When I was a little girl, people always asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and I always answered, “A doctor!”. Truthfully, I barely knew what a doctor did at that time, all I reminisce was it appeared to be a truly appealing and respected job. I graduated with my BSN degree at age 19 and to date, I already have about 15 years working in the medical field. I have worked both in acute and outpatient settings, I have earned nursing diplomas in 3 different countries, and I can say that I have reached the actualization in my profession. However, I always knew that I wanted more, career-wise. I am a firm believer of continuous progress in life.
After 13 years of being an RN, I finally had the moment of enlightenment to become a nurse practitioner. Here was my story: I was working on a trauma cardiac surgery case when our team was informed by the charge nurse that we were already assigned another emergency CABG procedure. It was then 7 pm, I was on my 12th hour shift and I had a 6-week old newborn baby waiting for me at home. Just like any other hardworking nurse, I felt beyond exhausted. Aversion to work at the same job has developed in me unknowingly. I knew that it was time for me to have a change of career at that point.
Moreover, I am sure that there are a lot of other reasons to become a nurse practitioner (NP), but I have narrowed some for you:
Yes, nurses are known to carry out orders from physicians/mid-level practitioners all the time. We spend almost 100% of our time with our patients. Among thousands of duties, we are there to be screamed at by the patients or their relatives when they are upset, and we are also at times the ones to hold the patient’s hand when they are dying. Most of the time, we are the most up-to-date and knowledgeable person to ask regarding the patient’s current condition. But do we get to decide on what’s best to order next? No. Simply because RNs are obviously not credentialed to do so. But NPs are. We are able to assess, diagnose, order tests, medications, and other medical interventions needed by the patient. Depending on the state, some NPs are even able to treat patients independently, without MD supervision, and some are also straight able to open their own practice.
Do you remember those times when you witness a medical resident struggling to order the correct medication for the patient, and at times you appear to know more than them? It happens. As nurses we are extremely acquainted to anticipate the indicated medication but unfortunately, all we can do is wait for an MD, DO, or APP to order them. As an NP it is pleasantly different, you will be able to order medications. These include non-prescriptive, prescriptive, and also controlled substances.
Being a PCP
An NP may be assigned as a Primary Care Provider of patients. As mentioned, in some states, an NP will still be working under a supervising physician, however, the thought of having patients trust you with their primary health is an amazing opportunity. Primary NPs (FNPs, PNPs, Geriatric NPs) are able to serve and attend to a member’s overall health care. For me, I felt that it was an enormous missing component as an RN as this role will not be applicable for the profession. Nevertheless, as an NP, I am now able to have that close relationship with patients who come for my care.
An NP is also referred to as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). Understandably, a huge title comes with great responsibility. Since NPs frequently practice autonomously, any decision made will greatly impact the patient, their loved ones, and the entire health care team. Further, there are unquestionably some experiences that will test your skills, knowledge, and attitude, but these same involvements will mold you into the most efficient APP that you can be.
In most states, NPs take home a 6 figure-annual salary. Statistically, this is more than the earnings of an RN. Although there are also instances that some RNs take a pay cut when they become an NP. I did. I was earning a lot more as a travel open heart surgery RN as compared to my first NP job. That was because I had more professional familiarity as an RN and that I was a novice NP. Everyone starts somewhere. But it gets better as the time goes by.
I consider this reason to be personal because it made me feel that I am now contributing more. I reckon that this grander accountability has contributed to greater positive impact to the society and to the population that I am serving. Additionally, being an NP made me realize that I have tried to reach my highest educational potential. That is something that may not be tangible, but it is absolutely not something that can be taken away from me at any time.
I have immense respect for all nurses, and I am very proud to be one. We were educated, trained, and qualified to deal with one of the most special jobs in this world---saving lives every day. Some of us may not decide to pursue further education to become an NP and I will never blame them. Most of our highly seasoned RNs have created their own niches that have placed them in such elevated pedestal in our society. Conversely, if you are reading this and if any of these reasons to become an NP entice you, then you and I both know that it is now time for you to at least start that application for an NP program. There is a saying that, “the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, and the second-best time is now”. Who knows, this article may have really been meant to empower you.
About the Author:
Tricia Alegado, FNP-C, CNOR
Tricia has been an APPAA contributor since 2020. She has over 15 years of experience as a registered nurse and 2 years of experience as a nurse practitioner.