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Staff RN vs FNP

JadenMN JadenMN (New) New

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping for help with questions I'm having about going back to school for my FNP. I thirst for the knowledge but at the same time I wonder if it'll be as satisfying, emotionally and financially. I've been back and forth about this for the last 2 years and the same questions keep pestering me. The following are questions I'm having a hard time with:

1) How hard are the programs? I remember studying 4-6 hours per day when I was going to nursing school. Are FNP programs like this or worse? I have to support a family of 4 so I still have to keep working. Any recommendations on the amount of hours I should limit myself to work per week?

2) I wonder if my current knowledge base is adequate to begin the program. My experience in nursing has been working on med/surg in a mid size hospital for 5 years. Any recommendations on taking courses before applying for the FNP program?

3) Union nurses make between $45-$50 dollars an hour after the first 10 years. Taking this into consideration, is it financially worth it to return to school? Based on my research, it'll take about 5 years to complete the DNP program (The financial argument includes dropping down from a 0.9 FTE to a 0.4 FTE) and approximately $100,000+ in student loans.

4) In your own experience has it been as satisfying as being a staff RN? I enjoy being at the bedside and watching patients get better and go home.

5) Any RN's ever became a FNP and then decide to return to floor nursing. If so, why?

Any input would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I love how pragmatic you are being about this major decision because unfortunately it is kind of rare from what I read here. I did not find NP school at all difficult and before someone writes in that I must have attended "diploma mills" that simply isn't true. Both were brick and mortar, one rather prestigious and one with a very respectable local reputation. Nor am I all that smart just that I had extensive experience in the field I was focusing on and the material wasn't all that earthshattering, imo. The hours for clinical were the most time consuming part and I did some clinicals on off hours to accommodate my work schedule. I was able to work full time through both my MS and post-masters cert although there wasn't much time left over for other life stuff.

I love being a NP and can't imagine returning to floor nursing despite loving that also. I mostly work inpatient so I still have the stimulating hospital environment. I presently make about twice what I made as a floor nurse but I work in psych and right now we are making crazy money which I do not anticipate holding up long term.

Are you sold on going for the DNP right out of the gate? To me it is a lot more money for no more clinical skills and at least at present imo there is minimal advantages to having a DNP vs Masters NP. This will likely change if you are young enough but that would be something you could add if you felt necessary down the road.

anh06005, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Cardiac, Home Health, Primary Care.

I went straight from my BSN program into my MSN program and have only been working as a FNP for a couple of months (just fair warning) but I did have about 3 years RN experience before I started clinicals.

As PP said I didn't feel school was all that difficult. Some of it was time consuming and some of the classes didn't interest me (research, nursing theory, etc.). Clinicals were time consuming but I went to weekend option so it worked out great (no drop in pay but left me all week for school stuff).

In my area I got quite a big jump in pay but my area does not have unions and has a low cost of living which means lower pay by default.

It seems that I know much of what I did as an RN....it's more of a shift of thinking for me. It's not "Oh. Something is wrong and it may be this. I'll call Dr. Smith and ask for X, Y, and Z and see what he says." Now I'M calling the shots. That's weird. I felt confident in my RN role but now as a FNP I am second guessing myself. Looking up strengths of meds. Duration of treatments. Stuff I didn't have to deal with (as much) in the RN role.

I have actually been enjoying it. I get to play more of the detective role to fit the puzzle pieces together. It's a love/hate thing with it because I want the right answer but may not always get it first try.

Anyway I think once I get more comfortable (and get my RVU's up for bonus $$$) I'll love it even more.

So I think you definitely have the knowledge base and it can be done while supporting a family if you play it all right. Whether it's worth it money-wise depends on your area I think.

Thank you so much for the input!


Specializes in Cardiac Cath Lab.

Why not choose an online MSN program, and save about 75,000 dollars and about 3 years time?

That's a good question. ICUman did you complete a MSN NP program online? If so, how was your experience? I have a few more questions about online NP programs if any online graduates would be so kind to answer.

1) Was it difficult to find your own clinical sites?

2) How were your mentors/clinical instructors?

3) What school did you choose?

4) Any downfalls about online education that may be different than conventional classroom setting? And vice versa.


anh06005, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Cardiac, Home Health, Primary Care.

I did MEN and it was a hybrid type program at a brick and mortar university where I got my BSN. It cost me 1-2k per semester (part time) for 4.5 years. Occasional summers too. I paid for most of it out of pocket. It did require 2-3 visits on campus each semester for a day. Health assessment class had lab on campus every month.

It was difficult at times to find preceptors for myself but since my school was only an hour away they could give me a list of names they had worked with before that were all in my area.

anh06005, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Cardiac, Home Health, Primary Care.

Gah. MSN. Not MEN lol getting used to a new keyboard


Specializes in Psychiatric Nursing.

I started my MSN one course at a time. I find working as a provider more satisfying than working as an RN

PumpkinEater, MSN

Specializes in Neuro/Neurosurgery/General Surgery.

I worked as an RN for about 3 year before getting an MSN. I currently work as an NP in Neurosurgery. Although I miss the RN schedule (i.e. getting 8 days off in a row every month!) work as an NP has been far more fulfilling. You have to think much more critically as an NP and you get more respect.

I was contemplating doing my MSN in (leadership and Management) at WGU then transfering to a NP program online (Frontier NP program or APSU ROCC NP program) with local clinicals for cost saving and time saving. Tell me what you think.


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