Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

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camper
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Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by camper » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:12 pm

My wife is having a hard time with an employment opportunity. She is an RN at a local not-for-profit hospital. She makes a decent wage and is generally happy with the people that she works with and the job itself. She also feels somewhat loyal to this hospital. She started as a volunteer there while she was in high school. They paid for her to get her nursing degree. They did require a 2 year contract after the degree/license was attained, which was 4 years ago.
Back in January the local VA hospital had a job fair that she attended just to see what was out there. Shortly after the job fair she was promoted to a clinical lead position which paid quite a bit more.
Last week the VA called her in for an interview. She was going to decline, but I convinced her to go to find out what they would offer. It went well. Yesterday they offered her a floor RN position. The hourly pay, strangely enough, is exactly the same as what she is making now.
Obviously the benefits at the VA are better. NPO offers 192 hours P.T.O annually/VA offers 208 vacation hours and 104 sick leave hours. NPO offers 8 paid holiday and VA offers 10 paid holidays.
NPO offers Vanguard index funds in the 401a/403b plan in which they match half up to 3%.
VA offers the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). This is a three-part retirement package that also includes the FERS basic annuity, Social Security and the Thrift Saving Plan. (This is where I see the benefit of leaving for the VA)
All insurances come out of my payroll since I'm employed by the local city government. It looks like this would carry forward if she accepted the VA position.
Her father is a Vet, so taking care of our country's heroes does appeal to her.
She is very much torn on this decision.
So what advice the the wise Bogleheads give?

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by OakPhilliesFan » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:23 pm

My mother has worked at the VA for years and the benefits (annuity plus TSP) are very good as you say. But I would consider two very different questions that should go into her decision:

1. What are the long-term possibilities for career advancement at the VA versus the non-profit hospital? Does she intend to move up over time (e.g. become an NP)?

2. The flip side of the rewarding aspect of working with veterans is that it can be stressful. The VA has also gone through periods where it has been more or less well-funded (individual VAs also seem to differ a fair amount in that regard). What would she be happier with long-term? Just something to keep in mind.

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galeno
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by galeno » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:23 pm

You get used to making more money quickly. You never get used to a job you don't like. Think about it.
AA = 40/55/5. Expected CAGR = 3.8%. GSD (5y) = 6.2%. USD inflation (10 y) = 1.8%. AWR = 4.0%. TER = 0.4%. Port Yield = 2.82%. Term = 33 yr. FI Duration = 6.0 yr. Portfolio survival probability = 95%.

MoonOrb
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by MoonOrb » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:36 pm

She should flip a coin. If she is hoping it lands one way or the other, she'll know the answer.

All things being equal, the VA job is better. But things are never equal, and the most important thing, the one that we have no idea about and only your wife knows the answer to is: how is she treated at her current workplace? Does she like her coworkers? Can she see herself being happy there for years to come? Does she look forward to work most days?

I wouldn't trade these things for more money and more time off unless I knew I'd get these exact things in my new role, too. If she was being recruited by a former boss she used to love working for, that would be one thing, but it sounds like she doesn't really have ties to the VA.

It sounds like she's choosing between two good alternatives--that's a happy place to be. Good luck.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:54 pm

My wife is an RN, and if she had to go back to floor nursing she would be so miserable that I wouldn't be able to stand being around her. Your wife likes her current job and the people she works with. There are certainly no guarantees that she will find that at the VA.

Sometimes there are more important things in life than money. Good luck to her with whatever choice she makes.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:03 pm

I don't have much to add to the comments already offered except don't let loyalty to the current employer sway her decision. In today's world she cannot count on that being reciprocated. An employer will always make whatever decisions are best for the company (in this case hospital), even if they negatively impact the employees. She needs to watch out for number one first.
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2comma
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by 2comma » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:18 pm

MoonOrb wrote:She should flip a coin. If she is hoping it lands one way or the other, she'll know the answer.
Funny, but that seems to work for me when I'm on the fence. Psychologically I don't know how it works or remember where I first heard of this technique, but when I see the results of a coin flip I either am glad it happened that way or wish it was the opposite. That tells you the answer! The trick is to immediately go with your gut feeling about the result - without any logical filtering. It's true, she'll know the answer!

