Seeking Guidance - Which Path to Take? Please Help!


Hello to all of you fabulous nurses and students on! :) I recently came across this site and have found it to be an amazing source of information, but I still have some very important unanswered questions.

I just finished up my first semester of Pre Health and have been accepted into the Practical Nursing program at a local college for September. If I decide to go into Practical Nursing I won't have to finish semester two of my Pre Health, as I have already finished the requirements set for that program.

This leads me to Option #1 - I work at the college until September and go into Practical Nursing in September. The benefit of this would be that I could work throughout the summer and save to buy a car to get me to and from placement come school time. The downside to this is that I will be entering into the Practical Nursing Program and not the RN Program and will have to bridge later on, as I would love to be an Operating Room nurse one day. If I decide to get my RN afterwards, I could bridge and get my RN within 5 years time.

Option #2 involves continuing into semester two of my Pre Health program in order to "maybe" get into the RN program at a local university. I have been told by the Registrar that because I started my Pre Health in January they will not have my final grades until the end of August and it is likely that there will not be any seats left for me at that time. I can risk it and continue in my Pre Health program with hopes that I may get accepted but chances are slim. This would involve taking Chemistry ll and Biology ll and only being able to work minimal hours during that time. This means not having the money to purchase a car and I may not get into the program.

Option #3 - I continue onto semester 2 of Pre Health, completing my pre reqs to get into an RN program and see if I get accepted into the school listed above in Option #2. If I do not get it I would wait another year, working and saving up money for a car and taking classes to alleviate my workload for the RN program that I would be going into in a year. It will take me 5 years to get my RN by taking this path.

My question for all of you wonderful nurses out there is, which route do you think is better? I am very eager to get started and have a very high average. I am leaning more towards getting started right away by taking Practical Nursing. I also feel that I may be better suited as a college student in a more hands on environment, as it would allow me to "get my feet wet" and bridge to an RN later. What are your thoughts on this? Another reason why I'm leaning more towards this path is because I have heard that RNs are losing jobs across Ontario and that RPNs may one day have a higher chance of getting them over RNs. Can anyone offer me some insight on this? I would hate to wait and take the RN program only to find out that I should have done the RPN because I no longer have the job security I was looking for.

My ultimate goal is also to work in the Operating Room. Do RPNs work in operating rooms or are they most often limited to LTC facilities and Med/ Surg. floors? I have no nursing experience at this time so I cannot say if working in those areas is something that interests me. I have always imagined myself in the OR, ER, or ICU. Any input/ help in these areas would be GREATLY appreciated. I have to make my decision soon, as semester 2 starts in 2 weeks. It seems that I am changing my mind daily as to which path I should take and really need some guidance from nurses who have been through what I'm going through or can help me make my decision. Thank you in advance for all of your support! :redpinkhe


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

Yes, PNs can work in the OR. They are called ORTs. It involves a post grad course and a clinical placement.

The OR is not what people expect it to be. A lot of type A personalities. It can be very routine depending on which service you wind up working.

You need to researach the role of the PN in your province fully before deciding. In my province, we are in the OR, ER, certain ICUs, dialysis, orthopedic clinics, and public health.


7 Posts

Hi cinnybun!

I was in the same boat as you almost. I went to University, finished and didn't know whether to apply to RN programs or apply to Practical Nursing Programs. I decided to do Practical Nursing because I figured it was a guarantee and eventually I could do the RN program. It's a great route. First of all because you learn alot about the two different types of Nursing. Lots of people who went into my program started by saying "I really just want to be an RN" and are now at the point where they are realizing that RPN/LPN is really the perfect place for them. SO to summarize I would definitely go the Practical Nursing route since you are already in and since in 2 or 5 years you can be whatever you want!


90 Posts

Has 7 years experience.

If your in Ontario, i'd go into the PN program first. Remember, you can always go from PN to RN in the future if you'd like.

Right now, a lot of RN's in Ontario are unfortunately losing their jobs. Peterburough Hospital just recently set in stone to lay-off 120 RN's. 50 RN's were let go in a month where I worked for my pre-grad in Toronto, and a few classmates that have landed PN jobs in hospitals around Toronto have said many RN's in their establishment have been let go & replaced with PN's.

Right now the hospitals are in a deficit, so laying off RN's (who max out at $50+) & replacing them with PN's who for the most part in the GTA make about $25/hour (+14% in leiu of benefits if you choose) is much cheaper for the hospitals, and will lead to the balancing of their books and may eliminate the deficit.

in Niagara Region they laid-off dozens of RN's at the Fort Erie hospital (which is closing) and just yesterday I was visiting a family member at the Niagara General & there was 2 postings for RN jobs, and about 25-30 postings for RPN jobs.

2 of my professors through school were actually laid-off RN's.

I went to a conference at McMaster last semester and a lot of talk was going on about more post-grad RPN programs to be offered for ICU, IV, etc. so that hospitals can make more use of the lesser paid RPN's rather than high paid RN's. Not to say RPN's make bad money, they do well, but the only difference is RN's max out at a much higher rate. There was also talk about adding more skills to be taught in the current RPN program such as more complex patient care. Just wait a few more years, the RPN program will be much more extensive than it already is to accommodate the high use of RPN's in hospitals.

It's unfortunate, but it's what's happening right now.

loriangel14, RN

6,931 Posts

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

Another thing that is happening is hospitals are starting to hire PSWs and that further reduces the amount of nursing staff they are hiring.


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

Some input from the OP would be nice....


6 Posts

Thank you to everyone for replying. Your input has been very helpful! It seems that taking the RPN route then choosing to get my RN later if I wish is the safest route to go in these unstable times. If I decide to eventually become an RN, will I still be able to take jobs as an RPN if I wish? Thanks again!


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

Different licence, different unions.