Is Being a Nurse Practitioner Worth It?Jan 28, 2024
When considering advancing your career as a nurse practitioner, you might ask yourself - is going back to school worth my investment in time, money, and energy? The answer truly depends on you and the “why” behind your intentions. I’m an NP coach and I think there is so much value in the role of a nurse practitioner. If you’re going into it for the right reasons, then I think you’re going to find that the NP is worth it. There are several reasons people decide to take the jump and move into the leadership role as an NP. However, I’m here to warn you: if you go in without a strong “why” that will allow you to last through the hardships - it will NOT be worth it for you.
If you’re going into it for money, it’s not worth it.
There are nursing jobs that will pay more than what you will make as a nurse practitioner. A lot of times, especially when first starting out, nurse practitioners actually take pay cuts from their previous nursing jobs because they aren’t working the same number of hours. Often, nurses were working at night and now they’re doing daytime shifts, perhaps as a family nurse practitioner. When they’re no longer working those on-call or bonus shifts, they may find that their annual salary is less. So, if the only reason that you’re going in is because you want to advance your pay, then no, it will not be worth it. But if you are going in because you really want to advocate for patients at a higher level and have more autonomy over their care, then yes, it’s worth it!
Finding the right role.
The challenge comes in finding a role that is going to allow you to really grow into the provider you want to be. I do a lot of interview preparation in one-on-one sessions with my clients. This is one of the biggest things that I stress when I am with them. You really want to work with people that are going to support your growth and, as professionals, we are always growing. I’ve been a nurse practitioner since 2016 and there are so many things that I still don’t know, but I know how to find resources. I know to surround myself with people that love what they do and that love to teach. We help each other out.
I’m very fortunate to work with an amazing physician who is just brilliant. There are guidelines and regulations that are routinely updated, and your physician may not know about the most recent updates. I’ve shared this kind of valuable information with my own physician like, “Hey look, the updated guideline says this. We need to change our practice.” And that’s where I can provide a lot of value to my physician. Whereas my physician has provided tons of value to me because I was new to endocrinology. She taught me everything I know. She sat down with me and showed that she was committed to my success, committed to my growth, and really wanted to see me flourish in this field.
I would say that when you are looking for a job or even thinking about your future, the number one goal is always going to be to set yourself up with a team of people around you—a support system—that is going to have your back as you move forward in your journey. Whether you’re a new nurse practitioner or moving into a new specialty, always make sure that you feel comfortable talking to them and knowing that if you ask questions, you won’t be ridiculed. You won’t learn if you can’t ask questions. I’ve talked to nurse practitioners that have told me horror stories about their interviews, and thankfully they heeded the warning signs and the red flags of a physician or a hiring manager that has said, “Oh, we’ll give you four weeks of orientation and you should know everything you need to know about practicing after that.” And that’s just not true. Nobody knows everything. Being able to set yourself apart and work together as a team is really going to be beneficial for you. If you’re able to find a position that is going to give you that support, then I really believe it’s worth it.
The value that comes with a position that meets your needs.
If you find a position where you can work the hours that you want, that’s another thing, right? Maybe you’re an acute care nurse practitioner that’s always worked inpatient hours and you can continue that schedule. Or maybe you’re used to the night shift and you find a position that allows you to continue being a night owl. You’re going to find so much more value in a position that meets your needs. Whereas, if you’re a family nurse practitioner that’s accustomed to working all inpatient hours and now you have a Monday through Friday schedule, that’s a major change that may not sit well with you. You might find that you’re working longer, feeling more tired, or even that you don’t have as much time as you used to when you were in nursing.
Can I be fly on the wall?
When it comes to finding out if being a nurse practitioner is going to be worth it for you, my number one recommendation is shadow, shadow, shadow, shadow! Ask! Find a network and reach out. Maybe you’re interested in cardiology and you’ve never done cardiology before. If that’s the case, find somebody and send them a letter. If you don’t know anybody, see if you can find someone in your network and then send a letter. Be honest in your intentions. “Hey, I would love to learn a bit more about this specialty before I get into it. Would you allow me to shadow you for a couple of hours?” This is also a valuable way to build your network, too. If they say no, another option would be to ask if you could have an hour of their time to interview them, either in person or over the phone. Make sure that it’s at their convenience. If they agree, try to get as much information as you can so that you can make an informed decision.
Set yourself up for success.
Setting yourself up for success before you take the leap into NP school is going to really benefit you and your entire career. I also want you to consider that a lot of nurses think that nursing is the first step and once they become a nurse, pursuing an MSN is the next logical step. That is not the case at all. There are so many things you can do to further your nursing career other than becoming a nurse practitioner. There’s leadership. There’s education. There’s informatics. There are so many ways to advance your career. If you’re ready for something different, consider looking into entrepreneurship. That’s the one thing I love about nursing—you can do anything! I have been able to see that firsthand with so many of my clients and friends. I recommend taking the time to do research and gain a full understanding of all the different roles you can play as a nurse.
Is the NP worth it? For me, it has absolutely been worth it.
WHAT IF I NEED HELP?
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