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Family and Internal Medicine Physician Careers – Working For the VA (Part 7)

The physicians featured in this week’s article are from the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. See part 6 for a further discussion about the physician career path [1].

Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Martinsburg VA Medical Center is a general medical and surgical hospital in Martinsburg, WV, with 246 beds. It has service area that covers more than 126,000 veterans in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It offers a comprehensive range of services including internal medicine, ambulatory surgery, audiology, and speech pathology, dental, nursing home, nutrition, podiatry, prosthetics, women’s health, mental health, and rehabilitation medicine.

Physician (GS-0602) Career Path

Dr. Deborah Bennett, is a GS-15 physician at Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center specializing in Family Medicine.


Dr. Deborah Bennett [2]

Dr. Deborah Bennett

Q&A With Dr. Deborah Bennett

Why did you become a Physician?

This career path allowed me to utilize my passion for science and desire to help others. It is an honor to be trusted with another human being’s health. It encourages vital communication and trust between two people. It has enabled me to educate my patients, encourage their engagement/ participation in their own health care. It is a way to contribute beyond the family level to the community as a whole. Leaving a small area a little better off because you were there is my goal.

Each day, as I walk through the hallways of Martinsburg VA Hospital I am reminded of the true cost we bear as a nation in sending our service members off to defend our country. Knowing that I have served our veterans, aided in providing them quality care and comforted them and their loved ones during a difficult time is reward enough.

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

I had been welcomed into the world of Academic Medicine and teaching. Working with young physicians as they develop into their chosen profession is rewarding. Being a role model, encouraging the human side of medicine, dealing with families, educating patients and families gives satisfaction and gratification at the end of the day.
Feeling that you have contributed to your community by working with your patients, taking their needs and concepts further up the administrative ladder. Finding that working on committees to advocate for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves is the highest form of satisfaction. Feeling that you have left the world a little better for being here is reward enough.

What is the most demanding or challenging part of being a Physician?

Most physicians go into medicine with a well-defined spirit, enthusiasm and a sense of fairness. Often illnesses or diseases are not “fair”. Seeing patients and families suffer is often difficult to justify. Often you would wish for that magic wand to make our patient’s world a little better right away.

Would you recommend being a Physician as a good career path?

I believe that this is a personal and serious consideration. With this said, anyone choosing to practice in medicine should be able to be flexible, be able to place other’s needs before your own, be able to do without sleep while keeping a good sense of humor and deliver high quality health care. It is an honor bestowed on you by your patients and their families. This combination of requirements is not easily maintained. Often a physician is reflective of their family support. Over the years, my patients became familiar with my family, knew my children and often interviewed me about my personal life. Fair trade off, isn’t it. I knew most of their personal information. After all trust goes both ways.

At Martinsburg VA Hospital we have a “second set of family”. This family works together with bonds formed, sometimes over decades, with hospital staff. We work together, placing our veteran’s needs above all else. A few months ago our nursing staff felt that one of our patients needed to go outside.

He had been confined to his hospital room due to specific needs. They made arrangements to accommodate his needs while outside. This veteran was in tears with his trip. I encountered him in the elevator and asked how he liked it. He responded that he got to see a dog and tears ran down his face with joy. This is the Martinsburg way. Everyone binds together to accomplish both medical and social needs. I cannot think of any other career that allows for this expanse of dedication, delivery of high-level medical care while not minimizing the social effects on our patients.

Physician (GS-0602) Family Medicine Requirements

Basic Requirements

Duties of a Physician of Family Medicine

Dr. Elisabeth Sethi is a GS-15 physician at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center and her specialty is Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Hospice, and Palliative Medicine.


Dr. Elisabeth Sethi [3]

Dr. Elisabeth Sethi

Sethi became a physician to contribute to society in a meaningful way and supports patients and their families through illness, disability and at the end of life. Time restraints and working long hours are the most demanding part of her job and she recommends the occupation to anyone interested in the field.

Physician GS-0602 Internal Medicine Requirements

Basic Requirements

Duties of a Physician of Internal Medicine

Physician (GS-0602) (Geriatrician) Requirements

Basic Requirements

Duties of a Geriatrician Physician

Physician (GS-0602) Hospice/Palliative Care Requirement

Basic Requirements

In part 8 of this continuing series, we will explore the Psychiatrist (GP-0602) and Psychologist (GS-0180) occupational series.


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