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I am thrilled I chose a career as a nurse practitioner and recommend it to almost everyone!  My career provides me a flexible schedule, an interesting and challenging workday and a pretty good paycheck…all with just two years of schooling following my bachelor’s degree.  

As a nurse practitioner, I have worked in Family Practice, Urgent Care and Emergency Medicine.  One of my favorite things about being a nurse practitioner is the flexibility the career provides.  I am not tied to one type of practice or specialty.  As a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, I am free to practice in specialty clinics, primary care clinics and in the hospital setting.  When I no longer feel challenged by my work or my interest in a certain area wanes, I can move on.  

The nurse practitioner career also allows me freedom with my schedule.  Most jobs I have held have rather unconventional scheduling.  Some clinics have allowed me to work just four weekday shifts to be considered full-time while others have scheduled three, twelve hour workdays (my favorite!).  Whether you are seeking flexibility to raise children, work a second job, travel or just have some free time, you should be able to find a work environment as a nurse practitioner that fits your scheduling needs.

Nurse practitioners are paid very well, especially for the amount of schooling they receive.  The median salary for nurse practitioners in the United States is $90,600.  With the right job, you can earn well over $100,000. To personally earn such a salary, I completed just a two-year accelerated program following my bachelor’s degree.  I can’t think of another career with such a high starting salary in return for so little schooling.

Finally, I enjoy working as a nurse practitioner for the challenge of continued learning.  I cannot imagine sitting behind a desk for eight hours each day doing mundane paperwork.  My job is active.  No two days are exactly alike.  I learn more everyday.  When I don’t know how to diagnose a certain problem I do further research- I am constantly learning.

If you have an interest in healthcare and especially if you are a nurse, the nurse practitioner profession might be ther perfect fit for you.  It is a growing field with endless opportunities for all different areas of interest. Have questions about becoming a nurse practitioner?  I would love to help- simply comment below. 

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204 thoughts on “Why I Like Being a Nurse Practitioner and You Should Become One”

  • Thank you for this blog. I have been interested in a graduate nursing program for a while. I have been attempting to research information on the NP route. This post has made me consider applying to a practitioner program!

  • Loved your post! I am an SLP and am thinking about heading back to school to an accelerated BSN program and then to an NP program. I have been an SLP for about 7 years and everyone said it would be a lifetime career. However, I have had harder and harder time getting jobs because I feel our field is oversaturated! Do you think this will happen in the NP field?

  • Hi,
    I was under the impression that a person had to have a nursing degree to even be eligible to apply for an NP program? I was wondering what school did you go to which offered the bridging program?
    Thanks!

  • Hello, I am on the road to become a FNP. I am doing an RN program now, with the idea of getting a masters when I finish. I have a B.A. in liberal arts, and I’ve done my science pre-reqs for nursing. You mentioned that you only had to complete a two year program to do a bridge program? Can you please tell me how and where you did that, as perhaps I can do the same. Did you complete an RN program as well? Thanks !!!

  • Hi All!

    I am sorry for the delayed responses.  I will address these questions in order:

    Desiree- I am so glad you are considering applying for an NP program!  I am so happy with my career and think you will be very happy if the NP route is what you ultimately choose.  Let me know if you need any help deciding on a program or with the application process.

    SCSLP- I do not think you will have problem finding a job as an NP after you graduate.  If you want to work in a specific specialty, you may need to work your way up (ex. I worked in urgent care for 2 years before I was able to find a job in the ER as employers required experience).  With health care reform it is projected that the number of jobs available to NP’s will increase dramatically making the job market even better.  Finally, like any profession, the job market varies depending on the area where you live.  If you live in a city where there are a lot of NP schools, there are more NP’s in the area trying to find jobs.  If you live further outside of a major city, you will have an easier time finding work.  I would ask NP’s in your area if they have had a difficult time finding work to get an idea of the market in your area.

    ev- You do not have to have a nursing degree to apply to an NP program that offers a ‘bridge’ program.  Most bridge programs, however require you to have a bachelor’s degree (it doesn’t matter what you have your degree in).  I attended Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.  My first three semesters I completed an RN degree.  My next three semesters I completed my MSN becoming a nurse practitioner.  Feel free to e-mail me (erin.tolbert@midlevelu.com) and I am happy to help you find a similar program in your state.

    Amy- I attended Vanderbilt University School of Nursing bridge program.  My first three semesters I completed an RN degree (not a BSN, I already had a bachelor’s degree).  My next three semesters I completed my MSN becoming a nurse practitioner.  Since you are in an RN program now, you should be able to go directly into a nurse practitioner program once you complete the RN program.  Many schools offer accelerated or bridge programs for students with an RN but not a BSN who want to become NP’s.  Feel free to contact me (erin.tolbert@midlevelu.com) and I can help you find a program that will fit for you.

     

    Hope this helps!  Keep posting and I promise I will respond more quickly!

  • diamond Anderson says:

    thank you very much for your encouraging words I always said I wanted to become a NP i just graduated from high school and I Love the medical field Thank You again!!!!!

  • I am just now about to finish my RN to BSN…..I plan to enroll in Case Western’s NP program, but Vanderbilt sounds very quick. Where are they located, it sounds familiar? Do they have online courses? Thanks!

  • Loved your post, very encouraging. I am starting my NP program this Dec. Are you a family NP? Do you have any preference for any of the NP programs?

  • Congrats on making the decision to become a NP!  I am a certified FNP and I work in the emergency department.  I don’t have a preference for any specific program.  I think area of the country and cost should be major factors in your decision.  If you go to the Products page you can download the 2012 Guide to Nurse Practitioner programs which has lists of the Top 20 NP programs as well as the Top 20 Best Value NP programs.

  • Heaven (From MN) says:

    I am almost done with my BS in nursing degree and hope to start a DNP program June 2013 (turning in my application tomorrow!) I am applying for the ANP/GNP program and wonder what your thoughts are on that? I was told by a few people (including an FNP) that I am limiting myself and will regret it but I have a passion for geriatrics. As a ANP/GNP I can work with anyone over the age of 14 years old so I do not think that is too limiting. One of the reasons I chose ANP/GNP is because the FNP program is very competitive and a lot harder to get into because of the popularity. I want to start the DNP program ASAP so I do not have a break from school and felt my changes of getting in are a lot better with ANP/GNP. I currently work in a sub-acute facility as a RN with only adults and geriatrics and really enjoy it besides the really low pay. I would have the option after getting my ANP/GNP to also get my FNP but it would probably add on another year to my already long 3 year full time year round schooling. I am super excited to become an NP and really hope I am accepted! I will find out in Feb.
    Let me know what your opinion is and any advice is welcomed! 馃檪

    Thanks!

  • Hi Heaven!

    Congrats on turning in your application!  The FNP is certainly a braoder focus.  You would still be able to work in geriatrics with a FNP degree- a friend in my NP graduating class works with the elderly and she is a certified FNP.  I do find it comforting to be a FNP as I know I will always be able to find a job.  If for some reason I ever move or need to find a job quickly, there are numerous options working as a FNP.  I feel like it gives me a back-up plan at all times. Family practices, urgent care, ER and retail clincs all hire FNP’s rather than ANP’s as they have the ability to treat children.

    That being said, if you know for certan you want to work only with adults/elderly then go geriatric!  Job options for geriatric nurse practitioners are rapidly expanding with new Medicare laws and the aging population.  I don’t anticipate that you will have difficulty finding employment. 

    Overall, as long as you know for sure that you want to work only with adults/ elderly I don’t anticipate you will have trouble finding employment.  If you aren’t sure if working with elderly is your life-long goal, then consider FNP which will give you more mobility within the profession should your interests change.  Good luck with your application!

  • I have worked in a telemetry unit for the past 1.5 years. I have a non-nursing bachelor of science, and associates in nursing. I am ready to move forward with my career, but am so confused about what step to take next. Should I get a nursing bachelor’s degree? Should I get my PCCN? Or, would it make the most sense to put my efforts into becoming a nurse practitioner? I really enjoy working in a hospital respected for quality cardiac care. Which NP program would be best for me?
    If you have any suggestions to help me move forward, I would greatly appreciate it!!

  • Hi Shari-

    Your next steps depend on what you would like to do with your career.  If you want to work as a critical care nurse, then your next step should be getting a BSN or PCCN.  Talk to nursing administrators at your hospital to see what qualifications you need to work in your area of interest.  Your hospital may even help pay for these programs.  

    If you want to become a nurse practitioner, there are many programs you can choose that would allow you to continue your education without getting a BSN.  I would choose a program that offers the Acute Care specialty if you want to continue working in cardiac care (family may also work but traditionally most cardiology NP’s are acute care).  Because there are so many programs available, it will help to have a little more information before recommending a specific program.  Do you want a program close to your home or do you wish to relocate?  Would you prefer an online or on campus?  Do you prefer to continue to work and attend a NP program part-time or would you prefer a full-time program?

    What do other NP’s and nurses think??

    Feel free to comment or e-mail me at erin.tolbert@midlevelu.com.

  • Hi There!

    This is a very helpful article; thank you for writing it! So I am in an interesting position. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology. I applied to and have been accepted to physician assistant programs, dual physician assistant/ master of public health programs, and one accelerated master of science in nursing program (3 semesters pre-specialty entry, and 3 semesters to get the MSN, Vanderbilt University). I have basically a month to decide what I want to do. Because I was not aware of all the diverse things you can do with a FNP degree, I applied to and was accepted to the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP program. I applied to this program because my primary interests are in inpatient and outpatient neurology, inpatient and outpatient cardiology, and emergency medicine. I thought the only way to do work in specialty clinics was with an ACNP specialty. One of the reasons physician assistant appealed to me is the ability to switch specialties with ease. I understand an ACNP can’t work in family medicine. How hard would it be to, say, switch between emergency medicine, cardiology, or neurology, and what would I need to do to set myself up to be able to switch? Can an ACNP work in gynecology?

    Also, what about the transition to the DNP? I would finish my MSN in summer 2015. Would I need to get a DNP? If I had to get a DNP, I would probably go the Physician Assistant route. Everything I’ve read about the DNP has been “recommendations”, and I have not seen any legislation about requiring a DNP to be the terminal practice degree. In TN, where I live, it says “graduate degree or minimum of master’s degree” to define a NP.

    I would appreciate any help!

    Thank you all.

