Should I take the leap and get a psych np degree?

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    Once again I look to the wisdom that the allnurses community has to offer.

    The situation: I've been a nurse for about a year now. I'm driven, organized, focused, caring, and I'll just come out and say that I'm a pretty good nurse. I've got a lot to learn and I'm open to learning it, I know when to ask questions and I suck up advice and info from everyone at work like a sponge. My point in saying this is not to toot my horn, but to illustrate the fact that though I'm a new nurse I'm very capable and generally confident.

    Ever since I heard that being a psych np was a job it got my attention as something I could love to do.
    Right now I work in ltc for both early and late stage alzheimers/dementia units. The early tends to be more about managing therapeutic relationships with the pts and the behaviors. The late stage floor is more medical, and more like hospice. I dread te medical aspect of my job. I would much rather be supporting patients emotionally or educating families than executing and endless med pass and measure pressure ulcers and documenting utis.

    I've tried to get work in a psych hospital but this economy blows and it's just not happening where I live right now.

    I've been accepted to a psych np masters. It's a big commitment money and timewise.

    I've been wavering back and forth about deferring for a year. I really believe I'll love doing it. But the lack of experience in psych and those giant student loans in particular scare the crap out of me. Honestly the money scares me more than anything.

    But when I think about doing anything else, when I think about waiting another year to start my dream "just to be sure this is the right decision" I feel miserable.

    Is it wrong to take the leap of faith without working in psych when the rest of my brain and heart -thinks- I'll love it without any experience to back it up? Would it be impulsive and foolish to just go for it like I want to? My fear is that i start and regret my decision when there are so many areas of nursing I've yet to try... And yet so far that is the only area I've ever felt like I will love.
    I keep being reminded that the np masters is "a big commitment" and I "don't want to get pegged into a field of nursing I might not like".

    But you know what. When I decided to become a nurse I had absolutely no medical field experience. I took the leap of faith starting nursing school too. And I haven't regretted it at all.

    So what does my anonymous Internet nurse peer think? Jump? Or linger at the edge?

    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond friends.
    EM-RN likes this.
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  3. 5 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I think it's a sound business strategy. As a psych NP you could laregly focus on medication management. Everybody and their brother can offer some type of counseling these days, but there's a shortage of clinicians that focus on psychotropics. You could fill a niche and do well economically as a result. Go for it!
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    I'm a psych CNS, but I've done psych NP work too. The two jobs can be pretty similar, depending on where you work. What do you think a psych NP does? Is that what you want to do?

    I went to grad school with a woman who had no psych experience but was getting her CNS in psych. She had a terrible time with the program. It's a definite thing that experience in the field will help you get through the schooling, as well as make you more effective in the work later on.

    State schools cost less than private schools. They can provided excellent education too. Also, see if your current employer will pay for education. Many do. That's how I got through graduate school.

    If you'd like to send me a private message, please feel free to do so.
    hefrosmiles likes this.
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    You didn't give any hint in your post as to how old you are, but it seems that you are relatively young. The reason I mention this is that, if you are not going to be in the workforce too much longer, the salary differential between regular RN and NP may not be enough to make the cost of the education worthwhile. I looked into getting an MSN level psych nursing degree in the Philadelphia area, including distance learning options, and the overall cost was approx. $30K, not including decrease in wages if I didn't continue to work full time , or had to take a lower paying job to accommodate my education. At the time, in my mid-40"s (about 10 years ago), and given the economic situation in Philly (where nurses' salaries are relatively high, and NP salaries only slightly higher) I would have had to work at least 10 years as an NP/CNS just to break even on the cost of the courses. In my case, it was just not worth it.

    I also must admit that I have never been that educationally ambitious as a nurse, since I have the equivalent of a Master's degree in another science, and I am frankly sick of school. I am also a little perturbed by the state of nursing education in my area--it seems that the AD and BSN schools do everything they can to fail their students, but the MSN level programs are far less rigorous. I learned this by typing papers for and tutoring a few MSN-level nurse co-workers, some of whom had surprisingly uninspiring intellectual capacities.

    As I write this, I also just remembered some of the downsides of NP/CNS employment. The NP's I worked with often were taken advantage of in terms of salary (not getting overtime when justified), caseload, unfair on-call requirements, etc. I don't generally have to put up with the same level of problems, being a plain RN worker bee.
    EM-RN likes this.
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    I'd say go for it because you are already seeing quite a bit with dementia. It is my understanding that there is a huge need for gero psych nps to do consult liason work and it is quite a niche, imo. Any chance you can get a prn gig on a psych unit to enhance your knowledge going in? Good luck!
    ktliz likes this.
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    If you're young I say go for it also...what type of program did you get accepted to though? It is a traditional "ground" program where the school finds your clinicals for you? If not, and you have to "find your own" with or without the school's so-called help, think twice. I'm in one of those now with no preceptor prospects in sight and getting very scared and very desperate. Do NOT assume your current job, indigent urban hospital, or friend/good-ole-boy MD will take you on a student--KNOW it and make them fill out the forms before you send $1 of tuition to the school.
    EM-RN likes this.


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