatric Nurse at VHA? Five Groups You’ll Make an Impact On

Want to Be a Psychiatric Nurse at VHA? Five Groups You’ll Make an Impact On

You entered the field of psychiatric nursing because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of patients. As a psychiatric nurse with VHA, you’ll do that and more. Not only will you play a critical role in changing the lives of Veterans, often in the most challenging stage of their life, but you’ll work with their network of family and friends to provide whole healing and a successful outcome. Learn more about the specific Veteran populations you’ll be working with and the opportunities for making an impact.

1. The families of Veterans

VA offers a range of family services for Veterans and their family members, including family education, brief problem-focused consultation, family psychoeducation, and marriage and family counseling. Our psychiatric nurses play an integral part in facilitating these services, working with all members of the family to provide holistic solutions.

2. Homeless Veterans

VA is the only Federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless Veterans. As a VHA psychiatric nurse, you’ll have the unique opportunity to step outside the hospital walls and treat Veterans who would not otherwise seek help. Additional VA assistance programs where you can make an impact include:

  • Drop-in centers where Veterans who are homeless can shower, get a meal, and get help with a job or getting back into society
  • Transitional housing in community-based programs
  • Long-term assistance, case management and rehabilitation

3. Veterans with Serious Mental Illness

Veterans diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder and Bipolar Disorder work with VHA psychiatric nurses on a variety of treatment plans, including psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery services to optimize functioning. In addition, you’ll be a part of our Mental Health Intensive Case Management team. The team of mental health physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers helps Veterans experiencing symptoms of severe mental illness cope with their symptoms and live more successfully at home and in the community.

4. Veterans adjusting to civilian life

The transition process from military to civilian life is a challenging one, and our psychiatric nurses are there from the beginning to provide crucial support. At our 300 community-based Vet Centers, our staff provides adjustment counseling and outreach services to all Veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for family members for military-related issues, and bereavement counseling is offered for parents, spouses and children of Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserve personnel who died in the service of their country.

5. Older Veterans

To provide specialized care for our older Veterans, we’ve developed VA Community Living Centers (CLCs). Here, you will treat older Veterans needing temporary assisted care until they can return home or find placement in a nursing home. Our staff also works on ensuring that Veterans can safely live independently by screening for dementia and general assessments that help us decide whether the Veteran can make informed medical decisions.

As a psychiatric nurse at VHA, the work you do will deeply affect the Veteran, their family and generations of families to come. View our Nursing positions or, Join VA in making a difference in one of the many other health care fields available.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

VA Nurse Gives a Family the Chance to Say Goodbye

VA Nurse Gives a Family the Chance to Say Goodbye

CPR in a restaurant on a woman not breathing

Here is just one story about how VA nurses excel in their occupation, on and off duty.

VA Nurse Karen Brodlo sat in a restaurant enjoying her dinner when she heard someone yell to call 911.

She looked up to see an elderly woman had collapsed and was not breathing. The woman was having dinner with her husband when the night took a turn for the worst.

Brodlo quickly jumped in action. As a VA nurse for 23 years and in the nursing field since 1969, it was second nature. She identified herself to the crowd as a nurse and assessed the situation.  Right away she noticed that the woman was positioned incorrectly.  She quickly made the adjustments and started to administer CPR.

She continued manual CPR process until the rescue team arrived. She then turned her focus to the husband who was nervous and scared for his wife’s well-being. She tried to calm him down as the rescue team continued to work to save the woman’s life.

She remembers the worst part being, not having the equipment she needed. She suggested to the restaurant after the incident that a general-use defibrillator would be a useful addition.  Just as most businesses have fire extinguishers, a defibrillator should also be a requirement. Just as easy to use, it’s better to have and not need it than to need it and not have it.

After much praise came her way for saving a life, Brodlo said, “I just did what was right. No accolades are needed for doing my job.”

The restaurant now gives her star treatment. The daughter of the woman she saved sent a bouquet of flowers along with a heartfelt thank you card calling Brodlo her mom’s “Guardian Angel.”

Brodlo is a nurse at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.

As a caring nurse who adores her job, she followed up on the status of her honorary patient. Sadly, a couple of weeks after the incident, the woman passed away from further complications, but the family was overwhelmingly grateful.

The last days with any family member or loved one is crucial. If it wasn’t for the quick actions of nurse Karen Brodlo, they would have missed out on the opportunity to say their last goodbye.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

UM Charles Receives Multiple Awards from AWE

UM Charles Receives Multiple Awards from AWE

The University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center has received multiple accolades recently. For the 15th successive year, the medical center has earned the Workplace Excellence Seal of Approval Award from the Alliance for Workplace Excellence. UM Charles Regional Medical Center was also awarded the Health & Wellness Seal of Approval award, for the 13th successive year, and the Ecoleadership award for a second year.

There is a lot to be said for the continued growth and development of our organization and our workforce,” said Stacey Cook, UM Charles Regional Medical Center vice president of human resources. “To be recognized again this year for the programs we offer that help our employees with work life balance, opportunities for development, wellness and a positive impact on the environment is amazing.”

The Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE) is a non-profit based in Montgomery County, Maryland, dedicated to increasing workplace excellence through education and recognition, in order to strengthen quality of life and economic growth. They do so with several kinds of awards, including those recently given to UM Charles Regional Medical Center. All recipients are thoroughly assessed by an independent review panel.

 The Workplace Excellence award is given those with strong commitment to balance in leadership and success throughout their workforce, where the Ecoleadership award is given to employers leading the way for environmental sustainability within the workplace. The Health & Wellness Seal of Approval is awarded to employers who create and provide programs to better employees’ health and wellness.