  • Hi Natalie,

     
    Congratulations on being accepted to so may great programs!  
     
    The limiting factor of the Adult-Gerontology route is that you can’t see children.  This makes it difficult to find a job in family practice or the emergency room.  You could probably find a job in an internal medicine clinic if you are interested in primary care as internal medicine focuses more on the adult population.  You would certainly be eligible for a position in neurology or cardiology with this degree.  NP’s can work in gynecology, most complete the women’s health specialty.
     
    As far as ‘switching’ between areas like cardiology and neurology, all you need to do is find someone willing to hire you!  There isn’t a special program to complete or anything.  Most of my friends who are nurse practitioners have changed their focus at least once.  Their employers have trained them in their new areas of interest. 
     
    As far as the DNP, if you start your NP program before 2015 you won’t need it.  The proposed deadline affects only students entering a program in/ after 2015.  
     
    Hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions!
     
    Erin
  • Hello, I have been a caregiver for 15 years. I have a bachelors in Social Work and I currently teach classes in caregiving. I have always desperately wanted to be a nurse, but after some difficulty with math, I switched to social work . I love teaching, but I still really want to be a nurse. Would you recommend an accelerated FPN program?

  • Hi Maggie,

    If you have always dreamed of being a nurse, I would certainly recommend a career as a nurse practitioner.  An accelerated program is a convenient, quick way to do this, especially if you are changing careers.  I think you will find the schedule flexibility and practice options being a NP offers make it an excellent career choice. 

  • hello..i graduated with a BS Nursing degree from a popular university in Ghana, West Africa. i have been aspiring to be a nurse practitioner since i started reading about the program on the internet. i recently applied to a university in Illinois for the FNP program. i was selected for an interview which was done on phone. i am currently awaiting the final decision from the university.
    i wanted to find out what the challenges are in the course of study and what you think may be an obstacle to a foreign trained nurse studying the program. also what are my prospects of landing an employer who will sponsor me a green card to work for a while after i complete the program so i can perfect my skills?? thank u

  • Hi Adowa,

    Congratulations on being awarded an interview!  Although I cannot personally speak to attending a nurse practitioner program internationally, I would imagine your primary challenge would be balancing taking on a difficult course load and doing clinical hours all while adjusting to life in a different culture.  There are always financial considerations with going to school which can be a challenge for any student.  

    Unfortunately, I also am not sure how difficult it would be to find an employer to sponsor your green card.  I would ask the admissions staff at University of Illinois if they have had any experience with this in the past.  Do any readers have experience with this that could give some advice?

  • Hello. So I am a Biology major in college. How would I go on to become a Nurse Practitioner? Do you mind providing a brief “timeline or series of events” that would occur as I am still an undergraduate?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Of course!

    Before becoming a nurse practitioner, you need become a nurse by getting either an RN or BSN (Bachelor’s in Nursing) degree.  You could accomplish this either by changing your undergraduate major to nursing or by attending a nursing program once you graduate.

    Then, you simply need to apply to nurse practitioner programs.  Once you complete the program, you will be a NP!

    There is a shortcut to the above steps you can consider.  Some universities offer “bridge” or “accelerated” nurse practitioner programs.  These programs accept students with a college degree in a field other than nursing into a NP program.  To take this route, you would simply need to apply to an accelerated nurse practitioner program in your senior year of college.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Looking for NP programs that are primarily online (or campus based in Southern California), provide an adn-msn bridge option, and focus on care in the ER. Any info much appreciated.

  • Hi Don,

    I was unable to find any programs meting your needs with an ER subspecialty, however you will be qualified to work in the ER if you get either a Family Nurse Practitioner or Acute Care Nurse Practitioner degree.  Here are a few options for you:

    1. California State University Dominguez Hills (online)

    2. California State University San Marcos

    3. Dominican University of California

    4. Mount St. Mary’s College (offers classes evenings, weekends and online)

    5. Aspen University in Colorado (online)

    6. American Sentinel University in Colorado (online)

    7. Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky (online, 2 on campus visits required)

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi,
    I read your comments regarding being an NP student and having realistic expectations of yourself,etc. And found them very encouraging. I am in an online program(finishing second semester) and am becoming more frustrated. I have so far taken 2 theory classes , patho and pharm. If it wasn’t for me being a nurse for 16 years I would not feel like I have really learned hardly anything. I read but it is so much I formation I don’t feel like I retain a fourth of it. In between that I am trying to keep up with papers, assignments,and balancing family and work. I keep praying I will make it in clinicals starting this summer. I get so nervous thinking about starting. Feel like I don’t know anything and not confident to start clinicals. I keep thinking how scary and difficult it will be to switch role of being told what to do vs making decisions. I find myself second guessing a lot. Did you ever have any of these thoughts or feelings? I really wanted to do this but now I am letting my fear and lack of confidence get the best of me. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

  • Hi, Im a rather new RN working in pediatric/adolescent psych for a few years now. I recently applied for a few NP programs, Adult and Family, and was accepted to an Adult NP class. I havent heard from the school offering the FNP program yet. Now Im having 2nd thoughts on my choices. Im torn between Mental health NP(due to the experience I already have), Adult NP (because of the specialty choices and fact that I rather not work with children) and the Family NP (due to the flexibility of venues and marketability of being able to work with all ages.) I know all 3 are in demand. Any guidance or suggestions would be appreciated. I live in NY on Long Island.

    Thanks, Fred RN

  • Hi Fred,

    Tough choice!  Right away, I think either the family or psych NP options are your best bet.  An adult NP program will not offer you the flexibility of the FNP or the specialization of the psych NP route.  Even if you want to specialize, you can still go this route with the FNP.  If you would rather work with adults than children, that’s fine but at least with the FNP you have the option.  You aren’t precluding yourself from employment opportunities that may require pediatric knowledge on occasion.  Your other options seem better than the adult NP regardless of your career plans.  

    Between the FNP and the psych NP programs, it depends where you want to work.  If you are certain you want to remain in the psych realm, then pursue a psych NP degree.  If you aren’t sure and may want to work outside of psych, then go the FNP route.  It is very flexible and will ultimately offer you the option of either career.

  • Hi Abby,

    Of course!  You can become a nurse practitioner at any point.  However, if you get an undergraduate degree in nursing you will complete your NP degree more quickly.  You may also have an easier time finding a nurse practitioner program if you get your undergraduate degree in nursing because you won’t have to find a specialized NP program for non-nurses. 

  • Hi Erin,

    I am currently considering NP. I have a BS in Health Sciences and am having trouble deciding whether or not I would like the field. I have always been interested in the medical field, and have been thinking of applying to NP programs and to Occupational Therapy programs and seeing what happens. I’m getting my STNA right now and like it so far and will be able to get a job as an STNA, PCA, CNA, etc. Any advice? Thanks!!

  • Hi Caiti,

    It’s a great idea to do a little research before committing to an NP program to make sure you are headed into a profession that is right for you.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    1. Job shadow a few nurse practitioners.  If you know anyone in the field, ask them if you can spend a day with them on the job to see if becoming an NP seems like a good fit.  I would recommend shadowing multiple NP’s to get a well-rounded idea of what the profession has to offer.  If you don’t know any NP’s personally, see if the NP at a local clinic would mind if you shadowed them for a day.  Most will be open to the idea or at least very understanding of your situation so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! 

    2. Getting your STNA is an excellent way to sort of try out the medical field.  Once you get a job as an STNA, you will have exposure to multiple types of medical providers.  This will give you firsthand experience and help you decide on the best track.

    Let me know if you have any further questions!

  • Hi Erin,

    I am currently in my third semester of a BSN program. I will have my RN next May and my BSN in August. I also have a BS in psychology, obtained in 2002. I entered nursing school knowing that I wanted to become a nurse practitioner. My question is, should I start applying to NP schools immediately or get RN experience first? I get mixed opinions from nurses I work with (I am a PCT in the ER).

    Thanks!

    Jennifer

  • Hi Erin,

    I’m going to be graduating in December and it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to become an FNP. From what I have seen working as a tech, the roles are very different and I seem to like the FNP aspect. What do you suggest as a new graduate nurse – a GN internship, or can I go ahead and look towards applying for NP school right off?

  • Hi Jennifer and Sarah,

    You both posted similar questions so I will answer them jointly.

    As you are hearing, there are 2 sides to this argument.  On one hand, if you work as an RN first, you will have a bit more experience before applying to an NP program.  This may help your chances of getting into a nurse practitioner program and also ease your transition into working as an NP.  On the other hand, if you go immediately from your BSN to your NP program, you will complete your education more quickly.

    Personally, I completed an accelerated program and do not have any RN experience.  I moved directly into my MSN program.  The downside of this was that after graduating my learning curve on the job was a bit steeper than for those with RN experience, however I caught up quickly.  Also, if you work as an RN for a year or two, it can be hard to go back to school.  It’s always more difficult to leave school and start earning a higher income then go back to school than to just go straight through.

    Why not apply to NP programs now and if for some reason you don’t get in, work as an RN for a year then reapply?  Good luck!!

  • paramjit kaur says:

    Hi,
    I do love your comments, i am planning too go back to school for FNP. I m a nurse and working in a hospital for the last year. As a nurse i hate to work weekens, holidays, and hate to work with mean patients who are hard to satisfy. How FNP is different than regular nurse. As a FNP, will i be able to avoid these pains.

  • Hi Paramjit,

    I’m sorry you are having a difficult experience with nursing!  Unfortunately, these are some of the most common frustrations in healthcare.  With your FNP, I think you can certainly improve upon them depending on your work environment.  If you work in a family practice clinic, you should be able to cut down on weekend and holiday hours.  Many family practice clinics do have Saturday hours or holiday hours but they are often shortened.  Some clinics do close completely on weekends and holidays.  If you want to avoid working weekends and holidays, look for jobs in these types of practices.

    Another alternative is that with your FNP you will earn more.  You could simply work part-time to avoid working so much and getting burnt-out.  

     

  • Great blog – very informative and positive! I just stumbled across this website and will definitely be reading many, many more blog posts. To make a long story short, I am 25 years old, have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Admin and have decided to totally change direction and pursue a healthcare job. Originally, my mind was made up to go the PA route, but after some research and realizing that for me personally, the NP route would be much easier and faster… I have decided switched to NP. I am going to apply to a Direct- Entry MSN program next year. I have a couple of questions:

    When I research the major differences between PA and NP though, almost everything I come across says that PA’s can switch specialties and NP’s cannot. Is this true? I am a bit confused. When I browse NP jobs, I see jobs in all different types of specialties… and according to this post, you can switch.

