RN Unit for Unknown NP Specialty?

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    I am currently a government employee working as a high level finance professional. Although my work is generally enjoyable, I do not find it fulfilling for a multitude of reasons that I won't go into here. In addition, I have reached in my career at the age of 30, what I had dreamed of reaching over a decade ago and now I am asking myself, is this it? Don't get me wrong, I make a great salary, and there is some job stability (although this is changing in light of the recent political climate), but when I think of my professional life over the next 35+ years, I don't see myself doing what I am doing now. For a variety of reasons I am interested in nursing and pursuing a NP certification. I am currently working on a few pre-reqs and then will apply to a program for the next fall term. I have searched around and could not find any threads on the following question (not saying they don't exist, but I don't think I am hitting the buzz words):

    What type of unit should a new RN pursue to better prepare for a NP position assuming I am not sure which NP specialty I would be interested in? I know that L&D or mother/baby is good experience for pursing a CNM or Peds for a Pediatric NP, but what if you just don't know yet?

    Thanks in advance, this website is truly a wealth of information!
  2. 16 Comments so far...

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    Hi,
    I don't think I've ever thought about this before. Generally, nurses know what populations they like or don't like from their clinical rotations in nursing school. There are so many areas (i.e. pedi vs adult, ambulatory vs acute vs critical, medical vs surgical, etc.) I personally knew that I didn't like working with sick children, and I didn't want to only see patients in the clinic, since I've always worked in a hospital. Based on those things, I didn't do an FNP program, nor an adult primary care program. ACNP was the only way to go for me, and since I had only worked in the OR my entire career, it had to be surgical. Let's see what others think. Good Luck to you.
    MBAWkg2bNP likes this.
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    You are getting a little ahead of yourself. Becoming an RN is a long journey. Focus on this before worrying about NP. You will experience a variety of specialties in RN clinicals and will then know what to pursue later on for NP
    poppycat and SoldierNurse22 like this.
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    MBA,

    I too am a government employee, so I felt compelled to respond to your post. I am currently applying to NP programs for Fall 2013.

    My first question would be....do you see yourself working as an RN first, or is your goal to go directly to working in an NP role? Most people who do the latter have a clear idea of their specialty before beginning school, but since you are still working on your pre-reqs, it is possible to figure out your specialty, before applying, through sound research and introspection.

    To answer my question, you may want to consider the current job market for new RNs (info that can be gleaned from perusing the CAREERS section of this forum). Many new grads are finding it tough to find jobs, and nearly impossible to get into specialty units like L&D. So "finding your specialty" by working as an RN might be difficult.

    If you want to explore the NP profession, I would recommend:

    -reading articles from nursing organizations and university publications about possible paths
    -doing "informational interviews" with NPs to gather info about their specialties.
    -shadowing NPs to get an idea of their day-to-day work
    -volunteering at both hospitals and outpatient facilities to see if these environments suit you
    -ponder how the skills gained from your current profession can be utilized in your new career
    -look at how the educational paths match your natural qualities (from your post, you seem ambitious, enjoy a challenge, critical thinker, autonomy?)

    I hope this helps!
    CrufflerJJ and MBAWkg2bNP like this.
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    kguill975- Thanks for your response. I understand that working in the various areas through clinicals will drive much of any nurses decision to work in a specific area, followed closely by where they actually end up getting employed (which might not have been their first choice). I have also seen quite a few stories where nurses thought they wanted to work in 'X' unit because they loved it during their clinicals and then hated working there as a full time RN. It seems with the NP path, specializing is the way to go but it also limits you to a specific field.

    kms673 - If I had to lay out a plan (albeit tentative) I would say that I'd finish an accelerated BSN program, then find a job (however long that takes) working as a RN and applying for a part-time NP program while I work. Therefore by the time I complete the NP program, I would have atleast 3 years of RN experience. Do you work as a RN for the government? I have heard of direct entry NP programs but they seem to be few and far apart, it also seems that they require a similar length of time to completion as going accelerated BSN to NP, but you are not bringing income in for the duration of the program.

    Your second point regarding the job market is in part why I'm asking this question. Through my searches I have seen alot of jobs in this area and certainly for some units more than others (ED for example). I also see alot of new nurses who ONLY want to work NICU or med/surg, or Peds, etc and certainly that will limit their job options and the length of their search. I guess the reverse of my initial question is are there any units that one would work that would not lend itself to working as a NP? OR are there some units where your experience is more diverse in nature and therefore will still help you develop a wide enough skill base to make your transition to a speciality NP easier later on?

