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Leaving Social Work to become a Nurse Practitioner

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ok, I recently became a Social worker, LMSW...and I realized..I made a mistake, anso I've decided to do something about it...yet i'm experiencing a dilemma

I want to be a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry but I currently owe 56,000 in debt from my loans. I just recently received a position working with an organization that monitors and provides scatter site housing for people who are homeless, psychiatric disabled and have Aids.

I have experience of 1 year and 8 months with individuals with psychiatric disabilities in outpatient clinic and 1 and 5 months Vocational experience with people with varied physical and psychiatric disabilities

My undergrad GPA is 3.2 and my grad program was credit no credit....so 3.0 gpa to graduate.

from my research I see that I would have to do a an accelerated program, a masters and possibly a DNP. I like making informed decisions, so based on the info above is this a smart decision??

Would I even be accepted as a previous social worker? I know I have to do prerequisites, math is not my strong point....how horribly will i suffer in this area? lol

it is now 2015....and they stated DNP is a recommendation and is endorsed for future NP...(and in New York their still offering masters programs, certification.......yet its not required???????? am I going to be forced to do this degree?? (can they make up their minds if every program will transition to this recommendation....could I stop after my masters.....and work a while before I get it??

For NP's do you like your job? do you owe alot from your programs, will I be able to pay it back?? (any forbearance programs) oh and I do I have to do a year of bedside nursing?????

So many questions, any answers...WILL BE SO GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I know one former social worker who became a psych NP and is pretty good however I know more who would like to but already have far too much time and money invested in their social work career so they decided it isn't a sensible move.

To answer your questions:

-The math isn't too horrible and you might be able to use whatever math you already have

-DNP is not yet required by Boards of Nursing only some schools so imo I would advise anyone who wants to become a NP and can get into a masters program to go that route and if you think DNP is important perhaps get that later while working as a NP

-Unfortunately many programs do not require psych nursing experience which I think is a shame and is most worth getting the first hand experience of administering and monitoring reactions to medications

-As for paying for it I have never understood those who are willing to go into extreme debt for their education. My advice is work your butt off while in school, possibly nights and weekends to avoid adding more debt. I worked through all my programs and graduated without debt.

-Right now there are tuition reimbursement programs for service in underserved areas that have their pros and cons

-I love being a NP but it is more challenging than I ever imagined it would be and I tend to be pretty ballsy

Good luck with whatever you decide.

WookieeRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 4 years experience.

If you are already 56k in the hole just with student loans I would heavily advise you against adding to that. Either get enough scholarships/grants/etc to pay for the bsn/msn/dnp entirely without taking out loans or pay off your other debt first. Otherwise, you will be paying off your school loans until you die (or after).... I would never put that kind of debt life sentence on myself, but others are more willing.

I would go through nursing school and work bedside before you decide to jump into being an NP.

Welp....this is what i get for listening to my parents... now, i'm stuck in a career that I hate, paying off debt with money I don't have....should stayed a college drop out..until I figured out what I wanted to do, with my life.....so depressed.

HikingNinja, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Psych. Has 8 years experience.

I don't know how popular my post wil be...but I say go for it! My story in short:

20+ years ago = high school grad with no clue what career path was for me. Graduated early with a fair amount of college debt (I worked too during school) but I couldn't afford food and tuition both. I ended up with a BA in psych, all my jobs in the field paid horribly. After 10 years I completed a rather pricey MS in psych and became a therapist. I loved the job. And I don't regret the degree or student loans I incurred. But I felt like something was missing. I finally put the pieces together when I met an FNP and they told me about PMHNPs. MIND BLOWN! This was it! The career that I wanted! Very few people were supportive. I got the "you're getting into debt way over your head" and " can't you just be happy with a stable job". Don't listen to the naysayers. Go with your gut. It took me a couple of years to finish my prereqs. Then an accelerated BSN. It was intimidating entering a new profession as a novice at my age. But I did it. After several years of working as an RN I have gained a lot of valuable experience and am finally looking at PMHNP programs. I will be in debt up to my eyeballs when I am done but school loans will be the only debt I have. I will happily write that check every month knowing I spent it on the education that got me my dream job.

