Question- advanced practice nursing as second career

Nurses General Nursing


Hello all:

I've been working in health education for a few years, but want to change careers to involve more direct patient care. I've been doing volunteer work in free clinics, several hospitals, and am currently working in psychology.

I would want to work in primary care, so I am thinking about a goal of advanced practice nursing. However, I do not have a nursing degree. Does anyone know of accelerated programs that you can get a nursing degree in? I already have a bachelor's degree.

I've also seen some accelerated programs (e.g. UCSF) that offer a three year degree, one year nursing degree, two year masters. Would people recommend getting specific experience as a RN first?

Any advice would be greatly helpful. Thank you for your time!

I'm not sure if I have good advice for you, but I am definitely in the same boat! After a BA and an MS in Community Health, I am suddenly interested in becoming an NP. I looked at 3 year programs, too, but I can't move out of state, and need to work still so I can only go to school part time for now. I am getting my RN through an evening program, and then will consider doing an NP program afterwards. I feel it is important for me to get a better sense of what area of nursing I want to get into, and to make sure I like it and am good at it! I have been doing public health and health education for the last three years, too!

There are many accelerated programs for the BSN for people with a degree, but be aware that there are a lot of prerequisites (in some cases, a full year's worth). There are also many 3 year programs. I am glad and somewhat reassured to hear from someone else who is in health ed/public health but wants to get more 'hands-on'. I thought I might be crazy to want to go back to school! Email me if you like.


I, too, am looking to go into advanced practice nursing...I can't offer advice as a nurse, but I can share with you what I know about some of the options available.

I went to an information session at UCSF for their MEPN (Master's Entry Program in Nursing) program last month, which was very informative. I was concerned about the fact that I could graduate with a degree in advanced practice nursing without ever really having any real clinical experience. The reps there assured me that in terms of jobs, that wouldn't really stand in my way, due largely to the nursing shortage, it seems. They said that you might have to work for a year as an RN, but most people are placed directly into advanced practice roles. I suppose that this was supposed to be encouraging, but I'm frankly a little nervous about calling myself "advanced" in something I've only really experienced at the "beginner" level.

There might be a little relief, however: for some of its MEPN tracks, you can take a year off in between your RN and Master's studies and work as a nurse (and subsequently have your first year of school paid's a scholarship program). This route makes me feel a *little* better.

I'm not sure where you are within the country, but I know that there are several master's-entry programs around. I know of three in the Bay Area (including UCSF), and I'm nearly positive that there are others at other colleges and universities with nursing programs. I'm focusing on the Bay area, though, so I can't offer specifics.

Personally, I'm planning on applying to both advanced-practive programs and standard RN programs. I'm positive that being a nurse practitioner is the career for me, and I'd rather get there sooner than later. (If, for some reason, the route was a poor one, I can always serve as an RN, since I'll have the license.) However, in the event that the schools summarily reject me (please, please, please no!), I want to have a backup plan. (But I hope it doesn't come to that!)

I hope some of this helps! If you want to chat more, don't hesitate to email me at [email protected]

Thank you for your responses! Don't be surprised to get an email from me :) It's great to see others thinking about this as well!

I did have a question for some of you established nurses out there. I was reading through this board and came across some very negative views of the accelerated programs that give an advanced practice nursing degree without previous nursing experience. I agree that getting hands-on clinical experience is very important, and I share kray's concern of being an "advanced practice" nurse without the clinical experience. If that is the route taken, what would be a good entry-level position to get needed experience? Are there any sort of transitional internships/apprenticeships available for NP's in this position? What would you recommend?

Where I attend school at Health sciences center Denver (univ of colorado) there is a doctorate program which combines an RN with advanced practice nursing combining it with a Masters in which ever specialty you choose. Your other option which may be quicker is to check into PA (physician assistant school). It is more designed for new entry students in advanced practice. There are accelerated programs out there though if you want to stay with the nursing track.

hope it helps,


hope this helps

Hi. I don't have specific information, but I've heard of various programs across the states where you can go for an MSN without going through a generic (no pun intended) RN program. I understand that once you graduate, if you want to take RN boards, you have to do clinicals for a year or two so you can have some practical experience as a nurse. I guess the purpose of structuring the program this way (allowing those with degrees outside of nursing to enroll) is so that there will be enough qualified students enrolled in graduate level nursing programs? I'm assuming that those of us already practicing as nurses don't show enough interest in graduate level programs to keep them funded. I know that many nurses go for degrees outside of nursing for more opportunities. It's kind of sad in a way.

Hi curious. You asked about what positions for those APNs with no nursing clinical experience? If you want to do direct patient care, I would definitely recommend a stint on a med-surg floor, followed by a critical care unit, then maybe some case management if you want to do hospital patient care.

I would recommend home health or community/population based nursing thereafter or somewhere in between. I've read that NPs are increasingly hired by home health agencies. I work with an ET nurse who is an FNP.

I am considering seeking an MSN as well. Thankfully, I already have lots of clinical under my belt so hopefully won't be a barrier and will give me an edge over others for job opportunities in my area who don't have much bedside experience.

+ Add a Comment