Work Few Years as RN or Directly to MSN/MPH?

  1. 0
    So I just finished my summer internship in the Neuro ICU and it was quite an experience! My last year in the BSN program begins in August, I finish in May. I'm currently deciding whether I want to go back to school for my MSN/MPH the following year or if I should take a year off and do bedside nursing? I can't see myself as a bedside nurse forever but everytime I speak to someone about graduate school, "experience" comes up and I am utterly confused! Some say you shouldn't be allowed to be a NP without working as an RN for a year or 2, and others are saying it doesn't matter at all. I learned a lot this summer, but it also made me realize just how much I don't know & how much it seems I can only learn by WORKING as a RN. After awhile the Neuro ICU became boring & repetitive but I had share days in the NICU and Peds & I loved both!! I want to become a NP and work in underserved community hospitals/clinics in the US and abroad. I also have a strong interest in policy making and planning so that is why I wish to pursue the MPH. I just wonder if it is feasible to work part time as a RN while I pursue my MSN/MPH? or if I should take a year off to work as an RN for experience? Or do you feel the experience as an RN is unnecessary until after graduation from the Masters program? I am trying to weigh the options before I apply for schools in December/ January, I would hate to waste time!
  2. Get the Hottest Nursing Topics Straight to Your Inbox!

  3. 4,662 Views
    Find Similar Topics
  4. 8 Comments so far...

  5. 3
    Quote from MiszMo
    . I learned a lot this summer, but it also made me realize just how much I don't know & how much it seems I can only learn by WORKING as a RN.
    I think you figured out the answer yourself. Yes, some people who go straight to grad school without ever working as an RN first survive. Some do really well. But if you get NO experience first, you will have missed a lot of valuable learning that can help you throughout your career. You'll learn more from your Master's program if you have that experience to inform your studies -- even though you may be able to do OK in school without it. That's why so many nurses place so much value on that work experience and are skeptical of those who try to skip over that step of professional development.

    Necessary - No
    Highly recommended - Yes, definitely

    Why not spend a few months (1 year?) as a staff nurse solidfying your nursing skills and making that difficult transition from student to professional? Then you can start back to school part time with your employer helping to pay for it. You'll get the experinece that will be of benefit for your career -- and also the benefit of your employer's tuition assistance to go to school. You can probably also get better health insurance more cheaply through your employer as well. (and maybe some other benefits, too.) Look into that angle before making a final decision. Unless you are rich or able to get full scholarships, working at least part time through grad school and keep you out of serious debt -- and that's important for a happy life.
    Moogie, lkwashington, and MiszMo like this.
  6. 0
    I didn't even think about the importance of transitioning from a student to a professional! That would be vital. As well as the experience helping with my graduate studies and tuition. Suddenly that idea makes much more sense, Thanks for your great insight!!!
  7. 0
    I know someone who works full time in the ED as an RN and goes to school full time to become an NP. So it can be done.

    Personally, I am going straight through school RN-MSN/DNP. I might be lucky (God willing) to have 1 year of experience by the time I get into the NP program. Yes, I know experience would be great. But I know myself. If I do not just finish schooling now, I will never go back. I would also plan on working while in school. I hope to get a night shift/weekend position.

    I have no problem with working as an RN for a few years after I become an NP either.

    You have to assess yourself and your situation to figure out what the best option is for you.
  8. 1
    Quote from MiszMo
    I didn't even think about the importance of transitioning from a student to a professional! That would be vital. As well as the experience helping with my graduate studies and tuition. Suddenly that idea makes much more sense, Thanks for your great insight!!!
    That "transition" process is criticial to your career success. If you spend a little time reading the posts here at allnurses, you will find that most new nurses struggle with it -- and some simply fail at it. Actually being a successful professional nurse and working in the "real world" of healthcare services is a lot different from being a student. Some people are great students, but fail at actually working as a nurse in the real world. (And of course, some people are not-so-great at being a student, but do fine in the world of actual practice.)

