I agree work experience helps. But why don't you start school and work at the same time? At least you can get some classes out of the way like nursing research and theory, roles course, health policy, etc. I did that and after a year, I stopped working due to heavy load of clinicals and didactics. Working certainly helps you get more exposed to the work environment, but acute care nursing is not like primary care nursing. It is different in the way of thinking and approaching things. You're not going to be in a primary care setting with "everything within reach" as in a hospital. Most clinics do not or will not carry CRRT machines, PFT machines, etc due to logistics and cost issues. Some things helped me though such as inserting IVs for hydration and giving IV NSAIDs for acute pain in migraine. I'd say nursing experience I'll help you in skills and prioritizing, but there are many nurses I've talked to that told me they feel incompetent during their FNP clinical even though they had over 10-20yrs of experience. I cant say that for all nurses though. I respect nurses with that much RN experience. As an RN, I did not interpret tests to make diagnoses, read X-ray films for things such as bronchograms on a possible lung consolidation in the radiologic zone of BS.
I have never sutured lacerations, performed orthopedic joint injections with corticosteroids in shoulders/spine/knee/etc, perform womens health pelvic exams, deliver babies, intubated a patient, make casts, etc....until I got into the fnp program. You do different things and the practice is different. I feel like I know more quicker going through this program than working 1 year, but that's just me because I'm a geek who doesn't mind sitting in front of books all day and reading online journals on medscape, MD consult, pubmed, and listening to medical podcasts. I'm also a tech geek who is heavily involved with using my iPad and iphone for quick knowledge. This is all just me. Sorry if I offended anyone who has extensive RN experience. This is something I wanted to do with my life and chose this path to become a FNP and its not for everyone. however, I must agree that most hospitals choose NPs with at least 1-5 years of RN experience. Especially if you want to become a hospitalist, work in ER/intensivsts, most places require the experience as an RN and that's understandable. I'm tired now but ill say more later.