July 27, 2021

I Quit My Job as a Nurse Practitioner - Here’s The Reason Why

I Quit My Job as a Nurse Practitioner - Here’s The Reason Why

When I started my NP journey I had so many personal and professional reasons as to why this would be a good idea. But was it really?

I have been a nurse for over 23 years and have thoroughly loved every step of the way (or at least most of it). So now that I have joined the more than 325,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) licensed in the United States, why am I so unhappy in the role? After all, isn’t becoming an NP #goals for so many nurses? 

Listen to Nurse Alice reveal the reasons why she quit her FNP job on the Ask Nurse Alice podcast episode 22 (season 2), "I QUIT MY JOB AS A NURSE PRACTITIONER: here's the reason why" - Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. 

My entire nursing career has always been one about progress and growth.  From CNA to LPN to RN to BSN to MSN, here's what my career progression looked like

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA),
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), 
  • Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN), 
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), 
  • Masters of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) and became a clinical nurse specialist (CNS),
  • Obtained a post-masters to become a Family Nurse Practitioner 

Prior to my NP journey,  I had well-rounded clinical experience working primarily in critical care and emergency medicine as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Even as an RN I was always moonlighting in a variety of specialties. I was always the nurse who enjoyed floating, learning new things, and had friends all over the hospital. 

Why I Became a Nurse Practitioner After Working as a CNS

In my role as a CNS, I enjoyed the work I did and the impact that I made with patients, onboarding, and training of staff, bringing evidence-based practice to the bedside, doing research, being a clinical expert and consultant, and teaching. I even had the privilege of working with some of the best medical staff, caring for some of the sickest people on the planet at some of the best academic tertiary care medical centers, and even working with agencies trialing devices before FDA approval. I was on the cutting edge of nursing and medicine. But in that enjoyment, I often found dissatisfaction in some of my practice limitations. 

In California, as in many other states, CNSs do not have prescriptive authority meaning that while I knew what my patients needed – even as one of the four advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles – I couldn’t order anything. The only APRNs in my facility that had the privilege were nurse practitioners. So the major reason why I went back to school to become an NP was to relieve a practice restriction and to obtain ordering privileges.  

One of the things I wish would have happened was the removal of nurse practice barriers – eliminating restrictions on the scope of practice of advanced registered nurses so that we could practice to the full extent of our education and training. To increase the types and amount of high-quality care service that can be provided to those with complex health and social needs, and improve access to care and health equity. But unfortunately, this is often limited by state and federal laws. Because that fact wasn’t changing anytime soon, I went back to school. Then going back to school set off an entire cascade of more frustration and disappointment. 

What I Didn’t Like About the FNP Program

My journey through my FNP program was less than ideal. 

  • I had to repeat several courses - I had already taken these courses in my CNS program
  • I had to sit through hours of content that I already knew as a CNS - In theory, with my knowledge and experience as a CNS, I could have taught these classes myself. In fact, I did and was teaching many of these things already as a CNS who was responsible for the onboarding, training, and annual training of nurses in critical care – such as advanced physical assessment, advanced patho, advanced pharm, research, and advanced hemodynamics, EKG and much more. That’s not to say I knew everything because I did build upon and finetune my knowledge base but overall – I did know much of it and it seemed like a lot of busywork. 
  • Then of course the notorious clinical hours and busy work - Hundreds of SOAP notes, homework assignments, and presentations were a pain. I’ve also worked as an adjunct nursing faculty – so, I was also frustrated because while I knew the value for the student, I also knew “busy work” when I saw it. Was the clinical instructor really reading all these pages and pages we were being asked to submit? Likely not. But I obliged because I just had to get it done.
  • The long and drawn-out post-graduation process - Word of advice – do NOT quit your RN job after you graduate or even pass your NP board certification test. The licensing and furnishing process took me nine months to complete in my home state. During the pandemic, I was able to get licensed fairly quickly in other states but that’s because they were expediting their processes to get providers in their state to assist during Covid, but NOT California.
  • The credentialing process took forever - If you thought becoming an RN was hard. At least once you’re licensed by the state – that’s it. To work as an NP there’s this whole thing called the “credentialing process” that takes FOREVER (not really but it feels like it). So again- don’t quit your RN job because there is still so much more work to do before you can actually get a job working as an NP.
  • My NP job was not what I thought it would be - As a new grad NP, I took the first job offered to me as we were all advised to do. And while it is an important job that emerged during the pandemic - it was not my ideal job. Was the pay good? Sure. But, at this stage in my career, I’m more concerned about being fulfilled in my role with the type of work that I do as an NP. 

Do I Regret Becoming an FNP? 

I want to be happy at work. Who wants to walk into work already looking for it to be over?

And thus far – I’ve not been able to really do that (as an NP) and it sucks! No shade to all the other NPs slaying and loving their jobs – but I’m not. It’s been a painstaking journey and one I sometimes regret taking. Now I have a bunch of student loans – so, I gotta “make it do what it do.” 

So there’s something to be said about really thinking things through before you decide to leave your current role and/or go back for more school. Think long and hard about your dream job and how you can get there. 

For me, I’m using this as a learning experience and just biting the bullet. After this first year as an NP, and with California laws changing soon to allow NPs to have full practice authority – brighter days are ahead.  And until then I will continue to work dually as a CNS. One day I will create my perfect role. In fact – my dream job is already in progress and I can’t wait to share that experience with you too. Very soon (hopefully).

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