Vanderbilt MSN FNP and working as RN

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    I am interested in applying for Vanderbilt's distanced based MSN program for FNP. I would like to hear from anyone who completed this program (or any other msn program through vanderbilt) while working. Did you work full time, part time, prn? Did you go to school full time or part time? How manageable was the work load? I consider myself a very strong student. I am trying to get a realistic idea of what is possible and not possible. Thanks in advance for any advice!!!
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

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    Vanderbilt has an excellent program!

    I know people who did the program full time and did not work. I know some people who worked full time and went to school full time (which I honestly don't see how they did it). I think if you are going to go to school full time then you should just focus on school and not work (my opinion entirely) as there are tons of things you have to stay on top of and work on, not to mention when you start your clinical hours they are intense and you have to basically "work" full time (as a FNP student in a clinic site) in addition to all the actual school work you are required to do. Working and going to school full time is possible, but I think it would do you a disservice professionally and mentally to cram all that into one day.

    The distance program is great. I loved it, but you do have to attend block, which is mandatory and you do have a lot of assignments, lectures, and presentations during those blocks. Additionally, it is expensive to travel to block and stay the week each month that you are there, so it is definitely expensive and you need to be prepared for the cost (especially if you drive or fly, and if you have to stay in a hotel). The school does try to give you some resources and discounted hotel rates, but they are still relatively pricey (plus in Nashville most hotels charge you $20 per day parking). I am sure there is a way to do it cheaper, but you should definitely overestimate your block week budget as you just don't realize how quickly the money goes.

    Basically all the people that I know who did it full time had a PRN job somewhere, but they didn't really work their PRN job much as school was definitely the priority and the main focus (as it should be).

    The distance program has people who come from all over, so if you find someone who lives relatively close to you (or within the vicinity and you both are driving to Nashville for block), then you may want to see if you guys are compatible in anyway and carpool/share the drive (if you drive there) and hotel. If you are in flying distance, then maybe you can meet a peer that you can become friends with to maybe share a hotel the weeks that you are in town. I do know having a friend to share some of the stuff with can be a good thing, as I did this myself and it was a huge help financially as well as mentally (kind of pep talk each other throughout the program).

    So all that said...I think that the full time program is really really intense (but doable if you pretty much don't work and dedicate all your time to the program). If you feel like you have to work, then I think you could probably work PRN (working part-time hours, but still being able to get out of having to fully commit to the 20 hours to keep your part-time position when things get intense and you need to focus more on school) and do the program PART TIME. They have a 2 year and a 3 year part time program (from what I recall). I think that 2 year part time program and working PRN (but being able to work part-time hours, most likely) is the better way to do things. That's just my own personal bias as that is how I did things, but I felt that I HAD to work as a nurse just because that would give me an "edge" in shopping for a job, because that showed that I did a program AND I still worked as an RN while doing it....getting me more years of experience as an RN on top of getting the advanced practice nurse degree...PLUS when you are finished with the program you will have a transition period between getting your APN license and getting a APN job, so it is nice to at least have the security blanket of your RN job that you have done the whole time you were in school, just in case the job market is a little less open when you first graduate...that way you will have a little less stress about getting a job right out of school and you can take your time to find the right APN job and not have to settle for something less desirable just because you need a paycheck!

    Those would be my suggestions. Again, full time is doable, but I strongly advise against working in any capacity. The part time program and PRN working is my suggestion and I think that you can do that and feel good about it. I don't know how far you are traveling, so that may be a factor in how long you want to stretch things out.
    I just know from the program itself and from also seeing other NP students in other programs elsewhere, doing a Nurse Practitioner program is stressful and you have a lot to learn and it is not always about the race, it is about the final outcome.

    Good luck to you!!
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    Thank you so much for the honest reply! I submitted my application today so we will see what happens. I appreciate all your advice!
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    I am currently in the process of completing my BSN this week. I am looking to apply to FNP programs next fall for admission in the fall of 2015. I was wondering how frequently you traveled to Vanderbilt per month being as you completed the program part time. I can't imagine taking a year off of working to complete this program as much as I would love to. I will need to factor travel time and associated expenses into my decision as I reside in Pittsburgh, PA. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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    It was typically a week per month for 3-4 months per semester in fall and spring semesters. Then the summer was usually 1-2 weeks. I know some people would meet another distance student and share hotel expenses. I had a friend that I stayed with which really helped. I know a lot of people shared rooms, etc which helped. And packing lunch helped as well. Nashville is expensive to visit and eat out all the time. I don't know how much airfare costs because I commuted via car. I know that Southwest flies into Nashville and they're usually cheaper.


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