Building a strong NP school app during undergrad

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    For those of you who went straight from BSN to NP program, what did you do to make your application strong? I am trying to mainly focus on doing well academically, being a good person and maturing throughout my years in college, and making money in a part-time job. But, I wonder if there are research or volunteering opps I should take advantage of to be a stronger candidate. Thoughts?
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    4.0 GPA, volunteering at a hospital for a couple years, Sigma Theta Tau, strong letters of rec from nursing professors, SNO, strong clinical experiences, etc.
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    Not to be a jerk - and I swear I'm not trying to hijack your thread - but why do people seem so bent on going straight through?

    I was the exact same way - until I worked for six months and thought, oh HELL no am I ready to get diagnostic and prescribing privileges. MDs/DOs get a carefully guided internship and residency. We don't. We graduate and we're sort of set loose on the world in a way that doctors aren't. Unless you plan on working while you're in grad school (because I think that's reasonable, even if somewhat scary), you'll have no real experience. Clinicals, IMO, don't really count for much because you're not on your own.

    Please don't take this wrong - I'm not trying to be mean or out of line. I just really want to know what the reasoning is.
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    No, it's fine, I think I understand your question. For me, it's that my goal is basically to be a mental health therapist in an outpatient setting who can also prescribe medication for mental health issues within my scope of practice. It's good to be careful, too, but as the long-term existence of direct-entry NP programs has shown, it's possible to be a successful novice NP without RN experience, provided that good supervision is available. If I decide next year that I want to work before becoming an NP, then I will. If my intuition tells me that I should continue directly on my goal to being an outpatient PMHNP, then I'll do that. It's really a personal choice.
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    In fact, with my goal (to spend about 75% of my time counseling and 25% medication management), to prepare better, it might make more sense for me to take extra psych courses as electives and get more clinical hours shadowing psych NPs, psychologists and psychiatrists. Being an RN for longer could help too but certainly wouldn't be as relevant of preparation for my particular goals as these other options.
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    Since you're interested in psych NP, taking psychology classes is essential. I went back to do a second degree in psych and am very glad for it. You should aim for a minor in psych if you can, or a major, in addition to taking science classes (anatomy, nutrition, microbio, organic chem). You should also try to get research experience in psych by volunteering your time as a research assistant. I worked in two labs and found it to be quite valuable. One of them I got lots of experience doing diagnostic assessments/suicidal risk assessments. Try to find a professor doing research in something you find interesting and relevant, preferably clinical psychology/psychiatry.

    Also you should try to volunteer in psych ward in a hospital or an outpatient mental health clinic. Do this for some time (at least a year) and form a relationship with a psychologist, psych NP, or psychiatrist who will then write you a good letter. Do the same for your research supervisor (a professor, not a grad student). Those 2 letters of rec will go a long way. The 3rd, if needed, can come from a nursing professor who you should have taken more than one class with (and actually spoken to outside of class so that they know who you are). Do all this while keeping a 3.4+ GPA and you will be very competitive for NP school. Also, kill the GRE. It's easy. PM me if you want study tips.

    One thing though, you said you want to do 75% counseling and 25% medication management. I am not a psych NP yet, but from what I have heard, psych NPs do not really do much counseling. It is mostly medication management with very minimal counseling, if any. The only way to do psychotherapy as a psych NP is to have a private practice, which is certainly possible. That's my goal actually.
    nursing_student93 likes this.


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