These awards and successes are the result of UM Charles Regional Medical Center putting their employees and community first and foremost every day. “We are celebrating 80 years of service to the community this year and that would not be possible without our engaged and committed employees,” Cook added.

For more information about the UM Charles Regional Medical Center, click here.

VA North Texas Nurse Uses 44 Years of Service to Mentor Next Generation

VA North Texas Nurse Uses 44 Years of Service to Mentor Next Generation

In 1975, with the Vietnam War still fresh in the minds of the American public, most high school senior graduation plans did not include joining the U.S. Army. But for eighteen-year-old Virginia “Ginny” Warren, the North Texas daughter of a cotton farmer, the Army looked like an ideal path. Much to the chagrin of her father, Ginny Warren had just set forth on a 44-year journey from soldier to VA Nurse.

“The Army offered me a way to broaden my horizons and to learn,” said Warren, Nurse Manager at VA North Texas Health Care System.

Warren began her military career with two-years in medical administrative field before spending the next twenty-two years as a medic with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 94thCombat Support Hospital, based in Seagoville, Texas. With a primary mission to take a 150-person deployable hospital anywhere in the world and be ready to receive casualties within 72 hours of arrival, Warren continuously trained for the opportunity to apply her talents while developing a new passion to become a Registered Nurse (RN).

Through her career in the Reserves, the Army sent Warren to licensed vocational nurse (LVN) training and Warren quickly realized she had an aptitude and attitude for nursing. Warren went on to attend the University of Texas at Tyler School of Nursing to become a RN and was subsequently commissioned in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

“I had to find my place as a new nurse and new military officer,” said Warren. “I had a lot to learn, but I felt I had a lot to offer as well.”

After becoming an RN, Warren brought her health care experience to VA and joined another family of nursing professionals at VA North Texas in 1997.

In 2003, Warren’s Reserve unit was called upon to deploy to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to treat wounded servicemembers straight from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The ability to muster tremendous internal strength and compassion, coupled with her many years of training to deploy on a moment’s notice, was exactly what the soldiers, Marines and airman she treated would need to make their next journey back stateside to recover with family and friends.

“I vividly remember leaning over this big sergeant, hugging him, and whispering in his ear that it would be okay, and the pain won’t last,” said Warren.

Warren would go on to give more than 40 years in uniform, retiring as a field grade officer in 2015.

With over 22 years of service as a VA nurse, Warren now walks the inpatient wards of the Dallas VA Medical Center where she once served as junior nurse, as a manager and mentor to a new generation of nursing professionals who rely on her expertise and experience to care for many of the 134,000 active patients who use VA North Texas for their health care each year.

“Nursing is not just a career, it’s a passion and a devotion,” said Sheila Wise, VA North Texas Nurse Manager, and herself a retired U.S. Army Nurse. “To bring that passion and devotion to the service of our Veterans the way the Ginny has, and continues to do every day, for as long as she has, makes her an inspiration and a guiding figure for our nursing team. She makes all of us better.”

While eighteen-year-old Ginny Warren could have never foreseen the impact she would have on our nation through her service to military servicemembers and Veterans over 44 years, the nearly 3,000 nurses who apply their skills at VA North Texas are glad that the cotton farmer’s daughter left home to make the journey of a lifetime.

“Nursing has always been where I could pour my heart and soul,” said Warren. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

Nurse Safety Highlighted in Twin Cities Hospital Negotiations

Nurse Safety Highlighted in Twin Cities Hospital Negotiations

The Star Tribune reports that nurses across Twin Cities hospitals are pressing for more workplace safety in their contract negotiations. As hospitals are in negotiations with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), they’re hearing that protections for nurses are becoming a top priority, as nurses are wearied from being hit, shoved, or yanked by their patients.

This is the first time nursing contract negotiations are being held since 2016, when Allina hospital nurses went on strike for health insurance benefits. These current negotiations have been in talks, with contracts set to expire May 31. But it appears that no deal will be happening by then, and the MNA is planning to strike again.

One nurse, Mary McGibbon, shared with the Star Tribune that she wore a sling for her elbow injury (brought about accidentally by a patient) to a contract negotiation meeting. Accidents with patients are common enough, but there is more concern as hospitals have seen an increase of patients with mental health issues. Sometimes the patients will deliberately attack their nurses, which can be so traumatic it affects their ability to work.

“These can be life-changing attacks,” McGibbon said. “Some [nurses] can’t go back to the bedside.”

Steady Increase of Patient-Caused Injuries

Workers compensation claims increased by nearly 40 percent between 2013 and 2014, up to 70 percent, and have remained at 65 percent or higher since then. These numbers reported by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry only count the most severe cases reported, including those where nurses missed three or more days of work due to injury.

Talks for nurse protection have been gaining speed since a 2014 incident, where a patient attacked and injured four nurses with a metal bar. Minnesota passed a law in 2015, making hospital staff training on de-escalating and preventing violence mandatory.

Another nurse, Michelle Smith, is back to work in surgical recovery but still going through recovery from a concussion she got roughly two years ago. She similarly is pushing for more support in negotiations to prevent these incidents from happening.

“There’s that fear,” Smith shared with the Star Tribune. “You still treat your patients the way you’re going to treat your patients, but there’s that thing in the back of your head — ‘could this happen again?’”

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Listen to the Chapter Podcasts for Jonas and Kovner's Health Care Delivery in the United States


Gain a better understanding of the current state of the US health care system and how it might impact your work and life.

You have Successfully Subscribed!