RN experience required?

  1. I was wondering if I could get some feedback from nurse practitioners about grad school. I am currently in a second degree accelerated BSN program, and will graduate in December '06. I also have almost four years of health care experience (as a med tech) under my belt. I would like to start with NP classes in spring of '07, but I don't know how most schools view candidates who don't have a year of experience as an RN.

    The reason I ask is because there are now a lot of direct-entry master's programs springing up across the country. These students obviously won't have any experience as an RN before they start grad school. Will I be viewed differently when I apply because I am going through a second-degree BSN program?

    Thanks for your input.
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   sirI
    Quote from BSNDec06
    I was wondering if I could get some feedback from nurse practitioners about grad school. I am currently in a second degree accelerated BSN program, and will graduate in December '06. I also have almost four years of health care experience (as a med tech) under my belt. I would like to start with NP classes in spring of '07, but I don't know how most schools view candidates who don't have a year of experience as an RN.

    The reason I ask is because there are now a lot of direct-entry master's programs springing up across the country. These students obviously won't have any experience as an RN before they start grad school. Will I be viewed differently when I apply because I am going through a second-degree BSN program?

    Thanks for your input.
    Hello, BSNDec06,

    There are many who will be doing the same as you.......direct-entry master's (second degree).

    As for the experience. Some programs require you to have a minimum of 1-2 years experience. Some do not. You would need to verify that with the program in question.

    I am of the belief you should have experience. Experience in ICU, CCU, ER, Peds, OB. But, this is IMHO.
  4. by   Jayla
    Just FYI I struggled with the same question about 1.5 years ago and ended up taking a 2 year LOA after finishing my BSN. I don't regret the decision.

    Everyone has their own opinion re: this topic and you really need to do what's best for you. Depends on your experience prior to nursing and your level of confidence in taking on the responsibility of an NP with no RN experience. They are two very different roles of course. Some will argue that they are so different that RN experience isn't necessary. Others think it's vital to have RN experience first (although length of time and area of RN experience varies).

    Someone really needs to do some research on this issue! There is no one correct answer to your question--it's a very individual decision.
  5. by   carachel2
    We have lots of people in our program with < 1 yr experience. Like someone posted above, there are arguments either way. I would recommend working in a department where you get exposure to a WIDE variety of clinical problems like the ER. That would be your quickest way to see a lot of things and learn a lot.
  6. by   icugirl33
    I graduated from my BSN program in May 2005. I thought I had to wait a year before going back for my MSN/ARNP. I called my school a few months ago and was told that there were core classes I needed to take prior to starting the clinical portion of the program. Since the core classes would take 2 semesters, I would of had 1 year experience as an RN. So, even though I have only been an RN for 4 months, I was accepted into the graduate program & will start in Jan 2006. By the time the clinical portion begins in Aug 2006, I would of been a nurse for 1 year.

    So you should call the school and ask someone who knows what they are talking about. If I had not called, I would of technically wasted a whole year waiting...
  7. by   gauge14iv
    Thats how the people who say they are going straight into an NP program are "getting around" the experience requirement so to speak - and it is acceptable to do this! You take your core courses like advanced patho, pharm, theory etc while you are working, and then you start your clinical courses in the latter part of the program. You work while you take your core courses so that you get some experience.

    5 to 6 years out, the difference is probably pretty nil in terms of depth - but those with less experience may lack some breadth. I hope that helps
  8. by   catch33er
    I graduated last year from a "bridge" program (Vanderbilt), where I entered with a bachelor's in biology and came out with an RN, MSN, FNP. This question has plagued me throughout my education and to today. I am six months into my first job as an FNP, and some days I think more experience as an RN would help me, and other days I don't. The main time I feel it would help me would be in the coordination of care and how different specialties can fit together. I still get paranoid when I call the ER to let the charge nurse or MD know I'm sending a patient. And there was no way a program can teach that.

    I moved back to Oregon, and there is a rule through the BON that a graduate of a "bridge" program could not be licensed as an NP in the state without working as an RN for 280 hours. After graduation, I worked at an urgent care as an RN for six months before starting my current NP job. There were definite advantages to that exposure, and at times I wished I would have gone the slower way - 2-year BSN, then 2-year master's, if only for the ability to work while doing the master's in order to have less student loans.

