Federal Government Jobs

Helping job hunters find, apply for, and land government jobs

Registered Nursing GS-0610 Careers (Part 3) – Working for Veterans Affairs

In part 3 of this series we continue with registered nursing positions at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, a division of the VA Maryland Health Care System.

This series includes all positions for which a professional knowledge of nursing and registration to practice as a professional nurse are the basic requirements. These positions were formerly included in the Nurse Anesthetist Series, GS-0605; the Nurse Series, GS-0610; and the Public Health Nurse Series, GS-0615. All positions above the training levels require the application of specialized knowledge gained through advanced education or experience or both. For example, the nurse anesthetist, the community health nurse, and the nurse specialist each must learn and apply specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities. However, all professional nurse positions require the same basic qualifications as a foundation upon which specialized knowledge is built. Thus, since all those classes of positions share the same basic requirement, all are included in this series.

Similarly, the nursing specialties that will be discussed require the same basic education and physical requirements needed for the occupation. Each of the three Baltimore VA Medical Center nurses interviewed here works in a different specialty, with unique requirements. For additional nursing career information, review Part 2 of this series and  visit our GS-0600 Nursing Jobs page.

Registered Nurse Career Path (GS-0610)

The interviews that follow provide insight into specific healthcare specialties, why they entered the field, and the nurses talk about rewarding aspects of their jobs. They also address the demands of the position with recommendations for those who would like to follow in their footsteps.

Brenda I. Ortiz, RN, BSN works at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and is currently a Patient Safety / Risk Manager assisting veterans in a different way. Ortiz states that, “As a Risk Manager, I’m prepared to handle various issues in multiple settings. I work evaluating and identifying risks to reduce patient safety concerns. I have been a Nurse for 24 years, working at the VA Maryland Health Care System since 2004.” She started her Nursing profession in a Pediatric ward where helping children and their families was very rewarding. While working in the Pediatric ward, she requested to be assigned to the Medical/Surgical Unit, where she gained additional medical experience in that field. Ortiz remarks, “I really enjoyed working with the Medical and Surgical population.”


Brenda Ortiz, Patient Safety/Risk Manager RB BSN
Brenda Ortiz, Patient Safety/Risk Manager RN BSN

Q&A With Brenda Ortiz

Why did you become a Registered Nurse?

My inspiration to become a Registered Nurse was my Grandmother Francisca, who was a Nurse as well. I remember that every time she came home from work, she always had a smile on her face. She said that it was a great satisfaction helping others, especially those patients who were very sick. She enjoyed making them feel good without hesitation. At that point I knew I wanted to become a Nurse. While attending Nursing School, I met my current husband. We both graduated from college and he became an Officer in the United State Army.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as a Registered Nurse?

After the 9/11 terror attacks, due to military reasons, we moved to Maryland. I knew then that I wanted to serve those who sacrificed their lives to keep the freedom that we enjoy. I started working at the VA Maryland Health Care System in 2004, and working with veterans is the most rewarding part of being a Nurse. I’m able to help/serve those who gave everything for our freedom and for our nation.

As a compassionate Nurse, I love every minute I spend with each veteran/patient, helping them to overcome the difficulties they encounter in the healing process. As a Holistic Nurse, one aims to promote health and wellness in our veterans. Through the years while serving veterans and while working to promote health and caring for them, one learns a lot of history from their point of view, and of course, one gets to cry and laugh with them and their families.

What is the most demanding part of being a Registered Nurse?

The most demanding part of being a Nurse is the long hours of the job and the last minute tasks that have to be completed, which in most cases are unpredictable. However, once you have worked for a period of time, it doesn’t matter. You’ll get used to it. Nursing is also physically demanding, which helps you to stay healthy and in shape since you are exercising from the time you begin your day until the end of the shift.

Would you recommend the Registered Nurse career path?

I’m passionate about Nursing and that is the reason I’d recommend it as the best career/profession ever. In this field, you meet a lot of people and make friends along the way. You are constantly learning while helping patients and their families, for whom you may be their only support. You work hard, laugh and cry, but at the end of the day, I guarantee it will be the most rewarding experience.

Patient Safety Manager Specialty Requirements

  • U.S. Citizenship is required.
  • Active, current, full, and unrestricted Registered Nurse License.
  • A minimum of 5 years of nursing supervisory and program management experience in a Medical Center setting.
  • Provides leadership in educational program development.
  • Directs operation improvement and automation of Patient Safety Program.
  • Develops data collection tools, monitors, and utilize the latest advances in information management technology.
  • Serves as an advocate for Veterans and works with frontline staff to monitor and ensure patient safety developing mechanisms for feedback and for implementation of improvements in a all aspects of Veteran’s health care services.

Pamela Nichols, RN, BSN, CNOR works at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and has been an operating room nurse for over 20 years.


Pamela Nichols, RN, BSN, CNOR

Pamela Nichols, RN, BSN, CNOR

Q&A With Pamela Nichols

Why did you become a Registered Nurse?

