Virginia Health Services celebrates National Nurses Week 2023

Thank you to the Virginia Health Services Nursing Team!

We are celebrating National Nurses Week (May 6-12) by thanking our entire nursing team and showing our appreciation for all they do!

We rely on our nursing team to build relationships with our Residents and patients to provide the best quality care possible.

To celebrate, there’ll of course be food and other treats, plus additional appreciation opportunities during National Skilled Nursing Care Week, which comes on its heels May 14-20. VHS does what it can to recognize our nurses throughout the year.

Portrait of VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd
Portrait of VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd

“Nurses often are underappreciated,” says VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd. “And it’s a hard job.”

Not only are nurses caregivers in our communities, they are caregivers in their own homes and are the first call for family members seeking medical advice or opinions.

“You wind up being a resource to everyone. It’s why we do what we do,” Rebecca says. “We do care about people. Our nurses want to give of their time. When you give and you give, you kind of empty out.

“Our job is to fill our nurses back up and remind them what they do matters every day. They are making a difference. They’re changing a life. Those small acts of kindness that half the time they’re not even cognizant of, but it makes an impact and it has a bearing on someone else’s life.”

A little about National Nurses Week. The end date marks the birthday of the late Florence Nightingale. The week has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896.

Why choose a nursing career in long-term care?

There are several advantages to choose being a nurse in a long-term care setting, Rebecca says.

“Long-term care in nursing gives you an opportunity to develop relationships with the patients – you can really make an impact,” she says.

It’s meaningful work – and one with many opportunities for career growth and advancement.

“In the hospital, you typically see patients briefly. It’s quick in, quick out. … In long-term care, you have the opportunity to know the resident, to know the family member and make an impact in their life. If they’re a skilled care resident, you help them get back to their home environment. Help them regain their confidence and skills they need to get back to their home environment. That’s very rewarding for our nurses,” Rebecca says.

“For our long-term residents, you can have the opportunity to make an impact and be there at the end of their life. That is very purposeful for staff. Families will remember something very small I did at their bedside 20 years, but it made an impact for them. I think that’s why a lot of our nurses choose long-term care, because of relationships.”

graphic of DON Michelle Smith sharing why she likes being a long-term care nurse

Nursing career paths with VHS

Virginia Health Services has openings for CNAs, LPNs, and RNs regularly. We also offer an earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship that graduates Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and covers the cost of the state certification exam to be a CNA.

Our CNAs spend a majority of the time with our nursing and rehabilitation centers’ residents. They help get them ready for the day – or in the evening for bed, and to and from meals and activities. They are the eyes and ears for the nursing team to provide daily assessment of a patient’s well-being.

graphic of Melissa Lawson sharing why she enjoys being a MDS coordinator

Rebecca says LPNs and RNs get involved in the residents’ medical needs.

“Oftentimes, they’re the go between for families and providers,” she says. “They can definitely influence the care that’s given.”

For RNs, there are advancement opportunities in long-term care that aren’t available in other healthcare settings.

Those career paths include:

  • MDS Coordinator, which drives the quality measures and level of care, as well as drives reimbursement to make sure VHS can provide the care and services that are needed. Coordinators have to dive deep to see what those patient diagnoses are to determine level of care.
  • Certified wound care nurses are a needed specialty. “We deal with chronic-type wounds, surgical wounds that won’t heal. We have to be specialized in wound care and be on the cutting-edge of wound products,” Rebecca says.
  • IV management is key. There are many patients on IV antibiotics and other IV treatments that must be managed daily.
  • Leadership opportunities in management positions such as director and assistant director of nursing and administrator. Several of the DONs in VHS have come from MDS roles; the same is true of our administrators. Many started as CNAs or floor nurses – that foundation where you learn a lot about the resident, Rebecca says.
  • There are also opportunities to move into nurse education roles. Director of Education Princess Henderson started in the CNA class with VHS in 2008. “It’s all about education, education, education,” Rebecca says. “The need for continuing education of the staff is vital to providing quality care. … A majority of our CNAs are coming from the six-week apprenticeship program. A lot of their education has to be on the job. It relies a lot on the nurses who already are part of the structure to provide that education.”
  • There are opportunities to provide education within each facility, starting with infection preventionists.
graphic of CNA Carrie Isaac sharing why she loves her job

Join our team!

We are hiring for all positions, including CNAs, LPNs and RNs. We have openings for MDS Coordinator, an Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON), Central Admissions Coordinator (LPN), Infection Prevention, Nursing Education Assistant Instructor (RN or LPN) and an RN Nursing and Education Coordinator. Short-term contracts also are available for nursing positions.

Virginia Health Services offers competitive wages and benefits, flexible scheduling, bonuses, early wage access, training and development opportunities, and more. Visit to apply today.

We also offer an earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program that graduates Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and covers the cost of the state certification exam to be a CNA. We’ll open applications for July’s class in June. They will be available at

Virginia Health Services thanks its team on National Nurses Day

Virginia Health Services celebrates its nursing staff on National Nurses Day (May 6) and every day.

