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Thread: personal Quandry

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    ink-a-licious redhead bully mama Become a 4 Paw Member
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    Default personal Quandry

    As many of you may know, I am a mental health RN. I am at a fork in the road with a big decision to make. I am going to throw it out here since you are unbiased and will look at it differently than myself or my peers. I am contemplating going back to school and getting my Mental Health Nurse practitioner. Of course, everyone at first will say GO FOR It! HOwever, It will cost me approx $ 50,000 with minimal increase in pay (at the VA) but a huge difference in responsibility and workload. I will then owe student loans unless I can get loan forgiveness programs, none which are guaranteed upfront. That being said I will have the possible opportunity to make good money outside of the VA at some point. I am not leaving the VA since I want to get my retirement and have over 10 years here. My currently have my own office with autonomy and respect so that isnt changing either. But here in Washington, I will work under my own license and be able to prescribe meds, etc. Any ideas or suggestions or comments are welcome @ChrisRN and other nurses especially


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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    That's a lot of money in student loans that you will owe. I'm just looking at this from a practical standpoint, economically speaking. Since it doesn't sound like you plan to leave the VA any time soon, you will be in student loan debt as well as not earning as much as you would in the private sector, plus you would have more professional responsibilities on top of all that. If however you got your NP and left the VA and earned a much higher pay then I could see the investment in furthering your education paying off. (With the tradeoff of course being you wouldn't maximize your retirement with the fed gov't).

    I guess I'm hearing so many stories of people out of college/university with huge student loan debt and unable to find a job in their field to repay the loans. I know your situation is different as you're already an established professional but you'd still have to pay off that loan.
    I also listen to Dave Ramsay, the financial guru on talk radio a lot too!




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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by cali baker View Post
    That's a lot of money in student loans that you will owe. I'm just looking at this from a practical standpoint, economically speaking. Since it doesn't sound like you plan to leave the VA any time soon, you will be in student loan debt as well as not earning as much as you would in the private sector, plus you would have more professional responsibilities on top of all that. If however you got your NP and left the VA and earned a much higher pay then I could see the investment in furthering your education paying off. (With the tradeoff of course being you wouldn't maximize your retirement with the fed gov't).

    I guess I'm hearing so many stories of people out of college/university with huge student loan debt and unable to find a job in their field to repay the loans. I know your situation is different as you're already an established professional but you'd still have to pay off that loan.
    I also listen to Dave Ramsay, the financial guru on talk radio a lot too!
    What does Dave Ramsey say? As you know, the VA offers EDRP (loan forgiveness for certain job positions offered, but no guarantee until job offered). I am planning on staying at the VA but could work part time at organizations that offer loan forgiveness


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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    I agree with Cali. The tradeoff may be more mental satisfaction and stimulation but to incur that debt is a lot. I was recently at such a cross road and decided not to incur the additional debt. I will be incurring that debt soon for my 17 year old. I figured money better spent for her.

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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    Quote Originally Posted by agingermom View Post
    What does Dave Ramsey say? As you know, the VA offers EDRP (loan forgiveness for certain job positions offered, but no guarantee until job offered). I am planning on staying at the VA but could work part time at organizations that offer loan forgiveness
    Well, Dave doesn't like any debt or loans whatsoever so he'd say no on this. I'm actually not familiar with that EDRP thing. I guess you have to ask yourself questions like, how many more years will you be working and using your NP degree if you went for it? If the EDRP did not go thru, how long would it take you to pay off your loan? If you did get a part-time job in private sector, would this affect your quality of life, would you be working at the VA full time or part time...basically it boils down to making those good old lists of pro's and con's. At least that's what i'd do. At our VA, I thought the NP's made a significantly higher salary than the non-NP's...maybe i'm wrong, but that's what i "heard". You may want to make sure b/c if that's the case then maybe it will be worth while to pursue this and you can stay within the VA system.




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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    First of all, bravo for working in mental health and better yet at the VA. I too work at the VA as a clinical social worker also in mental health so I have a vague idea what kinds of things you deal with. Serving our veterans is an honor & privilege.

    I'm surprised getting you NP doesn't give you a GS bump. It makes you a mid-level provider with prescribing and admitting privileges (at least in my state?). That's a huge change in responsibility. I know we've been trying to hire a mental health NP in my program for 2 years (primary care mental health integration). So if you go forward can you move to North Carolina? :-)

    As for the decision, you need to balance the financials with your life satisfaction. If you stayed at the VA, would you be satisfied at the level you are at? Would you regret not growing professionally or challenging yourself (assuming that's the motivation) ?

    I left a great job working from home in my PJs doing IT work and making good money to switch careers to social work because I wasn't satisfied. As my husband reminds me I spent $30k to make less money. But I'm so much happier with my job and am so much more rewarded by my work now. :-)

    So dig deep and think about the why's of considering this and all the pros and con's.

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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    It is a tough one. While the debt portion does suck if you look at the long term rewards it might be worth it. I am pretty sure that the VA and the Govt in general have tuition assistance programs similar to that of the public sector that I would look in to first as they would be investing in you and usually you only have to reimburse if you leave before the agreed upon period.

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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    Exactly. Why do you have this idea if you don't plan on leaving the VA anytime soon? How long would this program be for you? Do loan payments start on completion? Do you know approximate interest rates you might expect? The loan forgiveness programs I feel are geared towards nurses. Also remember, a $50k investment in a position that can earn you even only $10k more a year when you make the move is probably a good investment in your future. Don't be thwarted off by the debt initially. If it fits comfortably into your expenses and lifestyle I'd say go for it. And although I am a financial advisor, this opinion is based solely on what I've learned from watching my girlfriend go through the nursing program and how competitive it can get

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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    How long would it take for you to get your np? How much longer until you get your 20 with the govt? If the time frames are kinda close I would say it's a good idea as you would be close to receiving your pension and would be able to move over to the private sector to make more money.

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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    I think an important question that's being missed here is what do you want to do? What will make you the happiest?

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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    I am a former RN ( retired at 55) who needs a little more info: how old are you and what are your goals for retirement? I knew that I wanted to retire by age 60. So, I would not Start a new nursing career at age 55! That said, my life took a drastic, unexpected change, and I retired at 55. So, if you plan on putting in another 15-20 years, I say go for the extended education. If your goal is to retire young, and you have a good job, why not stay that course- you are helping our vets no matter which way you do it, you will still earn a pension, so, do what your heart tells you. There are some people who will happily work in a field until they die. I knew that was not for me. I loved nursing, loved geriatrics, but knew I needed to get out of the field when my life took a road I didn't expect. So now, retired, I take Bogey go nursing homes and make people smile. It's worth more to me than anything I could get paid for. I have the best odd both worlds, but that fits me, it may not fit everyone. Good luck. And bless you for caring for our vets!! They are ALL heroes to me!!
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    Default Re: personal Quandry

    I know what you mean! I spent a fortune getting my master's, but it was before the big push for BSNs and MSNs. @agingermom! Do your homework! There are tons of MSN programs that are all online. There is so much money available for BSN and MSN students in nursing--much of it going unclaimed every semester. An advisor from Michigan State told me yesterday about the financial aid people trying to FIND students to take money! You may have to do some extra work, but it may pay off. There is a huge push to have advanced-degree nurses partly because we are going to need them to teach in the next 10 years. If I still had as many years left as you, I would be going for my Ph.D. or DSN! Heck! If I could find the money you can get for masters or bachelors in nursing, I would do it! Go for it girl! You have so much to offer!!!




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