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VA Student Trainee Experience Program (VA-STEP)

The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center is now accepting applications for the VA-STEP program funded through the VA Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA).

VA-STEP is a program for aspiring nurses seeking fulfilling careers improving the lives of those who've served our nation. But ultimately, you’ll feel the unmatched fulfillment that comes with improving the lives of people who’ve proudly served our nation.

Program description

VA-STEP serves as a first step to gain employment with the VA after graduation and licensure. Students are employed as trainees, earning a salary while they learn to develop understanding, confidence and competencies in the care of our nation's Veterans at a local VA facility under the supervision of a mentor.

Participants must be able to work full time for 10 weeks in the summer. As a VA-STEP, you will be paid for the full 10-week summer program. VA-STEP employees potentially have the opportunity to work intermittently after that 10-week program up until they graduate.

You will be placed in one of our 24-hour care areas:

  • Emergency Department
  • Intensive Care Unit
  • 3C (Mental Health)
  • 4C (Hematology/Oncology)
  • 5C (Cardiac)
  • 6CS (Progressive Care Unit)
  • 6CN (Medical/Surgical)
  • 7C (Surgical)
  • 9A (Community Living Center)
  • 9CN (Palliative), 9CS (Nursing Home)
  • Spinal Cord Injury Center (SCI)

You will work one-on-one with a preceptor in your assigned area and follow their schedule. During the 10 weeks, you will have Professional Development and Simulation learning opportunities.

Eligibility requirements

  • U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization (U.S. Veterans are considered first among all equally qualified candidates).
  • Current nursing students who have completed or are within one semester of completing the junior year of their BSN program from a nationally accredited school.
  • Willing to undergo a background/suitability investigation.
  • Willing to work for VA after graduation.
  • Available to work 400 hours prior to graduation from education program.
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Not obligated to work somewhere outside VA after graduation.
  • Currently in good academic standing (as defined by the school the student is attending) leading to graduation and NCLEX certification.


Apply here

Under "Facility," select "Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center."

Are you interested in a tuition scholarship, a monthly stipend, and a book stipend payment? Apply for the VA Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP). In return for the support, VA will require a two-year service obligation in a full-time RN position after graduation, licensure, and residency completion. For more information, click here.

Click here for more information on VA scholarship programs.


  • VA-STEPs are clinical trainees, not employees.
  • Clinical trainee appointments are for approximately 10 weeks – no benefits or leave time accrued.
  • Salary is 80% of a starting RN salary. Please inquire for current rate.

Program contact

ATTN: Kristine Robbins, VA-STEP Program Lead Administrator
Office 414-384-2000, ext. 46895

Facility spotlight

  • 196 Acute beds (ICU and Progressive Care, Cardiology, Medical-Oncology, Medical-Surgical, Mental Health)
  • 113 Community Living Center beds (Palliative/Hospice, Geriatric Evaluation, Rehabilitation, Long-term care, Community Homes)
  • 150 Domiciliary beds (Substance Abuse Rehabilitation, Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • 38 Spinal Cord Injury beds
  • 24,192 ED Visits (FY 2018)
  • 9,058 Inpatient Admissions (FY 2018)
  • 824,165 Outpatient visits (FY 2018)

Shared Governance Councils support the Relationship-Based Care (RBC) Nursing Practice Model, which is a foundation for our nursing philosophy of care: to achieve excellence in health care through the caring relationship between the Veteran and professional nurse in a healing environment. Councils reporting to the Nurse Executive Council:

  • Nursing Practice
  • Professional Development
  • Evidence-Based Practice, Quality Improvement and Research
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

Nurse residency

Many of our VA-STEP employees apply for the Nurse Residency Program prior to their graduation, which is another excellent program offered by the VA. Learn more here.