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Capable of More and at a Crossroads

Nurse Beth   (232 Views 3 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 227,620 Visitors; 1,813 Posts


Dear Nurse Beth,

I feel like I am at a cross roads in my career. I am a critical care nurse in a neuro icu with 7 years of nursing experience, I love this specialty. I have considered trying other ICUs but I know I would miss neuro.

I have also begun teaching as a clinical adjunct in the past 2 years. I really enjoyed teaching but I would need my masters to lecture and school benefits are not that great. I am tired of the hospital politics, I have been prevented from advancing my career at my current job. I would like to go back to school because I feel like I am capable of more.

However, every NP I have ever talked with regrets doing their NP and wishes they were a bedside nurse with 3 12s. I am scared of getting into more school debt and not getting a good return on investment. 

I was thinking of doing pharmacy school, even law school or medical school. I also really enjoy quality improvement and was thinking of getting MSN to be a CNS. I feel so lost I don't know what to do but I feel like I need more. I have a previous psychology BA, I have also started a non profit group of women volunteers.

Dear At a Crossroads,

Most nurses find themselves at a crossroads at some point in their career. You probably have many talents and abilities. Here's some things to consider:

Does this choice align with my values? If you work in academia, and become a professor, is that who you are? An educator who loves to impact students? Or are you more of a hands-on helper, such as a bedside clinician? Think back to why you chose nursing in the first place. What impact do you want to make in your life?

What's my passion? Does thinking of practicing as an NP, diagnosing and helping patients, excite you and make your heart beat faster? Passion usually aligns with talent. Does the thought of presenting a winning defense and saving an innocent defendant bring you joy? Have you considered becoming a nurse attorney? (See nurse attorney Lorie Brown's column).

What sacrifices are needed? Going to medical school requires great sacrifice, and your desire to be a doctor must outweigh the cost. There's a trade-off with most choices, such as giving up 12 hr shifts to work as an NP in a primary care setting. There will always be sacrifices, but there will also be limits as to what you are willing to sacrifice.

Caution- before going for your CNS, look at the job opportunities for CNS in your area. Often clinical nurse specialists are not used in the role they trained for, whereas an NP specializing in neuro would work with neuro patients. 

When making an important life decision, pay attention to the signs along the way. A sign may appear in the form of an opportunity or open door, such as tuition reimbursement, or a mentor.

Best wishes in your decision.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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2 Followers; 6,156 Visitors; 1,138 Posts

I don't know any NP's who regret having gone to school, although I have known a couple who didn't get big raises.

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2,032 Visitors; 336 Posts

You are still early in your career,  Go ahead and go for whatever you want to do.  There are different things a NP can do, hospital rounds or clinics.  I was never able to do it because of the expense but I wish I had been able to afford it or go into something completely different.  good luck, just don't waste time, get going on it.

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