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.

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.

Celebrating the Contributions of VA Nurses: Delivering the Quality Care That Leads to Better Health Outcomes Among Veterans

Celebrating the Contributions of VA Nurses: Delivering the Quality Care That Leads to Better Health Outcomes Among Veterans

In honor of Nurses Week 2019, Acting Chief Nursing Officer Beth Taylor celebrates nurses and nursing careers at VA

As Acting Chief Nursing Officer for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Beth Taylor, DHA RN, NEA-BC, provides executive leadership and strategic direction for the Office of Nursing Services. She also advises the Under Secretary for Health on nursing issues that impact the 100,000 VA nursing personnel nationwide who care for Veterans. Taylor has served the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since 1996, when she joined the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan, as Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive. Taylor assumed her current position, which is based at VA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, on April 2, 2018.

In honor of national #NursesWeek 2019, Taylor describes her role in nursing at VA, explains the benefits of VA nursing careers and why VA celebrates nurses.

How long have you served at VA and in what roles?

I joined VA as a Nurse Executive in 1996 and served in a VA hospital in Michigan. I worked in two VA facilities within the state of Michigan, in Saginaw and Detroit. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to serve as a Nurse Executive in a variety of different stations, including in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tucson, Arizona; and twice in Washington, D.C., for the Office of Nursing Services. This is my second time working for the Office of Nursing Services. One consistent aspect of our work — regardless of where we serve as nurses or nurse executives — is ensuring that we provide the highest quality of care to our Veterans, and we pay attention to the Veteran experience.

Why did you choose a career at VA?

I worked in the private sector for many years. I decided to pursue a career in VA for two reasons. One, I’m proud to say I come from a very long line of Veterans in my family and was the first generation not to serve in the military. And so, I looked at this as an opportunity to provide my service to our nation. The other reason is that I was recruited by another chief nursing officer at VA who was retiring. She talked to me about the great opportunities here and the wonderful mission of VA. She was right, and I stayed for the next 20-some years.

What are your reasons for celebrating the nurses you lead and serve with at VA?

VA nurses touch our Veterans’ lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re one of the professions that is present during administrative hours and throughout all the nonadministrative hours. When you think about it, that’s when the majority of healthcare for our inpatients and our long-term care residents is provided.

When you look at the quality outcomes for our health system, VA nurses make such a strong contribution to improving the health of our Veterans. They are by the bedside providing not only the clinical expertise and knowledge, but also that human compassion that ensures that our Veterans are not only receiving quality healthcare but they’re also comfortable, and they know there’s somebody there who cares for them and is watching over them. I think that’s what makes nurses so special and certainly our VA nurses exemplify that aspect of our profession.

What are the most rewarding parts of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is, of course, knowing that I’m serving our nation’s heroes. There’s no better mission than the one that we have and no better patient population than the one that we serve. It’s truly an honor every day.

We are the largest nursing corps in the United States — possibly the world. And so, the second joy is knowing that I am supporting the nearly 100,000-strong nursing corps that is VA. Through the examination of the policies and being the clinical and leadership voice on various committees, I want to make sure that nursing is represented and that we make it easier for nurses to do.

Coming to work every day, my goal is to make it easier for the nurses to do a great job in meeting the mission and taking care of the patients every day.

What are one or two areas you plan to focus on in leading VA’s nurses over the next year or two?

As within the larger healthcare industry, we have a growing percentage of the RN population that is over age 50 and a shrinking percentage that is under age 30, which is a real concern. We have a mission of ensuring the next generation of workforce through our training programs, and we focus on how we can bring new undergraduate and graduate nurses. We also want to transfer the great knowledge and experience of our senior nurses to our newer nurses.

Why should nurses starting out in their careers take a closer look at VA?

In my experience, VA is the richest employer in terms of the scholarship opportunities that we offer nurses — not only scholarships on the front end, which help pay their tuition through the program that they are interested in pursuing but also through the Education Debt Reduction Program that allows us to offset college debt. We have an opportunity to offset some debt for people who have completed their degrees already and are employed at VA in key positions.

