A major decision I had to make on my path to becoming a nurse practitioner was which type of medical career was right for me. I completed the pre-med curriculum in college and earned grades that would make me attractive as a medical school applicant. I had originally planned to become a physician. So, naturally I should apply to medical school; after all, MD’s earn more than NP’s right?
For some reason, I began to doubt my decision to apply to medical school. I didn’t have any hesitation about my ability to complete the MD program but lacked confidence that it was the right career for me. I was about to embark on an educational path that would take four years to complete followed by years of residency and then perhaps even a fellowship. I would be nearly 30 or even older by the time I formally completed my education not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
When I thought about my life I wanted a better balance. I hoped to have a family one day. Although I wanted a career in addition to a family, I wasn’t sure that becoming a physician would allow me the flexibility and balance I hoped to enjoy later in life. I wasn’t committed enough to a career in medicine to take on so much debt and schooling- what if I decided the medical field was not for me?
So, in search of a better work-life balance and a career with fewer educational commitments I looked into physician assistant and nurse practitioner programs. Vanderbilt University where I was attending school offered a two year nurse practitioner bridge program which was perfect for my needs. I did not major in nursing so the first year of the program I would complete my RN degree followed by by my MSN. The nurse practitioner field seemed the perfect alternative to becoming a physician. I could still apply my love of science and medicine to my career but also obtain flexibility and balance in my profession.
I applied to Vanderbilt’s nurse practitioner program as well as job shadowed a nurse practitioner to affirm my decision. Although as you all know, my NP program itself had it’s ups and downs, I remained confident that becoming a nurse practitioner was the right path for me.
To this day I have never regretted my decision to become a nurse practitioner. In fact, if I had chosen the MD route, I would still be in school, working 90 hours a week trying to survive my residency. Instead I am home with my husband and two puppies earning a good income and essentially stress-free. The nurse practitioner route isn’t the right choice for everyone evaluating the MD vs NP decisions, but it was the right one for me.