I’ve been through nursing school, first becoming an LPN and then an RN. I’ve also completed nursing grad school and became a nurse practitioner.

In my experience, I can tell you that nurse practitioner school was significantly more difficult than nursing school.

HOWEVER, I believe that everyone’s experience with nursing school or nurse practitioner (NP) school WILL vary greatly.

Your experience will be shaped by factors such as your age when you attend a particular school, your family dynamics, and how well you absorbed your education in nursing and whether you enjoyed it.

Quick Summary

I want to provide a brief summary for you in this section.

Please note that I’m going to expand on the points a little more in the following section after this one.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask in the comment section.

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Keep these things in mind: When I attended nursing school, I had just completed my undergraduate degree in business, along with the prerequisites for RN nursing school.

I was still relatively young, single, and had no major responsibilities.

I was primarily living off student loans—which is a story for another day—so I wasn’t really stressed about bills at that point.

Consequently, it was easy for me to focus solely on my studies. This was starkly different from my experience in nurse practitioner (NP) school.

By then, I had been out of school for several years, was married, and had children. I was juggling the responsibilities of being a spouse and a parent, which added extra pressure as I tried to balance school, work, and family life.

Additionally, I had to manage a lot of administrative tasks for NP school that were not required during my nursing school days, such as finding my own clinical sites.

All these challenges, coupled with having to relearn study habits after a significant educational hiatus, compounded and made things difficult.


Despite these challenges, there were some advantages to being in nurse practitioner school compared to nursing school.

Holding an RN license provided some reassurance. I knew I had a backup plan if things didn’t go smoothly with NP school.

I could always return to working as a registered nurse, a role I never actually stopped working in.

Moreover, the years of healthcare experience I had acquired gave me a substantial knowledge base.

I could build upon this in NP school, a foundation I did not have when I first entered nursing school.

Expanded Factors That Made FNP School Harder Than Nursing School

a nursing student in a classroom


When I attended nursing school, I was younger and single, which made it easier to manage my time and focus on my studies without many distractions.

However, during FNP school, I was married with children, which made it more challenging to find time to focus on my studies.

There were times I had to choose between spending time with my child or working on a big assignment.

This shift in priorities often led to a constant juggling act, where my academic pursuits had to be carefully balanced with family time, occasionally leading to stressful decisions about how to allocate my limited time effectively.


Having a family while pursuing FNP school meant that I needed always make sure I had some energy left in the tank for them.

I couldn’t just shut down for a week or two to get my work done. Instead, I had to find a way to balance my family responsibilities with my schoolwork, which was not an easy task.

This balancing act extended beyond just managing time; it also involved emotional and mental juggling, as family events, children’s needs, and partnership dynamics often took precedence over school deadlines, leading to a compounded sense of responsibility.


When I started FNP school, it had been a long time since I was last in a learning environment.

Having to relearn how to study, take notes, and balance my time was very challenging.

It felt like starting from scratch, which made FNP school much more difficult than nursing school.

This period of adjustment was marked by trial and error as I experimented with different study techniques and strategies to effectively absorb complex material after years away from formal education.

The need to adapt to new technologies and learning platforms also added to the steep learning curve.


One of the most significant hurdles in FNP school was having to find my own clinical sites.

This process was not only stressful and time-consuming but also a new challenge compared to my experiences in nursing school.

I felt anxious about securing the right sites, and it consumed a considerable amount of my time and energy.

The quest for suitable clinical placements was marked by uncertainty and competition, often necessitating networking and personal advocacy to secure spots that fulfilled educational and logistical requirements.


As mentioned earlier, the difficulties with clinical sites were just the beginning. During FNP school, I faced numerous administrative tasks and state requirements that were not present in nursing school.

These extra responsibilities detracted from my study time, adding to the complexity of my education.

Navigating the intricate maze of state-specific regulations demanded constant vigilance and adaptability, often involving extra paperwork and compliance with frequently changing standards that varied widely across states.

For example, my state was one of the few that did not allow physician assistants to precept nurse practitioners.

Finding clinical sites and preceptors is difficult, but it’s even more demoralizing to discover that you can’t use a site or preceptor due to some obscure rule, a common one being the one I just told you, which is that I couldn’t use a PA as my preceptor.

You might wonder how significant this really was.

Well, it was a big deal because these details were crucial not only for bureaucratic compliance but also for ensuring that my clinical experience was valid and recognized for my professional licensing.

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