As more Veterans seek cutting-edge care at VA, provider education is essential. That’s why the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers education supports such as the VA National Education for Employees Program (VANEEP) that pay employees’ tuition and salaries so they can pursue clinical licensure while serving in VA careers.
Amy Grim is one such recipient. After graduating from high school and starting a family, she was unsure if she’d have time for a college education. VANEEP made that possible by allowing her to receive her VA salary while attending school full time to become a nurse. Now, she leads the VA telehealth field as the Chief of Connected Care at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center in Ohio.
In this installment of our #ChooseVA Careers blog series, Grim discusses how VA’s education support programs propelled her career growth and why healthcare professionals should choose a VA career.
What is your primary job at VA?
As the first Chief of Connected Care at the Chillicothe VAMC, my day-to-day duties include strategic planning for overall telehealth services. Much of the upfront work included building the leadership team and creating a shared vision for Chillicothe’s telehealth program and the medical center. Our focus is on the Veteran receiving the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Telehealth is about providing convenience, partnership and choice to Veterans seeking care at VA.
What was appealing about a career at VA?
My career at VA has given me the opportunity to look at processes and to create strategic plans. Telehealth is still considered “new” even though it has been around over 15 years within VA. I appreciate the ability to utilize cutting-edge technology to provide unlimited care possibilities for our Veterans. Sometimes the perception of VA is one of archaic care when, in actuality, we’ve led telehealth implementation from day one.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When we’ve made a positive difference in the life of a Veteran. Home telehealth provides education and one-on-one healthcare coaching with an Registered Nurse for Veterans with a chronic illness. We have the highest percentage of our Veterans involved with our home telehealth program. This speaks to the quality product we provide. Veterans and their families benefit by receiving individualized care and education. The healthcare team benefits by knowing the holistic care needs of each Veteran.
How did you hear about the scholarship program offered by VA?
When the VANEEP info bulletin came out in 2004, I immediately enrolled in my first college classes for nursing. I used another VA scholarship, the Employee Incentive Scholarship Program (EISP), to begin taking classes while continuing to work full time. After two years, I was accepted into the nursing program and was then eligible for VANEEP. I was the first successful graduate of VANEEP at the Chillicothe VAMC.
How did the scholarship help you complete your training?
I went to school in the evenings for two years to complete my basic class requirements and used EISP to work full time and take care of my family. My husband and I had three children, ages 12, 9 and 2, and so I had many competing priorities during this time in my career.
After completing my basic class requirements, the VANEEP scholarship let me earn a salary to provide for my family and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. My nursing classes were during the day–as was my clerical job. By providing my salary, VANEEP helped me focus on my studies and coursework.
What would you tell other healthcare professionals who are interested in choosing a career at VA?
My career at VA has afforded me so many opportunities, not only in my education and career, but personally as well. I’ve been able to serve Veterans in every capacity and enjoy giving back to them as they selflessly gave to their country. I hope to impact others looking for a rewarding career in a health system that continues to strive for exceptional care.
What else would you like us to know about your scholarship experiences with VA?
The VANEEP program was life altering. I never thought college was a possibility. Instead, I was able to earn my associate degree in nursing at age 38 with a 3.89 GPA and be very proud and excited to give back to VA. I graduated 11 years ago with my initial nursing degree and have continued to earn my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Leadership.
I encourage those with a desire to become a nurse to take advantage of the opportunities they are given in a career at VA.
Choose VA today
Provide nursing care to Veterans while advancing your education with VA’s VANEEP scholarship. See if a VA career in nursing is right for you.