My career plan is a mess! (longish post, sorry)

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    Profile photo of GK-Seedy

    Hey everyone.

    I’m a pre-nursing student basically right now, I’ll explain my situation before I move to the actual questions, so you guys have some info to go on:

    1) Worked at hospitals for 1½ years as a scribe before any actual medical training
    2) I became a medical technician for the Air Force which is EMT training plus some nursing courses
    3) I became a flight medic in the Air Force which meant more nursing courses
    4) I have 3 years worth of University undergrad as a pre-med biology student. All of my gen ed is 100% done, but I only have 8 semesters of lower division bio, and only got intro chem and chem 1 out of the way (no organic or bio yet). I took an anatomy class but hadn’t taken the physiology counterpart yet before I left the university, and I took microbiology class but it was “Microbiology: Virology” and none of the RN programs accept that in place of general micro because it didn’t cover bacteria. That means I just need a semester that includes A+P 1 and general microbiology before I start the program. That will be cake given all the knowledge I already have on those subjects.
    –All in all I actually have 221 credit hours worth of college coursework but no degree to show for it because I never fully completed my two Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degrees or my undergrad. 38 of those credit hours are from nursing specific coursework identified on my CCAF transcript.
    5)I spent 2 years homeless and jobless following a major mental breakdown that was the result of a very ugly end to my military career (don’t worry, I still got an honorable discharge out of it).
    6)I’m getting back on my feet and a huge part of it was ditching the pre-med idea because I realized I’m in my 30s now and if I stick to the med school goal, I won’t be officially starting the stable part of my career until I’m in my mid 40s. I am eager to get back in the med field and I already have a foot and a half in the door on the nursing career. Sadly my EMT, CPR/BLS, and ACLS certs have all been long expired, but at least I have proof that I can pass those tests.
    7) I’m own a house in Colorado but I’m currently staying in California with my mother as part of my rehabilitation. I’ve been here 4 months and have already lost 60 lbs, quit drinking, am seeing counseling, etc… and I’m planning on taking a semester of “fun” classes at the local community college here before I head back home to Colorado in the fall. I was too late to get into the prereq classes I need by the time I decided this is what I’m going to do.
    8)I have 9 months left (out of 36) of Post 9/11 GI Bill (aka Chapter 33 GI Bill). I am working on getting disability through the VA, once that goes through, I will be able to use 12 months of vocational rehabilitation (Voc Rehab) student aid to cap off the 48 months of military education benefits I’m allowed. Then by the time that’s up I should be back in good standing financially, and can just use pell grant, work money, and saved GI Bill money I might have to pay for any semester I have left (if any).
    9)I have been accepted into the RN program in Colorado. So once I get those prereqs out of the way I’m all set.

    Current plan:
    1) Take fluff semester since I can’t get my prereqs, which will get me back into the college mindset that I haven’t had in years.
    The classes I’ve signed up for aren’t actually fluff, I just don’t need them as prereqs. They are good classes though:
    –Biopsychology (can actually be a pre req for certain some programs I’ve seen)
    –Lifespan Development (I got the developmental psychology prereq waived from other psych classes I took, but I want to take this version anyway)
    –Medical Terminology (I’m obviously not required to take this, but it will be good for a brush up that I sorely need)
    –Kinesiology (I think this will be great knowledge to have as a future RN – only physical class, the other 3 are online)
    2) Take actual prereq semester in Colorado. A&P and Micro are 4 credit hours so I’ll just need to find one more 4 credit class to get full time student aid.
    3) Complete RN program at same college
    4) Get job as RN
    5) Get into RN –> RN BSN program (hopefully paid for by an employer) as soon as humanly possible
    6) Get NP as soon as possible after that.
    7) DNP maybe? Who knows.

    My actual questions for you actual nurses! (finally, right?)

    1) Does anyone know how well the RN earned in Colorado transfers to other states?
    –An RN at the clinic I go to, told me that California is the best state to get your RN license because the coursework is apparently more intensive or something, and therefore you can transfer easily to any other state.

    2) Do any of you have experience with military nursing and how it might affect the nursing core requirements of a civilian RN program?
    –Like I said, I have 38 credit hours of nursing classes on my CCAF, and nearly 3 years of in hospital work experience – I understand that a federally regulated college would have different standards and practices than a local college, but SHEESH it would seem INCREDIBLY unjust if all 38 credits count for nothing I have to take every single RN class the same as some fresh out of high school kid who never so much as put a bandaid on someone other than themselves. *exhale*

    3) How hard is it to get a specialty you want as an RN or RN BSN?
    –All 3 years of my scribe and med tech experience have been ER (and some ICU/CCU), except for the rotations I did for 2 months during school, so I really want to be an ER nurse for comfort reasons but also because I need a job that keeps on my feet doing stuff constantly. It helps me stay fit but also I’ve had really high intensity jobs my whole adult life, so jobs that require a lot of sitting and have more down time make me insane.

    4) Is nurse anesthetist something worth shooting for?
    –It’s the holy grail of nursing salaries, according to google, which makes me wonder what the catch is. I’m curious because I was originally planning to be a surgeon, so I thought CRNA might be a way to still have a key job working in an OR, but as an NP instead of an MD. I can only imagine the pay is much higher than other NP and DNP disciplines because it’s a much more difficult job to have and/or get into. I thought maybe the malpractice insurance costs must have been really high (because I heard that many times about anesthesiologists) but google says CRNA average annual malpractice averages $3,900 which seems reasonable. So what’s the deal, guys?

    5) Does anyone here have experience with opening up a small private practice as an NP or DNP, that could maybe answer some questions privately?

    Thanks so much if you made it this far. It seems like I have an okay plan on paper but I can’t help but feel like this is a huge bag of snakes. I can only straighten out one snake at a time and the others keep curling back up.

    Profile photo of Valeriew

    Have you looked into Excelsior College? They give credit for experience and a lot of coursework that other colleges don’t accept and specialize in working with active or former military personnel. Their courses are mostly online so you need to be able to focus and structure your time and use self discipline to focus and get the job done. I took courses through them 10 years ago to get my ADN. My history was I had a vocational LPN with no college credit for nursing classes that I had taken many years before. The Excelsior program was test based so if I already had a great understanding of the material I could pay for the class review the material and take the exam, done! I had to arrange my own preceptorship which was changing but my supervisor was able to help me with her connections. Don’t fall for the companies that want to sell study guides for the Excelsior Nursing program they are total ripoff!
    Some states may not accept Excelsior graduates so that is something to look into and you may not meet the requirements of the program but if you do you could start nursing courses in just a couple of months. They also have BSN, and masters programs.

    Profile photo of Kbaxley

    1. Take care of your health & well being.
    2. I would take the courses you need, not more that you don’t. It could mess up yout degree plan with your GI benefits.
    2. Colorado is a compact state (1 of 25) California is not. Once licensed there, & you elect to have a compact license, you are licensed in 24 more states.
    3. Focus on your 1st goal, keeping your mind open to options. If possible try for a BSN program, you will beore employable at Magnet hospitals. If you can’t get accepted, then go for ADN with plans to continue.

    Profile photo of Kbaxley

    CRNA has limited programs, hard to get into, tough programs. You also have to have critical care experience to get into them.

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