“They are the backbone of this company,” said Rebecca Boyd, Virginia Health Services Vice President of Nursing.

Virginia Health Services thanks its team on National Nurses Day

VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd

The team pulled through a tough year as a pandemic raged. And then again as new variants occurred.

“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Boyd said. “I truly appreciate them.

“We need to thank our nurses. It’s a hard job. It’s not just physically demanding, it’s mentally and emotionally demanding. We should thank them for their service.”

The experience, skills and knowledge the VHS nursing staff has makes them a valued resource.

“We want to continue to support their education, training and provide resources to help our team do their jobs effectively, so they can be the best nurses they can be,” Boyd said.

Nurses play an integral role in the healthcare and overall wellbeing of patients and residents.

“It’s holistic,” Boyd said. “They are invested in the relationship; they take care of the whole person, in addition to their healthcare concerns.”

VHS employs about 250 nurses, and there is a constant need for more.

VHS is investing in its team. It recently launched an apprenticeship program to develop Care Assistants to Nursing Assistants. The program aims to include development apprenticeships for LPN and RN tracks as well.

Virginia Health Services is hiring for nurses at all levels. Join a team that takes pride in its employees and values the work of nurses. Read more about the available positions on the VHS Careers page.

Virginia Health Services thanks its nursing team for its dedication to the care for its patients and residents.

James River DON shares wisdom from many years with VHS

Virginia Health Services is shining a light on our team members. We want to spotlight the roles our team members play to support individuals to live their best life and showcase the VHS culture. With National Nurses Day on Friday, we are highlighting James River’s Director of Nursing Peggy Evans, who has been a part of the Virginia Health Services family since the 1980s.

There is something about Virginia Health Services that keeps Peggy Evans coming back.

Evans, the Director of Nursing (DON) at James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, is on her third stint with VHS. She started with the company as an LPN in the 1980s.

The elderly always has been her passion. She watched her grandparents get older, and says she wanted to make a difference after seeing her grandfather die from leukemia.

“I tried getting out of (working with elderly) a couple of times,” she says with a smile, “but it didn’t work. I wound up right back here.”

Evans left VHS the first time because her child arrived two months ahead of schedule. When she went back to work, it was with the VA as a charge nurse for spinal cord injuries. She worked with a doctor at TPMG and finished RN school.

That’s when she returned to nursing center care. She then became a trainer and after completing a computer course at CNU was traveling often. At some point, the travel between the tunnels became too much.

“I accepted for the third time with VHS and have been here ever since,” she said.

James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center IP nurse Danielle Lynch chats with Director of Nursing Peggy Evans.


It’s the Residents and the staff who have kept her with Virginia Health Services, she said.

Evans was a trainer on the VHS education team, overseeing York, Gloucester and Lancashire. When the drive became too much — “I no longer have to fill up every week” — she returned as DON at James River in February 2021.

Peggy Evans looks at a woman filling glasses from a pitcher.
Evans chats with a team member filling drinking glasses for delivery to the Residents on the unit.

It was a difficult time for her. She had just lost her mother and had two other close deaths over the course of two years. Now her commute is six minutes from her home.

“I like what I do,” she said. “I’m a people person. I enjoy the families and the Residents.”

She was resistant to being a RN — “I wanted hands on,” she said.

While the DON role is more paperwork than people some days, she says she can sneak in a cigarette occasionally with Residents. And she dances “when my bones, when my joints will let me.

“I like being involved and seeing a smile on their face.”

Words of wisdom

Evans has a lot of advice for new hires to her nursing team. And she says she faces them all with an open-door policy — “let’s talk through a problem or an issue.”

“I check on new hires at least once daily,” she says. “I like being out there (on the floor).”

Her best advice for a new hire: “Do what you’re supposed to do the right way, every day. … Then you don’t have to worry about how to do it the right way.”

She also suggests being receptive to constructive criticism.

And she recommends the nursing staff listen to the CNAs.

“They know the Residents best,” she said.

Some of the CNAs at James River have been there for 30 years. Some nurses too. Sometimes it takes time to get a seasoned employee on the same page as a new hire. Evans recommends patience.

“We admit families, too,” she said. “We all become a team and work together to help the Resident.

“A happy staff makes happy care.”

James River DON Peggy Evans speaks with two employees at the nurses station.
James River DON Peggy Evans speaks with two employees at a nurses station at James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

VHS family

Virginia Health Services is Resident and employee oriented, she said.

What’s made Evans return to VHS time after time?

“VHS is family. I have been very well taken care of by VHS in my tenure here, even with all the hardships and deaths in my family,” she says.

And she leaves this nugget of wisdom, which is universally applicable: “I feel like change is good because it opens up another rainbow. It gets you going in another direction.”

Join the team

Virginia Health Services is hiring nurses, including several positions at James River. Want to work with Peggy? Apply for the ADON position, or as a CNA, LPN or RN. Visit for a complete list of job opportunities at James River and with VHS.