Published Dec 14, 2004
Here's my background: I just graduated from nursing school and will be starting a full-time position in the hospital. I am considering starting on my master's this coming fall (probably nurse educator or educator combined with another role). I will probably do part-time since as I mentioned, I will be working full-time, plus I have a family. Part-time will take 3-4 years. The advisor at the school I contacted feels starting in the fall is reasonable, especially since by then I will have some experience (which I will continue to gain by working and going to school). I just don't want to wait forever to go back. What do you think? Or do people generally wait a few years to pursue graduate studies?
Start now. No need to wait since you will be working full time and going to school only part time. You will gain the experience you need along the way. Good luck with your endeavors.
llg, PhD, RN
I don't think there is any need to wait a few years or anything ... but I would wait until you have successfully made the transition from student to professional nurse. I have seen people who have started back to school (either for MSN's, or BSN's) that first or second semester after graduating and have problems -- not with school, but with their jobs. They are being pulled too many directions to do a good job of everything and something has to suffer. They would do better by getting through their orientation periods and then work as a staff nurse until they are comfortable with the staff nurse role -- THEN add the extra burden of going back to school.
Another thing I have seen from people going back to school too soon is that they sometimes start to question their choice of a graduate program. Once they are out and working as a nurse, they find that their ideas about their future career changes. Working as a nurse gives them a new perspective they did not have as a student -- and that new perspective leads them to draw different conclusions about their careers.
So ... from a school's perspective, it might be fine to go right back to school. You can probably handle the coursework. But from a LIFE perspective and a CAREER perspective, it might be better to give yourself a chance to experience actually BEING a nurse before you take that next step. If you feel you must go to school right away (or lose the opportunity), I recommend taking the classes that will count toward your degree regardless of the particular career tract. Give yourself room to "switch your major" later after you have gotten a little experience as a nurse.
By the way ... I worked as a staff nurse for 2 years before going back to school full time for a Master's Degree many years ago and have spent several years working in staff development and with new grad orientees. I thought you should know the perspective from which I made my recommendations.
Excellent post from llg and I agree completely.
Orientation is a rough period and I couldn't imagine the demands/stress of a new professional role and grad school.
I was a staff nurse for 4 years prior to beginning my master's program.
purplemania, BSN, RN
go back while you have the momentum. You will be glad later. Anyway, there is NEVER an optimum time. As for experience, well, you will be learning more theory application and this may actually help you improve your current practice. Sure won't hurt.
I'm kinda in your position too. I have worked as a RN for only 3 months in the ER and will be starting school next month to become a nurse practitioner. I have had some people praise me and others that looked down on me because I wish to purse graduate school so soon. When I began nursing school I knew my final goal was to become a nurse practitioner and not a RN, so for me I feel like the sooner I can begin working towards that goal the better. I figured I would start out part-time taking the beginning classes that don't require as much experience in nursing and by the time I am ready to take the more advanced classes I would have worked as a nurse for a year so I will be ready. I feel like people might push you either way, so you should really decide what you feel is best for your needs and goals. Good luck with your endeavors and go for what you want!
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