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VA pharmacists and step timings via certification

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Amicable Angora

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Hello all, I have not been able to find much information about this, and/or conflicting materials; the general advice I have seen is to wait 3 years, (I imagine you would be at ... GS 12 step 4 at this point for example) pass a board certification, and then this get boosted to 12-5 or 12-6, etc depending on how many steps your station grants for certification.

But how exactly does the mechanics of this promotional step increase work? Ive read people saying to do it this way to prevent delays to raise in step. So I guess my question is:

Are you limited to 1 step increase per fiscal year? So for example you were just raised from step 4 to 5 in November 2019: would taking and passing certification in December 2019 be a “waste” and you would remain at 12-5 whereas if you passed the certification in January 2020, you’d go up to 12-6?

Else why not just start passing board exams by your second year of service to start bumping up in steps or is an increase in steps from certification a one time event where further certifications do nothing?

I imagine in my earlier example if you were due to go from 4 to 5 in November 2019, you would likewise be cheating yourself out of steps if you passed in September 2019 for example?

Thanks in advance!
 

lord999

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You are limited to one seniority step per period (Steps 1-3, 1 year, 4-6, 2 years, 7-10, 3 years) and one specialty increase (cert, degree) within a performance year. QSI's replace the seniority step if you get it.

In the scenario you're outlining, the steps do not cancel themselves out, because specialty increases are considered separately than seniority steps, HOWEVER, it resets the clock for seniority steps for any certification. The PSB is supposed (and you can appeal if they screw you accidentally) the seniority step, then the specialty steps. Also, it might be my memory, but BC is worth two steps. I usually advice people to wait until Step 7 and then hit BC if they haven't done so yet.

The rules for the PSB are in Handbook 5005, Section PQS. It's in the VAWW CMOP area or the OHRM area.

In other news, pay surveys have been returned and are almost finished at OHRM, there will be fairly massive increases ($15-20k) in both the coasts but there's no reason now to advance beyond GS-14 as they hit the $164k pay ceiling quickly. Portland, Nortern Cal, and Chicago (which includes CMOP) have already announced their changes.
 
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Amicable Angora

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You are limited to one seniority step per period (Steps 1-3, 1 year, 4-6, 2 years, 7-10, 3 years) and one specialty increase (cert, degree) within a performance year. QSI's replace the seniority step if you get it.

In the scenario you're outlining, the steps do not cancel themselves out, because specialty increases are considered separately than seniority steps, HOWEVER, it resets the clock for seniority steps for any certification. The PSB is supposed (and you can appeal if they screw you accidentally) the seniority step, then the specialty steps. Also, it might be my memory, but BC is worth two steps. I usually advice people to wait until Step 7 and then hit BC if they haven't done so yet.

The rules for the PSB are in Handbook 5005, Section PQS. It's in the VAWW CMOP area or the OHRM area.

In other news, pay surveys have been returned and are almost finished at OHRM, there will be fairly massive increases ($15-20k) in both the coasts but there's no reason now to advance beyond GS-14 as they hit the $164k pay ceiling quickly. Portland, Nortern Cal, and Chicago (which includes CMOP) have already announced their changes.

So you recommend waiting until hitting step 7 to then skip to 9. Could a person pass multiple certifications ("per period" is from January 1st to December 31st?) spaced out by a year to advance in steps quicker? Thanks again.
 

lord999

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So you recommend waiting until hitting step 7 to then skip to 9. Could a person pass multiple certifications ("per period" is from January 1st to December 31st?) spaced out by a year to advance in steps quicker? Thanks again.

Yes, actually, because Steps 7-10 are three years, so you'd cut 6 years out of your TIG (time in grade) for seniority steps. No, you can only have one specialty step increase (so for that poor guy at SLC who got a PhD and BCPS the same year, they could not advance him 8 steps, only 6. He did publish every year and made his LDI status, so he got to Step 10 in two years.)

Go publish a paper though, it's usually a guaranteed step.
 
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Saiyo

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Tell me more about these pay increases :hungry:
 

Amicable Angora

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Yes, actually, because Steps 7-10 are three years, so you'd cut 6 years out of your TIG (time in grade) for seniority steps. No, you can only have one specialty step increase (so for that poor guy at SLC who got a PhD and BCPS the same year, they could not advance him 8 steps, only 6. He did publish every year and made his LDI status, so he got to Step 10 in two years.)

Go publish a paper though, it's usually a guaranteed step.

I'm assuming publishing a paper gets you a step increase through "SAA" special advancement through achievement? Is my understanding correct that you can get only 1 of these per fiscal year and that it resets your normal time in grade step increases?

Thanks again.
 

bacillus1

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I'm assuming publishing a paper gets you a step increase through "SAA" special advancement through achievement? Is my understanding correct that you can get only 1 of these per fiscal year and that it resets your normal time in grade step increases?

Thanks again.

I believe SAA, including BCPS, doesn't "reset the clock" however it still makes your increases timed to what your step is. For example, you go from a 12-2 to a 12-3 in August 2018. You get SAA due to BCPS in January 2019 (let's be realistic, paperwork after the October test will take at least that long, probably longer). That means you're a 12-5 now. Your step increase to a 12-6 will be in August 2020, if that makes sense.
 

Amicable Angora

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I believe SAA, including BCPS, doesn't "reset the clock" however it still makes your increases timed to what your step is. For example, you go from a 12-2 to a 12-3 in August 2018. You get SAA due to BCPS in January 2019 (let's be realistic, paperwork after the October test will take at least that long, probably longer). That means you're a 12-5 now. Your step increase to a 12-6 will be in August 2020, if that makes sense.

