Quote from britney32
I just wrote out a super long reply, and it looks like it never posted.. so I'm not sure what happened.
But anyway, your response has been very helpful so thank you! I am interested in being a family nurse practitioner, or possibly a psychiatric NP. So I would need 1-2 years of working as an RN to pursue this? I am interested in working in primary care. Would I be able to gain the work experience working in primary care as an RN? It seems like mostly doctors, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants and medical assistance work in primary care, so I wasn't sure if it's very common for a typical RN to be employed in a primary care setting? I would rather not work in a hospital, but I would if necessary.
I have been extensively researching entry level MSN programs, and I was already planning to avoid for profit schools since I don't think they're very good in general for various reasons.
I still need to complete some of the pre-req courses. I've already taken Anatomy & Physiology 1 & 2. It seems that most of the schools in California require just A & P, statistics, and microbiology. So I was wondering, what type of statistics course would be sufficient? Would elementary statistics fulfill the requirements? Also, I would like to have the option to apply to out of state schools, which seem to have different requirements, so can anyone recommend what courses I should definitely take to meet the requirements of most schools?
Also, what qualities would make me a competent applicant? I am not exactly sure what my undergrad GPA was after completing my last semester of college, but it should definitely be a 3.5 or higher. I've never gotten anything below an A or B. I got A's in Anatomy & Physiology, which I know is important to have a high gpa in the science pre-req's. I also studied abroad in Spain and Argentina, where I learned Spanish, so I was wondering if this would help my application as well? I also have volunteered in the maternity ward of a hospital, but I didn't complete a lot of hours doing this, so I was thinking of volunteering again.
You are very welcome, all I ask is that one day you will pay it forward whether here on AN or when you are in school if someone is confused or doesn't know how to navigate nursing or the application process. Please see my responses below:
1) For FNP and PMHNP, you will generally not need 2 years of RN experience to select these specialties in a Masters Entry Program. These specialties are not considered acute care but generally considered primary care specialties. Acute care specialties are areas like ACNP, NNP, PACNP etc. But there is debate whether having RN experience prior to going into advance practice whether acute or primary care should be required and whether this is hurting NP education as a whole and the quality of the provider that is produced. Again, you can search through the AN threads and read the discussions to decide for yourself.
2) MD, PA, NPs etc work in all areas whether it is primary care, urgent care, or acute care. As long as you are trained and your degree is in that specialization area you will find providers in those areas. There has been long discussions on AN about FNPs in acute care hospital settings. Do a search if you want to read more about this discussion.
3) No, you don't have to work in a hospital setting. FNP is a primary care specialty and with this degree you will spend the majority of your time at clinic outside of the hospital. But know that there are some FNPs that do work in the hospital setting (please see point 2 above). PMHNP I am less familiar with since that is not the specialty that I am going into but from what I understand PMHNP do work in hospitals and outpatient facilities as well as at the VA or private facilities. Again, this will depend on your level of interest and where your training takes you. Perhaps a PMHNP can jump in and provide more color with regards to this specialty.
4) A college entry level stats course is sufficient for the Master Entry Level programs that I have seen. My statistics class was just called Introduction to Probability and Statistics. But make sure you review the requirements from the schools that you apply to. Some require that you cover inferential vs descriptive statistics and vice versa. Make sure that what ever you take satisfies the requirement for the school you are interested in applying to. I personally loved statistics and the equations because the formulas are put together in such a way to answer a tangible question with a outcome that you can answer from the statistic produced. My mind works in such a way that it was fun for me to take my statistics class.
Addendum - make sure that your science and stats courses are within the time limit for validity for the school that you applied to. Some schools require that your stats be taken in the last 3 years and the science courses be taken within the last 5 to 10 years. It varies across the different schools. If one of your courses is outside of that range you might have to retake the pre-req.
5) I would suggest that you create an excel spreadsheet and put together a list of schools that you are interested in along with their pre-req requirements. There are some schools that will require a pre-req or more pre-reqs or less pre-reqs that none of the others require so you will have to decide whether it is worth the time and effort to apply to that school. If it is then you will need to take the pre-req before you apply. There is no standardization in pre-reqs requirements and that caused no end to my frustration when I started applying because I would be interested in a NP program and for some reason a program would require that I have an anthropology course so that school had to drop off my list. I had not taken an anthropology course to satisfy the requirement and wasn't going to go back and take one more class to be able to apply to that single school. PA school is better from my understanding in that their requirements are pretty uniform across the board since they use a centralized application system when prospective candidates submit their applications. In general, besides the pre-reqs you have listed above I would definitely take a least one nutrition class and one psychology class whether it is Intro to Psych or Lifespan Psych these two are the most common courses requested besides the ones you listed above but again check with the schools that you are interested in to make sure that they satisfy your pre-req requirement. Make sure that you get at least a B in all pre-reqs because some schools will not accept a pre-req lower then a B-.
6) Good for you for not selecting for profit schools. They are for the most part not worth the effort and issues that might come up when it is time to find a job. They are also normally more expensive and might not give you the training that you need. You can search for various threads on AN that talk about this topic.
7) Yes, language skills are always an asset in nursing. I speak a few languages myself and you should definitely put this in your application that you have international travel experience, have explored other cultures, and that you speak another language especially if it is Spanish. If your GPA is above a 3.5 then you should be fine.
8) Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer and when you volunteer talk with speak with, ask questions of the people that are in the specialty that you want to go into. It will be even better if you volunteer in the area of specialty that you are interested in. Psych ward if you are interested in PMHNP etc. I had 3 years of volunteer experience before I applied to my program and specialty. Being in that environment is invaluable in helping you decide whether you want to work in the specialty and by talking to other people you might find yourself interested in a different specialty. Explore your options and decide and be sure of your specialty BEFORE you apply so that you are sure about what you want to do because for the most part once you are accepted into a program and specialty it is hard to change since they have already allocated and sourced enough preceptors and clinical sites to satisfy the needs of that particular cohort. Additionally, if you have a genuine interest in that specialty, that will shine through during interviews. Schools like to see that you made an effort to 1) give back to your community through volunteering 2) that you took the time to think about and reflect on your chosen specialty before making the decision to apply.
I can add pages more of information but hopefully this will help you get started. Some information you will need to discover for yourself and some you will discover as you dig deeper into the specialty that you are interested in but I wish you the best of luck on your journey to NP school.