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Considering a career change from Pharmacist to Nurse (and eventually NP.. hopefully)

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Hey everyone - just looking to gather some of your valued thoughts and opinions.
I'm a Canadian pharmacist who has been working in retail pharmacy for about 4 years at the management level. I feel like I'm getting very bored with my job due to the repetition and lack of ability to make meaningful changes in patients' lives (especially when you're owned by corporate and "script count" is all that matters). In addition, I have this thirst for knowledge that is not satisfying me by working in a retail pharmacy. There's so much to know but I feel like I'm rotting away just working my retail 9-5 job.
I'm wondering if I should apply to a 2-year accelerated BSN degree, work for 2-3 years in a high acuity ward and then apply for a Masters (nurse practitioner). What appeals to me about being a family nurse practitioner is the ability to physically assess your patients and have a deep understanding of their medical history. In addition, I really admire the level of autonomy and responsibility of this profession. I currently work alongside several NPs as the retail pharmacy I work at is next to a primary care clinic.
I do have a couple concerns though:
  • Being an RN and NP seem so different.. I'm not sure if I would like the bedside part of being an RN, however, I think I would enjoy an area such as the ER or ICU because there's so much to learn, do, and see.
  • Cost: I don't have much savings, I can work on weekends as a pharmacist though to help cover the cost of tuition/living expenses. I would obviously be taking a pay cut from my current salary of ~100k (just finished paying off student loans for 6 years of school).
  • Age: I am almost 30 years old. That means at the earliest I would be an NP at 36 years old.
  • Difficulty of getting into a masters program - what kind of grades do I need?
Other considerations were to:
  • Apply to medicine (low chance - GPA is about 80%, decent extracurriculars though, can consider applying after completing BSN to bump GPA up?)
  • Consider a 2-year comp sci degree (I am interested in computers and have been as a child but have always avoided this path as I didn't want to turn my "fun/interest" into "work".)
  • Do a pharmacy residency or graduate Doctor of Pharmacy degree
  • Get out of school altogether and do a trade or become a police officer (both something I'm interested in.)
Has anyone done this or know of anyone who has done this? I haven't made the jump or applied yet but I am strongly considering. Am I just having an early mid-life crisis?
Thanks for reading!
tl;dr - want to quit job as pharmacist and become NP, looking for insight
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  • 2 weeks later...

Nursing isn't an easy job and it pays a lot less than what you make. But if your job satisfaction is this low, I'd say go for it. I was an RN myself, and I, like you, didn't want to do floor nursing and just wanted to go work in an ER. I couldn't get hired in any ER I applied to without floor nursing experience, so I ended up doing that for a year. And... I actually enjoyed it. Of course, I knew as a student I didn't mind it because we had to do floor placements as part of the degree. But it wasn't time wasted, by any means. A lot of the skills you learn as a nurse will go to waste in the ER compared to working, as I did, a surgical in-patient floor.

That said, I'm curious how certain you are primary care is for you. Have you had an opportunity to shadow an NP? I'd hate to see someone go through a BScN and ~4000 hours of RN work only to find you can't stand patients in that context.


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  • 8 months later...


From what I have seen, it really depends on your personal interests. I am not so sure about pharmacy, but nursing is very different from pharmacy, and both of them are quite different from NP. NP is pretty much the same as practising as a resident, with a focus on managing patients with chronic or non-acute conditions. You round with the MDs, take H&P, enter orders, take calls (with a RN calling you, saying Mr. X's pain medication isn't working for him, what do we do?). Typically, NPs work in Family, Adult care, Pediatrics, Psychiatry (rarer) or Neonatal (rarest). There is a lot of variability and Adult/Family are the most common.

Nursing is a more hands-on job, where you are always assigned to patients, give meds, take vitals, deliver interventions (i.e. do wound care, take bloods, set up an IV drip) and monitor the patient (Ok, the pain med I just gave Mr. X doesn't work, better call the NP or resident). There is decision making in nursing (should I call the resident/NP or not?), but typically, it is way less than the amount a NP would make. Nursing is very very very flexible, where you can work standard med-surg, in the clinic, focusing on procedures, in the OR and never interact with a patient again, in long term care homes or in the ICU where you take on a very intense but rewarding role. Also, just because, for example you start in med-surg, does not mean you are stuck there, you can go to any other setting whenever you want, given that spots are available.

So it is up to you to decide, but just letting you know from the get-go, RN is quite different from NP, and both a very different form pharmacy. All have their pros/cons, and you should definitely look up videos or more resources before making an informed decision.

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