Lots of Questions.....

  1. I am a lawyer who would be returning to school as a nontraditional student for nursing. I am in my late 20's, and thinking about doing this in the next 1-2 years.

    My questions basically relate to the various tracks in nursing. I would love to be a nurse, so it's not like I have anything against the actual practice. However, I am also very much drawn to opportunities in academia, policymaking, administration, consulting...(basically all of the other "down the line" opportunities which can arise in any profession). But in my case, I don't simply want to keep those options available as a "maybe." Instead, I definitely would want to begin my nursing education/career so that I am as well-positioned as possible to pursue opportunities of that sort (and sooner, rather than later, since I'm no spring chicken....!)

    Does anyone have any insights that might help me? What sorts of things are admissions committees looking for at the top programs? What sort of career track is typical in nursing for those who go on to academia or research -- do they typically spend a few years (or more or less) in practice, and then go on to fellowships? Or do they enter PhD programs immediately after their RN/MA program? (I would need to initially do a bridge program, like the Yale 3-year RN/Masters option.) Can they work as nurses while working toward a PhD?

    I appreciate any suggestions you may have!
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    About ThursdayNurse2b

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 7


  3. by   Critterpuss
    There are many nurses currently working who are pursuing higher degrees. Not many nurses have the luxury of not working during school.
  4. by   jjjoy
    Nursing is practice based. Nursing school is training to be a nurse. Since you already have a law degree and it sounds like you're not particularly interested in practicing nursing, you might want to consider other ways you could get involved in health care that might be more time efficient given your background. If you're interested in health care administration, then you could get a graduate degree in that and maybe some kind of internship as a student to get your foot in the door. If you're interested in research and even research about nursing, you can also do that without a specific degree IN nursing.
  5. by   ThursdayNurse2b
    Thanks. Well, in response to the jjjoy's post, I DO want to be able to practice. Not only would I like to work as a nurse at some point, but I also want to have skills that are valuable in humanitarian work and other areas. As a lawyer, you're right that I am technically well-prepared for any sort of admin role, but I do feel like researchers or administrative persons in the healthcare industry should have some actual clinical skillset as well. Otherwise, there's always that risk that you're perceived as yet another "blowhard..."!
  6. by   jjjoy
    I had similar ideas but unfortunately discovered that while my intentions were good, I'm just not comfortable with clinical practice. I have no problem with technical skills and I understand the pathophys but I'm just not comfortable with quick thinking on my feet and taking immediate action. I do better when I can really sink my teeth into something, get a good grasp on it and have time to later recheck myself. In much nursing practice, at least entry-level nursing practice, you're learning as you go and you just have to deal with things as the arise - there's not time to research this or that condition or procedure when you're dealing with it right now but there's no way to have it all down ahead of time, either, though.

    Nursing school just covers the basics and it crams a lot of info at you. I noted in another post that when I studied bio, I studied until I understood, but in nursing I studied until I thought I'd covered enough material. I'm not saying I didn't understand the content. It's just that much of the reams of material is descriptive in nature and already quite condensed. Nursing school prepares you more to pass the licensing exam than to practice nursing in a realistic setting. So the first year or so in nursing, many new nurses feel incompetent despite the great responsibilities they have. If you read the threads here, you'll see that it can be difficult to find a supportive environment to work in. They do exist, but the first year or so can feel rather like "sink or swim."

    I'm not trying to discourage you. I just want to give some insight into what nursing school does and doesn't provide. It's very different than most other training programs out there as far as I know. If you do decide to pursue this option, I'd love to hear your impressions as someone with a background in law.
  7. by   Sabby_NC
    Hi ThursdayNurse,
    Is there any particular reason you are giving law the flick to become a nurse?
    I am just interested to know is all?
    I wish you well in your future plans.
  8. by   ThursdayNurse2b
    Well, this would be a long response.....if I have time later I will come back on and revisit this. For now, suffice it to say that I really just don't like working in an office setting and just pushing papers all day. Before law school I taught profoundly handicapped students and even working in a nursing home for a while (social services). I really thrived in those settings. However, since I DO like research, writing and theory, I thought I should go and get a career that involved those skills. That's why I turned to law. I am not a trial lawyer -- and nor would I want to be. I literally push papers ALL DAY LONG. I've realized that this is not the way I want to work. I want to have a job that involved being "on my feet," interacting with people, serving in a helping capacity. I love working in a hospital/facility setting -- I found that even where those settings have some depressing elements, you can still feel a throbbing pulse of LIFE. That is hard to find in an office building. I've taken some public health courses, and I've gone on dental/medical mission trips where I serve as a teacher/assistant, and I've realized that advanced degrees in Public Health or Health Administration are going to seem like more of what I already have -- a degree that helps me push papers, but doesn't provide any sort of hands-on, clinical skill set that I can put to use in a career or, at the very least, in a mission capacity. After quite a bit of soul-searching, I've realized that a nursing degree from a top school with some research focus (with or without a PhD) could provide everything I'm looking for.....the hands-on skillset, the healthcare credentials, the opportunities to do scholarship without being tied to a life of sitting in an office, etc.

    Are these expectations unrealistic?
  9. by   arciedee
    You may want to look into clinical nurse leader programs. A lot of these exist as direct-entry programs such as the program you mentioned at Yale, however it is a generalist program as opposed to a specialist program (i.e. NP, CNM, CNS). I think that it would prepare you for a lot of the areas you are contemplating going into. I'm only a couple months into my program, but I definitely anticipate that by the end I will have the skills and background to pursue many different avenues in nursing.