Are you happier as an NP than you were as an RN?

  1. I have seen a couple posts titled similarly to mine, have even asked the same question in the title on a different thread. But this post is meant to be a little more fine tuned and specific (scroll down to the last paragraph if you don't care to see where I am coming from with my questions).

    I just got accepted into NP school, but I am scared I will still not find the happiness I am looking for... I know it is probably my specialty and my current work environment giving me these feelings of hopelessness, but I need some reassurance that I am making the right choice.

    I started off working in a large, level one regional trauma center. The drive was too erroneous, so I left to work 15 minutes away from my home at a rural, critical access ER. People like to think I work at a "bandaid station." But they could not be anymore wrong. I still see all the same things I saw when I worked at the big level one trauma center. Actually, when it comes to ratio, I see even more sick people at the ER I work at now, compared to the ER I previously worked at where people using the ER as primary care completely diluted the place. Right now, my work environment is experiencing a pretty big hiccup, and I am really starting to hate coming to work (where previously, I was pretty neutral about it, not happy, but didn't dread it either). One of our other nurses has come under investigation for a sexual harassment claim. He was suspended all last week and my "little ER" was hit hard with traumas, people on the brink of death, and seemingly everything in between. It was me and an orientee who had to carry all the weight, and now I have been told this RN has flat out quit (which, I can't blame him to be honest). So it will be me riding solo a lot until they find someone to take his place. I know that anywhere I work, hiccups WILL happen, negative staffing changes are nearly inevitable, and this job will never be easy... But I can't help but feel stressed out and burnt out.

    These past couple of weeks I have wondered if healthcare is even really for me. I don't want to be miserable. I want to be happy to come to work. I enjoy educating patients, I enjoy solving complicated work ups and collaborating to find a solution, and most of all, I love the reward of saving a life and seeing patients glow when I can relieve them of their anxiety, pain, and other ailments. Frankly, I am tired of the long hours, the weekends, the small hospital politics, always being blamed because I am the nurse, and the exhaustion I feel on my days off.

    Am I dreaming if I think as an NP I will be able to find a Monday - Friday, 9-5 with no weekends or holidays? (I know the job market is hard right now, but I will literally move anywhere after I graduate to get a job because I want out of the craptastic state I live in) Am I being unrealistic thinking I might experience less anxiety and chaos as a FNP in lets say, a family practice clinic? Let me know your thoughts and words of advice. Thanks for reading.
    Last edit by TheRuralNurse on May 12
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   ohiosam2
    I certainly understand that fact that you feel stressed and burned out! Working as a nurse is to operate at full speed at all times. You are always short staffed and pressed for time.

    Am I happier now that I am an acute care NP in the Emergency Department? YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!! The job gives me just as much anxiety as nursing did. I am now responsible for people's lives and the care I give in a way that is much different from nursing. I am now more legally on the line for what I order. However, I will never regret my decision to become an NP. At my institution I was tired of working for nursing management. They were much more interested in the color of shoes I was wearing than the fact that they could not staff their unit. The fact that they did not respect the nurses who worked for them was very much apparent. I was tired of being treated like a little kid instead of a professional with a college degree. I made sure that I applied for an NP ER job where I would be working for physician management and would not report to nursing. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. The physicians at my current institution are very much NP advocates. They show an incredible amount of trust in me and will defend me quickly if another service treats me inappropriately. In other words, they treat me like any other provider.

    Beware! Not all places are as supportive as the one I am working at. You have to pick who you are working for VERY carefully. I looked at jobs for six months before graduating and asked other nurses and NP's about the different places I was looking at. I made sure the unit was well staffed and that there was a plan in place in case another provider was ill. I also looked into the way the NP's were treated and how much they liked their jobs. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side. You just have to be patient and take the time to look carefully.
  4. by   TheRuralNurse
    ohiosam2, I appreciate your reply and your input. Thank you for taking the time to tell me about your experience.
  5. by   Jules A
    Quote from TheRuralNurse
    Am I being unrealistic thinking I might experience less anxiety and chaos as a FNP in lets say, a family practice clinic? Let me know your thoughts and words of advice. Thanks for reading.
    To answer your title NO I am not happier as a NP than I was as a RN but I thoroughly enjoyed being a RN. I am very happy and there are aspects like the money and autonomy but being a NP is extremely stressful imo. Its a different kind of stress and for anyone who doesn't recognize the increased responsibility and long list of things that could go wrong under our direction they are downright delusional.

