Jump to content

Where to begin...........

Posted

So I am coming up on 25years in nursing, trained in the UK, been in the USA 20 years and am finishing up my BSN through WGU as I was forced to do that as I became pretty much unemployable where I was living. I have experience in some ICU, lots of ED and mostly flight / transport including 15 years adult, and 10 years Peds / neonates.

I have a friend who is an ER NP who is trying to persuade me to go through NP school. Prior to starting my BSN I had no plans to go further, but the fact is I have another 25-30years of work in me and still have 5 young kids & am the sole bread winner. My employer has just changed its clinical ladder and in my role I have to essentially start on a MS within 2 years, or gain my Paramedic. I sure as heck aint doing that all over again as I was a Paramedic before. So Im kind of being forced the MS route. I also have discovered NPs make a lot more money than I was ever aware, although I know this varies.

Anyway, Im just beginning to explore this option and came here to read posts - and there are tons. So rather than troll through all those I figured I would ask here if people could point me in the right direction to even begin to figure out if this is something I should do.

How did you decide this was a career you really wanted? How has it actually turned out in reality? What were your mistakes, what would you do different? Are there any good online programs? I understand the limitations of that, and read some rants against it. But on a practical level I have 5 kids at home, some with special needs. My current job gives me hours and hours of downtime to do school work, but being on nights going to a regular class would be difficult. Any good career books? How can I find out what NPs really make? Ive heard very different salaries - some that would be worth while, others less so. But what about other benefits? Are they the same as regular RNs or better? What about working hours.........is it generally better, or more of less the same as regular nurses? Any pointers negative or positive welcomed. Also which NP is best & why? Any NPs who seriously regret doing it? Thanks

Felix

How did you decide this was a career you really wanted?

I was always yearning for more knowledge no matter what nursing department I was working in as a bedside RN. Started out in the ER as a new grad BSN nurse and then I met Physician Assistants and MD who were willing to share their knowledge and experiences with me and they encouraged me to go back to school for PA or NP.

How has it actually turned out in reality? What were your mistakes, what would you do different?

I like it. As a NP you have more responsibilities a provider than a bedside nurse. You have to present yourself differently with patients. Choose your diction carefully when talking to patients because words that come out of your mouth are 100 more times magnified to patients than your role as a bedside RN. Patients take you seriously and not being careful with diction can cause unnecessary anxiety to patients.

Are there any good online programs? Yes, find one that is reputable. Most brick and mortar schools are doing their classes online. You will find that even most brick and mortar school are not 100% on campus learning anymore. You may have to find your own preceptor for clinicals depending on what your school requires but that can be a blessing in disguise. I know plenty of FNP students who went to a school where the school chose their preceptor because the school had a contract with a large facility and I hear a lot of complaints that they didn't learn or they were not hands on a lot and wished that their preceptors had let them be more independent. I actually picked my own preceptors and I did my clinicals in small rural/small town areas and I found that my NP preceptors where willing to help more and let me be independent and I got a lot of hands on by the time I started practicing I was very comfortable with presenting myself with patients.

Any good career books? Nurse Practice Business Practice and Legal Guide by Buppert. I wish my school went over the business side of things but they didn't …had to learn it on my own.

How can I find out what NPs really make? Ive heard very different salaries - some that would be worth while, others less so. But what about other benefits? It really depends on where you live, need to know the current market for NPs. Everywhere is different. Benefits are usually offered or not but maybe negotiable

Are they the same as regular RNs or better? Depends on where you live and what your facility offers. Mine was not the same as a regular RN. I had less PTO, more pay.

What about working hours.........is it generally better, or more of less the same as regular nurses?

Depends what setting you want to work at. You may want to do a search of NP jobs on google and indeed or some job search engine and you will see what hours NPs typically work. It all varies.

. Also which NP is best & why?

Depends on what population you want to work with and what your interests are. I preferred FNP even though I came from an ER background because jobs are typically mon to fri with weekends/holidays off and less invasive procedures. I like seeing kids too.

Psychcns

Specializes in Psychiatric Nursing. Has 30 years experience.

