MSW to PMHNP/FNP (dangerous ideas!)

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    Egad!

    I think after four or five years of stewing on this, I have decided to start down the path of nursing education, leading toward a PMHNP (family). I have a BA in psych, an MS in social justice studies, and an MSW in direct human service work. My prior work history includes running a DV shelter, working in boys' residential treatment and therapeutic foster care, ER social work (which I loved, loved, loved!), and now providing youth and family mental health crisis response.

    I see really clearly how having additional training on psychopharm and prescriptive authority would be really helpful. Plus, child and adolescent mental health has rather picked me as a specialty. I never intended to be "that annoying lady who tells you how to parent your kid but doesn't have any of her own."

    In addition, I FINALLY completed my WFR (wilderness first responder) 10 day training. It's been on my to-do list since 2004. It was some of the best training I've ever had in ANYthing. It helped me to realize exactly how excited I get learning medical stuff. Given my interest in emergency medicine, I wonder if I wouldn't be better off doing an FNP (focusing on acute care), or stopping after by RN to get some ER nursing experience.

    I took one biology and one chemistry class when I was an undergrad music major 20 years ago (EGAD INDEED!) now. So I will obviously have my hands full with prerequisites for a while. I've decided to start with the nutrition class to see how it goes.

    So I'm looking at at least 6 prerequisite courses-- 2 chemistry, microbiology, 2 anatomy and physiology, plus the nutrition. I have the statistics and developmental psych, as long as they aren't required to be in the last 10 years.

    Then *hopefully* an accelerated BSN program, and then into a DNP program for three years.

    I am working full time in the crisis response program, and it doesn't leave me with lot of extra energy for volunteering because of the level of self-care required to do my job well. Do you think this will count as "hands-on" health care experience because I'm in and out of emergency rooms and IPU (inpatient psych units) all day long?

    I want to make my application really competitive, and assume I will probably get mostly As with maybe a B for my science classes.


    Any words of advice or encouragement as I start exploring down this path?

    Oh, also, editing to add that I am *really* committed to working with under-served populations. Anyone have experience with loan forgiveness programs for PMHNP work?
    Last edit by oregonrobin on Aug 6, '12
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  4. 7 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    Ok, so it sounds like you are on track for what you want to do, and that is awesome! You and I actually have pretty similar backgrounds. I have an undergrad in psych, worked for a few years in MASS with children and adolescents on the autism spectrum, worked ems, then came back to Ohio and worked direct patient care in a state psych facility while going to school for my FNP. I completed a grad entry program about a year ago now and work for a FQHC funded community mental health center providing primary care. Have you considered one of the grad entry programs? they are a lot of work, but older students who know what real work is typically do very well in them.

    Loan repayment programs...... Ok, so the facility in which you practice would have to have a HPSA score for it to qualify (you will have to google HPSA score finder and it will bring you to a page that will list them by location). Loan forgiveness is strongly based on the HPSA scores of practices, the higher the better. All those applications for forgiveness who work at locations with a 14 or higher are processed first, and then those with lower 14 in decending order. This means (for me), my organization works with homeless, unstable housed, chronic mentally ill patients who typically do not have access to care. However, because my organization is urban and located between 3 major health networks/hospitals, their HPSA score is 0, leaving me with little chance of being awarded loan repayment.

    Seeing that you are not done with school, you can also apply to scholarships that work largely the same way, with the obligation to work in a shortage area (one that has a HPSA score) for a set time post graduation.
    spaceinthesky likes this.
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    Thanks for the vote of encouragement!

    I have thought about grad-entry programs, but I'm not sure how they differ from the plan I'm looking at... except that the grad entry program nearest me (Seattle U) leads only to a master's and not a doctorate. There appears to be a WA state regulation now that they are not issuing new ARNP credentials for master's prepared PMHNPs, or at least you have to have additional approved clinical hours or something... I'm not really sure what it all means.

    It sounds like it might be easier to take on loans that come with the forgiveness package instead of trying to find a location after graduation.

    But at this point, I figure I'll be in student loan debt until I die regardless of whether or not I pursue more education.
  7. 0
    I followed a similar path to yours. I had a BA in psychology and a MSW prior to going to to nursing school. I worked in a number of different settings as a clinical social worker (outpatient, treatment foster care, community mental health, inpatient, emergency department) while working toward my BSN. Immediately after finishing my accelerated BSN, I started a family PMHNP program and worked in the emergency department and on an acute gero-psych floor. I am now practicing as a PMHNP and haven't regretted the decision to pursue this educational pathway for one moment (other than perhaps because of the cost associated with completing two bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees). It is it the perfect marriage of skill sets and I really enjoy the work and NP role. Good luck!
  8. 0
    I definitely feel youb on the cost of several degrees, but it sounds like its working out well for yopu.Did your socia work work experience count as "hands on health care" experience in your ABSN application? Or did you do other things to make your app more competitive?
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    A couple of the programs that I applied to were willing to consider my work as a social worker as "hands on" health care experience, while a couple of others did not. As I think about this a little more, this was more of a problem for the PA programs that I had applied to at the same time I was applying to nursing programs. I had the benefit of having been a certified dental assistant, certified pharmacy technician and phlebotomist (in addition to social worker) prior to applying to nursing school - I have spent most of my life in and around healthcare in one way or another. I would imagine that if you can discuss your role as a social worker (direct care provider to those who are ill) and your interface with a variety of other healthcare providers (physicians, nurses, PAs, etc.), programs should be more willing to "count" your very useful experiences.
  10. 0
    I read the webpage you linked to, oregonrobin, and it refers to CNS's, not NP's.
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    I'm confused about the difference between CNS (clinical nurse specialist) and NP (nurse practitioner).

    Also, this is what I was looking at specifically:
    The requirements of psychiatric mental health ARNP program were described in more detail. Currently, our PMHNP program (not independent masters) meets these criteria. These programs should include: 1) at least 500 clinical hours in direct patient care in the psychiatric mental health NP role with clinical preceptor supervision and faculty oversight; 2) advanced
    pathophysiology; 3) advanced health assessment; 4) advanced pharmacology; and 5) both clinical and didactic course work in psychiatric mental health scope of practice.
    If the requirements for licensure have educational components that are not offered through a master's program, how else could you meet them?


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