Thinking Through a Second Career as a Nurse Practitioner

My nurse practitioner program consisted of a clinically diverse group of students. Former engineers, accountants, and teachers all converged in nursing school with the goal of achieving a radical career transition. For a variety of reasons, these individuals were unsatisfied professionally and sought a career satisfaction in the world of nursing. Uprooting your life to go back to school and pursue an unrelated profession isn’t easy. Here are a few things you need to consider before launching into a second career as a nurse practitioner.

Get Real

Many people turn to healthcare as a second career related to a desire to ‘help others’ or for a more meaningful, fulfilling work life. While you will help patients everyday as a nurse practitioner, the feeling that what you do is ‘just a job’ can set in. Your days will eventually become routine. Sometimes you won’t feel like you are making a difference at all. Rules, regulations, red tape, and productivity pressures come into play in healthcare just as they do in other industries. Make sure your view of life as a nurse practitioner is accurate rather than idealistic.

Crunch the Numbers

Tuition costs can be steep. How will you finance the education necessary to transition your career? Consider not only the cost of tuition, but also extras like a laptop and books. Life as a student is very demanding of your time. Will you be able to work while you attend your nurse practitioner program? Or, will taking out loans to cover your cost of living be a necessity? Get a practical plan in place for financing your education taking into account a rigorous academic schedule.

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Do Your Research

Overall, the job market in the U.S. is quite favorable for nurse practitioners. But, if you are limited as to where you can live and work, evaluate the job market in your specific area. Will you be employable as an NP? Consider availability of local employment opportunities in selecting your nurse practitioner specialty. How much will you earn as a nurse practitioner where you live? How does this match up with your current and projected financial needs?

Evaluate Your Interests

Working in medicine is no doubt interesting. But, it’s not for everyone. Spend some time soul searching before you jump into your new career. What are your likes and dislikes? Are you passionate about healthcare? What is prompting your career change? Evaluate your interests to make sure you will find a career as a nurse practitioner intellectually stimulating. Job shadowing a nurse practitioner is a valuable step in the evaluation process.

Map Out Next Steps

Completing a nurse practitioner degree in a time and cost effective manner takes some planning. Most nursing and NP programs require that students complete a series of prerequisite courses before applying. Where will you take these courses? Once you have completed these initial steps, where will you get your nursing and NP degree? Having a plan of action will prevent delays in making your career transition.

What do you wish you knew before starting a second career as a nurse practitioner?


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