    I am certainly following your advice by doing sound research by not just reaching out to you all but also to the RNs I know (I don't know any NPs personally but have some contacts out to get in touch with one...or a few). I also have my application in to volunteer for a position with direct patient contact and am waiting to hear back on their current schedule. Thanks for your thoughts and responses!

    birthoover - I appreciate your comment but respectfully disagree. I am not a 20 year old trying to figure out my life. I have a family, mortgage, bills, and a career and I want to absorb as much information as I can before I pursue this change and impact my family. So, I don't think it is " getting ahead" of myself to ask for opinions from professionals in a field I am pursuing, particularly on a path that will take me out of my own comfort zone and take me out of the workforce for a period of time. I do agree and recognize that through clinicals I will be exposed to a variety of environments and experiences but I still don't think that in and of itself trumps hearing people's personal experiences.
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    Quote from MBAWkg2bNP
    kms673 - If I had to lay out a plan (albeit tentative) I would say that I'd finish an accelerated BSN program, then find a job (however long that takes) working as a RN and applying for a part-time NP program while I work. Therefore by the time I complete the NP program, I would have atleast 3 years of RN experience. Do you work as a RN for the government? I have heard of direct entry NP programs but they seem to be few and far apart, it also seems that they require a similar length of time to completion as going accelerated BSN to NP, but you are not bringing income in for the duration of the program.

    Your second point regarding the job market is in part why I'm asking this question. Through my searches I have seen alot of jobs in this area and certainly for some units more than others (ED for example). I also see alot of new nurses who ONLY want to work NICU or med/surg, or Peds, etc and certainly that will limit their job options and the length of their search. I guess the reverse of my initial question is are there any units that one would work that would not lend itself to working as a NP? OR are there some units where your experience is more diverse in nature and therefore will still help you develop a wide enough skill base to make your transition to a speciality NP easier later on?

    I am certainly following your advice by doing sound research by not just reaching out to you all but also to the RNs I know (I don't know any NPs personally but have some contacts out to get in touch with one...or a few). I also have my application in to volunteer for a position with direct patient contact and am waiting to hear back on their current schedule. Thanks for your thoughts and responses!
    MBA,

    I work in government in a health/non-nursing capacity, and am currently applying to direct entry programs. Regarding your comment that direct entry programs may be "few and far between", I urge you to check out the forum Direct Entry Programs 2013 - it can give you a good idea of the array of programs there are around the country.

    Regarding the length of programs: the program that I am applying to is two years long. Say you went to an accelerated program that was a year, it took you 6 months to find a RN job (a conservative estimant I believe), 6 months to apply for a NP program, and 3 years to complete, we are now looking at 5 years compared to 2. But, as you mentioned, you would be working (less loans), so its really a cost versus time issue.

    Regarding unit experience: since I am not a RN, I am not an expert on this. I would say that any hospital unit nursing experience is valuable experience for NP preparation, especially if you want to continue in an inpatient setting when you are an NP. But who knows? That's why I mentioned volunteering. I volunteered in a hospital and realized that it was not the place for me - which is why my specialty is focused on outpatient care.

    Most outpatient NPs I have spoken with conclude that NP work and RN work are completely different skill sets. But in terms of acute care/working in a hospital, I think the positions are more closely aligned.

    But get advice from a good mix of RNs, NPs with RN experience, and directly-entry NPs. Don't be afraid to knock on doors or email people you don't know. From my experience, they all have incredibly different perspectives.
    CrufflerJJ likes this.
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    Question - who is hiring NPs without any experience?? In my part of the country, it isn't happening - not even in the Doc-in-the-box clinics. The other issue with direct entry NP.. unless you get a BSN as part of the program, it may be very difficult to obtain a license in other states due to their legal requirements for RN licensure.

    If you don't actually want to work as an RN, wouldn't PA be a better option? Not being snarky, just wondering about the reasoning process.
    jrwest likes this.
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    kms673, I'll definitely check out the direct-entry thread. From my research on here I have seen opinions on both sides of the coin (i.e. experience vs direct-entry). As you pointed out there are definitely pros/cons to each, and alot of it has to do with personal circumstances and personality. Are you applying to programs in your area? Or will you have to potentially relocate upon acceptance?
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    HouTx: Great Points......all part of the research I suggested.
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    MBA: I would relocate.

    This is a extremely contentious issue, so I wish you the best of luck on this highly personal path and any backlash you may encounter.


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