Post # 1
Looking for some career advice here! As I’m sure anyone who has seen my posts before knows, I am an incredibly indecisive person. Heck, SO bought my diamond in Feb 2015 and I STILL have not picked a setting for it… So yeah, big life decisions are even harder.
A bit of information about myself: I’m graduating this summer with a bachelor of science in health. I was planning on going to grad school for Occupational Therapy, but I am not thrilled/confident about the programs in my area. I am a FT nanny for a special needs child so I work closely with his OT, PT and speech therapist on a regular basis. They have all said that the students from the program I was planning on applying to are never well prepared or knowledgable. They get shadowed by these students all the time, so they would know. The other program near me (about an hour away) is about $40,000 per year… I don’t see any way that I can afford that. I don’t think relocating is going to be an option for quite a while, so I am considering other career options.
I have been looking into graduate entry NP and PA programs and I think these could be a great option for me. However, I’m not quite sure what the difference between the two is or which to go for. I am most interested in specializing in dermatology or women’s health/obgyn longterm and would like to avoid emergency medicine and surgery if possible (I realize that these would be part of my rotations at school though).
Anyways, do any bees have experience in these fields? Is it hard to find jobs in my preferred specialties? What are the practical differences between NPs and PAs?
Thanks in advance for the advice!
Post # 2
SeeingSunshine: I’m not an NP or PA, but I recall that to be an NP, you actually have to be a registered nurse first. After the bachelors degree, PAs go to PA school, which consists of lectures and then clinical rotations, sort of like physicians but a truncated version of the training.
Once you’re done with the schooling in either, you have the opportunity to focus on what you’d like, but I’m sure there are general requirements on the breadth of experience in your rotations. Have you done any job shadowing with NP/PA midlevels? I think that will help you most in deciding if that’s the career path for you.
Post # 3
SeeingSunshine: NP here who works in derm/cosmetic medicine. PP is correct that you need to be an RN before you can become an NP, and some schools require you to practice for at least a year as an RN before you get accepted into an NP program. There are tons of programs out there and depending on where you live and which school you apply to, you might get into a DEM (direct entry master’s), but where I went to school this wasn’t the case. You are interested in the 2 most popular specialties and I’ll be honest it will be incredibly difficult to land a position with either without previous experience or an inside connection.
My husband is a PA and getting accepted into a PA program is much more difficult than NP. He does start at a higher pay scale than I do even though we both work mainly in the OR. He works for a large hospital and I work for a private clinic. His schedule is much more demanding and he works many more nights, weekends and holidays than I do. He works in cardiothoracic surgery, and I know you said you preferred to avoid the OR, that is where you can stand to make the most money as a PA unless you open your own practice. Feel free to DM me with any other questions.
Post # 4
Hi! I am currently in PA school and I’m graduating in August 2016. The ladies above explained the differences quite well. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
Post # 5
Hi! I can only speak on the behalf of the NP..I am an almost NP (graduating Monday!! Taking the boards in a month ahh). The PP’s are correct. You must be an RN, which can be obtained by receiving your BSN or you can get an associates degree and then do what they call a bridge to the Masters (MSN). No matter the degree behind the RN even if a different degree is issued, nursing school is hard!! I found it harder than the masters component, but perhaps that’s because I had my RN education supporting me this time! The rotations can be quite grueling, but the rewards are so sweet. I love being a nurse, and I will agree with the other poster that said most NP programs want you to practice as a nurse. One key difference I have observed is that because we are RNs as well, our focus in practice is composed of the nursing model of care, which is often little different from the medical model.
Just to give you a quick summary, I did my bachelors in health science first, which gave me a taste of the healthcare system. Then I went to a direct entry BSN/ MSN program and once I became an RN, i worked as an RN as I did the MSN over 2 years, as all NPs have to take several courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology, management, health assessment, nursing theory etc etc. This was crucial and allowed me the opportunity to discover my true passion in nursing, and helped me decide how to specialize. I also got to learn so much in the RN position and will plan to remain per diem in my RN job because I just enjoy it so much. To be qualified to sit the board, you must perform 600 hours in several sub specialities. My specialization is family Psych, so I acquired Geri, adult and pedi hours. The role itself has so many positives! (As does a PA!!!!) as cliche as it sounds, you get to make a difference in ones life as an RN, NP, PA. the job prospects are quite good. I myself am joining a private practice, but there are so many possibilities! Perhaps it would be helpful to tour a nearby nursing program so you can see what you could do, firsthand. PM me with any qs!
Post # 6
craigslistgirl: molokoa: clairdelune: dfutureNP: Thanks for the info everyone! And good luck on your boards dfutureNP!! I’m sure you will do great!
The progams I’m looking into are both graduate entry. PA school would be 27 months and NP school would be 3 years, the first year gets you certified as an RN and last two years are the actual NP program in which you get to choose a specialty. I would be able to specialize in geriatrics, CNL, midwifery, neonatal, family medicine, psych, pediatrics, or women’s health. The PA program has 4 week clinical rotations in emergency medicine, long term care, gyn/prenatal, internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, and an elective of my choice (I would choose Derm). My grades are very good and I have references that have already offered to write recommendation letters for me, so I think I have a good shot at getting into one of the programs (fingers crossed!)
Like I said, I ultimately would really, really love to work in derm or women’s health. Preferrably for a private practice with normal working hours. I am not really concerned with working in the highest paid specialties, I just want to work in an area that I love! So I guess my real question is in which profession am I more likely to get into one of my preferred specialties? I’m terrified of getting stuck working in an environment that makes me miserable!
I’ve heard some people say that they decided to go for NP rather than PA because PAs have to retest every 6 years. Is this a another huge, stressful exam? Don’t NPs have to stay current as well?
Post # 7