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Recently, we connected with Dr. Mary Lilly to talk about the benefits of being a Primary Care Mental Health Integration (PCMHI) Nurse Practitioner at VA. Her insights will give you a better idea of what it’s like to be on VA’s collaborative, multidisciplinary team, and help you decide if a career with VA is right for you.
Can you tell us about PCMHI at VA?
Through this model, primary care providers work directly with the mental health team to address patient needs that require specialty expertise. This can be anything from psychiatric evaluations and diagnoses to medication management and more. By doing so, we streamline the service delivery process and ensure more efficient and effective treatment.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My workdays focus on the mental health questions and concerns of Veterans, who are referred to me by their primary care physicians and other NPs. I also consult with these professionals on medications they may wish to prescribe, and I provide follow-up services to patients as needed.
As a VA NP, you have full and independent practice authority. How does this impact your career?
Autonomy helps me grow every day, which is essential to my overall job satisfaction. Fulfillment like this is part of what drives employee retention and service quality throughout our organization.
One of the many reasons is the benefits—they’re outstanding. They give me the scheduling flexibility, PTO and financial support I need to make the most of my personal life, which includes spending time with my family. And if we ever need or want to move to a different state, I have the freedom to do so, since our health system has locations throughout the country. This is my fourth year with VA, I spent the first two years at El Paso, one year at Loma Linda and recently came back to the El Paso facility. Transferring is straightforward because only one state clinical license is required to work at any VA facility nationwide. You won’t find that kind of mobility anywhere else.
What’s the best part of working at VA?
Serving those who’ve served America. Veterans are the most interesting and rewarding patients to care for. Their service and stories are truly inspirational, and I am forever grateful for both them and the opportunity to impact their lives.
What are you most excited for in 2018?
We have a new Primary Care Chief, Dr. Barrett Hayes, who will work to help providers reach their full potential. I’m confident that his team’s leadership will be transformational and drive the advancement of Veteran care at my facility and beyond.
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