I'm in the Alternate Entry program at UT and am a psych NP student. Been an RN for a little over a year and a half. After I did the intensive RN part of my program, instead of immediately taking the first of two NP years full time, I only took adv patho and adv pharm the first year while I worked full time in ICU for a year and a couple months. Now been in ER for 6 months.
Totally worth it. Just 3 months of ICU helped me coast in adv. patho when some of my classmates struggled. I have a much better grasp of acute care conditions, psychosocial conditions, the gaps in US healthcare, effects of local and regional healthcare policy than my classmates that haven't worked. Cuz when you're an RN, you're out in the Real World... and nursing school
is definitely NOT the Real World.
I would like to temper this by saying that being an RN and NP are very different roles. I think some people put more emphasis on the RN role than is necessary (I've known RNs that have been RNs for 20 years and wouldn't let them prescribe anything for my goldfish even if they went back to school.). There is a lot to learn in NP school that you aren't taught as an RN. Advanced practice is not all intuitive, and you won't learn to prescribe and diagnose by osmosis. It all depends on what kind of work experience you get, how intelligent you are, and how much effort you put into getting the most out of work and school.
I would say to anyone thinking of becoming an RN, new BSN or thinking of a direct-entry program... work for a year. Work in a high-acuity environment with good educational support for new nurses. Take a year to have fun, earn your stripes and make the new nurse mistakes, and most importantly, study study study.