I am yet another mid-life career-changer. I’ve been afraid to even post on this board, as I believe I will get attacked by all the nursing traditionalists. But I would like the opinions of the experienced, and I can’t get them without putting myself out there. Besides, if I am going to tread this path, I need to develop a thick skin.
I’ve wanted to work on the clinical side of healthcare for most of my life. Since I was a kid, I wanted to BE something – CRNA, radiologist, ER doc, pharmacist, nurse practitioner. The various options cycled through my mind, but I just KNEW I was going to grow up to be one of these. I’ve always been fascinated by the human body, disease processes, how the mind works, even down to nerve impulses and what causes that movement from neuron to neuron. I have always wanted to know the “why.” Just “what” has never been good enough.
I got to college and my dad didn’t believe I could handle pre-med/medical school. It took the wind out of my sails. I didn’t even understand I could apply for student loans. I did what he told me, got my business degree, and got out.
Within two years of graduating, I wanted to go back to school. However, I soon got married and my husband wasn't ready. Then I landed a lucrative job on the business side of healthcare, in a sales role. I liken this to “golden handcuffs.” The money was great, but it made it more difficult for me to go back to school. I was the bread-winner.
Then we had children, making it nearly impossible to go back at that time. Sure, I could go, but it seemed extraordinarily selfish. Yet again, I put it off.
By this time, we had moved back home, to an area with a couple of very good nursing programs
. In addition, there was a PA program and a very good B&M NP program, which included an option for those without nursing experience. That became very appealing to me, as the years flew by.
To make a very long story a little shorter, now that my children are a little older, I finally got it together and applied to that MSN program. I also applied to an accelerated BSN program. I quit my job and started taking pre-requisites. Ultimately, I got into both programs. I was torn: the MSN program was my dream (highly-ranked and I could start doing what I really wanted sooner); but I had heard that having a BSN could be more flexible and perhaps better for me as it relates to getting RN experience first. As of now, I plan to attend the MSN B&M school this fall.
Here comes the BIG BUT – I read this board and it scares me. Am I being completely irresponsible by becoming a nurse practitioner when I have not been a nurse? I recognize my lack of experience as a nurse, believe me. I am, however, not “green.” I have been a working business professional for 17+ years. While I absolutely do not have clinical experience, I do have something of value, in both life experience and business acumen, to bring to the table. As well, my work was in healthcare and I've acquired a fair amount of knowledge along the way.
I have a lot of confidence in the school that I’ve chosen. They are one of the top-ranked institutions, as well as my specialty being extremely highly-ranked. My preceptors are selected for me; the clinical hours are high; I have the option to specialize further (which adds to my clinical hours); I believe if any school is going to prepare me, considering my lack of experience in this area, they are one of the best. I also fully expect there to be a large learning curve. But am I being completely naïve?
This is something I have always wanted to do. I am no longer in my 20s or 30s. I don’t want to spend years and years starting over with a BSN, and then going back later for another degree. It seems to be not only additional time but additional money. Is it reasonable to think that I can gain experience as an NP and become competent, even without RN experience first? I am more than willing to work hard, ask questions, know what I don’t know, seek help from peers, and put forth diligent effort. In fact, I look forward to it.
The last thing that I think about is: I see so much written on this board about salary. I am actually in a position where I do not have to work. However, I will say it again – this is something that I WANT to do. And even though I don’t have to work, I am not looking to do this for charity. I would like to be paid what I’m worth. I recognize that I will initially be an inexperienced NP, but that won’t be the case for long. Am I crazy to think I can make $150K at some point? I see $80-90K and it bums me out. It seems ridiculous for the work NPs do. I am in the Southeast. I can go back to my old profession and make $150K easy. I just don’t want to.
Sorry for the length. Would appreciate your advice.