A few months ago, I applied to the DNP (Doctor of Nurse Practitioner) program at the University of Washington. I knew when I started my nursing career that I would want more than being a nurse. I wanted to be the one calling the shots; making suggestions to my patients; treating illnesses. Nursing is an amazing field and I love my job, but I want something more.
When I moved to the PNW I thought it would be a great time to start planning for my next goal: a master’s degree. Or better yet, a doctorate degree. So I applied to one of the top DNP programs in the country. I didn’t really expect to get in on the first try due to the competitiveness of the program, but I still had hope.
Last week, amidst a plethora of other stressors in my life, I received a letter from the program declining my admission for this year. As Lance stood there with arms ready for the huge hug he thought I needed, I basically shrugged my shoulders in a “meh” sort of response.
That says something, right?
Shouldn’t I be more upset than this? My newest 5-year plan had been crushed in one moment.
But I wasn’t. In fact, I pretty much ignored the whole thing for a couple of days. Then I got to thinking…is this really what I want? It’s an odd feeling to have a career that I love and simultaneously feel confused about what I want to be when I grow up.
I love nursing. I love taking care of people. It is a challenging and constantly changing career. I’m good at it. When I think about the future, furthering my education in the realm of nursing would be the best option. I would finish my degree in a couple of years. I already have a nursing background. It is the cheaper option. It is the easier option. But am I striving for an advanced degree in this field because I WANT to? Or is it out of convenience.
These thoughts didn’t really occur to me until I got rejected from the program. I thought, “Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Everything happens for a reason. Perhaps this is supposed to force me to re-evaluate this choice.”
So I am back to the drawing board. I have been considering DO school for quite some time, but it is the harder option. I am looking at a year or two of prerequisites before I can even apply to the program, followed by 4 years of education and at least 2-3 years of residency depending on my specialty. That will make me about 35 years old when I start practicing, on the minimal end. The educational road will be hard. The financial aspect is much more detrimental. Then there is the real life scenario of when I will find time to have the kids I’ve always wanted. Of course, I have time. I am still young. People start their careers much later than that. But how would it work? Would it work? Would I miss out on my children’s childhoods, or would I finish school and then have babies without actually practicing?
All very serious concerns. I guess its about deciding what I want more.
And in that respect, do I even want these two career options? Would I prefer another aspect of nursing that isn’t a Nurse Practitioner?
My career is important to me; but so is my family. Maybe I do neither. Maybe I stay content where I am. I’ve never been good at being content, but where I am isn’t a bad spot to be either.