Florence Nightingale wants to know!
It seems like every single nurse I know is in nurse practitioner school (extra drama statement). Every…Single…One. In fact, just this week, 4 RNs have approached me to tell the exciting news that they have begun the road towards being an NP. I now know exactly what to say to such news. I politely congratulate and I try my best to be joyful for them.
The reality is, in my area of the US (Florida), the nurse practitioner arena is over saturated. This leaves many new NPs having trouble finding clinical placements and eventually positions. I actually know a few NPs that cannot find a position years after graduation. For example, there are maybe 20 nurse practitioners positions with only 1 or 2 stated new grads are accepted posted in our area and over 150 RN positions posted.
Weekly, there are Facebook posts in Nurse Practitioner groups from new grads in other states searching for a position for months and months with no success. Heartbreaking…How do you express this to RNs deciding to make this transition and invest time and thousands of dollars without seeming like a jerk? Am I a jerk for even trying to mention it?
About six months ago I tried to explain this to an RN in the ICU when she confided in me that she was accepted to an FNP program. How did it turn out? She said to me “well I cannot see myself doing this for the rest of my life”. She has not spoken to me since. I get it though. I remember a Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner both gave me the low down (long hours, high stress, few positions) when I was in school and I chalked it up to being “haters” and “Debbie Downers” (note: I have gone back to both and thanked them for their honesty).
Do not get me wrong. Being a nurse practitioner is good. Yet I also loved being a nurse. I miss aspects of my RN role, the bedside, the education, 3-12 hour days and of course, the RN tribe (Queue Joni Mitchell melodiously singing Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got til its gone). I had thought for years about going to NP school but never could take the jump. I honestly can admit that I do not remember what pushed me to apply to Grad school over 5 years ago. Maybe a vacation request denial?, a battle with explosive C-diff?, rude family? or perhaps a rough code? I do not know. I just knew that I needed to move on.
Joni Mitchell never lies!- Q-tip
I can tell you that throughout my RN career I was asked by administration, Doctors, NPs and PAs if I was ever going to continue on and become an NP. Usually, it was after some particularly difficult situation and they were impressed by how I handled the issue. I hope that their comments were not to imply that being an RN was beneath me (just a nurse syndrome). But deep down, the comments made me feel like being an RN was somehow not reaching my “full potential”.
Many are doing this transition for the wrong reasons. Some say they work too hard as an RN (NP is harder work people!). Is it that we see becoming an NP as leveling up as an RN? Is this a hierarchy and we are trying not to be seen as “bottom rung”? Is it the cute lab coats? I do not know.
Even now, I would never leave this role. I have too much invested. If I had known then what I know would I have still become an NP? I would like to think yes. However, because I was an RN for so long I am torn. I want to see the growth and excellence of nurse practitioners. Still, I want to know why are nurses leaving the bedside? As a nurse practitioner is that even any of my business anymore? How do you handle this?