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4 important questions to ask yourself about a rural VA career

Almost a quarter of all Veterans in the United States—4.7 million—return from active military careers to reside in rural communities, and do so for a number of reasons.

As we work to meet these Veterans where they live, VA needs providers who understand why these communities appeal to Veterans, and people who can embrace the same enjoyment that comes from these locales.

Not sure if a career at a rural VA facility is right for you? Ask yourself these questions and find out!

What do I want my life to look like outside of work?

VA offers an incredible life/work balance, but a major factor in how much you’ll love living in a rural area is how much you enjoy spending your free time outdoors.

For the more active among us, rural communities offer incredible opportunities to embrace walking, running, and cycling. However, more passive interactions with nature, whether it’s going out for a picnic or watching the leaves change color from the back porch, can be just as enriching.

But rural recreation can encompass a number of other activities, too. If warmer weather is your thing, rural communities near beaches offer surfing, sailing, diving, and more. If you’re more of a winter person, skiing or snowboarding are probably right up your alley. Mountain regions can offer great hiking, hunting, and fishing.

If you love to spend your free time outside, a rural VA career is right for you.

What does “community” mean to me?

In small towns and rural communities, community interaction is a way of life. Neighborhood barbeques, Friday night football games, and having a chat in line at the grocery store are the norm, and you’re likely to get a friendly wave on the street as you pass by.

The same is true of your VA facility. Here, these Veterans we serve are your neighbors, and you will be able to build meaningful relationships with them—and your coworkers—inside and outside of work. Not only will you get to feel that you’re a part of something special in a rural community, but your knowledge of the Veteran population and their individual concerns will make you a better provider.

If you’re looking to be part of your community, a rural VA facility is right for you.

Does a rural job support my career goals?

For someone at the start of their career, VA offers an opportunity to learn and grow. Whether it’s through formalized development plans or informal peer support, a rural VA offers a chance to learn the ropes and advance your career when the time is right.

For those who might be farther along in their careers, rural facilities offer a regular routine and smaller patient ratios that can be appealing. That can also be liberating for an experienced professional, because unlike a private health care system, the work we do is about doing what’s best for the Veterans we serve, without concern for cost.

“Our work is about what the patient needs, not about the bottom line or what insurance will reimburse,” said James Marfield, associate director of VA’s National Recruitment Service. “We treat patients, not numbers.”

If career growth is important to you, a job at a rural VA is right for you.

Does a rural job benefit me financially?

Rural communities typically have a lower cost of living than urban areas. The cost of rent for an apartment in the city might very well cover a mortgage on a house in the country and offer more living space besides. That’s tough to beat when paired with our competitive salaries and unmatched benefits.

Beyond the basic bang-for-your-buck rural communities provide, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (Honoring Our PACT) Act has expanded and introduced numerous hiring incentives to help VA recruit the best and brightest to provide health care to millions of rural Veterans.

Initiatives specifically tied to rural locations include our Contract Buy-Out Program and our Rural Scholars Fellowship, but we also offer numerous education support programs that can provide scholarships or reduce student debt, making your paycheck stretch even farther.

If financial stability and support are valuable, a job at a rural VA is right for you.

Work at VA

With rural VA medical centers and affiliated outpatient clinics throughout the nation, VA has an opportunity that is right for you.

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