Med school to NP

  1. Hi all, I'd really appreciate any insight.
    If any current/recent NP grads could PM me or share about their school experience, I'd be grateful.
    I am a medical student in Chicago looking to make a career change and have been considering this for two years.
    I've finished a year and am on a leave of absence. I was depressed, and one of our classmates and a resident died of an OD last semester. My own father, a physician, died of an OD when I was young. The school has ramped up suicide prevention measures in the wake of increased attempts, but this all seems very normal for the administration.
    To keep things short, every day I've become more concerned about my own mental health in this setting and training, and how it has changed me.
    This is not the only reason I think NP would be a better fit. I don't have enough space to go on and on. But I wonder how NP students have felt about their training.
    I am applying to all the direct entry MSN Chicago schools, and any others nationally that I have the prereqs for. I just feel very alone.
  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   Jules A
    Hi and welcome,
    I'm sorry you are struggling and wonder if treating your depression might be a better first step before you abandon what in my opinion is a far superior education and career path. Is there a medical student's group at your school or online where you might get support and advice?

    I did two NP programs first masters then post masters at well respected brick and mortar schools. My education was bare minimum and had not been for my years of psych nursing experience and physician contacts picking up the slack I can't imagine how poor my skills would have been.
    Best wishes with whatever you decide.
  4. by   medtonurse
    Thanks so much for your reply, Jules. I agree, without a formal residency I feel I'll have to learn a lot on the fly as an NP. But I won't be subjected to the 80 hour work weeks, which I think would break me.

    I'm such an independent learner, and really would love to be a psych NP.

    Yes, my experience with depression over the past three years has been quite severe. I was treated at age 8 after my father died, but didn't have much of an issue until I got to med school.

    Since then, I've failed every class of drug. While in and out of school, I've been in 5 different clinical trials for intranasal and IV Ketamine, and other newer drugs. I've had TMS and ECT.

    I'm much better now and stable on a new med, but I think going back to med school will trigger me. The experience has taken so much from me. The 12-16 hour days of studying are intense. It just never ends, and the level of minutiae is so high.

    I'm worried about not passing the rigorous 2nd year curriculum and 8 hour long Boards, even though I'm doing better.
  5. by   medtonurse
    This is not to say an MSN and NP curriculum would be easy, but it's much more clinically-oriented, and I actually think I would learn so much more. Being an NP may also get me closer to the types of populations I'd like to work with.

    The 2nd year of med school is such an avalanche of tiny details and equations to memorize, retrieve, and forget. I've sought out help and asked my school if I could spread the courses over two years, but was denied.

    The culture in clinical training for med students is also concerning.

    I'll have to give a lot of thought to whether I could successfully finish the MD.
  6. by   FullGlass
    I'm so sorry for your troubles. It is good that you are now doing better.

    Being an MD is not for everyone. Many NPs could have gone to med school but chose the nurse practitioner route instead. A reputable NP school is not easy, but it is easier than med school. In addition, there is more flexibility - you could go to NP school part time if that works better for you.

    Just make sure your depression is well-controlled before you start school and that you have a good support system in place if your depression worsens while you are in NP school. I also struggle with depression and it did get triggered in NP school. Fortunately, I had an excellent academic advisor and faculty who worked with me and helped me succeed in school. Make sure you have access to a psychiatrist and talk therapist and regular appointments. Most schools have student health services for this.

    At my school, the faculty and fellow students were very supportive, reflecting the nursing mindset. In addition, the school placed a high premium on everyone graduating.

    As for what NP school is like, I went to a top school and chose Adult and Geri Primary Care. I was full-time, and took 24 months to complete the MSN. This can be done in 15 to 16 months, but I didn't want the stress of that. The first semester was didactic content, along with clinical skills in lab. The second semester was mostly didactic, with only 24 hours or so of clinical - one day a week for like 6 weeks or so (I don't remember exactly). For the rest of the program, we had both didactic and clinical rotations, and the clinical time worked out to about 1 to 2 days per week per semester. I studied 6 to 8 hours a day on non-clinical days, including weekends, on average. A lot of that was because we had to do a lot of writing. Obviously, study time will depend on how fast you learn.

