United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Optometry Internet Webpage

Career as a VA Optometrist

BENEFITS OF A CAREER AS A VA OPTOMETRIST:

The Veterans Health Administration's mission is to strive for excellence in eye care for our Nation's Veterans.  Doctors of optometry help fulfill this important mission goal and make significant contributions as primary eye care providers.  To recognize this contribution, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers numerous tangible and intangible benefits to VA employed optometrists. The VHA offers a state-of-the-art environment that encourages professional growth and development with individual recognition for personal achievement.  In addition, VA optometrists enjoy a special appreciation for their efforts from Veteran patients which is not typically found in other practice settings.

These and many other professional rewards are available in the Department of Veterans Affairs in addition to generous employment benefits and educational opportunities.

For a list of current opportunities for optometrists within the Department of Veterans Affairs, please click here.

Slit Lamp examination

Slit Lamp examination.

EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS:

Leave and Holidays

  • VA optometrists earn 26 days of paid annual leave (vacation/personal) each year and may accumulate up to 86 days. Annual leave begins to accrue immediately and can be used as it is earned with supervisory approval.
  • Optometrists earn 13 days of sick leave each year with no limit on accumulation.
  • The Voluntary Leave Transfer Program allows other Federal employees to donate annual leave for a medical emergency of an employee or family member.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act and the Family Friendly Leave Act allow employees to balance their work and family lives by taking reasonable amounts of leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption/foster care of a child, and for the care of a child, spouse or parent who has a serious health problem.
  • Military leave is authorized up to 15 days a year for active reservists and National Guard members.
  • There are 10 paid Federal holidays.

blood pressure 

Taking Blood Pressure.

Health and Life Insurance

VA offers a variety of group health insurance plans with premiums partially paid by the Federal Government. You can select individual or family plans and can change your plan annually if you choose.
Term life insurance with coverage based on salary is available with the cost shared by the Federal Government. Family and additional coverage options are available. 
Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is available for eligible employees to use pre-tax allotments to pay for certain health care expenses in a Health Care FSA, and for eligible dependents care expenses through a Dependent Care FSA.


Liability Protection

     The United States Government accepts responsibility and liability for the actions of its employees during the exercise of their official duties. VA optometrists are protected by the Federal Government in instances of alleged malpractice or tort resulting from the performance of their duties for the Veterans Health Administration.

Ocular Examination 

Comprehensive Eyecare.

Retirement

Newly hired optometrists are covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). FERS is a three-tier retirement plan composed of Social Security benefits, FERS basic benefits, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Similar to the 401 (k) savings plans widely available in the private sector, the TSP allows employees to invest 10% or more of their income each year, subject to the annual limitation requirements of the Internal Revenue Service. The Federal Government also provides a basic contribution and matching, depending on the amount of the employee contribution.

VA health care facilities are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. An employee may seek employment at any location where there is a vacancy and if hired, transfer without loss of benefits and usually no loss in pay.  Opportunities to receive both monetary and honorary recognition for overall superior performance and special or unique achievements are available.  In addition, substantial monetary awards can be earned through participation in VA's Employee Suggestion Program when employees offer creative solutions to problems, or ideas for improving procedures and services.

Additional Benefits

  • smoke-free and drug-free workplace
  • free parking at most facilities   
  • credit unions  
  • child care at some facilities  
  • employee wellness programs  
  • medical libraries

Visual Field testing 

A Veteran completes visual field testing.


EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES: 

     The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the importance of continuing education and research, and the benefits they provide to both Veteran patients and employees. Numerous opportunities are available to optometrists, including:

  • Regional Medical Education Centers that develop programs for optometry based on regional and local needs.
  • Affiliations between schools and colleges of optometry and over 130 VHA medical facilities, offering an academic setting and the opportunity for lifelong learning.
  • Facility-based continuing optometric education.
  • Opportunity for participation in research programs.
  • Opportunity for executive development through administrative and management education.
  • Time off that may be granted for educational purposes.


APPLICATION DOCUMENTS: 

LINKS:

To leave feedback regarding this page or the VHA Optometry Website email Ms. Kathleen Gernhart, Administrative Officer, VA Optometry Service.