    Also, do you have any thoughts on Direct-entry MSN programs? I have read some great things about them and some not so great things (mainly, difficulty finding a job after you are done with little clinical experience — only 1 year as an RN)

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated, thanks in advance for your help and thanks for taking the time out of your life to create such a unique and helpful website 馃檪

  •  

    Hi Krista,

    Great questions!

    I am not completely familiar with what it takes for a PA to switch specialties, but it isn’t difficult for NP’s to switch.  First of all, most specialties are already very flexible so if you want to work in a different area all you need to do is apply for a new job.  For example, I am an FNP.  Students I graduated with work in cardiology, internal medicine, dermatology, ENT, ER and family practice.  The main thing to consider is that acute care/ adult specialties can’t see kids.  So, if you want to work in an area that may treat children (ex. ER) go FNP over adult focused specialties.    If you ever did need to switch specialties as far as schooling, this usually takes 1 semester full-time or 1 year part-time. 

    As far as direct entry programs, I completed one myself.  Ultimately I wanted to work in the ER and was unable to find a job in an emergency department right out of school.  However, after getting a little experience working as an NP in urgent care I didn鈥檛 have a problem getting an ER position.  All of my classmates were also able to find jobs working as NP’s quickly after graduation as well.  You may not get your dream position right out f school, but with a year of experience you will be very marketable.  

    Good luck in your program!

  • Hi Erin, I was wondering if you have any insight regarding how easy/difficult it is to get a PNP job without RN experience? I see a wealth of FNP jobs, but not PNP. I’ve worked as a Child Life Specialist for 9 years and am considering continuing on from my BSN program into the MSN (PNP-primary care) program this fall. Of course, I’m concerned I won’t be able to get a job as a PNP without experience. At the same time I’m in my early 30’s so I don’t want to wait forever to go back to school. I feel like it’s now or…..potentially never. What do you know about the PNP job market? How much will my background in Child Life help? I’ve talked to a lot of NP’s who have said time and again, “you must get nursing experience”….but part of me feels like it’s their way of saying, “I had to pay my dues as an RN, so you have to as well.”

  • Hi Sarah,

    I did not have any RN experience and found a job within a week of graduating from my NP program.  My classmates both FNP and PNP found jobs quickly as well.  You may not find your dream job immediately after you graduate without experience (ex. I wanted to work in the ER but had to work in an Urgent Care clinic as an NP for 2 years before an ER would hire me), but I don’t think you should have trouble finding a job.  This does depend slightly on your location, but overall I think the job market is good for NP’s.  Your child life experience will certainly be a benefit as well.

  • Hi,

    I am going into my second last year of high school (I know I’m still young) and I am thinking of becoming a nurse practitioner. I am little confused. But to become a NP you have to go to university right? And as a NP could I specialize in oncology?

  • Hi Megan,

    It’s great that you are planning ahead for your career!  Yes, to become a nurse practitioner you have to go to college (university).  Ultimately, you need a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN) and in the future, a doctorate degree may be required.  

    The typical path to becoming a nurse practitioner is to get an undergraduate degree in nursing (BSN).  Then, once you graduate go back to school for your nurse practitioner degree (MSN).  So, right now as a high school student you should focus on applying to undergraduate nursing (BSN) programs. 

    Let me know if you have any further questions!

  • Hello!
    I’m going to be a senior in high school this coming fall and I’ve always been interested in the medical field. Lately I’ve been researching NP’s and it seems like my dream job! I would love to specialize in pediatric NP but I’m a little confused on the process of getting a specialty like that. So do I first get a bachelors degree in nursing, then go to nursing school? And after that do I get a job as an RN and then apply for a NP program?
    I also have some questions about good schools and courses I should take next year, do you have another way to contact you? My e-mail is ashley.hansen@hotmail.com if you find time to help out an interested high school kid.

    Thank you for the helpful blog!

  • Hi Ashley,

    The typical path to becoming a nurse practitioner is to get an undergraduate degree in nursing (BSN).  This means that in college you should major in nursing.  Then, once you graduate go back to school for your nurse practitioner degree (MSN).  So, right now as a high school student you should focus on applying to undergraduate nursing (BSN) programs for college. 

    I would love to help!  Feel free to e-mail me at erin.tolbert@midlevelu.com

  • Hi,
    I have worked as a school nurse for 18 years and want to become a family nurse practitioner. I am concerned about my ability to gain employment because of my lack of hospital nursing experience and that I will be 62 when I earn the degree. I am trying to figure out if anyone would hire me. I hope you can give me some advise. I would like to continue working as long as I can.
    Thanks,
    Nancy

  • Hi Nancy,

    It’s great that you want to further your career!  Not to worry, you are certainly employable without hospital experience.  If you want to become a family nurse practitioner, you probably will be working in the clinic setting where lacking hospital experience won’t be as important.  Many NP’s (including myself) graduate with little or no RN experience.  Your work as a school nurse will help you in the clinic setting and I think you will be very marketable once you graduate. 

  • Hi Erin,
    Thank you for answering me so promptly. What about my age? Do you think that will stop anyone from hiring me?
    Nancy

  • Nancy,

    Good question.  While employers certainly aren’t supposed to discriminate based on age, we all know this happens.  That being said, many NP positions have high turnover.  If clinics are willing to hire younger NP’s that may only stay two years in the same position, I think they would be willing to hire older NP’s as well.  Also, I think your maturity and years of experience as a school nurse will help you stand out among younger candidates. 

  • I am a senior nursing student and I have toyed with the idea of becoming an NP. I am trying to narrow down which type I want to go for and I am a bit overwhelmed. I love children and especially infants and so I initially thought NNP or PNP, but my husband (he’s becoming a DO) and I are considering medical missions and I want to be usable by any organization we are with and so I thought maybe an FNP would be more broad. The school I am looking to apply to though does not have a specific FNP program, I dont know if there is any way I could fill in the gaps online or at another school and sit for both the PNP and FNP board exams? Also, is it possible for NPs to be contingent? When we have children, I would like to be home a lot of the time. How plausible is that with becoming an NP?

  • Thank you for your advise. Your encouraging words will help in September when I will be taking two more challenging courses.

  • Hi, I’m interested in become an NP and have begun doing my research so that I can become one. I’ve looked at the cons and pros (the pros outweighing the cons) and I have taken a peek at the educational path that I need to take in order to become one. Your blog just summed up that I do want to pursue this career! But I am a little bit confused about what I need to do in order to become one…? Other than the fact that I need to attain my RN license and practice as one for 1-2 years? I’m going to be a sophomore in High School this coming year and if you don’t mind helping/advising me on what I should do? I’m very interested in this career, but I’m a little confused on what I’m going to have to do in order to become a successful NP. My email is jassynguyen@yahoo.com if you have time to help answer my questions and what not, thank you! 馃檪

  • I’ve been an NP for 13 years and I absolutely hate it. I so wanted to be an NP. Thought it would be a way to help people. The modern medical environment makes it impossible to be a good NP, a caring NP. Just this last Friday I had an easy day. This is rural family practice. I saw 13 patients, which is much better than the typical 20+. But here is a sampling of the primary diagnoses for the 13 visits: elder with severe COPD; a 5 y.o. well child visit; elder with multiple chronic conditions – very complex; woman with PTSD; woman with severe menopause symptoms of hot flashes and difficulty sleeping; woman with abdominal complaints x 8 months; man with a chronic wound and multiple personality disorders; 11 y.o. boy with multiple behavioral health problems and parents going through a bitter divorce; woman with new diagnosis of grave’s disease; a 9 y.o. boy with a simple wound I could treat – yeay!, something I can feel good about!
    It is extremely stressful and absolutely impossible work. I just try to work as few hours as possible to make ends meet until I can retire. I would rather dig ditches for a living, clean out horse stalls, chop wood all day in the snow.
    My advice – do not go into health care – it’s a disaster!

  • Hello,

    Your website was very helpful and very informative. I am currently a 1st grade teacher and I have been teaching for 8 years. While I love my job and I love working with children, the demands on teachers today far out way the rewards. I am getting to a point where I am feeling burnt out and ready to throw in the towel. So, I started to reflect on the reasons why I love my job and what other career would give me the same type of feeling. I thought about a pediatric nurse practitioner. I currently hold a BA in liberal studies and I would am seriously considering the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program because I would still be able to work with children. I don’t know how long it would take and how much it would cost, but I would probably sacrifice a bit for the time it would take just to be happy to go to work every day. I would love, if you could answer some of my questions. I would truly appreciate any suggestions or comment. Thank you.

  • Hi Liz,

    I am happy to help.  The cost and time it would take for you to become a nurse practitioner depends on the program you chose and if you go to school part-time or full-time.  You could attend an accelerated program for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.  This would probably be more costly than other options but also much quicker.  Feel free to e-mail me at erin.tolbert@midlevelu.com to discuss further!

  • Hi Stacy,

    You have 2 options for becoming a nurse practitioner:

    1. Change your major to nursing then attend a traditional NP program (this is your fastest and probably most cost effective option)

    2. Major in Human Development then attend a nurse practitioner program for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major. 

    Hope this helps!

  • I am a senior looking at colleges and my long term goal is to become a NP. Is there a difference between a BS and a BSN? I am very confused…
    Also, I would love to work in emergency and orthopedics so do you have any advice for specialties or courses/ a path that I must take? I have talked to another NP who couldn’t answer my first question but for the second, she said that I should go into family general so that I am able to then go into which ever field of nursing that I want.

  • Hi Katherine,

    There is not a significant difference between a BS with a major in Nursing and a BSN degree.  From what I understand, there is little difference between the two types of programs.  There are a few technical reasons schools call their programs one over the other but both will prepare you for a career as a nurse and allow you to continue on to become a nurse practitioner.  After you complete one of these programs you can get your Masters degree in Nursing (MSN) to become a nurse practitioner.  

    During your MSN program you will have to choose a specialty.  I agree that a Family Nurse Practitioner focus is the best way to go if you want to work in ER or orthopedics.  

    Check out this post, The Path to Becoming an NP for HIgh School Students, for more information. 