I loved assisting with surgery when I worked as a veterinary technician. I provided anesthesia for multiple types of animals for surgeries and later in research, and that led me to want to do the same for people. I always knew I wanted to be in the OR and went there right out of school. Participating in all different kinds of cases and learning new technologies was something that appealed to me. Nursing job security was something also very important to me.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as a Registered Nurse?
I want the patients and their families to feel they are getting the best possible care. I work hard helping patients get better by providing the safest and most efficient operating room experience. As a charge nurse, I work with multiple disciplines (surgeons, anesthesiologist, blood bank, case managers, vendors, biomedical dept., etc.) to make sure the surgery go smoothly.

What is the most demanding part of being a Registered Nurse?

An OR nurse must be very flexible. Emergencies come up and your whole day can be changed. Every case is different and every person’s response to a surgery can be different. Technology is constantly changing and you must be willing to learn new things.

Would you recommend the Registered Nurse career path?

If you are an energetic, self-motivated person who is willing to care, teach and advocate for others who are unable care for themselves this job is perfect. There are so many different job opportunities in nursing, and fortunately there are always jobs available anywhere you might want to live.

Operating Room Nurse Specialty Requirements

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen is required.
  • Full-unrestricted Licensure, Certification, or Registration required.
  • Have a Masters in Nursing (MSN) or a Masters in a related along with a Bachelors of Nursing (BSN) in a related field.
  • Minimum of 2 years of operating room experience.
  • Must be able to scrub and circulate in the operating room.
  • A minimum of 5 years of successful and progressive acute care nursing practice.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of airway management and the ability to use appropriate equipment.
  • Focus in on problems and is able to assess cardio-respiratory systems for changes and provide appropriate treatment.
  • Specific nursing activities include patient evaluation, creating and maintaining a sterile and safe surgical environment, pre and post operative patient education, monitoring the patients physical and emotional well being, and integrating and coordinating patient.
  • This position potentially requires flexibility in schedule and assignments, as this is a 24/7 hospital (i.e. On-Call).
  • Makes caring for the Veteran his/her priority while in the work setting and demonstrates customer service principles in all aspects of work.

Audrey M. Pinnock is a Nurse Manager of a Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Post Anesthesia Care Unit, and Interventional Radiology Nurses at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, a division of the VA Maryland Health Care System. Her specialty is in critical care with 33 years in nursing and 29 years as a critical care nurse in ICU, ER, PACU, trauma and transplant. Pinnock has a diverse nursing career background.


Audrey Pinnock, Nurse Manager
Audrey Pinnock, Critical Care Nurse Manager

Q&A With Audrey Pinnock

Why did you become a Registered Nurse?

I became a registered nurse because it was my goal from when I was a young girl to have a career in medicine. I chose nursing because I love interacting with people from all walks of life. I simply love the challenge that comes with each patient. I never know what will happen and I loved putting the puzzle together of understanding what is going on with each patient, and also the satisfaction it brings when I make a difference in the health and life of others. I enjoy teaching patients and helping them to understand what is happening to their bodies and the disease process they are experiencing.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as a Registered Nurse?

The most rewarding part of the job of being a nurse is knowing that the skills and knowledge I have obtained over the years can actually save someone’s life. To see a patient return after a major illness to say words of thanks, and knowing that I had a part in helping that person recover is worth all the sacrifice it took to obtain my nursing degree and knowledge.

What is the most demanding part of being a Registered Nurse?

The most demanding part of being a nurse is delivering the best care possible when we are shorted staffed, and sometimes working long hours over a regular tour of duty to care for our patients and doing it with a smile.

Would you recommend the Registered Nurse career path?

I would recommend nursing as a good career path. A good nurse is never out of a job and there are so many career paths one can take as a nurse that allow you to re-invent your career and gain a broader knowledge base over the years. I have enjoyed caring for our veterans, and in fact I chose to work for the VA because of the veteran patients I cared for in the private sector and the satisfaction I felt caring for them. They made me appreciate the freedoms I took for granted and renewed my dedication to my nursing career.

Critical Care Specialty Requirements

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen is required.
  • Full-unrestricted Licensure, Certification, or Registration required.
  • RN with a minimum of 2 years of critical care experience preferred.
  • Oversee the delivery of quality and timely emergency nursing care to a culturally diverse veteran population.
  • Assesses, monitors, and treats patient responses to life-threatening health problems, including functioning effectively in an emergency.
  • Possess the knowledge and skills in the following areas: ventilator support, acute respiratory failure, post-cardiac catheterization with interventions, medically critical patients with diagnosis such as acute substance abuse withdrawal, acute CVA, multi-system failure, post-operative care of all surgeries, care of spinal cord injury patients with acute surgical or medical interventions Critical Care Unit (CCU) staff also are members of the Code Blue Team and Rapid Response Team.

In part 4 of 6 on registered nurses, we will be interviewing nurses and their specialties fromMartinsburg VA Medical Center.


  • Michele Hammonds, Communications Specialist, US Department of Veterans Affairs, VHA Office of Public Communications (10B2B)
  • Photos provided by Baltimore VA Medical Center, a division of the VA Maryland Health Care System.

Other career information

Helpful Career Planning Tools 

Visit our other informative site

The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.