Let a VA Career Pay You Back for School with Loan Forgiveness

Let a VA Career Pay You Back for School with Loan Forgiveness

Trade your student debt for a promising career serving Veterans. If you’re looking for help repaying your student loans, you can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program with a VA career.

By canceling loans after 10 years of public service, PSLF removes the burden of student debt on public servants and entices people to work in high-need fields. Because VA is a federal employer, new and existing VA workers with federal student loans may be eligible for this national loan forgiveness program.

Qualifying for the program

The PSLF program forgives your remaining loan balance after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying student loan repayment plan while working full-time for certain employers, like VA.

Right now, the U.S. Department of Education has waived some requirements for applications submitted through Oct. 31, 2022, opening up loan forgiveness to more borrowers.

Still, though, you need qualifying employment to be considered, which is one of many reasons why you should consider a career at VA.

Investing in your future

Despite the short-term waiver that expands PSLF, the program is ongoing, which means that anyone looking for a career at VA can participate once they begin their employment.

But that’s not all VA has to offer. With our Education Debt Reduction Program (EDRP), VA employees with qualifying student loans who are in specific, difficult-to-recruit direct patient care positions may receive up to $200,000 over a five-year period.

And for those looking to continue their education, the Employee Incentive Scholarship Program (EISP) offers significant support. This program provides eligible VA employees with tax-free scholarships of up to $41,572 toward the cost of higher education, including tuition, registration fees and books. In return, you agree to work at VA for one to three years after you complete the program.

We offer some of the most comprehensive employee education benefits in the nation, and we work hard to ensure you have access to tools, benefits and training that provide the personal and professional growth needed to take your career to next level.

Work at VA

A job at VA could provide some relief from your student loans and be the next step on your journey to a fulfilling career.

VA Offers Nursing Opportunities For Education and Training

VA Offers Nursing Opportunities For Education and Training

With all that nurses do for our patients, it is only fitting that we do just as much for them, supporting nurses as they grow in their VA career.

Whether at the bedside of a Veteran or working in an outpatient clinic, our nurses deliver quality care and lead the way in innovating how we provide nursing care. Nurses also develop patient safety initiatives, conduct research to improve care delivery, and help guide the next generation of nurses.

Academic partnerships

VA and schools of nursing around the country offer academic affiliations. These collaborative efforts between VA facilities and the country’s finest nursing schools provide students with clinical experiences that specifically address the unique needs of Veteran population and prepare them to excel in careers at VA.

These partnerships offer nursing students a comprehensive and intensive four-year clinical training. The programs create a stronger, mutually beneficial relationship between nursing schools and VA facilities by giving students the opportunity to engage with faculty and ultimately provide better patient care as they put classroom concepts into practice.

By the end of the program, graduates are fully accustomed to the culture and mission at VA and ready to care for our Veterans.

Transition to practice

For over a decade, VA has promoted Registered Nurse Transition-to-Practice (RNTTP) residency programs to provide a transition from school to the more complex clinical environment for RNs with less than one year of experience.

The comprehensive 12-month curriculum explores the clinical, leadership and professional dimensions of nursing at VA. Post-graduate RNs perform the typical roles, duties, patient care activities and procedures that are carried out by nurses on our team.

Availability varies by location, so contact the nurse educator or nurse recruiter at a facility near you for more information.

Financial aid

VA offers eligible employees and students nursing scholarships to advance their education and skills training through the following programs:

  • The National Nursing Education Initiative (NNEI), a component of the Employee Incentive Scholarship Program, funds the pursuit of bachelor’s and advanced degrees for VA RNs.
  • The VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) is offered to employees in a clinical program pursuing first-time licensure in a clinical occupation. Participants can earn their degree faster by attending school full time, with VA covering not only some education costs but also replacement salary while they are enrolled.
  • The VA Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) program provides an opportunity for outstanding college nursing students to develop clinical competencies at an approved VA Medical Center. VALOR is designed to increase participants’ clinical skills, clinical judgement and critical thinking while caring for our nation’s Veterans. This program provides opportunities for learning with a qualified RN preceptor. Students must have completed their junior year in an accredited baccalaureate nursing program. VALOR students are offered up to 800 hours of salary dollars.

Work at VA

Are you ready to help us heal and care for Veterans so they can thrive in life after military service? Apply for a job as a VA nurse.

