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Any MSW/RN's out there? Want to pick your brain

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by jcol1460 jcol1460 (Member) Member

2,901 Profile Views; 119 Posts

Hello all,

first post on here and i've found a wonderful wealth of information so far. I'm currently a MSW working in a psychotherapuetic environment, mostly with kids now, but have worked with addictions, sexual trauma, developmental delay, and HIV+ clients.

My dilemma is this: Social Work is looking to be a dead end path these days. Most places rely on federal, state, and local funding for their programs (which is drying up or gone completly). I love what I do, but quite frankly, the econonmy and managed care won't support private practice, Social Work schools are churning out grads at an alarming rate and with burn out and lack of opportunity for upward growth with direct client contact, I'm thinking a change to Nursing may be my best option. Are there any of you out there that have made this change or contemplating this change now? Are jobs in Nursing drying up as fast as Social Work? Is the competition for jobs increasing faster than new jobs can be created?

I welcome any and all thoughts. oh, if it makes a difference, I'm in southeast Florida.

Thanks

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40 Posts; 1,555 Profile Views

Well, I'm not a nurse, but I do have a question or two for you. I have applied to an MSW program for the upcoming fall. I haven't heard if I got accepted yet, but I have read and heard a lot of bad things about going down this path. It takes at least 2 years after graduation to get a license as a social worker, and I have heard mixed answers about the pay. I know nursing would be more challenging and the school is more difficult, and I would also be the type of nurse who would need to be in a setting where I was able to spend more time with patients. I don't know if this would be an issue for you, but I know that in many nursing settings, the nurse has so much work to do, there is little time to really meet the patient's psycho-social needs. However, I do think in areas like psych, home health nursing, hospice and probably others, there would be more time for it.

I think that in health care, nursing is probably the best career path, compared to social work or other therapy careers. You can't beat the job security and I think the pay is good for the cost of school. Have you considered using your MSW to work in other settings, like outpatient treatment centers, or are you just ready for a change?

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2 Followers; 14,620 Posts; 103,802 Profile Views

I've known (worked closely with) several social workers who thought about becoming nurses, because they saw RNs in the psych settings in which they worked getting paid quite a bit more than they did for doing what looked to them like similar work, but when they looked into what would be involved in becoming an RN, they changed their minds and stuck with social work.

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119 Posts; 2,901 Profile Views

jcmoore07:

good luck with your program. i would say, if i had it to do over again, i'm not sure i would have gone down the same path. i love working with my clients and seeing them succeed or helping them when they fail. unfortunately, social workers are flooding my area and there just aren't enough jobs or funding to support the programs. it's an often times thankless, but rewarding career path. i've worked in various settings, mostly in non profit. when i was in a for profit setting, we were forced by managment to 'sell' the service basically or violate the clients choice to leave...wasn't what i thought was ethically sound practice.

elkpark:

not afraid of the work load at school, or the other 'fun' stuff that comes with nursing really. graduate school is equally stressful in different ways. i'm mostly worried that i'm going to put up this commitment of time, money, and possibly sanity, and run into the same problems i currently have no opportunity for real growth, or the ability to change venues when burnout is approaching. i'm very well aware i'm changing one high burnout profession for another, but i'm seeing that nursing is providing many more opportunities. any nurse i've talked to doesn't express regret...whereas, a lot of the social workers i've talked to are jaded and resenting their choices. psychotherapists in my area are mostly being paid on a fee for service basis, and therefore no work=no money=instability. and the insurance companies are denying mental health benefits at an increasing rate, gov't funding sources are going dry or have been axed completely, so no money for agencies either.

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Hello! Sorry so late in responding to your post- I just joined allnurses.com, but have been reading and conducting research on allnurses.com for awhile now. I am both a MSW and RN- I become a MSW first and a RN about 5 years later. I decided to go back to nursing school after moving from a suburb of DC with lots of potential for social workers to a more rural location about 50 miles away with little growth potential at the time. I was seeing lot of nursing positions advertised and since nursing was my original major declared in college I thought I would apply to schools. I have an associate's degree in nursing and am a RN now as well as having my MSW. I think it is a good combiniation for psychiatric medicine/mental health, hospice and case management, but I am finding it difficult to find my niche. I see the psychosocial needs, but find that the managed care model often does not allow the time necessary to address all the needs of the patient. I also find that I want to spend more time with the patient/family than the managed care model allows because of my background and experience in social work (being used to being able to spend at least 50 minutes with a client). Hope this helps! :)

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23 Posts; 1,765 Profile Views

I also have a MSW and am applying to nursing schools. In my area, there just are not many job opportunities for social workers. I truly wonder what many of the new grads are going to do. In my specific area of social work (gerontology), you will see MSWs taking BSW positions bc the MSW jobs are few and far between. Also, may jobs requiring a MSW want you to be a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), which in order to get these credentials, you must get 3000 supervised clock hours and sit for an exam. Neither of which are opportunities within your MSW program. You do this on your own after graduation and can take several years. Anyhow, I feel that a transition from SW to nursing is an opportunistic move--you're going where there are more opportunities. Also not to mention, more respect, and more pay.