P.S. I don't have a "fantasy prone personality" - don't believe for a second in Big Foot, ghosts, etc. I just know that this little "mental trick" has worked for me, and others I've suggested it to in the past for decisions of this type. Somehow it just helps you make up your mind.
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bertie wooster
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by bertie wooster » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:33 pm

I have worked at 2 VA hospitals in 2 big cities and I find the general lackadaisical attitude of VA employees to be disgusting. Lots of, "I do it for the veterans" talk while they surf the internet all day and take off as soon as humanly possibly. The place is a ghost town at 5 pm, need something done for a patient at 4:45 - good luck.

I think most folks who have worked at VA's were not at all surprised at this recent scandal at one of the VA hospital systems in Arizona (I think it was Arizona, I forget now).

I wouldn't go near the VA job, but that's just me. YMMV.

Good Luck!

denovo
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by denovo » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:46 pm

Here is the way to look at the monetary parts


1. Salary- Wash

2. PTO , seems unclear. Is the policy of her current work to give her 192 PTO which can be used for either vacation or illness, I don't see a sep. column? So let's say extra 100 hours , or 12 days paid leave, potentially.

3. The TSP Match is potentially 5 percent if you contribute 5 percent. Nothing for anything beyond that. The FERS Annuity is a good deal but the best deal is you've been around for more than 20 years. Does she want to work that long?

For example if she only worked 10 years at an $80,000 salary, her annuity payment would be $8,000 a year. SS is a wash.

In sum, we're talking about 12 extra days off, a 2 percent extra match, and an annuity of undefined value. How you weigh that against the non-monetary benefits is a tough call. Perhaps your wife can ask her current place for extra days off a better match?
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

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camper
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by camper » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:09 am

denovo wrote:Here is the way to look at the monetary parts


1. Salary- Wash

2. PTO , seems unclear. Is the policy of her current work to give her 192 PTO which can be used for either vacation or illness, I don't see a sep. column? So let's say extra 100 hours , or 12 days paid leave, potentially.

3. The TSP Match is potentially 5 percent if you contribute 5 percent. Nothing for anything beyond that. The FERS Annuity is a good deal but the best deal is you've been around for more than 20 years. Does she want to work that long?

For example if she only worked 10 years at an $80,000 salary, her annuity payment would be $8,000 a year. SS is a wash.

In sum, we're talking about 12 extra days off, a 2 percent extra match, and an annuity of undefined value. How you weigh that against the non-monetary benefits is a tough call. Perhaps your wife can ask her current place for extra days off a better match?
Correct currently she earns 192 hours pto which can be used for both vacation or sick. There is no seperation. She is 34 years old so I can see her easily putting in 20+ years.

denovo
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by denovo » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:21 am

I don't know what her salary is , but the way you can define the monetary benefit of the new job is if you don't want to post it here is

Hourly Wage (100) + .02(annual wage) which covers the extra PTO and TSP she could be getting , plus the government pension , but I don't know how to value that on an annualized basis and it's definitely a subjective issue. She can lessen the monetary disadvantage by asking for a raise, but since she just got a promotion and raise, that may rub them the wrong way, I don't know the culture there.

One thing to consider about the VA, yes we can't discuss politics, but they are in the aftermath of a big scandal with a lot of accusations flying about incompetence, underfunding, and as a result there has been a lot more oversight and scrutiny from Congress. I am not sure if that has affected the quality of work aspects and has made it more stressful for the people working there. Maybe some current VA employees can chime in on that, but it's something to consider.
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celia
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by celia » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:02 am

From having been in my local VA hospital several times, the thing that strikes me compared to other hospitals is that most of the patients are elderly men. It seems there would be lots of elder care monitoring, and not many younger men, very few women, and most likely no children. That also means that most of the visitors going to see the VA patients are the adult children or the grandchildren of the patients compared to a diverse age range of visitors in a typical hospital (including parents and grandparents of the patients).