AANA President: Proposed Bill Would “Delay, Deny, and Disrupt” Vets’ Access to Care

AANA President: Proposed Bill Would “Delay, Deny, and Disrupt” Vets’ Access to Care

The president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) issued the following statement in response to a bill designed to prevent Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) from practicing to the full extent of their licensure in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). AANA President Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN, is calling on Congress to reject this “dangerous legislation and support our veterans’ access to the highest quality care.” Full statement:

“Today, allies of the American Society of Anesthesiologists introduced a bill to deny, delay, and disrupt veterans’ access to care in the middle of a public health emergency. In a direct attack on CRNAs, who have been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill would limit the ability of the Veterans Administration (VA) to allow CRNAs to provide care to veterans. The bill would benefit physician anesthesiologists at the expense of our veterans and in denial of all available evidence and data. Reports from the VA Office of the Inspector General have shown dozens of facilities citing shortages of anesthesia staff, and on the ground evidence shows that overly onerous supervision requirements have caused delays and denials of care for veterans.

AANA strongly opposes this misguided legislation that would only serve to hurt veterans’ access to care. All available evidence shows that CRNAs working independently are the most cost-effective method of anesthesia delivery and the safest, which is why CRNAs are able to practice independently in every branch of the military and why 49 states do not require the involvement of physician anesthesiologists in CRNA practice. This is why multiple Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) supported CRNA full practice authority in 2016 and why several VSOs have testified in support of national standards of practice that would allow CRNAs and other providers to practice to the top of their scope.

The move to eliminate CRNA full practice authority within the VA is being done without the health and wellbeing of our nation’s veterans in mind. While CRNAs provide the most cost-effective and timely access to highest quality care, we do recognize the need to have both physician and nurse anesthesiologists providing anesthesia collaboratively to our veterans, moving away from antiquated delivery models that have one qualified provider overseeing another qualified provider. Any model that unnecessarily restricts CRNA practice will only increase costs, delay care, and adversely affect veterans. At a time when the healthcare system is seeing overwhelming levels of retirements and burnout, stressing the workforce, and limiting care, the ASA and their allies are seeking to further limit care and put veterans at risk for their own benefit.

This is an unconscionable bill meant to slander nurses and hurt veterans.”

More than 1,100 CRNAs currently work in the VA. CRNAs have historically provided much of the anesthesia delivery to active-duty military in combat arenas since World War I and predominate in veterans’ hospitals and the U.S. Armed Services, where they enjoy full practice authority in every branch of the military. CRNAs have been in high demand during the pandemic, due to their skill in ventilator and airway management, as well as anesthesia and pain management. Information on CRNA safety and cost efficiency is available at anesthesiafacts.com/the-research.

 

Nurse (Couple) of the Week: Texas BSNs Combine Proposal with Pinning at Grad Ceremony

Nurse (Couple) of the Week: Texas BSNs Combine Proposal with Pinning at Grad Ceremony

A BSN pinning ceremony during a global pandemic is a dramatic event in itself. Amid the celebratory atmosphere, there is almost a mood of military enlistment among nursing grads. Newly minted BSNs are getting ready to work on the “frontlines,” and as we have seen over the past two years, many standout nurses have served in the armed forces. So, is it really that surprising that some nurses – like our Nurse (Couple) of the Week – are pairing off on route to the Covid Front?

Romantics like VBSN (Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Darvin Del Rio like to make an impression when asking someone to become their life partner, and if you make one major rite of passage a gateway to another, it will definitely be an event to remember.

The San Antonio firefighter and flight paramedic felt that the woman of his dreams deserved nothing less than a “fairy tale proposal,” so – with the Dean’s blessing – he popped the question to his girlfriend/classmate/fellow vet Leianne Maugeri at their Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing BSN pinning ceremony.

Did she say “yes?”

According to the combat medic and brand-new nurse, “Of course, I said yes! I admire this man so much and am honored to spend the rest of my life with him.”

Apparently, Mr. Del Rio’s stratagem hit the target straight on, as his new fiancée added, “This was more than I ever dreamed of, and for that I will be forever grateful. Thank you, Devin, for showing me what it’s like to feel undoubtedly loved and cherished.”

