Social worker to MN to NP??

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    Hi everyone - After ten years of non-nursing work in clinics and hospitals (as both a medical Spanish interpreter and a licensed clinical social worker) I've decided to return to school to become a nurse. I know that bedside nursing isn't for me in the long term, and my goal is to become an NP. Although I have a lot of psych experience as a social worker, I would like to be a primary care provider - likely FNP or maybe adult NP.

    The question is, what's the best way to get there? I have a BA and masters in social work. I know there are direct entry programs that allow you to go straight through to an MSN/NP, and since I'm 40 years old I'm anxious to get going. However, I would be very worried about taking on that level of responsibility without some prior real-life patient experience.

    I've considered doing an accelerated BSN program and then working for at least a couple years before an MSN, but the prereqs for accelerated BSN's here in Texas are ridiculous (I would have to take 12 credits of history/government, among other things). Doesn't seem worth it, and I don't want to move to another state just to get a bachelor's.

    So I'm considering the MN (not MSN) program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where I did my social work masters. They have a 15-month direct entry program, ending with an RN license and no advanced practice, but with a little head start on core classes for further graduate study. My idea would be to work for a couple years and then apply to DNP programs (or maybe MSN) to finally become an NP.

    My main questions are: 1) M.N. degrees seem to be dying out - do you think this will hurt my prospects? 2) Has anyone completed the Minnesota program - any feedback? 3) Other school suggestions, or ideas to help me get where I'm going?

    I'm working on prereqs now and planning to apply next year. I lived in Minneapolis for a long time, in Austin TX now, unsure where I want to live long-term. I could move for school. Thanks for any advice y'all

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  2. 1 Comments...

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    I know that this is a late reply, but thought I'd respond anyway.

    I'm a MSW, and have been working in an intensive model of community mental health care for 3 years. I'm in the process of applying to schools to become a NP, and thought I'd share my perspective.

    First of all, I think you are right to think about going straight to a MS/MSN/DNP program that would give you the tools, education, and experience you need to provide care for our most disadvantaged people. I think that a social worker who has worked long enough in a healthcare setting has the perspective to make an informed decision to go directly to the NP level of practice. You and I have both worked with nurses at all levels, eaten lunch with them, watched what they do, and worked with them to help patients. I think an experienced social worker is well positioned to understand the demands and scope of practice of a NP vs RN.

    Secondly, I think social workers (either MSW or BSW, with experience in the field) are really excellent candidates for nursing. The perspective of practice, focus on the client/patient, and holistic view on wellness exist in both professions. I know that often many social workers and nurse feel a great sense of comradery when working together because of the work they do, and often understand each other's roles well. When practicing at a NP level, as a primary care provider, a social worker's perspective on wellness at different levels (individual, community, and macro) will be an asset to the patient.

    The schools that I have applied to offer both the MSN and MS degree, depending on the school. I don't think that I would feel limited to one or the other, but I do agree that the MSN is more widely known. But, from what I can tell, there are few instances where your scope of practice would be inhibited by having an MS. Furthermore, if you are planning to ever do a DNP program as well, it will not be a long term issue, as a DNP is a very much standardized degree.

    I know virtually nothing about the Minnesota program. The programs I have applied to are Virginia Commonwealth U (in Richmond, VA) and Seattle U (in Seattle, WA). My first choice would be Seattle U because of its focus on vulnerable populations and because they seem to have a more progressive model of education. It has a bit shorter program as well. However, half-way through VCU's program, its direct-entry NP students are awarded a BS (nursing) which is the only major advantage I've found to their program.


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