    A lot of students worked as RNs full or part time, except for the last couple of semesters, when everyone switched to part time or stopped working.

    There is a very high demand for PMHNPs in the Western U.S., so you would have no trouble getting a good job after graduation. Out West, we say finding a PMHNP is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Some of your med school classes might also transfer over.

    Best wishes.
  7. by   FullGlass
    Also, I wanted to add that there are nurse practitioner residency programs. Not enough, but the number is slowly rising.

    In addition, as a new grad, make sure you choose an employer with a good training and ramp up program. You can also negotiate your ramp up schedule.
  8. by   Oldmahubbard
    This is painful and my heart goes out to you.

    I did my Psych NP the old fashioned way, ie one or two courses a semester, while working as an RN.

    Nursing certainly has it's own problems with bullying, and lateral violence.

    But the NP itself education is doable. No 80 hour weeks required.

    Still, I question if you were competitive enough to get into medical school, you may be able to finish with support.

    Because you'll be starting almost from scratch with NP school.

    I went through many issues, saw a psychiatrist at one point.

    I took medication for awhile, which helped quite a bit, after some trial and error.

    But the thing I have found most effective for me, long term, is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ie ACT.

    I still use it.
  9. by   BCgradnurse
    I am sorry things have been so difficult for you. In my opinion, no job or career is worth sacrificing your health for. I think you've recognized this, and I'm glad you're looking to make a change. Do not let anyone, including yourself, pressure you into going back to med school if that's not what you want. There are a lot of conflicting opinions here about direct entry programs. I am a direct entry grad, and had a positive experience. Should you choose to go this route, please choose your program carefully. Go to a reputable, well established school that helps you find your preceptors. Get your RN/BSN, and then see if you want to work part time as a RN while you complete your MSN, or not. Maybe you could do some kind of volunteer work in the mental health arena while you're applying or deciding what your next step is.

    I wish you the best.
  10. by   nursesunny

    I didn't get as far as you, but I did go to USC's postbacc pre-MD program, took the MCAT (scored very well) and then sat in my own physician's office asking for a thyroid test "I am tired all the time, I just can't focus" turns out it was lupus although at the time they thought it was depression. Either way, my health was suffering from the rigors of the program, my own self imposed pressure, and exhaustion of mothering two children and commuting hours from an area I could afford. No job, no calling, no career, nothing ever is worth your health. I am healthy, happy, and studying for my PMHNP. I love my work. I have a great family/life balance, and the rigors of study haven't disconnected me from friends. I hope you find clarity and happiness in your pursuit of a career.
  11. by   caliotter3
    Get your health together before you make life-altering decisions regarding your career.
  12. by   Leader25
    I am sorry you are going through such a rough time,counseling and some deep soul searching would help you decide.Only you know your limitations and the price you will pay if you push beyond what you can tolerate safely. I am sure you have given this a lot of thought.From what you write I do not think it is just a capricious whim. Best of luck.
  13. by   traumaRUs
    I'm so glad you recognized the need to get help. Being an MD isn't for everyone. I've worked closely with several MDs in several specialties who wish they hadn't gone that route.

    I agree with others that (as you've stated) you need to take care of yourself first before you commit to anything further. I'm in IL and there are multiple direct entry NP programs in Chicago. There is also an ER NP residency program - a friend of a friend went that route and loved it. He is the son of a ER MD who told him not to go the MD route - not because he wasn't smart and couldn't do it, but simply so that his work-life balance would be better.

    Best wishes - please keep us updated
  14. by   brandy1017
    Depression and suicide are an epidemic in the medical community as you are aware. Check out Dr Pamela Wible's articles on | Social media’s leading physician voice. She even offers her contact info for struggling residents and doctors to reach out to her.

    Most importantly take care of yourself get the counseling and medical treatment you need. God bless you and watch over you!