Del Rio and his intended were first introduced in 2017 at Fort Bliss (yes; Fort Bliss, where else?). A year later, they were sharing a home. As the pandemic began to spread, the pair – like many veterans – saw nursing as a natural step from military to civilian service. With their paramedic and combat medicine experience, they made swift progress through the TTU accelerated VBSN program. Maugeri noted that the VBSN seemed tailor-made for them, given “our 9-plus years of experience in trauma and emergency medicine. This fast-paced environment is something we’ve become accustomed to through the military so it definitely stood above the rest.”

Maugeri’s fiancé said “completing the program in one year was a bonus,” but sounded both proud and humbled to confess, “Leianne has the better grades, hands down. She’s smarter than me by far. How she ended up with me, I don’t know. But I do thank my lucky stars for it. Sometimes it’s better not to question.”

However, it sounds like there is no question about this love match. When asked about one another, both nurses respond in terms that could easily double as self-penned wedding vows:

She: “It is crazy to think of all that we have endured together over the last four years — from serving as active-duty flight paramedics to graduating this nursing program together. It’s a wonderful thing to have gone through so much with my very best friend. I feel incredibly blessed.”

For his part, Del Rio waxes poetic: “She has a presence about her that lights the room…. Living with her these last four years is what has made me sure now more than ever.” He concluded with a vow that would win anyone’s heart: “Thank you, Leianne, for bringing out the best in me. Know that no matter what happens between us, I’ll always love you for the stability you’ve brought to this rocky world of mine. So long as I live, I’ll continue to give you the world.”

We wish the love-struck BSNs the very best. May they enjoy a long, happy marriage, and make a difference in patients’ lives for many years to come.

For more on the newly affianced grads, see the story at Lubbock Online.

Learn more about a nursing program structured for your success

Learn more about a nursing program structured for your success

Have you recently graduated from nursing school? Want to learn more about a nursing program that is structured for your success? VA’s Registered Nurse Transition-To-Practice (RNTTP) Residency Program can help.

Bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world to kickstart your nursing career with confidence. Read these frequently asked questions to learn more about the program.

What is the RNTTP Residency Program?

VA’s RNTTP Residency Program gives new nurses the tools and guidance they need to grow and learn within the health care industry. Experienced nurses guide program participants through the roles, duties, patient care activities and procedures registered nurses (RNs) perform. Veteran-centric information is covered throughout the program as well.

Who is eligible for the program?

If you have recently graduated from your nursing program or are a new graduate RN with less than a year of professional experience, you may qualify for the program.

How long is the program?

The RNTTP Residency Program is a 12-month developmental training program. It includes both didactic and clinical components, and the area of assignment will vary depending on the needs of the facility and your individual learning needs.

How can the program help my career?

Being a new nurse can be challenging. The team-focused support component of the RNTTP Residency Program cannot be overemphasized – it aids in your overall success as a nurse. Your assigned preceptor(s) will work closely with you during unit-based clinical orientation and throughout the program. Research shows that residency programs set new nurses up for success and positively impact health systems.

Participants of the program benefit from:

  • Hands-on clinical experience
  • Classroom and simulation training
  • Preceptorship
  • Mentorship
  • Shadowing experiences

Want to learn more? Hear from a successful recent RNTTP Residency Program graduateabout her experience.

Where would I work?

VA Medical Centers are located nationwide, so your perfect job opportunity is waiting for you wherever you are. Each VA Medical Center must establish and maintain an RNTTP Residency Program if they hire post-graduate RNs with less than one year of professional nursing experience.

Why should I become a VA nurse?

VA is the nation’s leading employer of nurses, with a team of more than 100,000 and growing – for good reasons. VA nurses enjoy these and other benefits:

  • Competitive pay
  • Insurance coverage
  • Education support
  • Generous retirement
  • Plentiful time off
  • Professional freedom

As the nation’s largest health care system, VA offers state-of-the-art tools, including speech-recognition capabilities, virtual technologies, mobile devices and renowned knowledge-based resources. VA is also the leader in telehealth, clinical innovation, and surgical quality.

Nurses of all employment levels can take advantage of more than 7,000 training programs in affiliation with over 1,800 educational institutions, from mandatory developmental programs to competitive opportunities. There are endless possibilities for improving your skills and advancing your career within the agency.

I’m interested. How can I learn more?