  • Hi Mimi,

    For most NP programs you do need a BSN.  However, there are some RN-MSN programs that allow you to become a nurse practitioner with an associate’s degree in nursing.  So no, you do not need a BSN but your options for where to get your NP degree will be more limited.  

  • Hi Erin,

    I was excited to read that you went to Vanderbilt because I have been considering Vanderbilt University’s FNP program. I know Vanderbilt has an excellent reputation and as much as I would love to attend their program tuition is very expensive. I also did not do too well on the math section of the GRE to really be competitive with other prospective students. With that said, I am considering other programs in TN. I was wondering if you have any opinion/knowledge on whether or not employers even look at where you attended school? Do you know if some schools in TN have better reputations at preparing their students for the workplace than others?

  • Hi Julia,

    While employers do look at where you attended school, for most employers it isn’t a very important factor in their decision to hire you.  Employers hiring NPs value experience over the name of your university.  So, I think attending a less expensive, less competitive NP program is certainly an option to consider.  Check out the post “Is It Important to Attend a Prestigious Nurse Practitioner Program” for more thoughts.  

    As far as NP programs in Tennessee, check out the University of Tennessee, Austin Peay and Belmont.  They all offer FNP programs that might be a good fit. 

  • Thank you so much for being such a resource for all of us. There are very few sites where you can ask questions as candidely as we are asking without somebody making you feel like and idiot. I really appreciate what you are doing.
    I am an adult student ( fifty somthing…) and I have decided, after 18 years of being an RN to go back to school to become an adult NP. I wonder if it is even worthted. The class are going to be onlin, with clinicals in my area.I am sure you have answer this question already, but do I need to also pursuit a DNP? What is all the talks about the DNP being a requiremant for APNs in the future?
    Thanks
    Rosaline.

  • Hi Rosaline,

    I am happy to help!!  Congratulations on your decision to go back to school. 

    Honestly, I would not pursue a DNP right now.  First, get your MSN.  If you want to go back later for the DNP you can, but at this point it is not required.  Most NPs in practice today do not have a DNP degree.  DNPs are not paid more in most practices and having a DNP, especially with your years of experience won’t affect your ability to find a job.  It will be much more “worth it” for you to get your MSN rather than a DNP as this will save you time and money.

    In the future, a DNP might be required for nurse practitioners but this change is many years away.  NPs who are already certified will not have to go back to school.  

    Check out these posts for additional information:

    Are You Too Old to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

    Will Master’s Prepared NPs Have Equal Opportunity in the Job Market After DNP Transition?

  • Hello! I just graduated from an accelerated BSN program. I have a previous bachelors in public health. I’m extremely passionate about public health and think that as an NP it may help fill my passion more then standard nursing. I work in a large hospital, and feel extremely frustrated with the amount of documentation and lack of time with the patient, as well as the lack of education provided. I’m struggling with specializations. I love pysch and was thinking I could obtain my pysch np and get a masters in public health too. Is that extremely limiting? I feel as if I have multiple interests and want to be able to provide health education in all of them!! As an FNP can you obtain a certificate in pysch? What about women’s health? It is possible to specialize in two fields, or is that ridiculous? Any info would be appreciated! This is a great blog!! Thank you 馃檪

  • Hi May,

    Becoming a nurse practitioner would probably help you be happier with your job.  You will still have to do a lot of documentation and deal with some of the other frustrations with working in healthcare, but being an NP is a great role.  

    Getting a dual degree is not uncommon.  Before you enroll in 2 programs at once, I would think about how you plan to use them.  Ex. in what job would you need a public health and a psych NP degree?  If you love public health and it’s worth it to you to spend the time and money on schooling, great.  If not, just getting your psych NP degree is probably enough.  Or, if there is a specific way in which you can use both in your career, go for it. 

    The psych NP and FNP specialty work very well together.  Usually a dual specialty program takes about an extra semester to one year to complete.  I have not heard of a certificate in psych for FNP’s.  You can always finish your nurse practitioner program then go back for an additional specialty later in your career as well.  You don’t need to decide right now.

    Hope this helps!

     

  • Hi I really enjoyed this because I want to me a nurse practitioner and now I want to even more :)!
    I am currently applying to colleges because I want to go to a university instead of just nursing school so I was wondering what I should major in if the school such as Uc Berkeley does not offer Bs Nursing as a major. I was thinking majoring in biology but I’m not sure what kind like microbiology or cell biology or etc.

  • Hi Jeanelle, 

    If you want to major in a field other than nursing then go back to become an NP, you can really major in anything!  A science major like biology will be the most applicable to what you learn in nursing school.  I majored in molecular and cellular biology and found it very helpful once I got into my NP program.  Between the fields you mentioned above- microbiology and cell biology, I would choose cell biology if you want the major that will prepare you best. 

    Just be aware, that by not majoring in nursing as an undergraduate it will take you longer to finish school.  Also, look into what prerequisite courses are required for the nursing programs you may want to attend in the future so you can work these into your undergrad education.  Good luck!

  • Hi Erin,
    I have a BA Biology and BSN, with a little less than 1 yr of hospital experience under my belt. I’ve been interested in Vandy’s FNP program since I was 19, and I’m applying this time around.
    I was wondering if you can tell me a little more about the clinical aspect of the program (what happens 1st, 2nd, & 3rd semester.) I’m trying to decide if relocating to Nashville would be advantageous, and if I would have to live in the same state for the entire program.

  • Hi Stephanie,

    I completed the accelerated FNP program at Vanderbilt.  I did not have a BSN degree so my experience there was a bit different.  The accelerated program must be completed on campus.  Based on my experience, the first semester you will have about 6 weeks or so of clinical and the experience isn’t as time consuming.  The second and third semesters you will have clinical a few days a week (2-3), usually a full day (ex. 8a-5p).  

    If you have connections in the states where you hope to complete your clinical hours, you shouldn’t have a problem completing your clinical hours out of state.  If you don’t know any NPs or MD’s who would be willing to precept you for your clinical hours, contact Vanderbilt and ask if they have connections in these areas.  Finding a clinical site out of state will be your biggest challenge but if the school can help, you should be OK.

    As far as completing clinical hours in multiple states, you just need to make sure you have your RN license in the states where you want to complete your clinical hours.  I would also run your plan by the school to double check.

  • Marissa Kolenda says:

    Hi Erin,
    I am a sophomore at Iowa State University and I am interested in being an NP. I am currently a Kinesiology major with a minor in Nutrition. I will be graduating in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree. I have been researching MSN programs. Since I will have a bachelor’s degree in something else, I can still apply to an MSN accelerated program right? Also, if I complete an MSN program am I automatically considered an RN and how do I get certified to become an NP? A lot of programs say certificates for NP, but after 2015 this will change right? I just need help as to which route I need to be taking once I graduate from here.

    Thanks,
    Marissa

  • Hi Marissa,

    Yes, since you will have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, an accelerated NP program will be the most efficient way for you to become an NP.  These programs award both an RN and MSN degree.  Then, to become a nurse practitioner, you simply take the national nurse practitioner certification exam.  Your schooling helps prepare you for this test.  

    There was a movement to require NPs to have a doctorate degree in 2015 but this is not happening as quickly as some originally thought so you will be just fine with the MSN degree.

  • Hi Erin,

    I am currently enrolled in a MSN program and must decide to either go education or NP track by March. I am currently working as an educator and love my job because my hours are very flexible. I work 4 days a week full time currently. I find the NP track appealing because of the perceived autonomy and with legislature advancing hope that MA will join other states in allowing NP’s to work without the supervision of a physician. I am also hopeful that with an NP I will make 90G’s or better. My concerns are that I really do not want to go back to weekends and holidays and strict scheduling because of my young family. I also wanted to know what your thoughts were on being able to leave work at work. Currently in my educators job I can leave the work there but I have heard some NP’s say they have had to bring charts home, get called in the middle of the night etc. thoughts? Words of experience and wisdom will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Hi Niki,

    I certainly hear you about working nights and weekends!  Bringing work home can also be a problem.  All of these things depend entirely on where you work- the type of clinic and the clinic/ hospital culture.  I would say most of my NP friends have 9-5ish jobs working about 4 days a week and don’t bring their work home with them.  That being said, most of them did work in family practice clinics for about a year first to get some experience and during this year may have had some call responsibilities.  Here are a few examples of my friends’ schedules:

    Home Health- Calling on patients in nursing homes.  Works 3 days/ week seeing patients 8-5, 1 day a week for administrative catch up on things like charting.  Takes call from patients/ families but she says this doesn’t happen often.

    Cardiology Clinic- 8-6 3-4 days a week (paid hourly).  Must work a weekend shift one out of every 11 weekends.  No work at home- work stays at work. 

    Dermatology Clinic- 8-4 4 days/ week.  No call, no weekends, no Fridays.

    I find that clinic jobs are less intensive than those in the hospital.  Hospitals are 24/7 places and you will be more likely to have to work holidays/ weekends in the hospital setting.  So, I would choose the FNP specialty if working regular hours is important to you.  It will be important for you to talk to other NPs at the clinic when you interview to get a good idea of their after hours responsibilities.  But, it is totally possible to have regular hours and minimal if no at home responsibilities as an NP. 

  • Hi Erin, I am considering changing my masters track from educator to FNP. I was wondering what your thoughts were on expected salary (MA), flexibility of schedule (what are the hours like), Do you have to take charts home with you? What I like about my job currently is I leave it at work and can separate work from family time, I have heard NP’s get late night calls regarding patients etc. I just want to know what to expect if I go that route. What are your thoughts on the FNP vs. other NP concentrations? Any pros and cons you can offer will be helpful in my decision making. Thanks!

  • Thanks Erin,

    This was very helpful. Consistent hours are important as I have 3 small children under the age of 8. I am also working full time currently but my hours are flexible as I am in a mgt. position. So this has given me a lot to consider. Thanks again, great blog 馃檪

  • Erin:

    Thanks for your website — been a fan for a while now. I am going to Vandy for Adult/Gerontological NP; my question is, am I “truly only allowed” to work within this speciality? E.g., what if 5 years down the road I want to start working outside of the adult primary care specialty — is this feasible? Thank you

  • Hi Justin,

    The answer is yes, you can work outside of adult primary care.  You could work in a specialty practice like cardiology or neurology.  There are a few caveats to this.  An ICU, for example would not hire a primary care NP, rather they are looking for NPs with acute care certifications.  Also, since you are an adult NP you can not see children.  Clinics and hospital settings that treat children are reluctant to hire adult NPs as their utility would be limited in that setting.  If you do decide you want to branch into the acute care realm or work with children you can always add a second specialty, this usually takes less than a year to complete.  

