in choosing an NP specialty

  1. Hello everyone. I'm new here. This board seems so wonderful! Everyone is helpful and friendly....I'm so glad I stumbled upon it.

    Anyway, here is my question:

    One of the local state Universities in my area allows students to progress directly from their BSN program into the NP (provided that they keep their grades up.) Because I am 33 with two very young children, I would rather go to school straight through and be done with it versus get the BSN, work, go back for the NP.

    My concern is this: if I have to choose an NP specialty without having sufficient clinical experience, what if I make the "wrong" choice and get "locked" into my specialty? Would you recommend any specialties that allow the NP the ability to jump around more than others? (More flexibility??) What if I, for example, choose psych, and then realize two years from now that I would rather to OB?

    Thank you for your comments and your time.

    Carla
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    About np_wannabe

    Joined: Sep '06; Posts: 319; Likes: 25
    Full-time Momma

    21 Comments

  3. by   mvanz9999
    I am running up against this same issue. There is a graduate program at UIC for non-nursing majors that requires, as part of the application, you pick an NP specialty or CNS specialty. How you do this with ZERO clinical experience is beyond me.

    I'm going to try and research these as much as possible, and if I can determine where I want to be, apply for that and see if I get in.
  4. by   augigi
    Don't choose something very specialized like psych in that case. Choose FNP or acute care which can be applicable to many different areas.

    Otherwise, take the time to get at least a year's experience to weed out what you want to do. What's a year out of your life if it helps decide the rest of it?
  5. by   np_wannabe
    Thank you for the suggestion, augigi. You're right...it is only one year.

    I did a little more investigating, and saw that the nursing department also offers a Med/Surg specialty. I am under the impression that this is the broadest specialty of all--perhaps moreso than even FNP. Is that right? Would I be able to qualify for a FNP job with a Med/Surg background? ER? Anything you can't do with Med/Surg???

    Thanks again!
  6. by   middlekane
    I would assume a specialty in med-surg would only allow you to work in the hospital, akin to an acute care NP. Family NPs usually work in primary care and many follow their patients when hospitalized. I would try to decide if I wanted to do mostly primary care or inpatient care and choose a specialty accordingly.

    I'm in one of those direct entry programs now. I started out in a dual track of women's health and adult health but switched after the first year in the family track. It was before we started our master's level specialty classes so it worked out fine. If I switched any later than that, I would have had to retake classes. If you start and are still unsure after a year, maybe you could go part-time and get some experience before you take the specialty courses.
  7. by   CJRN02
    I am not a NP, but plan on going back to NP school someday. This is my advice to you. I don't see how it is possible to choose an area of nursing without working as a nurse first. I am truely shocked that there is even a program that will allow you to become a NP without nursing experience. Most require at least 2 years.
    My other concern is the lack of respect you might receive from other nurses who have 5 or even 20 years of experience that you will be "over". They will know much more than you, but you will be expected to have authority over them. Seems a little backwards doesn't it?
    My suggestion is that you do your time, then decide what specialty you want to do. Most specialties require a specific NP degree so if you ever wanted to to Neonatal, Midwife, Pediatric, Acute care (ICU), or other specialties, a NP in Med-Surg or Family Practice won't facilitate your ability to work in those areas.
    You are better off working in a variety of settings before you go to 2-3 more years of school and discovering you hate nursing all together and have an advanced degree that won't allow you to do what you discover you really want to do.
    Just my 2 cents. :wink2:
  8. by   romie
    Quote from CJRN02
    I am truely shocked that there is even a program that will allow you to become a NP without nursing experience. Most require at least 2 years.
    My other concern is the lack of respect you might receive from other nurses who have 5 or even 20 years of experience that you will be "over". They will know much more than you, but you will be expected to have authority over them. Seems a little backwards doesn't it?
    :wink2:
    Most, if not all of these programs require you to sit for the NCLEX before you begin the NP portion of the program, so by the time the students begin the NP poriton of their program,they are already licensed nurses. In addition, the pre-NCLEX portion of my program at UIC requires more than double the amount of clinical time/experience that is required for BSN or ADN/diploma programs. Finally, a large portion of the students work as nurses while in the NP portion of their education to earn money and gain more experience.

    The other thing is that most of my classmates already have master's degrees in such fields as sociology, public health and psychology and many of them are researchers working at reknown hospitals. If anything, you will be "shocked" by their sheer intelligence, level of competence and accomplishment in their non nursing fields. These students are not retail queens with degrees in basketweaving! Many have more healthcare experience than first year ADN students and already have a very clear idea of what they want to do with their advance practice nursing licenses.

    As far as not getting respect from other nurses, most direct entry programs find that the majority of nurses either A. Don't really care about the student's educational path because they are too busy to engage in petty bitterness or B. Are intrigued and enjoy teaching the direct entry students.
    Employers love the students because they come from well known and respected nursing schools with a reputation of training excellent nurses. Direct entry students usually have no problem getting hospital employers to pay for their NP portion of their education.
    Last edit by romie on Oct 8, '06
  9. by   traumaRUs
    While I agree that choosing a specialty prior to any nursing experience isn't easy, it might be better to choose a more generalist path (say FNP or ACNP) before stepping into Peds NP or Psych NP or any of the other very narrow specialties.

    Let us know how things are going.
  10. by   np_wannabe
    Hi Everybody.

    Thank you for your input. I have decided to do something nice and broad--I'm thinking Med-Surg. It seems that it is broad enough so that I would be able to work in a hospital (or make a case for working FNP???). I have some time still.

    This all came up because I started thinking about the flexibility of a PA degree, and how the NP does not have that same versatility (and I'm not here to start a NP v. PA, so please don't start one either)....I just started feeling like a NP degree would leave me a little "locked in."

    Thank you for all of your suggestions. I really do appreciate it.
  11. by   traumaRUs
    NPwannabe - what is a med-surg NP? Is that something new? I have heard of FNP and ACNP but not med-surg NP.
  12. by   np_wannabe
    Quote from traumaRUs
    NPwannabe - what is a med-surg NP? Is that something new? I have heard of FNP and ACNP but not med-surg NP.
    Hi Trauma.

    Yes, it is a specialty. I live near a HUGE state school (50K students). This school has almost every possible program imagineble: Medical School, Dental School, Vet school, etc....

    Anyway, Medical-Surgical NP is one of the (many) tracks this school offers. They claim that it is the most well-rounded of all the tracks. I hope they're right!
  13. by   sirI
    Hello, np wannabe,

    Which program offers the Med-Surg NP speciality? I'm curious.....
  14. by   np_wannabe
    Quote from siri
    Hello, np wannabe,

    Which program offers the Med-Surg NP speciality? I'm curious.....
    University of Florida.

    Here is a link:

    http://con.ufl.edu/academics/academics_sub.asp?ID=56


    Actually, I just re-read it when I got this link....It is identified as:


    Master of Science in Nursing Program
    Medical-Surgical Clinical Nurse Specialist

    If that makes a difference. Is that bad? Why is it so unheard of/unpopular?


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