That ended up long rather than short. But anywho, I say go with year heart.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Look for a hospital with a Psych ER + Psychiatric inpatient unit as they utilize LMSW. These hospitals often provide educational assistance. My health system provides $3,000/yr for BS, $5,000/yr for MS degree + 2yr commitment. If this is really what you want, this is a way to decrease your college debt.

Moral of the story here: don't major in psych or social work! I'm sure that sounds flippant, but making a living in those fields is a constant struggle. I've already told my 16 year old I will help finance her education but I will not pay for her to major in either of those fields. But I digress.

Here is what I would do. Find THE cheapest state school with an accelerated BSN or jr. college with a solid ADN program. Get into the program and finish your first semester. THEN go work as a CNA at one of your large local health systems. A lot of them still have programs that will pay some of your way or most of your way through nursing school. Graduate. Work like heck your first year or so as an RN..pick up extra shifts, work nights, live cheap. Pay off those loans baby!

THEN go back to school to get your NP. Don't worry about a DNP...just get the NP.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I don't know how popular my post wil be...but I say go for it! My story in short:

20+ years ago = high school grad with no clue what career path was for me. Graduated early with a fair amount of college debt (I worked too during school) but I couldn't afford food and tuition both. I ended up with a BA in psych, all my jobs in the field paid horribly. After 10 years I completed a rather pricey MS in psych and became a therapist. I loved the job. And I don't regret the degree or student loans I incurred. But I felt like something was missing. I finally put the pieces together when I met an FNP and they told me about PMHNPs. MIND BLOWN! This was it! The career that I wanted! Very few people were supportive. I got the "you're getting into debt way over your head" and " can't you just be happy with a stable job". Don't listen to the naysayers. Go with your gut. It took me a couple of years to finish my prereqs. Then an accelerated BSN. It was intimidating entering a new profession as a novice at my age. But I did it. After several years of working as an RN I have gained a lot of valuable experience and am finally looking at PMHNP programs. I will be in debt up to my eyeballs when I am done but school loans will be the only debt I have. I will happily write that check every month knowing I spent it on the education that got me my dream job.

That ended up long rather than short. But anywho, I say go with year heart.

I think you make good points and I can appreciate that you are happy with the sacrifices you have made to become a psych-NP.

What I don't understand and perhaps it is a statement about our society in general thinking everything should be perfect and we are entitled to a live with minimal compromise but if someone really loves mental health and wants to work in the field and they have made a substantial investment of time and money in becoming a social worker why can't they find an area in their field that they enjoy? Social work like nursing is very flexible. One can work inpatient, outpatient, on a crisis team, in the emergency department. As much as I love prescribing there is no way I would be happy doing it if it cost me a significant amount of money.

WookieeRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 4 years experience.

I don't know how popular my post wil be...but I say go for it! My story in short:

20+ years ago = high school grad with no clue what career path was for me. Graduated early with a fair amount of college debt (I worked too during school) but I couldn't afford food and tuition both. I ended up with a BA in psych, all my jobs in the field paid horribly. After 10 years I completed a rather pricey MS in psych and became a therapist. I loved the job. And I don't regret the degree or student loans I incurred. But I felt like something was missing. I finally put the pieces together when I met an FNP and they told me about PMHNPs. MIND BLOWN! This was it! The career that I wanted! Very few people were supportive. I got the "you're getting into debt way over your head" and " can't you just be happy with a stable job". Don't listen to the naysayers. Go with your gut. It took me a couple of years to finish my prereqs. Then an accelerated BSN. It was intimidating entering a new profession as a novice at my age. But I did it. After several years of working as an RN I have gained a lot of valuable experience and am finally looking at PMHNP programs. I will be in debt up to my eyeballs when I am done but school loans will be the only debt I have. I will happily write that check every month knowing I spent it on the education that got me my dream job.