    I think this is an extremely personal decision, and I don't believe there's a definite right or wrong answer. I had several years experience working in medical offices as an assistant and as a family planning assistant in a women's clinic (like a CNA but not licensed :uhoh21: ), and felt like I had good patient contact, advocating, and medical experience. Some of my classmates had no experience with patients and made horrible and insensitive errors.
  9. by   sirI
    Quote from catch33er
    i graduated last year from a "bridge" program (vanderbilt), where i entered with a bachelor's in biology and came out with an rn, msn, fnp. this question has plagued me throughout my education and to today. i am six months into my first job as an fnp, and some days i think more experience as an rn would help me, and other days i don't. the main time i feel it would help me would be in the coordination of care and how different specialties can fit together. i still get paranoid when i call the er to let the charge nurse or md know i'm sending a patient. and there was no way a program can teach that.

    i moved back to oregon, and there is a rule through the bon that a graduate of a "bridge" program could not be licensed as an np in the state without working as an rn for 280 hours. after graduation, i worked at an urgent care as an rn for six months before starting my current np job. there were definite advantages to that exposure, and at times i wished i would have gone the slower way - 2-year bsn, then 2-year master's, if only for the ability to work while doing the master's in order to have less student loans.

    i think this is an extremely personal decision, and i don't believe there's a definite right or wrong answer. i had several years experience working in medical offices as an assistant and as a family planning assistant in a women's clinic (like a cna but not licensed :uhoh21: ), and felt like i had good patient contact, advocating, and medical experience. some of my classmates had no experience with patients and made horrible and insensitive errors.
    hello, catch33er,

    very well said. although i try to advise my students-to-be to get some rn experience under their belts, it still is a personal decision.....
  10. by   JACKMAC
    I agree that it is a personal decision but I do have my own opinion. I feel that patient contact is some form is extremely valuable in becoming an NP. Yes, the roles are very different but as a RN, I had experience talking with patients about subjects that are very sensitive such as bowel movements, erections, sexual history, diet habits, drug use, etc. Knowing how to talk to patients is so valuable and I don't know how one gets that type of experience without working first. I like the requirement that NP students have at LEAST one year experience. It sets us apart from PA's whose backgrounds are more variable (I love PAs - we are in this together, no disrespect intended). Whenever people ask me the difference between an NP and PA, I always say that NPs have experience as nurses first (Be ready, you will be asked that question at least 1003 times ). I hope that I will continue to be accurate in saying that because I feel it is important.
  11. by   MamaTheNurse
    I don't know what the requirements are now, but my NP program at Michigan State U. required at least 2 years of RN clinical experience - that was back in 97-98 - everyone is different but I had 4 years experience and was glad to have it - some people in my program had been RN's longer than I'd been alive - we all did fine, however.........
  12. by   HillNPStudent
    Quote from siri
    Hello, catch33er,

    Very well said. Although I try to advise my students-to-be to get some RN experience under their belts, it still is a personal decision.....

    Do you really feel that ER, ICU, CCU experience is necessary-what about med-surg/telemetry? The reason I ask is because I am struggling w/ the decision to transfer from a busy telemetry unit to a CCU. Not sure if CCU will benefit me once I am working as an FNP. I do have some critical care experience at a previous facility; but not CCU. I would also be transferring right at the beginning of my second semester of grad school. I'm afraid of taking on too much stress, you know? Any thoughts or opinions?
  13. by   sirI
    Quote from LOVERN
    Do you really feel that ER, ICU, CCU experience is necessary-what about med-surg/telemetry? The reason I ask is because I am struggling w/ the decision to transfer from a busy telemetry unit to a CCU. Not sure if CCU will benefit me once I am working as an FNP. I do have some critical care experience at a previous facility; but not CCU. I would also be transferring right at the beginning of my second semester of grad school. I'm afraid of taking on too much stress, you know? Any thoughts or opinions?
    The experience of which I speak is before entering the NP program. Normally we all gain med-surg experience. If the individual desires FNP, I always encourage them to gain experience in the speciality areas. And, yes, critical care/cardiac experience is essential as an FNP. FNP is a specialty requiring knowledge in every aspect of medicine/nursing.


    Again, this is what I suggest and is not the same for everyone.

    You do not need added stressors now.
    Last edit by sirI on Jan 22, '06
  14. by   HillNPStudent
    [QUOTE=siri]The experience of which I speak is before entering the NP program. Normally we all gain med-surg experience. If the individual desires FNP, I always encourage them to gain experience in the speciality areas. And, yes, critical care/cardiac experience is essential as an FNP. FNP is a specialty requiring knowledge in every aspect of medicine/nursing.


    Again, this is what I suggest and is not the same for everyone.

    You do not need added stressors now.[/QUOTE


    I am thinking I don't need added stressors now too; yet at the same time think I could make the transition to CCU without too much difficulty. I feel that I do have a strong cardiac background; have worked on open heart/telemetry units at two different facilities, one being the largest in our state doing procedures other hospitals transfer pts to. I learned so much there. Cardiac has always been my strong point.

    Another part of me thinks maybe I should wait till summer (no classes) and try to work on a peds unit; or at least with a younger population. That way I'd have cardiac AND peds experience.

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