Has your wife considered what she wants to be doing in 5 or 10 years? Which position would give her better experience for the NEXT job?
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by SimonJester » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:06 am

Doom&Gloom wrote:My wife is an RN, and if she had to go back to floor nursing she would be so miserable that I wouldn't be able to stand being around her. Your wife likes her current job and the people she works with. There are certainly no guarantees that she will find that at the VA.

Sometimes there are more important things in life than money. Good luck to her with whatever choice she makes.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side. My wife is a RN as well, the people she works with will make all the difference in the world. This seems to be magnified in the nursing field for some reason. All it takes is one or two miserable coworkers to make a job a nightmare.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

staythecourse
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by staythecourse » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:58 am

I would say on paper the VA job is superior. It is more secure (government job and VERY hard to get fired), same pay, AND excellent benefits. The big issue is if her personality will mix with the VA personality. No offense, to others out there, but all the VA and county folks I have met out there are extremely LAZY. They only care about their pension and have no real care about quality of care to their patients. I know that sounds harsh, but a lot of it rings truth. The other issue is she will be moving DOWN the chain in command to a floor nursing position vs. a more authority driven position. It depends if she is okay with that as well. Of course, the flip side is that the pay is the same for a lesser responsibility position so one would think there is more financial improvement down the road if she was to move up the chain of command.

If she is okay I would SERIOUSLY consider making the jump. It is a great job situation as long as you are okay with the work environment.

Good luck.
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by midareff » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:08 am

VA offers the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). This is a three-part retirement package that also includes the FERS basic annuity, Social Security and the Thrift Saving Plan.

Looking back some 32+ years winding up with a job providing a government pension is the smartest move I never even gave a thought too at the time. Times get bad the N.P.O. may have to cut back or some new (pointy headed) boss may decide he just doesn't like your wife and make her (and your) life miserable. In a government work place these things become much less prevalent and job security is much, much higher.

I'd put this one real close to the "no brainer" classification.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by DTSC » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:21 am

The *culture* at the VA is what she should consider strongly. As others have noted, the pace is quite a bit slower than the private sector. Some people like it, others cannot stand it. Of course, being a qualified nurse, she can always change jobs again if she doesn't like it there.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by mxs » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:40 am

If she is under the same vacation and FERS policies I am, this is how it works... You get 4 hours of vacation every 2 weeks for the first 3 years. From years 3 - 15 you get 6 hours of vacation. At 15+ years you get 8 hours. This vacation time can be carried over from year to year (one years worth at your current 4/6/8 hour per 2 week level). You get 4 hours of sick leave every 2 weeks that currently accrues and carries over year to year indefinitely, and if not used at retirement counts towards your years of creditable service. FERS also may qualify for the Social Security Supplement which may or may not exist by the time you make it to retirement.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Katie » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:28 am

I have a number of friends who are RN's and most of them have had a lot of difficulties with the work environment recently - issues ranging from lack of respect from administration and doctors to a shortage of staffing that they feel materially impacts the quality of care they can provide. The physical toll from floor nursing has also been a factor.

The additional benefits are wonderful, but if your wife enjoys her work environment and they treat her well, I'd want to do a lot of diligence on the work environment at the new job before leaving that location.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Almost there » Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:12 pm

In the past I have moved to a better paying jobs, but it never worked out in the end.

Later I just used my gut and it goes like this:

If you have to ask someone which job to take, then the new job is not for you. If it were, you wouldn't have to ask, you would know within yourself that the job was the right one for you.


Almost there

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Doom&Gloom » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:40 pm

Almost there wrote:In the past I have moved to a better paying jobs, but it never worked out in the end.

Later I just used my gut and it goes like this:

If you have to ask someone which job to take, then the new job is not for you. If it were, you wouldn't have to ask, you would know within yourself that the job was the right one for you.


Almost there
+1

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by gator15 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:59 pm

The enemy of good is searching for great. If your wife has a good situation she likes, why leave? She knows what to expect each day at her current job. What she think might be a great situation at the VA may not turn out to be great after all. Go with the situation you are familiar with. Both my wife and I have had options like this in the past. Both of us opted to stay because we liked our situations and didn't think moving to what we thought might be a great situation was worth the risk.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Watty » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:11 pm

She could also keep occasionally interviewing until a job she gets excited about turns up.