What are some other ways that VA supports nurses and nursing careers?

One mechanism we use to promote nursing is the nursing residency program, which invites nurses in training to work at VA. Another way is by looking at our pay structure and ensuring that we’re competitive. We also look at scholarship opportunities and make sure that we have plenty of opportunities to grow nurses, whether folks come in as nursing assistants and advance to become Advanced Practice Nurses or RNs. We need to have those career paths in place so we can have a strong and well-prepared workforce for the future.

What are the career paths for nurses at VA?

There are so many different avenues in which you can take your nursing career at VA. You can pursue continuing education. You can pursue graduate education and become a provider. You can pursue becoming a nurse researcher — we have many nurses who work in research and contribute to knowledge, best practices and clinical leadership practices. So, there’s a variety of different avenues that you can take at VA. We have facilities in all 50 states so you can go anywhere as a VA nurse and continue serving the mission.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

Five Reasons Neuro Nurses Don’t Want to Leave VHA

Five Reasons Neuro Nurses Don’t Want to Leave VHA

Why VHA is the Right Choice for Neuro Nurses

Whether you are looking to break into the health care industry, expand your skills mid career or build on a lifetime of experience, it’s important to find an employer that will foster your growth and offer you a fulfilling experience. At Veterans Health Administration (VHA), we believe in investing in our employees’ professional and personal development by providing opportunities you won’t find with any other health care system.

If you’re a nurse who specializes in caring for patients suffering from neurological problems, check out these top five reasons why VHA would be the perfect fit for you:

  1. VHA is the largest health care system in the U.S., as well as the largest employer of nurses in the Nation, meaning the career opportunities at VA are endless. With five Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers, 19 Polytrauma Network Sites and a wide variety of nursing careers, finding work in your desired interdisciplinary team in an area near you is simple.
  2. Continuous learning is a key element in keeping our employees at the forefront of clinical practice. That’s why we offer VHA nurses a multitude of opportunities for learning and career advancement through programs such as RN Transition to Practice, TMS Genomics Education and VA Nursing Academic Partnerships.
  3. Every day, there is a steady stream of Veterans and military service members returning to our communities. As a neuro nurse at VHA, your contributions will be essential to improving the health of our Nation’s heroes and preparing them for a life in the civilian world.
  4. The variety and scope of work at VHA allows neuro nurses to work with cases and patients outside the typical assignments of the private sector. At VA, you’ll mainly serve Veterans with war-related illnesses and injuries, including spinal cord injuries and disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and various psychiatric conditions such as substance abuse, dementia and personality disorders.
  5. At VHA, you won’t be just a nurse. You’ll invent a new model of health care. While working at one of the largest research organizations in the U.S. you’ll play an integral role in developing patient safety initiatives, conducting research to evaluate and improve care delivery and taking on leadership roles to help guide the next generation of nurses.

Are you ready to learn, grow and launch your career in an environment with a wealth of opportunity? Join VA.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

Ask a Nurse: What Are the Benefits of a Career with VA?

Ask a Nurse: What Are the Benefits of a Career with VA?

VA offers many rewarding opportunities to advanced practice nurses interested in caring for America’s Veterans. So, to help you understand why you should consider a future with us, we chatted with Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Edith Gabor, who started her nursing career at a VA Medical Center, and then went to the private sector before rejoining our organization a few years ago.

What made you decide to come back to VA?

In addition to outstanding benefits, VA gives me the chance to serve those who’ve served our country. I enjoy being at the center of their care, as part of an integrated multidisciplinary team that’s passionate about helping others.

What are some other advantages to working here?

VA’s advanced practice nurses have ample time with patients and a great deal of autonomy, which allows a holistic approach to treatment. We also receive a wealth of education support that helps us continuously grow as professionals.

What makes now an exciting time to carry out VA’s mission?

We’re doing more initiatives for hypertension and diabetes, and the introduction of onsite pharmacists will help us more easily manage the care of some of our patients.

What kind of experience do nurse practitioners need to succeed here?

