St. Louis VA Medical Center | www.stlouis.va.gov |
Published in the September/October 2010 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers enable former servicemembers to work directly with their fellow soldiers. The concern is not about profit margins or meeting a product development deadline; rather, it’s about providing the best care possible for the men and women who also signed up to defend their country.
The Department of Veterans Affairs operates more than 1,400 sites of care, including 153 medical centers, 909 ambulatory and community-based outpatient clinics, 135 nursing homes, 232 veterans’ centers, 47 readjustment counseling centers, and 108 comprehensive home-care programs across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. More than 7.9 million veterans, their family members, and survivors are enrolled in the VA health system, with 5.5 million seeking treatment each year. Currently, that annual treatment involves 773,600 inpatient visits and 60 million outpatient visits. About 250,000 full-time employees and 90,000 health professional trainees work in interdisciplinary care teams to deliver those patient services daily.
VA’s patient population crosses a wide spectrum of individuals, from elderly World War II veterans, to baby boomer Vietnam vets, to today’s younger heroes who served during the Gulf War era and present-day Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. VA also serves a growing number of women veterans, who currently account for seven percent of the total veteran population.
Christine Oakes is the woman to see for anyone who is interested in working at the St. Louis VA Medical Center. “I serve the St. Louis VA Medical Center as a Human Resources Specialist – Recruiter,” Oakes said. “(I provide) marketing to recruit hard-to-fill positions such as physicians, pharmacists and other clinical staff.”
Oakes is a prime example of someone who served her country in the military and wanted to continue working with veterans when she transitioned to the civilian world. “From 1989 to 1995 I served in the U. S. Navy as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD),” Oakes said. “Basically, this is the bomb squad for the military. I was one of only seven females in the entire U. S. military to serve in this Special Forces position at the time. I separated in 1995 to be a mother to my daughters Victoria and Jo Ann. Being a mom and serving on the Bomb Squad don’t really go together so well.”
She noted that the St. Louis VA Medical Center covers a lot of territory – both geographically and medically. “The St. Louis VA Medical Center is one of the largest VA facilities in the country serving not only the immediate area, but the surrounding states and beyond,” Oakes said. “We provide inpatient and ambulatory care in medicine, surgery, psychiatry, neurology, and rehabilitation, as well as more than 65 subspecialty areas.”
Oakes also said this is a great time to join the VA staff, and that the organization especially needs doctors, nurses, and other direct patient care specialists. “Because our services are expanding and our veteran population is increasing, our biggest need is in the clinical areas,” Oakes said.
Men and women who know what military life is truly like are her first choices. “Our organization finds veterans to be our best employees due to the fact that there is a logical connection for veterans at any VA facility,” she said.
There are other qualities the VA covets other than just military experience, however. “Loyalty is one of the best qualities, along with dependable, hard-working and task- oriented,” Oakes said. “We are all about serving veterans.”