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RN to NP Transition: Truth be Told

We experience A LOT of transitions throughout life. Some pleasant and memorable, others, not so much. Our nursing career is no different. I transitioned from student nurse to registered nurse nearly 15 years ago. While the details escape me, the experience remains fresh in my millennial mind.


My first job as an RN was working nights on a MedSurg floor of a teaching hospital in south-central Texas. The experience was traumatic, but it also doesn’t rank in the top 3 highlights of my life. I will say that having the triad of education, support, and orientation makes a world of difference.


Fast-forward a decade later, add factors such as relocation, marriage, kiddos and a global pandemic and the transition from RN to NP draws up a syringe full of it’s unique struggles. Obtaining those credentials after my name came at a price. I’m not just talking about the student loans, but the strain on relationships, missed milestones of my little people, deferred personal health, guilt and the list goes on. And the challenges continue into those initial years of practice.


Truth be told #1:

The where is not as important as the how and the why. Attending an Ivy League college like Dartmouth in person doesn’t grant you a pass from the challenges of the experience gap from RN to NP. Likewise, receiving an online degree does not doom you to career failure. Of greater importance, is how we choose to apply what we learned.


Truth be told #2:

Clinical development and mentorship play a vital role in the transition. Like peanut butter and jelly, fine wine and fancy cheese, coffee and beignets, or vitamin B 12 and folate…you get the picture right…clinical development and mentorship really should be the dynamic duo that every new provider has. No one, and I do mean no one comes out of school knowing everything. The platforms may differ and every post graduate student has their own variables, but the bottom line is the new provider should have support and resources readily available.


Truth be told #3:

The transition from novice to expert takes time. As a child, my dad was a huge advocate for me and my siblings to grow in grace and knowledge. As NP students and really for all adults, we should strive to continually grow, giving ourselves plenty of grace through challenges, failures, mistakes, lessons learned. Rome wasn’t built in a day and an expert provider is not created after graduation.


As a goal-driven NP, I vowed to give back to the nursing community and advance the profession. With all the changes in the delivery of healthcare, I truly believe that the NP plays a pivotal role. My mission is to equip and empower NPs, both prospective and present, by connecting them with resources to successfully transition into advanced practice.

About the Author

Josie Tate is a successful nurse practitioner, visionary nurse leader, and inspirational career mentor. She is the creator of Clincepts, a professional development resource that helps bridge the gap for nurses transitioning into advanced practice.

Nurse practitioners across the industry get and stay happily hired using strategies from Josie’s proven framework. At its core, Clincepts empowers and equips nurse practitioners to stand out, shine bright, and speak up as the best candidates for the job.

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