You should have at least two years of nursing experience. This must include experience treating patients with special needs, because we serve a unique patient population. In addition, candidates must have a Master’s degree in Nursing (from a NLNAC or CCNE accredited program), must be licensed as a nurse practitioner in a U.S. State, and be a certified nurse practitioner from the American Nurses Association or other recognized body. VA has opportunities for nurse practitioners in several U.S. States across the country.

If you’re ready to become part of our promising future, explore our open positions and apply for one today.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

Be a Voice for Excellence in Veterans’ Nursing Care: Become a VA Nurse Executive

Be a Voice for Excellence in Veterans’ Nursing Care: Become a VA Nurse Executive

Nursing services are critically important at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as they are at any healthcare organization. But thanks to VA’s Nurse Executives and a commitment to collaboration, nurses are always at the table when decisions are made about Veterans’ healthcare.

“At every VA that I’m aware of, the Nurse Executive is on the senior leadership team,” said Timothy Cooke, Medical Center Director at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center in West Virginia and who colleagues roundly praise as a strong supporter of VA nursing. “Our common bond is that we put Veterans at the center, and everyone who supports that are equal in their service to them.”

For Cooke, that equality extends to anyone knocking on his door to discuss a clinical practice challenge, innovation or another matter.

“We can walk into anyone else’s office and discuss a situation freely and without prejudice,” he said of his staff. “It’s not ‘my’ problem or ‘your’ problem. If we have a situation, it’s our problem or our issue to resolve together.”

Collaborating nationally to improve care locally

VA Nurse Executives, stationed around the country, are highly respected and skilled, and together lead VA’s nearly 100,000-strong nursing service. Whether they’re serving as Chief Nurse, Director of Nursing Services or Associate Director of Patient Care Services, each nurse leader is working toward improved nursing care for the nation’s Veterans.

“Nurse Executives advocate for and promote evidence-based clinical practices that enable all nursing staff to function at the top of their license in the provision of care to Veterans,” said Kathleen Barry, National Program Director for Workforce and Leadership at VA’s Office of Nursing Services.

Despite being located in nearly every state and the territories, VA encourages Nurse Executives to learn from each other through national email groups, comprehensive national and local nursing websites, and internal networking and discussion boards.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of being a VA Nurse Executive is having 141 fellow Nurse Executives as colleagues who serve as subject matter experts in every domain of professional practice and leadership,” Barry said. “The ability to reach out and easily collaborate is wonderful!”

VA’s Nurse Executives consult on the Nursing Executive Leadership Board and Field Advisory Committee, where they share information and contribute to decision making. VA Nurse Executives also have access to peers nationwide to ask consultation and practice questions, develop research and contribute to quality improvement.

“VA Nurse Executives participate on nurse-specific committees as well as interprofessional programs and task forces at the local and national level to develop innovative and progressive approaches that influence the practice and delivery of care, not just within VA, but potentially on a national level,” Barry said.

Shaping the quality of care

Nurse leadership is also nurtured among VA’s front-line nurses. Nursing personnel are encouraged to share their ideas and concerns, serve on national and local decision-making committees and become educated and trained nurse leaders in their own right.

Overall, this cooperative environment positively impacts the quality of healthcare and reliability of service at VA.

“Shared decision making, evidence-based practice, and the pursuit of advanced education and certification have a positive impact on nurse satisfaction, clinical outcomes for Veterans and Veteran satisfaction,” Barry said.

VA’s system also fosters the leadership skills and sense of duty prevalent among VA’s nursing and other healthcare professionals — thousands of whom are Veterans, in the reserves or come from families who served and all of whom view working at VA as a career with a mission to give back.

Choose VA today

Nurse Executives who work in the private sector are taking notice of the opportunities to lead at VA and the benefits of VA careers, Cooke said.

“We are finding that more and more of our team are coming from outside organizations to the VA because, for one, we offer superb benefits for nurses,” Cooke said. “But also, because the mission is so clear, and they get to care for family, those that represent their family and those that served.”

See if the choice of a career as a VA Nurse Executive/Associate Director is right for you.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

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!