So converting to 12-5 in January 2019 wouldn't time future step increases off of January, but still off of the original August?
 

bacillus1

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So converting to 12-5 in January 2019 wouldn't time future step increases off of January, but still off of the original August?

Yes. Only thing that would throw off the timing of the step increases is if your 12 gets converted to a 13...or really any grade promotion.

I got my 13 job 6 months before going from a 12-5 to a 12-6 so that screwed me over, and if I started as a 13 in the first place after residency and got the SAA later, I would have been a higher step now..but it is what it is. Maybe I should have done a better job negotiating, but it is what it is, was just happy to get a new job at the time.
 

Amicable Angora

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Yes. Only thing that would throw off the timing of the step increases is if your 12 gets converted to a 13...or really any grade promotion.

I got my 13 job 6 months before going from a 12-5 to a 12-6 so that screwed me over, and if I started as a 13 in the first place after residency and got the SAA later, I would have been a higher step now..but it is what it is. Maybe I should have done a better job negotiating, but it is what it is, was just happy to get a new job at the time.

Could you speak a little to the mechanics of how that works? So for example if you got converted from a 12-3 to a 13-3 in February 2020, the next step increase would be due February 2021? What happened in your situation?

My understanding is they did not convert you from 12 (to be) step 6 to 13-6 but instead treated you as a 12-5 to 13-5 promotion. So if they converted you say in April 2016 to a 13-6 you would have to wait until April 2018 to reach 13-7?
 

bacillus1

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Could you speak a little to the mechanics of how that works? So for example if you got converted from a 12-3 to a 13-3 in February 2020, the next step increase would be due February 2021? What happened in your situation?

My understanding is they did not convert you from 12 (to be) step 6 to 13-6 but instead treated you as a 12-5 to 13-5 promotion. So if they converted you say in April 2016 to a 13-6 you would have to wait until April 2018 to reach 13-7?

Here was my timeline:
10/2013 hired as 12-2
10/2014 got 12-3
sometime in early 2015 got 12-5 due to BCPS, so on track for a 12-6 had I stayed until 10/2016
3/2016 got new job. With the conversion, got 13-4 (12-5 close to equal in pay to 13-2 plus usual 2-step increase)
3/2018: 13-5
3/2020: 13-6
3/2022: 13-7
3/2025: 13-8
3/2028: 13-9
3/2031: 13-10

Had I known that I will be moving and waited till new job and until I was at least step 4:
10/2014: 12-3
10/2015: 12-4
3/2016: 13-3
3/2017: 13-4
SAA: 13-6
3/2019: 13-7
3/2022: 13-8
3/2025: 13-9
3/2028: 13-10


So yeah...my SAA got almost completely wiped away...

Had I started as a 13-1 in 10/2013:
10/2014: 13-2
BCPS: 13-4
10/2016: 13-5
10/2018: 13-6
10/2020: 13-7
10/2023: 13-8
10/2026: 13-9
10/2029: 13-10
 
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rxdawg21

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Here was my timeline:
10/2013 hired as 12-2
10/2014 got 12-3
sometime in early 2015 got 12-5 due to BCPS, so on track for a 12-6 had I stayed until 10/2016
3/2016 got new job. With the conversion, got 13-4 (12-5 close to equal in pay to 13-2 plus usual 2-step increase)
3/2018: 13-5
3/2020: 13-6
3/2022: 13-7
3/2025: 13-8
3/2028: 13-9
3/2031: 13-10

Had I known that I will be moving and waited till new job and until I was at least step 4:
10/2014: 12-3
10/2015: 12-4
3/2016: 13-3
3/2017: 13-4
SAA: 13-6
3/2019: 13-7
3/2022: 13-8
3/2025: 13-9
3/2028: 13-10


So yeah...my SAA got almost completely wiped away...

Had I started as a 13-1 in 10/2013:
10/2014: 13-2
BCPS: 13-4
10/2016: 13-5
10/2018: 13-6
10/2020: 13-7
10/2023: 13-8
10/2026: 13-9
10/2029: 13-10

That is unfortunate. Luckily for me when I went from a 12-2 to a 13 I stayed as 13-2. My understanding is you get 2 steps in your current level (so 12-2 pay is 12-4 and that matches 13 which at my facility was a 13-2). Unfortunately for me I was 3 months away from the 12-3 so I too lost 9 months of progress towards the next step. On the other hand I got just over a 7k pay raise and love my job so there is that.

The worrisome part is VA's near me no longer give step increases for BCPS (no one has tried at ours since new director). I plan on taking mine soon and if they don't give me the bump I'll be pretty mad.
 
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Amicable Angora

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That is unfortunate. Luckily for me when I went from a 12-2 to a 13 I stayed as 13-2. My understanding is you get 2 steps in your current level (so 12-2 pay is 12-4 and that matches 13 which at my facility was a 13-2). Unfortunately for me I was 3 months away from the 12-3 so I too lost 9 months of seniority. On the other hand I got just over a 7k pay raise and love my job so there is that.

The worrisome part is VA's near me no longer give step increases for BCPS (no one has tried at ours since new director). I plan on taking mine soon and if they don't give me the bump I'll be pretty mad.

That's pretty lame that they skimped you out of the next step. And that's pretty lame that you don't get step increases for the BCPS... not sure it's "worth it" to take it just for personal satisfaction, at least for me.
 

rxdawg21

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That's pretty lame that they skimped you out of the next step. And that's pretty lame that you don't get step increases for the BCPS... not sure it's "worth it" to take it just for personal satisfaction, at least for me.

I clearly said VAs near me not mine personally. No one has tried at mine recently tho, the other VAs are in desirable areas where most clinical jobs now require pgy2s.
 
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