Can you have a dual specialty as an NP?

Nursing Students NP Students


I've been spending a lot of time investigating what my next career move will be, and it has come down to four possibilities: counseling, clinical psychology, or medical practice in the form of nursing or being a doctor. I get a bad vibe from the people on the doctors' forum, and I don't relish the thought of going to medical school and then residency when I'm currently 38 years old and would like to partake in the childhood of my currently 7 1/2 month old son. People keep asking me why I don't look into being a PA or an NP, and when I investigate both paths, NP fits my desires better.

My personal passion is the human mind, and I study it regularly. Were I to go into practice in any specialty, I would most likely choose psychology. However, to keep everything brief, if I were to put myself in the position I believe best for helping humankind the way I want to, I would have to be able to do family practice.

Since NPs seem to have to specialize, what would be the track to take if I wanted to have two specialties? And how much extra time would it likely take?

Specializes in Adult Internal Medicine.

You can hold multiple board certifications. You can take a post-master's certificate programs (normally 12-18 months) at any time to change or add a different specialty. We have posters here that are both FNP and PMHNP certified.

You can hold as many specialty certifications as you are willing to pay for and put the effort into. However, whether you will make enough use of them to justify the cost and effort is another matter. I work with physicians who are double or triple boarded; most of them are working in one specialty and not really using the other. As a physician on my service who was double-boarded in psychiatry and internal medicine used to say, when advising residents not to bother with double-boarding, it's v. difficult to find employment that utilizes both specialties; you either end up working in a psychiatry setting where you know more about internal medicine than the other providers, but that doesn't really matter, or you end up working in an internal medicine setting where you know more about psychiatry than the other providers, but that doesn't really matter.

NP training is different from MD training in that your experience as a RN or NP will support your knowledge base and provide you with opportunities, while as a MD, you will have residency which will open doors for you.

I am a new grad NP, and my experience in geriatrics over the past 9 or so years proved to determine the type of job open to me as a new NP. I did a clinical semester in nephrology while in NP school, but clinics to which I applied questioned my lack of nephrology RN experience. During a cardiology NP interview (I have 3 years of acute care RN experience, but not on a cardiology unit), the NP told me that even ICU cardiac RNs who begin as new NPs with them are regularly overwhelmed, so enough said, I didn't hear back on that one. On the other hand, I felt valued (and was hired quite easily) in the area of geriatrics/palliative care, where I had invested my time as a RN.

I always advise future NPs to get an idea of the area they want to practice and get a RN job in that. NP jobs are becoming very competitive, and while there are outliers who may only hold a degree and get a job without some kind of proven commitment to the particular specialty, I would choose an interest and invest in that, even if it is volunteer work.

As noted in the above post, you may get as many specialty degrees as you are accepted into and desire. Some areas require experience prior to entry, such as midwifery, most acute care, and I'm pretty sure pediatric programs.

Good luck!

Specializes in Hospitalist Medicine.

I'm actually starting a dual role program in a few weeks (ACNP/FNP). I chose to do this because it better aligns with my career goals. I'm currently an ICU RN. I'd like to work in either an ER or Urgent Care setting after graduation. In about 5 to 10 years, I'd like to travel and be a locum tenens. While most hospital NP positions require ACNP, some facilities require you have the FNP so you can see pts of all ages. Getting the dual certification fulfills that need and allows me to be properly trained to work in those settings. I also like the fact that the dual program has over 1,000 clinical hours.

As stated by the prior posts above, you can always get a post-master's certificate in a different specialty. However, you cannot get financial aid for a post-master's certificate, so choose your specialty wisely.

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