Can nurse practitioners work as a RN?

nurse practitioners work as a RN

With nurse practitioner burnout dramatically increasing, many nurse practitioners are contemplating leaving the J.O.B. that is burning them out.

There are various reasons APRNs want to leave their job. Lack of work-life balance and nurse practitioner burnout are among the top reasons.

But if leaving the nurse practitioner J.O.B. that is burning them out, what is the next step? Leave healthcare? Start their own online coaching business? Work in a different specialty?

Go back to bedside?

Can nurse practitioners work as a RN?

Watch it here:

Reasons for nurse practitioners to work as a RN.

We will look at some of the major differences of working as a NP vs a RN and reasons you may want to go back to the bedside.

Difference in flexibility. 

The #1 cause of nurse practitioner burnout is a lack of work-life balance. A lot of APRNs are staying late at work or bringing charts home, spending more than their salaried 40 hours a week. Many nurse practitioners miss the flexibility of working 3 12 hour shifts a week. This flexibility of schedule gave the nurse practitioner a better work-life balance.

**For more information on charting efficiently so you can STOP charting at home, check out The Time Management and Charting Tips Course

Difference in liability. 

The liability of working as a nurse practitioner is significantly higher than working as a RN. During a medical malpractice case, all health documentation will be reviewed but the nurse practitioner will be held at a higher standard.

**For more information on avoiding a medical malpractice case, check out Legal Issues with Charting Course

Difference in pay. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a high demand for RNs to work in unfavorable conditions. That is why the RN pay dramatically increased. Many nurse practitioners are making the same amount (and sometimes less) then they were making as a RN. This has seemed to settle a little due to restrictions of travel nurse pay and differences in geographical locations. 

Difference in restrictions of practice. 

Many nurse practitioners have struggled with society, staff, and physician colleagues that have placed a stigma on them. A lot of APRNs experience a lack of support or acknowledgement of our practice. Some staff or patients do not take nurse practitioners seriously and would rather “be seen by a physician.”

Many have to have collaborating physicians in their state. While RNs have scope of practice restrictions and pushback from patients, many nurse practitioners were not aware of these struggles in practice. 

Difference in skill set. 

Most registered nursing jobs involve a hands on skill set. When RNs work as a nurse practitioner, that skill set may be lost. The role of RN vs. NP differs in many ways (there are even differences between RN and NP charting). And when nurse practitioners work as a RN, they may miss that skillset. That is one reason for nurse practitioners to go back to the bedside. 

Difference in dealing with strict health insurance regulations. 

Nurse practitioners are directly responsible for the patient care which also means they have to jump through the hoops of strict health insurance regulations. When I worked as a RN, I rarely thought about completing a prior authorization for a radiology scan or a medication.

Now as a nurse practitioner, I feel like I am constantly jumping through hoops of health insurance regulations. This creates challenges when practicing as a nurse practitioner.

Many nurse practitioners wonder why they even went back to school only to experience a lack of work-life balance, more liability, less pay, restrictions of practice, and dealing with insurance regulations. 

Should nurse practitioners work as a RN?

Now that we have looked at a few of the reasons that should be considered when nurse practitioners work as a RN, let’s further discuss if it is right for you. 

Reasons for leaving nursing. 

There were likely some driving forces for why you wanted to advance your education and become a nurse practitioner.

  • Were you no longer able to handle the physical demands of nursing?
  • Did you want to make more of an impact creating a treatment plan?
  • Did you no longer crave working nights, weekends, and holidays?
  • Were you interested in the compensation and benefits?

Reflect on the reasons you left the bedside/working as a RN and determine if these are still valid now that you have experienced working as a nurse practitioner. 

Know laws and regulations. 

Most American states allow nurse practitioners to work as a RN, but this is something you will want to research before making the transition. Also check with specific hospital or healthcare institution regulations. The employer may have reasons to not allow nurse practitioners to work as a RN. So make sure you do your research and create a plan before you change jobs. 

Certification/licensure renewal requirements. 

Again, it is important to do your research and determine what the continuing education and practice hours requirements are. Make sure to look at your state license as well as the certifying origination rules.

Click here to view American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification renewal requirements.

And click here for more information about the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) renewal requirements. 

Make a decision that is best for your life. 

There are pros and cons if nurse practitioners work as a RN. But each nurse practitioner should take a moment and reflect if it is best for their own life. Do you have children involved in activities only on the weekends? Or would it be better to have a more flexible (3 days a week) working schedule?

Is the highest compensation most important? Is there a nurse practitioner job that offers RVU bonuses or is it an option to get premium pay/bonuses for picking up shifts as a RN? Which job is best for a nurse practitioner’s physical, mental, emotional health

Make a decision that is at the right time.

When nurse practitioners work as a RN, they should do it because it is best for their life at that time. We all go through seasons in life. We have different prioritizes when our kids are young vs. grown and out of the house. There are times when caring for our aging parents takes more energy than our full time jobs should.

If the decision is made that nurse practitioners work as a RN, it does not have to be permanent (or even long term). Maybe nurse practitioners work as a RN for a few months while in between nurse practitioner jobs. Or maybe they decide to take a travel nursing assignment to make extra money to pay off student loan debt. Or maybe the nurse practitioner misses the skillset of a RN and wants to work in more action. Make the decision based on your current life and personal goals. 

Erica D the NP is a family nurse practitioner and burnout coach. Erica created The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner to help overwhelmed APRNs create work-life balance, overcome nurse practitioner burnout, and advocate for themselves. The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner offers online courses, coaching, and support. Learn more at

For time management and charting tips, check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School– The one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners. Learn more at

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**Full disclosure, this blog post may include affiliate links. I do receive a commission if any of the affiliate programs/services/supplies are purchased. This is at no extra cost to you but does allow me to continue to provide content as The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner! Thank you!

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