But how happy will you be if cutting that check could potentially cost a majority of your income for the month?

I think its ill-advised to encourage people to take on towering debt like that, I'm sorry.

So the overriding theme...is....stay in horrible career to avoid loan debt....or pursue career and be in debt for the rest of my life....like I already am. Hmmmm....@ carachel 2 and the commentor above are the only ones who gave me solid advice...and the other @hiking ninja thanks for the encouragement....(please spare me with the petty disagreements, I'm depressed and need practical advice....not debates...on educational investments...I made a mistake....I get it....never listen to school preoocupied parents kids.)...I digress...

Questions...to be a cna.....don't you have to be certified??....and the psych er advice.....I have applied to several hospitals it seems to be hard to get into the hospital realm...unless you know someone. I'm really depressed and don't know what to do. Social work is not as flexible as every claim and.....the financially you'll be struggling unless you become a supervisor or director... work for city, state or feds....which the cap is at most 75,000. And yeah hard to get into as well....if this is a bad idea, the nurse practitioner field....is a ms in health care mangement....a bad idea too?....I'm making 50,000 right now...I can save up and pay for it.....

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Hmmmm....@ carachel 2 and the commentor above are the only ones who gave me solid advice...and the other @hiking ninja thanks for the encouragement....(please spare me with the petty disagreements, I'm depressed and need practical advice....not debates...on educational investments..

Sorry that everyone who took the time to read your tale of woe and respond didn't met your needs, or tell you what it was you wanted to hear perhaps? Hopefully there are others who will continue to humor your questions knowing that you are likely to be not the least bit gracious.

WookieeRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 4 years experience.

No one is telling you that you cant go to nursing school. I just would not recommend taking out more loans to do so.

Sorry that everyone who took the time to read your tale of woe and respond didn't met your needs, or tell you what it was you wanted to hear perhaps? Hopefully there are others who will continue to humor your questions knowing that you are likely to be not the least bit gracious.

this is not a tale of woe...but i see your maturity level is low....so ill digress...ive read these forums, it's filled with petty disagreements, and takes focus off of the actual conversation....like right now....I'm sorry you can't provide practical advice and not get offended when someone wants stay on topic......I just want maturity, and I stated appreciation for the advice given....but I don't need the.attitude and negativity that you and some are bringing...(so this rebuttal ends here) ..now back to the original topic....

If anyone else would like to give actual advice on how to pursue a np degree with finnacial assistance, or tips on where to work...without telling me something I don't already know......like the basics of loan debt.....like previous commentors.....that would be greatly appreciated.....

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

There are very few financial aid programs for degree duplication (2nd bachelors, 2nd masters). One poster had a good suggestion to seek employment at a facility that utilizes clinical social workers and offers tuition reimbursement (sometimes tuition discounts at affiliated schools) for employees in exchange for a work contract. Look at entry level masters programs to see if your previous credits meet the entry requirements.

There is the HRSA scholarship/loan repayment program for those that qualify that will help pay for BSN and APN (often primary care specialties) educational costs in exchange for relocating to a high need area (often rural). There are very specific income & debt requirements. They will not repay loans from other degrees. It's highly selective as there are limited slots and you must fulfill all requirements throughout the program.

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

What was your hospital, and great advice.

If you are referring to me, I neither work in a hospital nor am I a nurse practitioner. My sister is and she had paid relocation and a nice sign on bonus to move and work for a university affiliated hospital (they even paid to break her lease and bring her dog). They paid up front for her to pursue a MSN as a pediatric advanced practice nurse. However she was already a RN/BSN with pediatric and EMT experience when she was recruited for a pediatric emergency department. BUT this was quite some time ago, around 15 years ago when the area she relocated to had a real shortage of not only nurses but APN's qualified to serve as primary care providers.

I think today many of these options will be primarily available in under served rural areas, just like the primary scholarship/grant/nursing loan repayment programs, such as HRSA, are for serving in under served rural or urban areas or the Indian Health Service.

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