Since I’m stuck at work today for 16 hours–and I feel the need to tell you that I only agreed to do this because I was awarded tomorrow off, and they will be paying me for four hours that I won’t have to work, and I also have Thursday off, as well as this weekend, so it’ll be almost like a mini-vacation–I figured I’d quickly tell you about how I came to fulfill #35 on my 101 goals list: Thoroughly research nurse practitioner programs in the area and decide whether or not to enroll.
Ever since my mentor told me I should become a nurse practitioner, I’ve been thinking long and hard about it. I love my job, but I probably won’t want to do bedside nursing forever. I have it in me to advance in my career, and I realized that I won’t be satisfied with myself if I don’t try. After being a charge nurse for the past few months, I know that I don’t want to go into management. Being a nurse educator has never appealed to me either, although it’s definitely better than the former. But what I love about nursing is the patient care. The best way to advance in patient care is to become a nurse practitioner.
A lot of people have asked me what the difference between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a physician’s assistant (PA) is. They both perform similar roles in that they require the supervision of a physician but can see patients on their own, write orders, prescribe most common drugs, and diagnose and treat common illnessess. NP’s can actually have a somewhat independent practice while PA’s cannot, but the difference is mainly in how they are trained. NP’s are registered nurses, and we are taught to focus more on the biopsychosocial issues with an emphasis on wellness, disease prevention, and adaptation. PA’s are usually affiliated with medical schools and focus on the biological/pathological aspects of health, diagnosis, and treatment. Bored yet? Still interested? Here is a chart comparison of the two.
Although I get really excited about the prospect of becoming an NP (did I mention they make like three times as much as an RN?), I have some concerns. Mainly money for education and free time. There is no way I’m taking out more student loans, and I don’t want to stop working. That means I’ll have to work and go to school at the same time. I found out that my hospital will reimburse me for tuition up to $2500 a year which is totally enough for 3-4 classes/year at my alma mater. UT is one of the best schools in the area and also very reasonably priced. Even though I knew I didn’t want to be anything other than a longhorn, I looked into other schools just in case, but they were more expensive. Score!
So as of now, here’s my plan. Next year, I’ll become oncology certified. Then I’ll start thinking about taking the GRE. I’ll look to apply for NP school either next fall or the following summer. And THAT is scary…but exciting!