    I don't choose the M-F type jobs so I can't speak to that aspect but what I can tell you is that I'm actually more busy as a NP and for me the stress level is way higher because I'm diagnosing and ordering medications that could actually hurt someone.
  6. by   WKShadowRN
    I am happier but not only because of the new role. My current workplace feels so much less toxic than my former.

    It is amazing what a new venue provides in terms of atmosphere, culture, and support.
  7. by   TheRuralNurse
    Jules A, thank you for your input. I appreciate you taking the time to tell me about your perspective.
  8. by   TheRuralNurse
    WKShadow, I am happy to hear you not only like your new role, but you were able to find a pleasant work environment. I am hoping to achieve the same. Thanks for your reply.
  9. by   diprifan
    I have to agree with WKShadow, if you work somewhere toxic, you aren't going to like it no matter what you do (RN or NP). I'm finishing NP school this summer and I had a moment of internal terror when I realized my dream job may not be where I work... But there are so many factors, especially with advanced practice, that will affect how you feel about your job.
  10. by   Zyprexa
    Quote from Jules A
    To answer your title NO I am not happier as a NP than I was as a RN but I thoroughly enjoyed being a RN. I am very happy and there are aspects like the money and autonomy but being a NP is extremely stressful imo. Its a different kind of stress and for anyone who doesn't recognize the increased responsibility and long list of things that could go wrong under our direction they are downright delusional.

    I don't choose the M-F type jobs so I can't speak to that aspect but what I can tell you is that I'm actually more busy as a NP and for me the stress level is way higher because I'm diagnosing and ordering medications that could actually hurt someone.
    This is something that every potential NP should consider. So many nursing students and new grads want to jump right into being a provider, thinking it will be "less stressful." I don't understand how diagnosing and prescribing medication can be less stressful, I do know that it's a very different type of stress than what I experience as an RN. Any type of NP carries extreme responsibility and liability, it's not something to be taken lightly. It's certainly something I've been thinking about recently, while I consider whether or not it's a path I want to pursue.
  11. by   Julius Seizure
    Quote from ohiosam2
    You have to pick who you are working for VERY carefully. I looked at jobs for six months before graduating and asked other nurses and NP's about the different places I was looking at. I made sure the unit was well staffed and that there was a plan in place in case another provider was ill. I also looked into the way the NP's were treated and how much they liked their jobs. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side. You just have to be patient and take the time to look carefully.
    I'd love to know more about how you figured out which really was the best place to work. How did you know the NPs really liked their jobs vs. the NPs at another place? Did you outright ask them during an interview? Did you just watch their behavior? What kinds of questions did you ask during interviews?
  12. by   WKShadowRN
    On my interview tour I observed interactions and behaviors. Sometimes you can tell when the felicity is forced or fake or if it is genuine. The group seemed generally happy and my 5 weeks with them have not disabused me of this notion.
  13. by   Riburn3
    I am much, much happier in my new role as an NP. When I first went back to school, I was also on the fence if it was worth it from a financial or job satisfaction point of view, and now that I'm on the other side, I sometimes kick myself for not going back sooner. I loved working in critical care as both a manager and bedside nurse, but the job role of an NP is just so much more gratifying (and I get treated with way more respect too).

    Obviously, the specific job you end up doing will impact how you feel as an NP, but just in terms of role and function in healthcare, it's fantastic.
  14. by   TicTok411
    RN role was easier and basically has turned into a role that is all about checking boxes and very little thinking or creativity. The NP role can be stressful as you have no one to blame and cannot pass the buck to someone else. However, I never feel like I am treated like a child working as an NP where in the RN role I would get weekly emails regarding clocking in a minute too early or our three minutes too late. I come in when I have a patient and leave when I am done. No clocks to punch and no one reminds me or scolds me for some petty BS. So, no I do not miss being an RN. I have been there and done that and have about 50 nursing week bags and cups to prove it.

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