  • I have been (slowly) working on an RN to MSN program for the past few years, and reading this has given me a nice little push to continue! Thank you!

  • Hello Erin,
    I’m finishing up my junior year in college. I’ll be graduating in May 2015 with a Bachelors in Biology. I’m just a little confused about what I can do after graduation. I want to became a nurse practitioner but I don’t know if I should try applying to a Masters Nursing Program or what. If you could please give me some pointers I would deeply appreciate it!

  • Hi Jessika,

    Of course!  The quickest way for you to become an NP will be to attend an accelerated NP program for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.  This is similar to the route I took.  These programs are sometimes referred to as MEPN programs.  Here are a few posts that will give you more info:

    Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Can you really enroll in an NP program without an RN degree?

    What are MEPN Programs?

    Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Where Will You Go for Your Accelerated Degree?

    These programs do have a few prerequisite course requirements so I would start working on these as soon as possible.  Let me know if you have any further questions!

  • Hi,
    I’m applying to a DNP program that offers Adult/Gero NP or Acute Care NP degrees. I currently work in a neuro ICU so I have the acute care experience. I enjoy the pace of work and care I provide. Lately I’ve been thinking about the preventative side of things, like can I prevent my patients from ending up in the ICU. So I guess my questions are: what kind of experience did you have going into your program? Did you have ICU experience? Will I be better suited for Acute Care or will pursuing an Adult/Gero NP be ok? I’m just worried I’ll choose the wrong direction and regret it later.
    Thanks 馃檪

  • Hi Natalie,

    Choosing a specialty is difficult.  I would see if you can job shadow an adult NP for a day or two to get a better look at what they do on a daily basis.  Without knowing you, I can’t tell which specialty you will be best suited to so I think getting a little experience with the adult specialty would be the best way for you to decide.  Your ICU experience will help you with either specialty and will be valuable regardless.

    Personally, I have never worked as an RN because I completed an accelerated program.  The good news is that if you ever want to add another specialty later in your career, it’s a pretty easy process.

  • Hello,
    I graduate high school this year and will be going to nursing school next fall to get my BSN. My goal after graduating nursing school is to apply to grad. school to become a NP. I would like to do this after graduating and having no rn experience if possible. I want to be a dermatology NP, and realize I will probably have to get the DNP degree, which is what I want anyways. With the DNP degree though, are you able to pick different specialities like you can with the masters? In other words, kind of like how the masters degree has post master certificates, does the DNP offer anything like that?

  •  

    Hi Casaundra,

    Great question.  Yes, with the DNP you will still have a specialty such as Acute care or Family.  You will start this specialty work in the Master’s part of your program and continue it throughout the Doctorate portion of your education.  If you want to work in dermatology, family or adult would be the best option for you.  There are only 1 or 2 dermatology program in the country. 

    Check out the post “How to Become a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner” for more info. 

  • I have quite the varied past– I have a previous bachelors and masters in archaeology but after working a couple of years i realized it wasn’t for me 3 years ago and enrolled in an associates for Registered Nursing. I have just finished and am taking the NCLEX next week! I am already looking at programs to become a nurse practitioner as my 5-10 year goal is to become one. I am very interested in Women’s health and also FNP. I just feel so overwhelmed at the choices. I know a bachelors in nursing is the new prefered RN degree, but if i am planning on getting a masters– are there bridge programs? Where i can skip over or include the BSN bridge? Vanderbilt looked like a desirable option, until someone told me they are as expensive as 90,000! Help!

  •  

    Hi Vanessa,

    Good luck on the NCLEX!!  

    You should not attend a program like Vanderbilt as it is for students who are not already nurses- you would be wasting your time and money.  Instead, an RN-MSN program would be good for you if you want to become a nurse practitioner.  Becoming an FNP would be easiest as I don’t know of any RN-MSN programs offering a women’s health specialty (you can always work in women’s health with an FNP degree).  Here is a list of online RN-MSN programs.  

    Hope this helps!

  • Can you comment on the Direct Entry programs? My question is there a direct entry that focuses on the FNP route? Most of what I have seen the end result is a CNL. Thanks, Scott!

  • Hi Scott,

    You are correct.  Many direct entry programs, especially RN-MSN programs do not have nurse practitioner tracks but rather CNL or nurse educator tracks.  Here is a list of online RN-MSN programs with nurse practitioner tracks.

    If you do not already have a nursing degree, MEPN programs are the correct type of direct entry programs for you.  If this is the route that is right for you, check out this list of MEPN programs.

    Let me know if you have any further questions.

  • Hi Erin!

    I’m a sophomore 4.0 Big Ten student athlete looking to go into the health care field after I graduate from my initial undergrad. Due to the demanding time schedule of a student athlete, I’ve been unable to study nursing during my time here. I’ve been taking pre-reqs for in-state accelerated BSN programs, but have always known that I would want to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner as early as possible. I recently found your site and it led me to looking into direct MSN programs (something I had not heard of before).

    I’m really interested in Vanderbilt’s WHNP program and was wondering if you had any colleagues go through this program or if you had heard anything regarding pros and cons of that particular specialty/program at Vandy. I know I have some time but I like to be extra prepared and knowledgable about my choices 馃檪

    Thanks!

  •  

    Hi Maggie,

    Sounds like you have an impressive resume and would be an excellent candidate for Vanderbilt’s WHNP program.

    I do have friends who completed this program and have been very happy with their education.  The Women’s Health students had a close-knit class when I attended Vanderbilt and are all currently successful working as NPs.  I think a dorect entry program would be a good way for you to become an NP without an undergraduate nursing degree.  Just make sure you look into which prerequisite courses you will need so you can complete these before applying.

  • Greetings!
    First off, thanks so much for this blog because I have been dying to hear the perspective of someone with limited med-surg or floor nurse experience entering the field. I just finished my RN-BSN program, and was considering pursuing a FNP master’s. However, I’m doubting my abilities. I have been an operating room nurse for 12 years and I am wondering about the transition into the FNP role. What if your clinical expertice isn’t up to par? What research do you conduct to obtain information regarding diagnosis? Will you have the time to conduct the research necessary for diagnosis? I fear that I won’t be good enough to care for a patient without the doctors orders. How did you master this transition, especially without RN experience? Thanks again, and in advance, for the helpful insight!

  •  

    Hi Zee,

    Thanks for reading!  The good news is that your FNP program will prepare you to diagnose patients and prescribe medication.  In your clinical placements you will get hands-on training so you won’t need to “do research” in order to make most decisions regarding patient care.  Yes, there will be a high learning curve once you graduate, but your FNP program will give you the foundation you need to be successful in practice.

  • Thanks, Erin! In order to practice without the projected DNP requirement/guideline, do you have to complete the program before 2015 or just be enrolled/accepted to a program prior to 2015?

  • You would only need to be enrolled by 2015.  And, in reality, the deadline will probably not be in place by 2015 but will be years later. 

  • Hi Erin!
    Your blog is amazing! I had some questions concerning the NP program. But I just emailed you. I hope that was okay with you.

  • I have been accepted to Vanderbilt’s FNP program as well as two other programs that take two years to complete. I wanted to ask if you and your colleagues from Vandy felt prepared by your one year program or if you felt like you might have benefited from a program that allowed you to digest information over two years. I realize there will be al earning curve in the transition form school to practice regardless. thanks for your thoughts.

  • Hi Catherine,

    Congrats on your acceptance! And, excellent question. I think, as you acknowledged, with any program you will have a lot of on the job learning to do. This is really where the most intense learning as an NP/ NP student happens. As a graduate of a one year NP program, I believe I felt equally prepared as graduates of two year programs.

    Most students completing longer programs that I have spoken to were simply working more as RNs throughout their program, not spending more time studying or completing clinical hours for their NP program. The more hands on learning that you do, the better prepared you will be. If anything, the program that requires the most clinical hours will prepare you best. Hope this helps!

  • Hi, thank you for the wonderful blog.
    I have been an Rn for 4 years on med- surg and recetly got expected in FNP program. It is a two year part time program. I am excited but I am worried about job flexibilty and be able to work part time. I have a toddle and will probably have another child next year. I want to be able to spend time with my kids. They come before my career. I don’t if I can work 1-2 days a week. Thank you.

  • Hi Annie,

    If you want to work part-time while you are in your FNP program, I think this is completely doable, but will be very busy. As far as working 1-2 days/ week as an FNP once you graduate, you won’t have trouble finding a position to fit your needs, especially after getting some experience. There are plenty of flexible job options for FNP’s out there. Good luck!

  • Hi erin,

    I currently work as a pediatric urgent care facility and have worked in newborn nursery for a year. I really want to go back to school for my np but im worried which area is more marketable. I’m wondering is urgent care experience consider acute care experience if I wanted to go back to school for acute care pnp. And you mention you got a job working in the er after working at urgent care for 2 years? I thought hospitals only want experience from people who have med/surg, icu etc.

    Also, wilk I definitely need my dnp after 2015 or is that only applying to some schools?

  • Hi Debby,

    Urgent care is a bit of a grey area. Most places will likely not consider it acute care experience. Acute care experience typically involves administering IV meds etc. which you don’t often do in the clinic setting. 

    As far as the DNP, some schools are requiring it and no longer offering master’s level NP programs. Most schools, however will continue to offer the MSN for nurse practitioners after 2015. Check out DNP Link Pack: Clarifying the Confusion for more articles explaining the DNP transition. Hope this helps!

  • Hi Erin,

    Your blog post is very informative and positive! I am interested in becoming a nurse practitioner in the future. I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in microbiology and immunology, does this affect my chances of getting into a nursing program after I graduate? Also, do you know if international students are allowed to complete a NP in the states?

    Thanks in advanced!

  • Hi Jenny,

    A major in microbiology and immunology is great if you want to become a nurse practitioner but do not want to get an undergraduate nursing degree. The fastest way to become an NP of course is to start out with an undergraduate nursing degree. 

    As far as international students, they would need to be a licensed RN in the state where they plan to enroll in an NP program to be considered for admission. 

