Rethink my career path: PharmD VS PMH-NP

  1. First, I would appreciate you guys for taking time for the advices.

    Currently just finished 1st year PharmD curriculum at an expensive private school. I am making a decision whether I should continue with pharmacy school or take a year off before applying for psychiatric nursing. (currently RN, BSN)

    I will try to be as brief as possible. Here are some pros and cons for quitting pharm school and go for PMHNP

    Pros for quitting PharmD to pursue NP:

    -Unlike pharmacy, psychiatric nursing will satisfy my curiosity in the complexity of human minds, allow me to gain more autonomy, and potentially match my personality according to career tests and my introspective view of myself. This may be a very nave perspective about the field. I am planning to apply for a PRN job as a psych nurse and talk to as psych NPs to confirm my decision and to get the 1st/2nd hand experience.

    -Fierce job competition in pharmacy in the future. Lots of bright students in my class. I have the gut feelings that we’ll be competing for residencies and clinical positions in the futures. New grads in my school already have tough time finding jobs even in retails. Also. Hugh financial risk, see below.

    -Save $66,174 in tuitions fee and at least $50,000 in opportunity cost for pharmacy residency (2 years residency required for clinical position)!! Huge financial relief. Total >$100,000

    -MSN schedule is more flexible, unlike pharmacy school where I have to attend full-time like in undergrad and have to compete with younger geeky college kids . Even with working part-time as RN, I will be graduating with hugh loans from PharmD.

    Cons for quitting PharmD to pursue NP:
    1.Already owed $20,000 of student loans.
    2.Starting salary for NP may be ~$20,000 less than PharmD? True? (but who know in the future?)
    Is the job market also tight for PMH-NPs with more schools and all those online programs?
    I am horrified by the idea of still having to work as a bedside RN after completing NP program to supplement the income.
    3.Feel like a loser dropping out from school and it’s already to late to apply to PMHNP program this Fall. Have to wait until 2010. Do you guys know which NP schools will start in Spring 2010?
    4.I have put lots of time and energy during my 1st year in pharm school. Got good grades, leadership potential, and research involvement.

    Please comment/criticize if you have time. It’s a big decision.
    One more question? Part-time opportunities as PMHNP or psychiatric CNS?
    Last edit by oohnurse on Jun 19, '09
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    About oohnurse

    Joined: Jun '06; Posts: 55; Likes: 7

    34 Comments

  3. by   StaRNew
    Heavy decision. Follow a PMHNP for 1 week. Ask yourself honestly if this is what you want. If not compete with the geeky kids at PHARM school ( even though I am sure you will find quite a few in your NP program! :P) and be nice when nurses call you looking for their meds in the future. LOL.
  4. by   BabyLady
    PharmD's in my area at the big box places such as Walgreens and Walmart are STARTING at $150K...the catch, is that they tell you not to expect any raises.

    I doubt you'll be making anywhere near $120K as a new grad NP.
  5. by   aymara
    If you are already in the PharmD program I would stay and finish, especially since you are getting good grades. Unless after this first year you really don't like it, can't stand it. ( I had a friend who couldn't stand pharmacy after going that first year). Are you a psych nurse now and enjoy it? Yes, you will have higher loans but you will make more money starting out. Are you sure you'll go back to school after waiting a year? Will you get in the program you want in a year? If you don't go to school full time will you have to start paying off the loans you already have? There's no guarantee that the job market for a PMHNP in your area will be any better than what the pharmacy graduates are finding it to be today. It all depends on how much you love pharmacy. You may become a pharmacist and decide to go back and do an MSN after working for a few years.
  6. by   oohnurse
    Quote from BabyLady
    PharmD's in my area at the big box places such as Walgreens and Walmart are STARTING at $150K...the catch, is that they tell you not to expect any raises.

    I doubt you'll be making anywhere near $120K as a new grad NP.
    Thanks guys for input.

    The problem is I have "zero" interest in working in retail pharmacy after graduation. Therefore, $120,000-150,000 starting salary is out of question. I would rather be making $70,000 as any kind of NPs than working in Kroger/Walmart/Public or whatever... more automony and intellectually stimulating. Money is important but job satisfaction come before anything else. Now, however, Clinical pharmacy is quite interesting and gain a little autonomy but the route is extremely competitive. Even being staff pharmacist still not interest me either. It is a very risky route. Moreover, they don't even pay that much in my area ih hospital setting.

