Psych NP or OT?

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    I am drawn to both careers: OT and psychiatric NP (direct entry programs for someone who already has a BA). I have heard many negative things about psych nurses from non psych nurses. On the other hand, I hear a large variety of things about OT from it being a "fluffy" career to it being one of the best healthcare careers.

    The things I want in a career are a good sense of fulfillment, decent pay, and flexible schedule. Also I am wanting something in large demand that would be fairly easy to take a few years off and go back to work when I want to or work just 1 day a week (few years off maybe to have kids). Any insight is appreciated. I realize these are totally different fields, but I really feel torn. I have shadowed OT, and have enjoyed some shadows and others not so much. Psych NP shadowing seems to be impossible, so I am hoping some people have advice or insight on this.
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  4. 0
    Quote from zagalady
    On the other hand, I hear a large variety of things about OT from it being a "fluffy" career to it being one of the best healthcare careers.
    OT is a great career and not "fluffy" at all. If you want to get graduate within a few years without obtaining BSN first, I think OT have better return of investment. I think the tuition for Master in Occupational Therapy is lower and you will not be in stress due to the condensed direct entry curriculum. The direct-entry program is too expensive IMO. Some programs at private universities cost like >$70,000-$80, would recommend going regular route for NP by obtaining BSN first so you can work as RN to pay yourself to school instead of loaning out money. From what I checked, hourly rate for OT can be more or the same as NP with less legal liability.000 (tuition alone) while some NP does not even earn that much starting out. I

    Quote from zagalady
    Also I am wanting something in large demand that would be fairly easy to take a few years off and go back to work when I want to or work just 1 day a week (few years off maybe to have kids).
    Nothing is always in demand. You can choose what you like most. We live in a free market society. The schools will keep expanding classes or making it more attractive for people to go back to schools (eg. direct-entry program, weekend schools, hybrid/synchronous online etc) without regard to market demand. My school just expand Psych NP slot by 50%, which I think it is too much for local demand.. New grads RN who can't find job will go back to NP eventually. we don't know how psych NP will be heading few years from now.

    I think OT has more flexibility. It's harder to find weekend job as psych NP.

    There are only limited #s of position for psych NP. The only reason new grads still find job because there is not many graduates yet. But my school is expanding. But who know how it will be 2-3 years from now? I think the needs for OT will be greater in the future.

    Quote from zagalady
    Psych NP shadowing seems to be impossible, so I am hoping some people have advice or insight on this.
    Try psychiatrists or psych NP organization in your state.... or you can pretend to be a patient and see one (just kidding)...
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    For what it's worth, the OTs I've known over the years have seemed to be happier and more satisfied with being OTs than the nurses I've known have been about being nurses.

    It's difficult (I would hope impossible, but I'm sure there is some yahoo out there who would let you do it) to find "shadowing" opportunities in psych (for someone who is not already an established student in a related program) because of the much stricter confidentiality requirements in psych settings and records. Psychiatric clients are entitled to their privacy (so are other kinds of clients, but the psych world seems to take this more seriously than other specialties).

    Nurses who take "a few years" off from their careers often have a v. difficult time finding employment when they want to return because of how quickly knowledge and skills change and become outdated (not as big an issue if you continue to work occasionally, as you mentioned). I don't know if OTs face the same difficulty with that, but my hunch would be that it's not as big a deal in OT as it is in nursing.

    Don't listen to what the other nursing specialties say about psych nursing -- they're just jealous.
  6. 0
    Quote from elkpark
    Nurses who take "a few years" off from their careers often have a v. difficult time finding employment
    very true
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    Thank you both very much for your honest input! I feel a bit relieved. I have really been working towards OT, but it seems like all nurses I tell about my plan (mainly my NP sisters and mom) kind of roll their eyes and say something like "how dreadfully boring." I think they secretly view it as a career that doesn't make much impact and isn't intellectually stimulating. It kind of has had me freaked out that there were things I just do not know or something. But all the OT's I talk to love their jobs, and it seems like they have the kind of flexibility and life balance I would like in a career. I know that a graduate education is such an investment, and so I do not want to just go into something without seeing what others out there have experienced or seen.

    Anyhow, do you both mind telling me what it is that you do? I assume you are psych nurses but it was not entirely clear to me. If you are psych nurse, do you think you will be doing it for your lifetime?

    Harmonizer-what school is your school that you mention? Just curious.
    Thanks again I really appreciate it!
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    One thing to keep in mind is the mental health parity in the ACA that was recently held up by the courts. This means that a ton of people who had no coverage for mental health services will all of the sudden be covered. Also, a large percentage of psychiatrists are 55+ and will be retiring soon. From what I can see, the demand for psych is already high and will likely increase in the future. However, keep in mind this can be very regional. The South, for example, is notorious for low pay. On the west (PNW and Southwest in particular), the need and pay for psych NPs is excellent.

    However, if your heart is in OT - I say go for it! You will have work as an OT NP, no doubt. There is need for providers across the board. Just consider where you want to practice and get in touch with some NPs in that region to get an idea of what your options will be.
  9. 0
    Quote from zagalady
    Anyhow, do you both mind telling me what it is that you do? I assume you are psych nurses but it was not entirely clear to me. If you are psych nurse, do you think you will be doing it for your lifetime?
    I've been a psychiatric nurse for close to 30 years. I worked for about a decade as a staff nurse in psych, returned to graduate school, and have been a psychiatric CNS for close to 20 years (wow -- where does the time go?!?!) I've practiced clinically in a wide variety of settings and roles, and I've taught psychiatric nursing in ADN and BSN programs. I'm currently on the consultation-liaison service of a large academic medical center, and enjoy that v. much. I'm far enough along in my career that I'm not planning on making any big changes in the future.


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