  • Hello! I have really enjoyed reading this blog! I have 14 years of experience as a speech pathologist and have worked in skilled nursing and schools. Although I still enjoy my profession somewhat, I wish I was in a field where I could provide more care to people and helping people who are sick. I have been really interested in how the human body works lately too! I have thought about a career in nursing for a long time (ever since I worked in skilled nursing facilities as an SLP) and felt very drawn to the field. I am 43 years old and am not intimated by going back to school either 馃檪 I love learning! I am a bit confused though what would be the best way for me to go into nursing. I have a master’s of science in speech pathology and am wondering if I should get a BSN in nursing or directly go into another master’s degree like the Nurse Practitioner’s master’s program you are talking about! I had not idea that was a possibility! I do have children though so can’t just pick up and move to another city to attend school. Thank you for your feedback!

  • Hi Laura,

    The fastest (but most expensive) way for you to become an NP is to attend an accelerated program that awards both an RN and MSN degree. There are very few schools that offer this path but they are perfect for you since they are designed for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Usually, these programs are not offered online. These programs are often called MEPN programs. 
     
    If you can’t find an accelerated program to fit your needs, the next option is to get your RN degree. You can do this at a local college and it will be much less expensive than an accelerated NP program. Then, you can enroll in in RN-MSN program online or in person. If you plan to go this route, I would make sure there is a school near you offering an RN-MSN program if you want to attend an on-campus program. Also, when you research RN-MSN programs make sure you look for programs offering a nurse practitioner focus. Many of them confer only nurse educator or clinical nurse leader degrees. 
     
    The final option is to get your BSN, then attend a traditional MSN program either online or on campus. This is the slowest way to become an NP for you, but by attending a traditional MSN program you will have more options when it comes to choosing a school. They do have BSN programs for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. I’m not sure which schools offer these. 
     
    I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions. 
     
    Erin
  • Please never refer to NPs as “Midlevels”. That is a derogatory name!! As a FNP you can not work just anywhere in a Hospital setting. You can work in the Fast Track…although with the advancement and recognition of the Acute Care NP and Acute Care PNP- most hospital systems are going/will be going to be hiring Acute Care trained NPs since their formal education is based on Acutely ill pts. There are no Primary Care curriculums that instruct in Hospital patient care. The Primary Care curriculum is focused on PRIMARY care and not ACUTE care. If you practice in a Hospital setting and do NOT have an ACUTE CARE certification…..you may be practicing out of your scope of practice and may loose your license

  • Hello,

    I really liked your article, I am planning on applying to NP school for the spring semester. I am currently a CCU nurse and I was wondering what your opinion is on which nurse practitioner route I should take. I have been hearing different things for Adult/Geri, FNP, and ACNP. I want a job in which I know I will have security after graduating. I don’t want to graduate as a NP and be stuck without a job.

  • Hi Jay,

    You should choose your specialty based on where you want to work. If you want to continue in critical care, choose the acute care specialty. If you are more interested in primary care, choose family. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a job in either. 

  • Hi my name is Asia and I’m doing my senior project over being a pediatric nurse practitioner and It would really help me if I could ask you a few questions about your job. If you are willing to help me my email is asiaadair31@gmail.com. It would really help me out if you help me! I could use all the help I can get!

  • I want to be a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, but the only school I was accepted to doesn’t offer that particular program. If I were to become a family Nurse practitioner is there a way to specialize and become a Psychiatric nurse practitioner?

  • Hi Deanna,

    Yes- you can always look for a job working in psychiatry when you graduate- some places will be willing to train an FNP as there is huge need for psych NPs right now. Or, you can add a second specialty once you are done with your FNP. This usually takes about a year part-time and can be done while you are working as an FNP. 

  • Hello,

    I am a nursing student and am expected to graduate this upcoming May. I plan on working as an RN for a year or two so I can afford graduate school and find out more what I like.. I am strongly considering FNP but am also wondering if I should do PA instead. I really enjoy the 12 hour shifts but can also see myself working in more of a doctors office type setting at some point. Which one would you suggest?

  • Hi Alex,

    Nurse practitioners and physician assistants both work in hospital and/or clinic settings. Where you work depends more on which specialty you choose. For example, a family nurse practitioner will typically work in a clinic while an acute care NP generally works in a hospital.

    Her’s a post that may help: Would Employers Rather Hire a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant?

    If you plan to work for a couple years first, there’s no pressure to decide right away! You can get an idea of which profession is better for the job market where you plan to work.

  • Hello,

    I recently graduated with a B.A. in psychology from a small liberal arts school in Ohio. I want to become a NP but I am unsure of what programs I can do without holding my RN or BSN. I have completed almost all prerequisites to entering both of these programs, but if I can enter a bridge program without paying for/ spending time on earning that degree I would love it. Thanks for your help!

  • Jennifer Acosta says:

    Hi,

    I decided I want to be a Nurse Practitioner. I am currently attending a community college, i am going to get my associates there. But i am not sure if i should get it in nursing or science. Also what would be the fastest way to become a NP? Help, I am confused.

  • Hi Jennifer,

    The best thing for you to do would be to get your associates degree in nursing. Then, attend an RN-MSN program to become a nurse practitioner. 

  • I saw that you did not have any RN experience when you became an NP, as you completed an accelerated 3 year MSN-FNP program.

    Right now I am an RN that is almost done with his Bachelors of science in Nursing. I applied to a MS in FNP, most likely getting in. However, I am a little concerned as a lot of people told me that I need RN experience before becoming an NP. On the other hand, some people said it is not necessary, as when you are an NP, you do not do RN tasks.

    Right now I Live in NYC, and it is Incredibly hard to find RN jobs, as you know NYC is a tough place as everyone is moving here and wants to live here. 鈥婬owever, I still want to apply for NP school, I remember you said that on your website, the sooner you apply even without RN experience, the sooner you will graduate.

    I know you became an NP without RN experience, what do you think about that? I really want to be an NP, and between me and you, that is the main reason I went into RN school, just to be an NP. Not sure if anyone thinks that selfish, but that is my agenda.

    I really love the fact that NPs are getting more independence, and have their own license. I contemplated become a MD/DO, however the years are so long and I would be 29-30 when I finish med school. However, if I went straight for NP, I would be 25 when I finish NP school.

    Also on an unrelated note, how do you think the NP profession is different from the PA profession? I read that NPs are more independent than PAs, have their own licenses, do not require cosignatures, and practice from a different perspective.

    What do you think about all this?

    Thanks and sorry about the biiig question,
    A H. RN

  • Hi A.H.,

    If you want to go the FNP route you don’t need RN experience. It does help when applying for jobs and NP programs, but you can certainly get a job without it. If you wanted to work in acute care, for example, RN experience would be more important. 

    If you don’t have RN experience when you graduate from your NP program, you will have a bigger learning curve when you enter practice. This can be overcome but it does take hard work!

    As far as NP vs. PA, many employers hire for the two positions interchangeably. For example, I work with NPs and PAs in the ER and we can trade shifts with each other etc.- we are considered the same. I see NP as a better option for the future given that nurse practitioners are increasingly gaining the ability to practice independently. 

    Good luck!

  • Hi I really enjoy your forum and responses. I have a bachelor of science in chemistry. I am also doing an RN program currently. I really want to become FNP. I want to do the program part time, online preferably asap.I live in Philadelphia currently and I don’t mind moving if I have to. Is it necessery to have a BSN, looking at the far future? Any scholarship or grants for FNP students?
    Thank you

  • As long as you plan to work as an NP, there isn’t any reason you need a BSN. I am in a similar situation as I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and an RN degree. It has never even come up in regards to my job. 

    To become an NP, your next step can be to do an RN-MSN program online. Here is a list of RN-MSN programs for nurse practitioner students. As far as scholarships and grants, there are several. Here is a list of the different kinds of financial aid available to NP students

    Hope this helps!

  • Yes, FNP is the desired specialty for ER. Since Acute Care NPs can’t treat children, nurse practitioners working in the emergency department are typically FNPs or have a dual FNP/ACNP degree. 

  • Hi Erin,

    Thanks so much for starting this blog. I have enjoyed reading all the comments. I am a 45 year old nurse with a bachelors degree, and I would like to furthur my education to become a family nurse practioner. The difficulty I am having is wading through all the varying online colleges and deciding on the right one. Do you have any advice in this regard?

    Thanks!

  • I am currently debating between two bridge/accelerated nursing programs. One program is Columbia University where I can receive my BSN and MSN in 2.5 years, but will graduate with no RN experience. The other is Western University where I will be RN certified after 15 months and am expected to find a job as an RN for at least a year before applying to their FNP program. Western would take 4 years to complete and they will award me a MSN degree upon completion. I am wondering how you feel the job outlook is for recent FNPs without any RN experience and if FNP graduates are forced to take RN jobs in order to build up their credibility. Thank you in advance!

  • Hi Shian,

    The job market completely depends on your area. If you live in an area where there are far more NP positions than nurse practitioners, you can still be a good candidate without RN experience. If you will be entering a more competitive job market, a lack of experience will work against you. 

    Also, the relationships you make in your clinical rotations can be very important in helping you find a job. If you are a good networker, this will significantly improve your chances of finding a position without experience. 

    Hope this helps!

  • I want to leave the field of social work and enter the medical field. However, I’m grappling between becoming a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner in psychiatry. Physician Assistant requires that you have extensive Direct health care experience prior to the program, and Nurse Practitioner would required starting in an RN program….and doing a DNP…..there’s very few bridge programs in New York. I have a 3.2 gpa undergrad and my social work program was non g.p.a…credit/no credit program…—which is a 3.0 to graduate. I’ve really frustrated and trying to figure out the best career path for me….but both fields don’t seem like the right fit based on my G.PA and experience (1 year in half in mental health, a year in vocational and I’m about start a job working with people with HIV/AIDS monitoring their physical health and mental health in an apartment program…..with aforementioned experience and GPA ….any suggestions????

  • Needin thoughts and advice about FNP vs PNP! My heart is in Pediatrics but know I can still be in pediatrics if I become an FNP. Anyone have an thoughts? Advice? Thanks!

  • Hi Sha,

    Why not apply to both types of programs and see where you get in?

