Path to FNP after getting RN


Greetings forum-followers,

Long-time reader, first-time poster. I obtained my RN (one of those direct entry Masters degrees) about 10 months ago, and have been working on a neuro unit in a hospital for about 9 months now. While I'm still trying to get comfortable with this whole RN thing, I've noticed that things are becoming easier each day. Floor nursing is not something I would like to do long-term, but it is quite the learning experience and the great days are really great. The strain on the body and the fast paced environment are an adjustment.

I've known for a while that I would eventually like to pursue an FNP career in a clinic (dream job, based on my shadowing experiences). However, I would like to build clinical knowledge, wisdom, and credibility in my RN practice first. It would also be nice to pay down some student debt before doing an NP as well. My questions are as follows:

1) How much experience would you recommend as an RN before pursing the FNP? If this is what I really want to do, is it worth pursuing this degree, say, two years into my RN practice? I would still work as an RN throughout the program, if it's possible.

2) Are there particular units or settings that help more so with preparing oneself to be a clinic FNP? While we get a fair amount of med-surg overflow on neuro, I'm wondering if neuro would be prepare me well for FNP practice. There certainly have been no lack of clinical skills here, but I'm not sure if I would be more marketable working on numerous different units-med-surg, tele, maybe ICU- (or even outside acute care), prior to applying to FNP positions. Or if I switch outside of acute care, am I less marketable?

I'm just trying to carve a path for myself into this career, but am having trouble deciding where to start. Should I just continue to work in the same unit for a couple years? It would be nice for building great references and refining my nursing skills, but man, it is a crazy unit. Or should I deal with the stress of a new job for the sake of broadening my resume?

3) Finally, in reading the forums about networking to find FNP preceptors, what would be the best way to network into the clinic FNP setting? I feel like acute care may not help me there...

I appreciate any input you could give.

Thank you!


1,381 Posts

I would probably aim for an er or urgent care. You will see people of all ages, all conditions and be able to practice discerning sick vs not sick. Triaging, essentially... Urgent care is less intense, not 24 hours, and will probably be closer to the clinic environment that you desire. I don't think ICU experience is necessary, unless you want to work in acute care. Most schools ask for 1-2 years in a relevant practice setting before applying, but the length of time really depends on your comfort level. Good luck! Looking back, I probably would have chosen FNP instead of my adult gero track.