Celebrating the diversity of VA nurses: Bringing valuable experiences and skillsets to the Veteran care conversation

In honor of Nurses Week 2019, Utilization Management Review Registered Nurse Cathy Mattox celebrates nurses and nursing careers at VA


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As Utilization Management Review Registered Nurse (RN) at Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, Cathy Mattox, MSN, MBA-HCM, tracks admission and continued stay for Veteran patients. Mattox has served the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since 2007. She became a Utilization Management Review RN at the Salem VAMC in southwest Virginia in 2017.

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

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

I have been with VA for 12 years. I have been a Utilization Management Review Registered Nurse for the last two years. At Salem VA Medical Center, I provide a daily review and assessment of acute inpatient care cases. Using standardized, evidence-based clinical criteria, my job is to determine the appropriateness of admissions and monitor the continued stay for our Veteran patients.

How do you apply your nursing specialty skillset in caring for Veterans?

To effectively do my job, I have to understand the patient continuum of care. By applying critical thinking, I’m able to use my essential nursing foundational knowledge of pathophysiology and the human disease process to make smart decisions each day. This foundation illuminates the rationale for admission and continuation of inpatient service while providing justification for the designated level of care. In other words, I make sure we work collaboratively as an interdisciplinary to ensure Veteran treatment is at the right level of care. I also navigate care for the appropriate length of stay so that we can get the Veteran discharged and back home.

Why did you choose a career at VA?

By nature, I have a servant’s heart. I will do what I can to help anyone and everyone. No matter the situation or how bad it may seem, I always remember it could be worse — and I choose to do my part to make it better!

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

There is strength in diversity. Every nurse brings something to the table; each one of their skillsets and individual experiences are valuable. There are no two nurses who are the same. I love that — as nurses, we can all learn something from each other.

What are the most rewarding parts of your job?

Within each case I review are indications of issues identified and experienced by Veterans. As each issue is resolved, I’m able to witness progression first hand as a result of the care we provide. Over the last 12 years, I have had the opportunity to meet a variety of people at VA, including awe-inspiring Veterans and providers and friends from all walks of life. They have enriched my life and my career as a nurse.

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

There are many great nursing opportunities within VA healthcare. Nurses have the opportunity to relocate and work anywhere in the world, while still serving America’s heroes. There are also many professional educational and leadership opportunities available for all levels of nurses — such as the Leadership Development Institute, Franklin Covey classes, SIX SIGMA training and RAFT classes.

Besides its pay and identified benefits, VA truly is a great place to work. There are many opportunities to grow and become all that we want to be, both professionally and personally.

Choose VA today

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VA Careers

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