We encourage interested applicants to subscribe to our email list, as additional program details will be coming in early 2022. In the meantime, you can also find more information about the program on the VA nursing page, and check out the existing RNTTP listings on the USAJOBS site.

Nurse of the Week: After Battling PTSD and Addiction, She’s Helping “Brother and Sister” Vets

Nurse of the Week: After Battling PTSD and Addiction, She’s Helping “Brother and Sister” Vets

Jennifer Grubb, our Nurse of the Week, is a military veteran who is now deploying her hard-earned experience to help others as a nurse.

The PA native started her career in 2003 at the age of 20, when she served in Afghanistan at the height of the post-9/11 military action. Grubb was a combat lifesaver and worked security details in a place where saving lives was often impossible, and no one could afford to feel secure. She saw comrades die in attacks, witnessed the wretched collateral damage suffered by civilian adults and children, and picked her way through minefields.

Like so many soldiers, she struggled as her psyche attempted to process things that most people are not meant to process. In an interview with her hometown Pennsylvania newspaper, The Daily Local, she recalled, “I saw so many gruesome sights. I just hated where I was and decided my best route was just to feel nothing… I started writing less, I started calling less, I started eating less.” Finally, after Grubb had lost 80 pounds during her quest to seal off the horror of war, the Army medevacked her back to the US with an honorable discharge. Then, again like so many other soldiers, she found that even 7000 miles somehow failed to provide a safe distance from the war. As she describes it, “you don’t fit in in your own life anymore. I was always looking over my shoulder. The slightest thing made me jump.”

The nightmares were so intense that they seemed to taint her waking hours, so she tried her best to avoid sleeping and numbed the trauma with drugs. Eventually, she slid to one of those make-or-break low points: “I was just going to use drugs until it killed me. I had one moment where I had a glimmer of hope, and I prayed to God to save me. Two hours later, I was pulled over and arrested for possession of crack cocaine.”

Things began to arc upward when the court allowed her to enter a drug program, and Grubb’s new therapist diagnosed her with PTSD. “I wasn’t Jenn anymore; I was PTSD, with all of my symptoms, and allowing it to really consume my entire life.” With the help of her therapist, though, and treatment at her local VA medical center, she says, “I started to smile more. And the nightmares became a little less. And not every social situation I was in made me jump out of my skin. And I just tried to stay sober, just one day at a time.”

In 2015, Grubb’s life asserted itself as being on an upward swing when she was invited to a women’s vet breakfast with then-first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. During the gathering, Obama noted, “So much of your rise had to do with that reaching out and realizing that there are so many folks out there that are ready to just take your hand.” Grubb realized she was in an ideal position to help other vets sidestep the pitfalls of the self-reliant military ethos and the notion that “we can do anything by ourselves, and I don’t need your help.” She adds, “And there’s such a stigma attached to reaching out.”

As the urge to serve and help others is part of her nature, the recovering vet soon sought ways to do that. While PTSD is chronic – Grubb will always do her best to avoid crowds and can only tolerate sitting in an auto passenger seat if her trusted husband is driving – the treatment allowed her to acclimate. “PTSD is not hopeless,” she says. “There are ways to make it a part of you rather than have it define you.” Once she felt that her demons were tightly reined in, Grubb became an LPN, then a director of patient services at an SUD treatment facility. When the latter’s lack of resources had her teetering on the edge of burnout, she then found a position at the VA center where she first received help herself, the Coatesville VA Medical Center.

Now, the LPN, Almost-BSN is caring for fellow vets and helping them navigate their own trauma ordeals. The military connection is powerful. “These guys and these gals, they’re my brothers; they’re my sisters. There’s a closeness and a bond even with strangers that I can’t really explain to the rest of the population. There’s a level of trust that comes with it.” Deciding that she had a calling to pursue, Grubb earned a BA in Psychology, then entered Immaculata College’s accelerated BSN program, where she will graduate in 2022.

Becoming a nurse came naturally to Grubb. She was moved by the nurses who cared for her when her daughter was born, and realized, “When I left the service, I missed being in service to people.” Today, she’s finishing her BSN program and working as a communications specialist at the Coatesville VA, where “I’m good at my job because of the personal connection I have to it. With the veteran population, they want other veterans to be their caregivers. They want people who really get it.”

For more details about Jennifer Grubb, see the excellent Daily Local article here.

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