    With a 3.2 GPA and limited direct patient care experience, getting in to an RN program is likely the best option for you. Once you get your RN, you can do an RN-MSN program online. You don’t need a DNP to work as a nurse practitioner, an MSN works. Most NPs practicing now have an MSN, not a DNP. This also gives you a chance to get your GPA up in your RN program applying to an MSN program as a more competitive candidate. 

  • Hi Vanessa,

    PNP vs. FNP is a tough call. As an FNP you can work in pediatrics however some clinics do specify they want a pediatric prepared NP. Do you have any prior experience in pediatrics? This could give you a solid background in pediatrics to compliment an FNP degree. 

    The job market for FNPs is much broader, in some job markets pediatric NPs have more difficulty finding a job. I would talk to a pediatric NP in your area if possible to get an idea as to the job market. This may help you know how to proceed. 

    Hope this helps!

  • I’m still young, in high school, but I was wondering the path to becoming an NP. Example; what classes should I take in high school and what should be the lowest grade I can get. After I graduate what exactly should I do? Any tips on this path or any good schools (preferably in Illinois) for this career? I’m just looking into figuring out more about this just incase I decide I don’t like something or what to change my future career. Thank you so much in advance!

  • It took me 2 years to become a nurse practitioner. First, I got my bachelor’s degree in Biology. Then, I completed a two year accelerated nurse practitioner program for students holding a non-nursing degree. 

  • Hi Jaileen,

    It takes time to remember the name of different medications and their doses. You will find that as a nurse practitioner you may primarily use the same few medications depending on where you practice. This makes is easier. Also, using resources like the Sanford Guide and Epocrates helps a lot when you do have a question. 

  • My job can be stressful at times but not all the time. For example, when I was newer to the emergency department it was very stressful. My patients were sicker than I was used to and I had a lot of questions regarding how to best care for them. Other times the emergency department can be very buy so I need to multitask and work very efficiently. Overall, now that I am a seasoned NP I would classify my job as ‘appropriately challenging’. 

  • hello I wanted to know some tips and advice on starting my career wanting to be a pediatric nurse practitioner. I am JUST starting school fresh. First time starting any type of college and I am completely lost on how to get started. email me at alexe.robles@yahoo.com

  • Hi Anon,

    Here are the answers to your questions:

    1. Some nurse practitioners wear a lab coat, others do not. It depends on the culture in your workplace. Personally, I do not wear a lab coat. Where I work it is optional and I don’t like them! Providers where I work wear black scrubs while nurses wear blue.
    2. My patients call me by my first name. I introduce myself saying “Hi, My name is Erin and I will be the nurse practitioner taking care of you today” or something along those lines. 
    3. The ability to work independently depends on state law. Living in TN, I must work under a supervising physician. In my day to day, however I end up functioning very independently.
  • Hello!

    As you may tell from my name, I’m a boy. I’ve always have had the dream of working in a hospital but haven’t really thought of the job I wanna work. Right now I am currently a psychology major going into my Sopomore year but have noticed that I want to have a job where I don’t have to spend a long time in school am interested in getting a BSN and getting a MSN or possibly a doctorate in the distant future. Now my questions:

    how should I decide on whether or not I should become a nurse practioner? Should I just take a risk and hope that I really fall in love with nurse practionering? Or should I ask around?

    Are men needed and appreciated in the field of nursing? Is there a lot of guys working in nursing (I don’t wanna be the only guy in the department or the only male nurse)?

    Do I need to get a BSN to become a nurse practioner? If not, what are good majors that can compliment a graduate nursing degree?

    Thank you so much Mrs. Erin for this awesome blog!!!

  • Keith Edinger says:

    Any advice for new NP students? I was just wondering if you had any advice in regards to ; study tools, apps, resources or just anything you can think of that would help a new student like me. Thx.

  • Hi Erin,

    I recently just graduated high school, and am now really thinking about what I want a career in. I’ve always loved helping children and have been interested in the medical field. I’m confused as to what I should invest my time in. I know I still have time to decide, but if I wanted to become a FNP do I need to complete a RN bachelor’s degree first? Thanks!

    -Heidi

  • Hi Heidi,

    If you want to become an FNP you will need an RN degree but not necessarily a bachelor’s. There are a few RN-MSN programs that admit students without a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, you will have far more options for your education with a BSN. 

  • Hi erin
    Great blog. You answered many of my questions. I am leaning toward theFNP instead of GNP. It will be helpful for job market. I have been a nurse for 12years and have always wanted to become a NP. Iam enrolling this fall T Millersville university, PA, part time 3 year program.
    Thanks for your great advices. Blessings

  • E'lisa Hampton says:

    Hello

    I’m currently enrolled in LVN program to transfer to LVN to BSN program in September 2016 with the goal of becoming FNP/ CNM. Interested in Emory university in Atlanta dual program. I’m unclear on how both of the speciality would function together. would the function be similiar to OB/ GYN? There are certain thing about OB that I am not interested in but I am excited about the thought of being a “Baby Catcher”. I also would enjoy ultrasounds. Do have any thought on the CNM profession?

  • Hi E’lisa,

    The role of an FNP/CNM depends on the facility where you work. Many clinics, particularly those in rural or underserved areas, offer a full scope of primary care services including OB. So, with a dual certification you can treat all types of patients presenting to the practice for both primary care and OB needs. In other places, CNM’s function more similarly to an OB/GYN working in women’s health practices. 

    The way your job looks will depend on the type of employer you choose. With an FNP/CNM dual certification you can find a practice that accommodates the amount of OB you prefer. 

  • HI Erin,

    I am a current ABSN student, who will graduate in december. I am also sub matriculated into an acute pediatric NP program with oncology concentration, because I ultimately want to work in an outpatient oncology specialty care clinic. (I am in the Philadelphia area and I attend UPenn). Lately, however, I have been thinking that it would be better for me to pursue an FNP degree, but I fear that I will not land my dream job that way (even though I would be more marketable overall). FNP prepares you for primary care. So would an oncology specialty care clinic hire me with an FNP over someone who has a PNP-AC? Any input that you have about this is appreciated!

    Thanks so much & your blog is great.

    -Sheavone

  • Hi Sheavone,

    This is a tricky question. Some oncology practices hire a FNPs and others prefer Acute Care NPs. This typically depends on the scope of responsibilities the practice relies on nurse practitioners to cover. For example, if a practice relies on NPs to  manage patients in the ICU or inpatient hospital setting, an acute care NP will have more relevant experience. If the nurse practitioner functions more in the clinic setting, an FNP or ACNP would be a fit. 

    If you are passionate about working in the inpatient oncology setting and know that this is the field you want to pursue, acute care will be your best option. If you are unclear or have doubts about committing to oncology, becoming an FNP will help you keep your options open. 

  • I am currently an undergraduate in animal science, but I truly want to be a nurse. I am conflicted because my projected career path has always been NP, but I am also interested in working in a hospital setting. Due to the fact I will graduate with a BS, I need to look at accelarated programs or entry-level masters programs. Is there a benefit to having the NP degree while working in a hospital (which seems like primarily nurses)? It seems like there are not a lot of NPs working in hospital or emergency medicine settings. I would love your opinion! Thanks!

  • Hi Natalie,

    You are in luck! There are plenty of nurse practitioners working in the hospital setting. NPs may work in clinics or hospitals. So, if you feel like you are drawn to the inpatient setting, you can still pursue a nurse practitioner degree. 

  • Hi Erin!

    Thanks so much for all of your guidance and insight. I’m applying for direct entry programs now and am thrilled that you are so happy with your choice! My biggest concern is having to select a focus. I’ve narrowed it down to Family and Women’s Health. Family would be great because it is very general and I feel it would allow me flexibility. I fear that it is particularly hard to get into Family specialities though because everyone likes the general nature of family. Is this accurate? This is one of the reason’s that I thought it may be wiser to select Women’s Health. I do believe I would enjoy a women’s focus and could likely be very happy throughout my career here, but I’m concerned that it will limit me before I even get a chance to get my hands dirty! I hate that I have to make such a huge decision so early in the game.

  • Hi Maribeth, 

    While there are more students trying to get into family nurse practitioner programs, there are also a greater number of programs to accommodate these students. I would select your specialty based on your interests and career outlook. Becoming a family nurse practitioner does give you a broader range of options for your future. So, unless you are very passionate about women’s health I would suggest the FNP route. 

  • Thank you Erin! As I started writing my essays I realized I really need to go the FNP route, hahahahah. It became apparent – thank you again so much!

  • This actually helped me so much! I was roaming around careers as a senior in high school right now. I always wanted to be in the medical field but never where to start. After this I know what I want to do thank you so much fir the help of finding my dream job!

  • Hi Mariela, 

    I’m so glad you have decided to become an NP! I hope you find MidlevelU to be a valuable resource along the way. 

  • Hi, I was wondering if you would mind answering some questions for a school project I am doing. If you don’t mind here they are:

    1. Have you ever wanted to quit and why?
    2. What is best about the job?
    3. What is worst about the job?
    4. If I can’t do what? I shouldn’t go into the profession.
    5. What is the key to success?

    Thank you so much!

  • Destiny Blount says:

    Hi Erin,

    I know this might be a late comment, but I’m currently a senior in high school and I need help. My dream profession was to become a neurosurgeon but I found out that it takes a good 16 years to become one, so I decided that I’ll become a NP and maybe go back to school to become a neurosurgeon when I’m older. I’m planning on attending the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in the fall of 2016. What steps do you think I should take (ex. major, degrees, experience, course) to become a FNP or ONP? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

  • Hi Megan,
    I’m not the person who wrote this article, but I can answer your question: ‘As an NP can I specialize in oncology?’.
    Yes you can 馃檪 Most oncology nurse pratitioners work in a hospital, whether an inpatient unit or non-inpatient clinic. Often oncology NPs focus on hematology (blood diseases, usually cancerous but sometimes non-cancerous). In hematology outcomes are fairly predictable, so it’s not very difficult (but also not very easy).
    Source: my colleages at a teaching hospital in London, Canada
    Also, good on you to think about your career so early! You make the best decisions when you start thinking on them early. Good luck with your schooling.

  • Hi Erin,
    Your blog is fantastic; thank you 馃檪
    I live in London, Ontario, Canada; Since this blog is American some of the stuff may not pertain to Canada. Do you know of any Canadian blogs/ websites equivalent to MidLevelU?

