Guys- tomorrow is my last day as a NP student at the University of Penn. Tomorrow will be the last day I sit in this classroom. I have no plans at this point to return for my PhD or DNP, but perhaps in 10 years I will have forgotten the pains of graduate school and I might take the plunge again.
As I reflect upon my own experiences in school there are a few things I would have done differently.
1. Become involved in a grad student association. GSO is the organization I should have joined when I began the program. I decided early on that I didn't have the time for extras in my life because between school, work and family I was already juggling enough in my life. Organizations such as this one can enhance the grad school experience. There were definitely networking opportunities that I missed out on.
2. Select a specialty early on and stick with it. When I began my clinical rotations I did not have a preference aside from the fact that I wanted to work in the ICU setting. My first rotation was in the Neuro ICU followed by a rotation in a Cardiothoracic ICU and my last clinical was in a general surgery practice- inpatient. While my experiences were varied and I did learn a lot- I feel that my job search would be easier had I chosen a specialty and chosen my clinicals in that area only. For example, had I chosen cardiology I could have worked in an inpatient/outpatient setting, a clinical in a cath lab and a rotation in a CCU (coronary care unit). What I am finding is that even though I have worked for several years as an ICU nurse, many of the job openings in my area require experience within that particular specialty. So, to make a long story short- my advice would be to select a specialty and stick with it throughout all of your clinical rotations.
3. Connect with your classmates. Luckily, as a result of this program, I feel that I now have new friends for life. A group of us worked together very closely on projects and complimented each other very well. We've shared our disappointments and celebrated our successes. They have made school fun- good friends are essential.
Do you all wish you would have done things differently while in NP school?