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It's true that nurses make quite a bit more than MSW'S, however I am in child welfare and make well over $70K. I am interested in becoming a RN and need to get an BSN. Right now I have a BA in Psychology and a Masters in SW. Can anyone guide me through the courses I would need to take in order to attain my RN. I may have already met the prerequisites but am not sure.

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laflaca has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN.

330 Posts; 8,380 Profile Views

Hi there - I was formerly a social worker, and I went back to school to get a BSN.  I work as an RN now.

My perspective:  all job situations are local.  On average, nursing pays better and has more opportunities.  But lucky me, I actually made a little more money as a social worker (high-paying state, hospital social worker, LCSW license) than I have as a nurse (having moved to low-paying southern and southwestern states, working in public health and schools). 

Still.....I could go back to working in a hospital to make more money.  The options in nursing are diverse.  I choose to stay where I am.

On the question of whether nurses get more respect, I'd answer "kinda."  Yes, in the sense that the public has a very good opinion of nurses, and no one thinks you're plotting to take away their kids.  Everyone wants to tell you about their favorite aunt or sister-in-law who's an RN.  But in many ways bedside nursing is a blue-collar deal.  As a hospital nurse you might feel a lot like a factory worker - you punch in, someone else tells you when you can eat, you have to tell the boss if you're leaving for two minutes to pee, and if they decide to give you five patients despite the 4-patient max on your unit, too bad (unless you're in CA).  Sometimes it gets ridiculous, like they actually give you scripts you're supposed to recite during patient care.  For the most part, management has no interest in your feelings or input.  You're seen as a cost to the hospital, no different from food service or the air-conditioning bill. 

Even as an underpaid social worker, I was usually salaried, usually ate lunch, usually had some control over my work process and decisions.  I had some nutso managers and executive directors, but they were more in touch with line staff than hospital management is, and they showed at least some concern about our clientele.  Once I had my LCSW, I was billing for my time (and hence bringing in money to the agency, like a doctor does) - that affects how you're treated.  Some of my jobs were awful but I could go to the bathroom or step outside for 10 minutes without begging for permission.  And although I had high-stress jobs (psych crisis, suicidality assessments in the ER, mental health outreach team), I know now that as a social worker I had nowhere *near* a nurse's level of responsibility for paying attention to life-and-death details . 

I like being a nurse better.  I had been a social worker for 15+ years and was ready for a change.  I rediscovered my love of science, among other things.  But in some ways nursing is just another (slightly fancier) street in the same pink-collar, traditionally female, service-job ghetto.  (Right around the corner is K-12 education, ha).

That's my long spiel, feel free to PM me if you like :)

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Is it possible to work as an RN and a social worker simultaneously?  I've applied to nursing school and am really hoping to get in, but would also like to work one on one doing psychotherapy with clients.  I've heard from PMHNP's that their role is predominantly med mgmt. I turned down a PsyD acceptance after tallying up the insane tuition amount and decided the ROI wasn't worth it when you can do nearly the same thing with a masters in counseling or MSW.  Anyways, are the schedules potentially doable to work part time doing both?  Thanks for the input!

Edited by Ms.PreReqs

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laflaca has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN.

330 Posts; 8,380 Profile Views

Eventually it's possible, the same way it's possible to have any two part-time jobs at the same time.  However, I think it might be best to pick the path that you most want to follow for at least several years, because it's a tough combination.  

If you wanted to be an LCSW, one thing to keep in mind is that AFTER two years post-college for the master's degree and passing the LMSW test, you need about two years of supervised clinical practice that meets specific requirements - if you're lucky, you'll get a clinical supervisor at work, or otherwise you might actually have to pay for those hours - before you sit for the LCSW exam and are able to work independently as a therapist.  Slogging through those supervised practice hours as a novice therapist can be a long, expensive process, and it would be even longer if you're only working part-time.  After you're licensed, there's another slog of trying to market yourself, find a niche and build up business, if you want to work as a private practitioner with clients who pay out of pocket.  If you bill insurance, you'll need to get credentialed for that, and then you may be in a different version of what PMHNPs face...insurance coverage decides what you can do, for instance often limiting you to a few sessions.  Some exceptions exist, but generally those are the rules.

The first year as an RN is very difficult for most people.  It's hard to convey how overwhelming your first RN job can be, even if you've read about it.  Part-time work is not typically an option for new grad RNs.  For most people it takes a year and a half in a hospital job before you have a reasonably good idea of what you're doing, and it might take quite a bit longer than that to find a specialty or area that's a great fit. 

The point is, both LCSW and RN jobs require a lot of dedication and focus in the first years, right after emerging from school and the exhaustion/debt/strain that goes along with it.  You also have to consider the significant costs in maintaining both licenses - CEUs, licensing fees, certifications, etc. 

I don't see a real advantage to setting out to do both, myself, but good luck in your explorations.    

PS  I agree with you on the PsyD issue - yikes, I don't know how they do it. 

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