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Dentists: Get a VA career check-up on National Toothache Day

Sure, it may seem a little cheeky (pun intended) to dedicate a day entirely to toothaches, but what we’re really doing is taking the chance to promote dental health and celebrate people who specialize in it.

Our dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and lab techs are invaluable members of the VA team, and without them, there would be a lot fewer smiles around.

“When you think about your smile, that’s one of the first things that you see. I can change somebody’s whole life, essentially,” explained Dr. Victoria Prutz, the dental chief at the Butler VA Medical Center in Pennsylvania. “That’s why we do this. This is why I’ve entered dentistry. I want my patients to be happy. I want them to come and see us. And that’s why I get up every day to come to work.”

Dentists at VA

A dentist at VA does all the same work you might expect from a dentist anywhere: cavity fillings, crowns, dentures, implants, teeth extractions, root canals, exams, scans, and more.

The difference at VA, though, is that we empower our dentists to deliver the highest quality health care in a time frame that works for Veterans and providers. We treat patients, not numbers. Our work is about what the Veteran needs, not the bottom line, which can be liberating for the people who work here.

“With private practice, we’re having insurance dictating what’s the best treatment, and that’s the exact opposite of what it should be,” Prutz pointed out. “But if somebody has a broken tooth here, we take care of the problem and we fix it. If somebody’s having pain, I can alleviate that pain for them.”

“There are not many careers that you can do that for somebody,” she emphasized.

Do work that matters

At VA, our core values—integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence—define who we are as VA employees and how we will fulfill our mission of service to Veterans. We feel these 5 ideals serve as the foundation for the way we interact with Veterans and our fellow employees.

Together, these values provide a measure for the standards expected of all VA employees, reminding everyone that “I CARE.”

  • Integrity: We choose to act with the highest professional standards and maintain the trust of all with whom we engage.
  • Commitment: We work diligently to serve Veterans and are driven by an earnest belief in VA’s mission.
  • Advocacy: We are truly Veteran-centric, as we work to identify, consider, and advance the interests of Veterans.
  • Respect: We treat all those we serve and with whom we work with dignity and respect, because we believe you must show respect to earn it.
  • Excellence: We strive for the highest quality and value continuous improvement.

“VA’s mission has always been ‘I CARE.’ The Veteran is why we’re here,” said Prutz.

Enjoy the rewards of a VA career

In addition to clinical freedoms and a mission that matters, we encourage a work-life balance at VA that allows you to do what you love, wherever you want to live.

On our team, you’ll find flexible schedules—as well as generous vacation and personal leave, including 13-26 paid days off, 13 sick days, and 11 paid federal holidays—to accommodate your lifestyle.

“I became a dentist because I love dentistry, but, you know, my family life is also important,” explained Prutz. “When I worked in the private sector, it was very stressful. I used to carry a lot of that home with me. And I feel like I don’t have that here.” 

VA careers also offer the ability to take your clinical license anywhere in VA’s nationwide system. For some, that means the appeal of the big cities. For others, like Prutz, it’s taking their skills to more rural areas to enjoy a slower pace of life and a greater sense of community.

“What I love about this area is that it’s a small-town feeling. Everybody knows everybody,” she said of Butler. “Our patients, they do travel, some of them over an hour. They want to come here versus a bigger facility. They know everybody, and they feel comfortable here.”

Work at VA

“At the Butler VA, I’m back to myself and enjoying dentistry,” said Prutz. “My only regret is that I didn’t start working here sooner.”

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