The odds of her finding the best possible job on the first real nursing interview she has had is very low. If she interviewed at half a dozen places then it is very likely that she would find something even better.

I don't know about nursing but in my field the companies that are always actively recruiting typically are either growing real fast, or they are not all that good of a place to work so employees leave frequently. If she does some research she can likely find a number of places that rarely have openings and then target them in her job search.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by camper » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:34 am

My wife would like to thank everyone for their assistance. She decided to stay in her current position. She likes everyone she works with and in the end that was more important than better benefits. Her current employer never has a problem paying for continuing education either and that is something she wants when time permits.
This thread actually got her to read a couple of other threads this site. Something I have been trying to get her to do for years.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Matt48Ritchie » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:25 am

camper wrote:My wife would like to thank everyone for their assistance. She decided to stay in her current position. She likes everyone she works with and in the end that was more important than better benefits. Her current employer never has a problem paying for continuing education either and that is something she wants when time permits.
This thread actually got her to read a couple of other threads this site. Something I have been trying to get her to do for years.
Glad to hear it. So you're saying there's a chance my RN-wife might read a couple threads on here? :wink:

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by ponyboy » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:16 am

MoonOrb wrote:She should flip a coin. If she is hoping it lands one way or the other, she'll know the answer.
galeno wrote:You get used to making more money quickly. You never get used to a job you don't like. Think about it.
Nailed it.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:29 pm

Win-win!

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Katie » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:25 pm

Congrats. None of us can determine what will make your wife happiest, but I do think that a pleasant work environment is not something to take lightly. And if that situation changes, she's already shown her skills are in demand and she should have no problem getting a new job.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by tran_man007 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:34 pm

When I was a medical student I rotated at the local VA. There was a common joke about VA nurses:

What's the difference between a VA nurse and a bullet?
1. A bullet can draw blood.
2. A bullet can be fired.
3. A bullet can only kill one person at a time.

Unfortunately the culture at the VA can be very different than other hospitals, I would recommend a second visit to see the culture there.

tran_man007

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Nestegg_User » Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:56 am

The FERS retirement of "todays" hires is different [FERS-FRAE] : a much higher contribution rate of 4.4 % for their 1% per year annuity:
Source: http://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/ ... 14-102.pdf
presumably spouse would have been under this new FERS classification if they had not had prior federal service. That extra percentage of required payments , even without the gov's contributions, if saved up in a Vanguard-like low-fee plan over the time period might equal the equivalent pension !

Also, presumably the VA will still need doctors and nurses in future, as they have been in a critical shortage for some time, there would likely be options to go to them if conditions at the not-for-profit hospital don't work out in the future.

Also, the "beatings will continue until morale improves" current situation may not be conducive to an easy transition to a floor position there.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by rgs92 » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:09 pm

A gov't job is like winning the lottery no matter what the field, and a federal one is like winning the mega-millions one.
My wife and I and most of my friends in private industry have been tossed out like old socks in middle age, so do whatever you can to get into gov't, which is the only place where you have any relative dignity at work anymore later in life.
I urge your wife to change her mind and take the VA job. A couple of friends whose wives were nurses in regular hospitals who were happy in their 30s had to retire or were booted out and say it went way downhill as they aged.

Dandy
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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by Dandy » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:39 pm

Tough choice. The factor that would make me concerned about switching is that she is happy with her current job and the people. She might want to talk to some current employees at the VA hospital to see how they like it. Take a day off and visit them - . The VA may be under a lot of budget pressure etc which could make working conditions and tensions iffy. It that is ok then sometimes a change in jobs is invigorating and more challenging then staying put. You may learn more and increase your knowledge, experience and value. Nice to serve our military also.

My wife is friendly with an MD that also in an acupuncturist. She recently switched from a major hospital to work at the VA - she seems very happy.

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Re: Wife would like employment advice from the Bogleheads

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:47 pm

She has an excellent job that she likes and co-workers that she likes. Does she really want to go to work for an organization that has a problem providing decent quality of care to its patients?

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