The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates a nationwide hospital system to provide health care to veterans of the United States military. The VA employs nurse practitioners to serve as lead care providers in VA-operated nursing homes, clinics, hospitals and home care. Nurse practitioners provide health and nutrition education to veterans, conduct routine physical exams and may also be authorized to prescribe some medicines.
The nurse practitioner position with the Department of Veterans Affairs is rated at the GS-12 level on the general schedule of the Office of Personnel Management. The GS scale is a nationwide pay banding system comprised of 15 grades with 10 pay steps per grade. For 2011, the GS-12 level has a base salary of $60,274 per year at step 1 and $78,355 per year at the step 10 pay rate.
VA nurses are eligible to earn a pay raise through the federal within grade increase process. If the nurse practitioner demonstrates acceptable performance for one year, she will be awarded a step increase from step 1 to the step 2 pay. Nurses must wait two years for step increases between steps 4, 5, 6 and 7. Additionally, they face a three-year waiting period for a step increase to steps 8, 9 and 10.
Federal employees receive a locality pay differential depending on the location where they work. This pay differential compensates employees for the varying costs of living around the country. For example, a GS-12 step 1 nurse practitioner in Atlanta, Georgia, earns $71,901 per year, while the same nurse would earn $5,684 more per year at a salary of $77,585 if she worked in New York City.
VA nurse practitioners are also eligible for other federal employee benefits. Nurses are able to participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, which provides for health, vision and dental care. VA nurses also are eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Retirement System, as well as to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account specifically designed for federal employees called the Thrift Savings Plan. VA employees also may be eligible for tuition assistance and reimbursement as part of their compensation.