    So ... I strongly recommend that you give that transition phase of your development your full attention for at least 6 months -- preferably for a full year. Research shows that it takes that long for a new grad nurse to make that transition and become competent as a practicing nurse. Think of that year as another vital step in your professional development -- not as "serving time." You'll be "moving to the next level" of the profession and learning skills and behavior that will help you throughout the rest of your career. That year of practice experience will be well spent. .... And you'll be earning money as you learn!

    Good luck to you.
    Last edit by llg on Aug 1, '10
    lkwashington likes this.
  9. 1
    I agree with the above posts. I have been a nurse for 3.5 years. In January 2007, I started practicing as a nurse. In August 2008, I went back to school to earn my BSN. I earned the degree in December 2009. I just accepted the offer to attend Walden U in January 2011 to earn a MSN in Education. I have waited about a year or more to start another degree. I just wanted the experience to have under my belt. I am glad that I did because when you are applying to school they really take in consideration about the goal statements. When I applied for my BSN, my goal statement was one page typed. When I completed my goal statement for grad school it was three pages typed. They want to know all about your experiences, if any. To be honest the experiences I had between degrees helped me to decide to keep going to school. I would tell you this when you decide to go back to school, please do research on the institution you decide to go because all schools have certain and special requirements. I am not going to tell you what to do, I would least get a year full time in and you can change you work status to part time or even prn. This would look good on your resume and goal statement especially you professional goals and personal qualities. There are other important information also. I wish you good luck. What pathway you decide to go is your choice. I am just glad you choosing to continue your education.
    happy2learn likes this.
  10. 0
    Hi!

    I just thought I would throw my two cents into the conversation. I just graduated with my BSN (and just passed my NCLEX yay!!!), and I had the good fortune of discovering that I loved learning about the connection between health and policy. So, I applied for my MSN/MPH degree while I was in my last year of my BSN. Now, I am starting graduate school in two weeks. I am interested in working in Washington DC in on health policy issues, and getting my Ph.D.

    There are lots of nurses who transition from direct patient care into forming policy. I would say that getting nursing experience is valuable, but I disagree with the notion that it is absolutely necessary before getting your MSN/MPH. I tend to stay away from advice telling me what I cannot do, I am just too positive for that. You can make whatever you want work for you, period. You can always get work experience while you are attaining these degrees, which is what I am doing. Also, I was very active with my community and on campus when I was attaining my BSN, so I had plenty to talk about on my personal statement. You have worked in an Neuro ICU, as well as your clinicals, and you can always talk about that.

    So, it really is your choice, but follow your own instincts. I am at an age where I did not want to spend a year working only, when I could be working and going to graduate school. You can do whatever you want to do!!
  11. 2
    Quote from sallber
    Hi!
    . Now, I am starting graduate school in two weeks. I am interested in working in Washington DC in on health policy issues, and getting my Ph.D.
    For you, it might work well -- because you are not trying to become an expert at nursing practice. You are not planning to teach nursing care to students ... or do research related to direct patient care. You are planning a career in health policy -- and for that focus, the abilty to actually take care of a patient is less important.

    But for people who are planning to do research into nursing practice ... or to go into nursing administration ... or to teach nursing practice ... or an advanced practice role ... the situation is different.

    Good luck to you.
    Moogie and lkwashington like this.
  12. 2
    I am also going directly from my BSN to MSN this fall. The decision of whether or not to accept wonderful job opportunities or to further my education at this point was SO difficult for me - I really struggled with it. This was mainly because so many people were giving me their own opinions on what they believed was the right decision. Ultimately, I think, what makes the most sense is what you feel is the right route for you. Does it make sense for you financially and personally to go straight into a masters program? Is it more important to you to get the year (or more) of bedside experience before you go into a masters program? There is no right or wrong way to go about pursuing YOUR own career path. The program that I am attending varies significantly in terms of nursing experience, but most in my specialty group have one year of RN experience. Anyways, I know everyone has a different opinion but I am excited for my future career and the challenges and rewards that it will bring. I wish everyone success and fulfillment in their own path.
    happy2learn and lkwashington like this.


Top