Lately I've had questions coming at me from nurses that just graduated and are stepping into the APN world at work, from comments on my blog, and in email. So I thought that since I had nothing to do this weekend (ha, yeah right!) I'd answer some of them now!
Question: What is the difference between being a nurse and an APN?
Answer: I think this answer largely depends on what type of nursing you were doing, and what type of APN'ing you go into. I felt like starting as an APN I completely changed jobs. Like, got an entirely new occupation outside of anything I ever knew! Yes, I still work in the same unit with the same people, but almost every single aspect of my job is different.
In the PICU it really breaks down to this: As a bedside nurse you are very hands on. You spend an entire 12 hour shift with the same 1 or 2 patients and so you get to know them very, very well. You are focused on the "doing" aspect of the job a lot. As an APN you have more patients (usually around 6), and it's more like overseeing things. You no longer "do" the things that you are ordering. It is a bigger responsibility and requires more medical management knowledge. So less "doing" but more "knowing."
Question: So you're an APN...you must make a lot of money???
Answer: Ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!
Oh, you really wanted an answer to that? My bad!
Umm, ok. I think salary largely depends on where in the US you chose to work, and also if you work for a non-profit vs for-profit hospital. I work in a non-profit hospital and compared to other places, get paid less. A few co-workers of mine actually took a pay CUT going from bedside nursing at better paying hospitals to being an APN at my job. Go figure!
I didn't take a pay cut, but didn't get much more than I would have made at the bedside if I accounted for working 4 months of nights (which I now do as an APN).
Bottom line- you don't go into nursing in general if you are only concerned about the money. The rewards of going into nursing are far greater than any monetary reward anyhow!
Question: Did you love being a nurse? Do you love being an APN?
Answer: Yes, and YESSSSSSS. Loved being a nurse, but am seriously head over heels for being an APN.
Question: What was the hardest part of your transition?
Answer: If you asked me what I thought the hardest part of transitioning would be prior to starting I would have said adjusting to the new role with the same people around me. Surprisingly, my co-workers, my peer nurses have made the transition flawless. I truly have gotten such respect from the nurses that I work with, and that has been amazing.
The hardest part of the transition has been trying to figure out how I can get the same satisfaction from the patients and families that I used to now that I'm not intimately involved with them at the bedside for 12 hours. I'm still working on that one...I'll let ya know once I have it figured out!
Question: It must be so hard to work in a PICU. How do you deal?
Answer: Easy answer, I essentially have no hormones so it's against my nature to get emotional...that's not really a joke, but I think plays a role in my dealing, so there it is. But really, the true answer is part having to be attached while staying deteached. The other part is we really do see much more good than bad. We have far more kids get better and go home, than die. Many more miracles than devastation. If there wasn't that last part, nobody would last long!
Question: What is your schedule like?
Answer: Again, this completely depends on what type of APN job you accept. In my PICU, I work one weekend a month (or 12 per year, however I want to schedule them). I work the equivalent of 4 months of nights (16 hour shifts, 40 shifts per year). I work 2 holidays each year (this year I "volunteered" for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...stinks to be the newbie!). The rest of my schedule is filled in with 10 hour days, 160 hours per month.
Where I work, I have a lot of flexibility with scheduling which is nice. We have to get 160 hours in each month, however we want to do that. So if I wanted to work 16 days in a row, I'd have the next 14 off. Pretty simple...but who would want to do that!?
Question: How much do you drink weekly? (I'm not kidding....my hematology APN asked me this when I first started!)
Answer: I like a good glass of wine. Or a dirty martini. Funny though, the APN asking me this said, "Cuz if you don't drink now, being an APN will certainly drive you to!"
On that note, I need to get ready. Its date night with another couple tonight, and I'm excited. Pizza, wine card playing, and laughter cannot wait!
If I haven't answered your question, hit me up with a comment, and I'll be sure to post a "Questions Answered Part Dos."
Hope you have a lovely weekend. And hope your job isn't driving you to drink...too much : )