Hello! I am a relatively new RN - graduated May 2010. My nursing degree is an ADN, I also have a BA. Last August I started a job at a small rural hospital - and though I'm budgeted full-time I'm in the float pool and get called off all the time. (Like today, for example.) Imperfect though it is, I'm thankful to have a job, and I know getting acute care experience is really beneficial. But also I am feeling frustrated because I can tell long-term the hospital environment isn't a fit for me. I have a feeling that I might find a much more rewarding career fit as an NP. I'm more book-smart than running-around-the-hospital-doing-9000-things-at-once smart; I love working with patients, but would like to feel less rushed in the care I give. I'd also be interested in bringing more of a holistic approach to my nursing practice, have some more autonomy, and maybe even get into some research or publishing. (?) I am trying to be patient, but am in my early 30's and feeling antsy to find a career path that I love. Especially as I don't yet have kids, it would be nice to get started with grad school sooner than later.
While taking my prerequisites and while in nursing school, I worked as a CNA and a Nurse Extern mostly in acute care environments. In my ADN program, I also feel like I was exposed mainly to just hospital nursing. I'd like some advice on how I can start checking out the other settings I'm interested in -- I'm not sure if I'd want to be a Family Nurse Practitioner, or specialize in Psych, Women's Health, or work in Community Health.
Also I would love some advice on researching NP programs. When I do random "NP Program" internet searches I don't get too far. What kind of criteria should I keep in mind when looking at schools? I am interested from hearing from NP's, how did you research and choose what programs you were interested in? What, if anything, do you wish you'd done differently in that process? Also, how did you choose your specialty?
Thank you!! I welcome the advice of those who have already walked the path I'm standing here staring at.