Look at curriculums of possible schools. You have a good background for FNP or ACNP..talk to people in the roles or maybe shadow them. Since you are so experienced you might like the extra responsibility of making treatment decisions.

I do psych locum tenens and like it very much. I like the autonomy of the role And I love my field so I keep learning.

Thank you very much for your response, much appreciated!

Thank you very much for your responses, much appreciated!

Riburn3

Specializes in Internal Medicine. Has 10 years experience.

There are several posts on this site where NP's of various disciplines will breakdown salary and their region.

As far as which is "best", they all have an important function in the field. In your case, ACNP is a solid option if you want to stick to a hospital setting. FNP is also a great choice because you'll get trained to work with all patient populations, and many FNP's are sought for ER positions (mostly fast track) because of the population versatility. Based on your experience that could appeal to you.

I have similar clinical history to you, working critical care and flight nursing (though not nearly as experienced) and originally planned to go ACNP because my experience matched the role. I ultimately went with FNP because I felt it offered more job versatility and I realized I didn't want to spend the rest of my career in a hospital.

I'm really happy with the decision. I have a normal schedule, make more money working less hours, and incredible autonomy (which is my favorite part about the job).

As far as where you should go, I would recommend whatever public institution in your state available with an online program. It will be cheaper than even the for profit online programs and more reputable (which may or may not matter to you). Chances are you'll have to find your own preceptors, but with your years of experience it won't be a problem. A lot of people on here will make you feel like you're scum for settling for anything but the very best brick and mortars, but I'm like you and realize in the real world when you have a lot going on, it just isn't possible. I was able to continue working full-time throughout my program, and although it was easily the most difficult thing I've had to do in my adult life, it was so worth it in the end.

Thanks Riburn, thats very helpful information, much appreciated!

Annaiya, NP

Specializes in PICU. Has 5 years experience.

How did you decide this was a career you really wanted?

I went to nursing school thinking that's all I wanted to do. By the end of school, I knew I wanted to be an NP. I did a new grad residency program and rotated through the PICU and saw the NPs there. I applied to school that week and started NP school 8 months after becoming an RN.

How has it actually turned out in reality? What were your mistakes, what would you do different?

I absolutely love this role. It is so challenging and interesting. I work with incredibly complicated and/or sick kids and have to figure out what is wrong with them, and why, and how to fix it. The more I learn, the more I love it. I wish I had more RN experience, so I didn't sometimes ask some really dumb questions, but nursing is a second career for me, so it didn't make sense for me to stay as an RN longer. I learn a lot more as an NP, and I just suffer through looking like an idiot sometimes.

Are there any good online programs?

I did an online program and worked full-time through the whole thing. I went to UAB and thought they were a good school. But if they don't have approved clinical sites in your area, it might be a problem.

Any good career books?

I think Allnurses is better than any books. Just read through the stuff here.

How can I find out what NPs really make?

Ask around in your area. It varies so much by area and specialty that it's impossible to make a generalization. I make less than a lot of the experienced RNs at my old job. And the cost of living where I am now is a lot higher.

What about working hours.........is it generally better, or more of less the same as regular nurses?

My hours are a lot worse now. I rotate days and nights. 12 hour days, 16 hour nights. We are not allowed to sleep on nights. We are always short staffed so I've worked overtime shifts every month for over a year now. I worked my first year and a half without a single day off (including no holidays off) because they didn't have enough people to cover the shifts. Generally NPs in clinics have better hours, but they can still have long days.

Any pointers negative or positive welcomed. Also which NP is best & why? Any NPs who seriously regret doing it?

Despite the negatives to my job, I love it. I find it so much more satisfying than working as an RN. I like doing proceedures, managing sedation, diagnosing, mentoring and teaching the bedside nurses and working with our Fellows and Attendings. Also I have a great job security. There aren't a lot of places that have PICUs and use NPs, so I'm somewhat limited in that sense, but there is a huge national shortage of PICU NPs, so I had no trouble finding a job coming out of school.

And I think the best NP is the specialty that you find the most interesting. There are benefits and downsides to being an NP, so you need to go into an area that you get really excited about it. It sounds like with your background you could do any of them!

Thanks Annalya for your response, much appreciated!