I recently received an e-mail from Ann.  She is thinking of pursuing a RN degree and ultimately becoming a nurse practitioner.  She wisely asked a question I think is important to consider before any major life choice, “What are the disadvantages to becoming a nurse practitioner?”.

In her e-mail, Ann references the wide variety of opinions she has heard about nursing.  Some of the nurses she knows love their jobs while others describe the nursing profession as “icky and gross”.  Here are my thoughts regarding Ann’s concerns of the disadvantages of the nurse practitioner profession:

Unconventional Schedule

Disadvantage: As nurses and nurse practitioners are well aware, the medical profession lends itself to unconventional scheduling.  Weekends, holidays and evenings are not immune from medical mishaps and someone must be there to answer the call.

The Twist: Despite working odd hours, an unconventional schedule can actually be very desirable.  Many nurses and NP’s work just three days a week leaving plenty of time for personal and family commitments.  Working a non-traditional schedule also helps avoid the feeling of the daily grind and often lends itself to offering more scheduling flexibility.  Employers recognize the demands of working unconventional hours and typically pay more for your efforts.

“Icky and Gross” Factor

Disadvantage: Yep, the nursing profession can be pretty icky at times.  From draining abscesses to suturing wounds, placing foley catheters and dealing with C. diff, we all have some tales of nastiness to tell.

The Twist: There is never a dull day in the life of a nurse or nurse practitioner.  Dealing with these messy situations fosters and environment of community among you and your co-workers.  Nothing creates bonding quite like cleaning up bodily fluids.  If you aren’t the type who wants to bond with co-workers over GI bleeds and vomit, you can always work in a clinic rather than hospital setting where things are a bit more pristine.

Challenges of Continued Learning

Disadvantage: It takes some time on the job before you will feel confident and competent in your job as a nurse practitioner.  On-the-job learning can be stressful and anxiety provoking.  If you choose to switch specialties or start a new job, this learning process must often be repeated.

The Twist: The flexibility of the nurse practitioner profession is unmatched.  You can change specialties with ease.  Should you begin your career working in family practice but decide you are more interested in pursuing cardiology or dermatology, as a NP you can do so.  Although on-the-job learning is necessary as a nurse practitioner, the speed of NP programs allows for a relatively easy career change.

Ann would love to hear from ThriveAP readers as well!  What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of the nursing profession?  Let us know by commenting below.


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8 thoughts on “Are There Any Disadvantages to the Nurse Practitioner Profession?”

  • What is the fastest way of achieving a NP degree in NC? I have an ADN and a BS in Business, and have been working as an RN off and on for approximately 15 years.

  • Hi Stephanie,

    If you have an RN degree, the fastest way to become an NP is through an RN-MSN program.  In NC check out the East Carolina University RN-MSN program (online) and the RN-MSN program at UNC Charlotte.  Also, many other states offer online programs you could look into. 

    Hope this helps!

  • Lisa Spodick says:

    I’ve been an RN BSN from the get go 20 years ago and now interested in the NP program. Is age going to be a factor when pursuing this career change?

  • Hi Lisa,

    I think age is a factor in considering any career change.  First, you need to consider how much longer you want to be working.  If you don’t plan to work much longer, the cost and time spent on your education may not be worth it.  If you do plan to work for a while longer, I don’t think age will be a problem in finding a future job.  Employers highly value experience and they will likely consider your 20 years of nursing experience an asset.  Hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions!

  • Coming late to the site but this is a timeless topic. I would encourage anyone considering the APN role to not stop at a Master’s degree but continue to a DNP. Many programs have a BS to DNP tract.

  • I have been a school nurse for 10 plus years, will this hurt me in finding a NP job? Many years ago I did ER, Hospice and Home Health.

  • Hi Lauren,

    It won’t hurt you, you just may not be as competitve in some specialties once you finish your NP program. However, you will gain experience throughout your nurse practitioner program as well. If you want to work in acute care, this will affect you more. If you want to work in primary care, you will be just fine!

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