VA Offers Unique Opportunities to Therapy Professionals
John Rossheim / Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Looking for a career as a therapy or rehab professional in a top-notch setting? How about a healthcare system where the medical practice, equipment and record-keeping are state-of-the-art, the patients are considered heroes and the employee benefits surpass those most private employers offer?
Then consider a career with the Veterans Health Administration, the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ health service.
“We provide the rehab and care for war-wounded veterans,” says Mary Park, a human resources consultant at the Veterans Health Administration in Washington, DC. The VA also provides routine medical care, including a variety of rehab therapies, to more than 5 million veterans in its 1,000-plus hospitals and clinics nationwide.
Since March 2003, more than 30,000 servicemen and women have been seriously injured in Iraq, with wounds such as second- and third-degree burns, eye damage, brain trauma and paralysis, according to iCasualties.org. Working at a VA medical facility allows you to help these recent veterans return to a civilian life that’s as normal as possible.
Excellent Resources, Low Turnover
With a single payer — Uncle Sam — the VA can offer a full range of treatment options with less bureaucracy than private healthcare providers. “We come in as a team and see what treatment modalities the patient may need,” Park says.
VA healthcare workers can also stay on the leading edge professionally through connections to organizations such as the VA Palo Alto Rehabilitation Research and Development Center. The Palo Alto center conducts scientific research on bone and joint rehabilitation and translates the results into clinical applications.
This satisfying professional environment is a powerful retention factor, agency officials say. “Our turnover is 9 percent versus over 20 percent in the private sector,” Park says.
The patients are another. “Healthcare workers who haven’t had exposure to veterans come to love the veteran population here,” says James Burrows, spokesman for VA Medical Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Of course, patients at VA medical facilities are not a simple cross-section of American society. “Our patient population is skewed higher in age [and is nearly all male],” says Tom Wheeler, PT, coordinator of the rehabilitation and physical medicine service at the Providence VA. “We see 18-year-olds and 100-year-olds.”
Full Range of Therapy, Rehab Positions
The VA offers a broad range of career opportunities to therapy and rehab professionals.