I am currently applying to several direct-entry nurse practitioner programs. I have my bachelor's degree in biology and I fell in love with nursing after I graduated. I am, obviously, very interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, specifically an AGACNP.
I have seen, only on this forum really, several nurses talk about how direct-entry programs can't produce very good nurses because of the lack of actual nursing experience you have while going through the program. This frightens me a bit, but I consider myself very motivated and smart enough to get through the rigors of the program.
Are any of you products, or know someone who is a product, of a direct-entry program, and if so, is it something you recommend? Would you do it the same way, or would you go the more traditional route if given the choice? Also, where did you go to school, and how difficult was the program?
I'm a Direct Entry grad, and have no regrets about going this route. I've never had any issues obtaining jobs as a NP, and never had an employer that was concerned about my lack of RN experience. I'm an FNP, and work in a specialty outpatient practice.
I did a brick and mortar program at Boston College. I learn better face to face than online, and I felt it was valuable to know and spend time with my cohort. We studied together and were a good support for each other. The program was pretty intense and you needed to be be motivated and take initiative to search out information on your own. Still, I never felt it was unmanageable, but school was my entire life while I was in the program.
You will find a lot of naysayers on this forum. It's frustrating, but I see that I have been successful and my cohort have been successful as NPs. I let my patient outcomes and peer/supervisor reviews speak for my abilities and competence-not someone who has never met me or might not even have a good understanding of DE programs. Choose your program wisely. Go to the best program you can afford, and pick one that will help you find preceptors for your clinicals.
Best of luck to you. Feel free to PM me if you have further questions.
I've worked with a handful direct entry ACNP's from a number of well known programs (UCSF, Yale, Columbia, Case Western Reserve U). Some of the programs required students to take a break after the BSN portion and seek acute care employment as an RN for at least a year and then return for the NP portion later. The other programs didn't require this so the graduates never worked as an RN in the acute care setting at all. To be honest, I've not heard any complaints about their competence as an NP.
Me. I went to Columbia, my background was similar to yours. I'm a damn good NP, PCP to an extremely challenging patient panel at an FQHC and have been since I graduated. Most of my cohort are all equally successful, at least the ones I'm still in contact with. No one has ever questioned my education. In fact lately I have been interviewing to see what's out there and I was told directly by one interviewer that they have 3 Columbia NPs working for them and that they are fantastic and some of the smartest NPs she's encountered and was assuming I would be the same and that was one of the reasons she wanted to talk to me. Sooo NO do not let the naysayers on here discourage you! I did go straight through BS to MS but I also did work as an RN during the master's portion, but not everyone did so. That experience was helpful of course, but mostly with just becoming familiar with the healthcare industry in general, as I worked in oncology and most of what I did clinically does not inform my practice as an FNP in any really practical way beyond the fact that when my patients do have cancer I'm familiar with a lot of the treatments they are on without looking them up.
Success as an NP in my experience is as individual as anything else. I have seen multiple NPs with 10+ years of RN experience completely unable to transition to a provider role and quit in tears after just a few weeks. I am not aware of this happening with any of the DE grads that I personally know and work with (I'm sure it's happened I just haven't seen it). In general in my personal experience, most DE NPs who make the huge decision to pursue this degree are very smart and motivated and make it work. The one regret I see among some of my cohort is the huge cost and gigantic loans. That's the thing I would think the hardest about. I got lucky with the NHSC but that was 7 years ago and I've heard it's harder to get these days.
Oh and to answer you last question the program was time consuming but I did not find the material any more challenging than my first bachelors, in fact I would venture to say the material was actually a bit easier? There was just a lot of material to learn very quickly. But honestly many of my upper level physiology, physics, and chemistry classes that were required for my first degree were in my opinion far more "difficult" material. Most of my classmates who already had a science degree (bio, physiology, microbio etc) thought the same thing. My friends who did not have science degrees but just took the nursing pre-reqs thought the program was a bit more challenging but still did fine they just had to study a bit more.
I guess myself and pretty much my entire direct entry NP class would be considered a 'success' story. We are pretty much all practicing with no issues whatsoever. Just go to a reputable program.
I'm not done with my direct-entry program so I can't speak on how successful my cohort will be in finding jobs, but I just wanted to share that I think it varies significantly from program to program and you need to be wise about picking a program. I currently go to Columbia and as posters above me have shared graduates from my program have not had a hard time finding jobs. That will not be true of every direct entry program, not saying you need to go to an expensive or famous school, just make sure to find a reputable one. I also think it's really important to remember that your program is mostly going to be what you make of it. There are people in my program doing the bare minimum to get by, not seeking out clinical opportunities or getting involved, and those people will likely have a harder time after graduating than those who are networking and seeking out experiences apart from the basics our program offers.
I was in one, but left with my BSN. But it was because I wanted RN experience and fell in love with school nursing, an area where my NP wasn't as usual, to be honest. I did complete part of the program part-time before deciding this. I also attended a brick-and-mortar program in the Boston area as I am a hands-on, in person learner. The program did have a couple of online theory classes and I hated them because I preferred the classroom, but others loved them.
But several of my friends continued onward and are very successful NPs. Most did work as RNs during the Master's portion and completed the NP part-time (highly encouraged by my program), but not everyone. Finding NP work in the Boston area, however, was stressful for some of my friends. Those that worked as RNs also made some contacts, which helped them also find job connections.
I also did a brick and mortar direct entry program in Boston, but we were required to work a minimum of a year as an RN. Most of us continued to work and waited a little while to go back to the NP portion of the program. I worked for 3 years on a medicine step down unit while finishing the NP program, and I just accepted a Palliative Care position. Most of the people in my program had NP jobs within a couple of months of graduating.
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