    Autonomy and the primary care aspects of NP are more valuable than $20,000 different in salary. Especially, I am fascinating in the autonomy and the roles of Psych NPs. I guess I will have to gain more inputs from people and hopefully I will get a chance to shadow or work in the Psych unit before deciding.
  7. by   caliotter3
    I agree that you should finish your Pharm degree. Perhaps you could do the other later on a part time basis or online. Lots of nurses have two careers, look at all the nurse attorneys there are. You will be more intellectually challenged if you leave room to do both.
  8. by   oohnurse
    Are you a psych nurse now and enjoy it?
    No. Just experienced as a nursing student that's all. On reflection, I do enjoy psychology and like what I "observed" in Psych NP. I enjoyed talking to patient privately. I have a naive belief in the perfect jobs where a person will fit in so well that he/she won't feel like working another day. And I just have the feeling that psych is more harmonious with personality and values. The working environment will be different than working in the back scene in pharmacy. As I mentioned, I planned to talk to as many PMH-NPs as I can

    Are you sure you'll go back to school after waiting a year? Will you get in the program you want in a year? If you don't go to school full time will you have to start paying off the loans you already have?

    I am sure a person with a personality like me (like to waste money for schooling..haha) will go back to school. With so many NP program, I am confident I should get in some where. Of course, I will have to work as a nurse to start paying those $20,000 back until I enter an MSN program.

    There's no guarantee that the job market for a PMHNP in your area will be any better than what the pharmacy graduates are finding it to be today. It all depends on how much you love pharmacy.

    Well... hard to answer... what aspect of pharmacy.. studying or working. I love school but I hate to work.
    The knowledge that came with getting PharmD is nice but I don't see that it's utilized as much as I want.
    I don't like retail pharmacy or hospital pharmacy positions where routine and task-oriented environments are dominant. Basically, I hate feeling like being a robot who just focus on completing tasks after tasks per orders.
    Unfortunately, most pharmacy jobs are structured in this way. Clinical pharmacy and academia is the area where I may like. It's financially risky because I don't like the "majority" of the jobs in pharmacy. Even with clinical research, I am still bored with it because it lacks the "artistic" and "humanistic" portions where I may find in psych.

    Yes, you're right. In this economy, there is no guarantee in anything! Hiring freeze.. cutting hours.. etc.. Going to school and accumulating more debt are quite risky no matter what program you're getting into.

    You may become a pharmacist and decide to go back and do an MSN after working for a few years.

    By that time, MSN may have been converted to DNP and will take longer time to finish :P And... with that amount of loans and my age, I probably won't have more energy to go back for another totally different degree. The other option to complete NP online but still that add a few ten thousands to my loan.
  9. by   ghillbert
    Depends if you want to be an NP or a pharmacist. I don't think anyone can tell you that. Go shadow each and decide.
  10. by   oohnurse
    Quote from ghillbert
    Depends if you want to be an NP or a pharmacist. I don't think anyone can tell you that. Go shadow each and decide.
    Great advice. First hand experience is better than the intuition or anyone's opinion.
  11. by   oohnurse
    anyone know why the admission to PMHNP program is less competitive than other NP speciality. Lower salary or narrow scope of practice?
  12. by   sunray12
    Lack of autonomy is a leading cause of disappointment/disillusionment across a broad cross section of professional/grad students and ... new graduates. Bottom line - most people are accountable to someone else in their work and just about any job can start to feel mundane and task orientated. It's up to you to decide which of the two career paths you prefer right now.

    Assuming that you've probably put a lot of time (and money) into foundational courses in pharmacy school it does make sense to see your investment through however it's your money and only you can decide if that's what you want to spend it.
  13. by   Joe NightingMale
    I agree with ghillibert, shadow first and see.

    Also...I wanted to point out that the two fields you're considering seem highly disparate to me.

    Pharmacy always struck me as a very dry field, with logical/intellectual bent and little patient interaction. Psych, on the other hand, involves very intense patient interaction and requires more emotional and intuitive skills.

    I think you should think more about your personality and values, and decide which way they're directing you.

    For the record, I too have been looking at the psych NP (though my clinical in inpatient psych was a negative for me).
  14. by   zenman
    Quote from oohnurse
    anyone know why the admission to PMHNP program is less competitive than other NP speciality. Lower salary or narrow scope of practice?
    I applied to both FNP and PMHNP programs and they were equal in this regards. With wars and the world falling apart, maybe there is a great need to get more of them.

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