  • Hi Shalini,

    Thanks for reading! I am not aware of any similar Canadian blogs but will certainly let you know if I come across any. 

  • Hi.
    I really enjoy reading all your posts.
    I would like to get some advise from you.
    I am torn between an off line FNP program which will take me 3years and cost under 25k VS online program will take me 2years and about 65k.
    Both programs are reputable, I just wonder how much is too much to spend for my education and will it make real difference finish up 1 year sooner.

    Thank you so much for your time!

  • Hi Sunny, 

    That is a difficult decision! I would say this depends on your personal financial situation and what is important to you personally. Are you comfortable taking on debt with the knowledge that you will increase your income a year earlier? Or, do you prefer to take more conservative financial risks?

    The best thing to do is think through your monthly budget in a practical sense for both scenarios. What will your financial situation look like if you take on more debt? The following blog posts should help: 

     

    1. How Much Will Your NP Education Really Cost You?
    2. The Monthly Cost of Your NP Student Loans

    Do any others have any thoughts on this?

  • Hi
    I am working as a Registered Nurse on a Cardiothoracic/Vascular Surgery Telemetry Unit. I mainly work with adult and geriatric patients on my unit. Ive been working here for about a year and half now. I want to go back to school and become a Nurse Practitioner. The main thing I am looking for is to have the same flexile schedule as a nurse. I love working 3 days a week, 12 hour shifts and I know there are NP jobs that have those flexible hours. The question is what NP jobs have those type of hours? I live in NYC and I am interested in Adult/Geri NP as I see myself working with that population. I was considering Family NP because Im hearing it might be harder for me to get a job, or the job I want as an Adult/ Geri NP. I want to work in the hospital because Im thinking thats the place that will have the 12 hour shift schedule, but I am open to working other places as well if they have this type of schedule. Please tell me your thoughts and opinion. Thank You.

  • Hi Krystal, 

    There are many specialties that have 12-hour shifts. Urgent care clinics, for example, often have non-traditional schedules. Hospital-based specialties such as hospitalist NPs also typically work 12-hour shifts.

    If you want to work in the hospital setting, becoming an Adult NP or an Acute Care NP are both specialties to consider. If you want to work in the emergency department, urgent care, primary care, or any setting where you might need to treat children, you should become a Family Nurse Practitioner. 

  • Hi I’m currently attending Hillsborough Community College (HCC) for my A.A degree but I am also taking all my pre requisites for nursing, I plan to graduate by next year, then on to a university for my BSN and then on to become an Nurse Practitioner, just wondering if you have any advice or suggestions as far as the schooling process and job findings.

  • Hi Teasha, 

    I think it sounds like you are on a good path. The best thing you can do is to get a variety of clinical experience while you are in school as well as once you get your nursing degree. This way, you will know which nurse practitioner specialty is right for you. 

    Also, maintain relationships with clinical instructors and preceptors. These individuals will serve as valuable connections when you look for jobs and apply to graduate school in the future.  

    Good luck!

  • Hi!
    I just got accepted into accelerated NP programs, similar to the one you attended! However, as excited as I am for these acceptances, I recently have been asked numerous times why I don’t just want to be a doctor. I also read some horror stories of NPs just not being as respected as doctors both by patients as co-workers. I know everyone’s experience can be different but I was just wondering if you had any situations where felt you were limited by having a nursing degree instead of a medical one? I opted for the NP route partially because I feel that I can acomplish what I want in a career (mainly after shadowing an NP) and still have a life outside of work. Thanks in advance for your response!

  • Hello!

    There are certainly some MDs who do not respect NPs. There are others who see NPs as valuable coworkers. So, you are correct in your assessment that everyone’s experience is different! I do think there are plenty of practices out there with cultures supportive of NPs. 

    In regards to limitations, there are certainly times when my level of education is limiting. This is primarily because I work in a high acuity setting, a level 2 trauma center emergency department. For example, there are some trauma cases that must be seen by MDs per our hospital’s guidelines. While my scope of practice is somewhat limited, I do feel that I am still challenged and have plenty of room to grow my career. 

  • Leda Cansler says:

    Excellent article . I loved the facts – Does anyone know if my assistant might get access to a template a form copy to work with ?

  • Hi Erin,
    I was wondering could you help to answer some of these questions? I am find your story inspiring and I want to share that with my class.

    Here are the questions:
    路 What is your educational background?
    路 How did you get the job? How do most people enter this profession?
    路 How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
    路 How many hours do you work in a typical week?
    路 How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
    路 Is there a dress code?
    路 What is the company’s management style?
    路 How are decisions made? Do people feel included in the process?
    路 Who does this position report to?
    路 How many people work in this office/department?
    路 Does your work involve any lifestyle changes, such as frequent travel or late-night business entertaining?
    路 Considering all the people you’ve met in your job, what personal attributes are essential for success?
    路 What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected?
    路 What is the advancement potential in this profession and what is the typical path?
    路 What do you like about working in this career?
    路 What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
    路 What experiences, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?

    Thank! I appreciate it!
    Arianna

  • Hello,

    I just graduated with my BSN and I’m interested in obtaining my DNP, I will begin working in the Emergency Department this summer. I’m just worried about getting into programs with my gpa only being 3.24, my BSN is my 2nd degree, first was in Health Administration and my gpa was not stellar at all. It would be a dream to go to Vanderbilt’s MSN then DNP program, they have exactly what I would like to do, Emergency Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Informatics. I’m currently working to become a well rounded candidate. Do you have any suggestions on how to strengthen my application to be a well rounded candidate? Should I volunteer and work to get some experience?

  • Hi Celeste, 

    Volunteering will help. You may also consider taking some graduate level courses at a local university, or repeating some of the courses related to nursing from your undergraduate degree. Achieving good grades in these classes will show you can perform academically and strengthen your application. 

  • Hi Erin!

    I am a healthcare worker/non-nurse. I am researching/considering direct entry nurse practitioner programs or an accelerated BSN and then a masters. All of the options are a little overwhelming!

    I am very interested in medical mission work and also, separately, mental health. From what I have read here FNP would be the best option….that I would be very marketable to employers and could work in general medicine with various age groups and do some very limited work in mental health as well.

    Are there options that I should be considering? Any advice?

    Thank you in advance for allowing me to benefit from your knowledge/experience!

  • Hello, my name is Lola! I am just beginning college and am unsure as to whether I should be a NP or a PA. I was wondering how difficult the classes were to become a nurse. Becoming a PA involves Chemistry classes which I am not very good at. Were the classes you took to be a NP extremely difficult? I am also worried about getting admitted into the college of Nursing which many claim is very difficult and highly competitive. I hope you can help with this matter.

  • Please can you tell me if there is a two year bridge program from a BA degree to a Nurse practitioner in New York City or the surrounding areas….or my other option is in Chicago?

    I have a Masters as a Mental health Counselor and I would love to be able to prescribe medication but I can not find any 2 year Nurse practitioner Bridge program either in NYC (or surrounding areas) nor in Chicago (where i plan to move in a couple years).

    Anyone know of any?? Please any help is appreciated!

    Also do we need all the science prerequisites? I am hoping not!

    Thank you again!
    Kerry

  • Hi Erin! I really respect you being so helpful as we consider NP. I just want to be sure I have the correct understanding — I have a BA in Physics, and I’m really seriously considering being a NP due to the requirement to problem solve, flexible schedule, many speciality opportunities, and people interaction. So There are bridge programs that I can attend that will be similar to Vandy’s in that I can get my RN then NP all in the same quickly paced program? Also, I’m unsure about my ability to really interact with big cuts and injuries. Is this a necessity?

  • Hi Gabrielle, 

    To answer your questions: 

    1. Yes, there are other programs similar to Vandy’s where you can get your RN and NP all in the same, fast-paced program. 
    2. Working with cuts/injuries is not necessary in all clinical settings. For example, if you worked in psychiatry, you would not be treating these types of problems. Family practice does deal with some blood etc., but not on the same scale as other settings like the emergency department. So, overall, it is not a necessity. You may also find you get used to it with time. 

    I hope this helps! 

  •  Do you feel like being a nurse is completely different than being an NP? I really dislike nursing right now but from what I have seen shadowing Nurse Practitioners they do function very differently. I just don’t know what to expect and do not want to start a graduate program if they really are similar because then it is definitely not the field for me. Second, would you say it is important to have nursing experience prior to enrolling in an NP program? Since there are bridge programs out there, and considering I was just accepted to an amazing NP program with only having clinical experience from my undergrad, I was wondering if you think it is highly beneficial or not. I hope to hear from you soon!

  • Hi Erin,

    I am PhD student in Microbiology. I want to change my career to nursing. I do not have any clinical background, can I still apply for direct entry MSN programs? I have one more query, being an international student, I will need visa sponsorship to work in US after I graduate. Do you know if NPs are hired with H1b visa sponsorship?

  • Hello! 

    Yes, if you have a PhD in microbiology you may apply to direct entry programs. You will need to complete necessary prerequisite courses and other application requirements. 

    As far as H1b visa sponsorship, there are healthcare employers that hire nurse practitioners requiring sponsorship. Flexibility as far as where you live etc. is helpful when looking for a job with sponsorship as not every employer will be willing to do this. 

  • Hello there! I have read almost every comment on this post, and it has been extremely helpful for me! You provide so much wonderful insight for the nurse practitioner field. I am at a cross roads at the moment. I finished by BA in Psych, and I took a gap year to complete Anatomy & Physiology I and II. I put off going to grad school because I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I have friends who tell me to become an occupational therapist, and I have friends who tell me how much they love being nurse practitioners working in primary care (FNP). I’d do an accelerated bachelor’s program to become licensed as an RN, and then apply to a Master’s FNP program at my local state college, whereas with occupational therapy, I would attend another CSU and get my Master’s in 2.5 years. I have shadowed an occupational therapist for 80 hours, so I know a lot about the field. Unfortunately, in Fresno, CA, not many FNPs are willing to have someone shadow them, so I don’t really have access to someone who can help answer any questions I have. I love the autonomy that comes with being an NP, and the ability to help people with prescriptive power. I know that NP and OT are very different, I just can’t seem to make up my mind about the careers. Many people complain that OT is a waste of money, and a “joke,” and the idea that there is not much room for growth after you practice for several years. What are some advantages/drawbacks of being an NP? Any insight would be much appreciated, thank you!

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