stuck between nursing and medical school

  1. i'm 24 years old and i'm 1 semester away from finishing up the prereqs for nursing....

    or...

    i'm 24 years old and i'm 4 semesters away from finishing up the prereqs for medical school...



    my mother was a nurse and she worked hard for her RN-BSN. she was only a nurse for about 6 months before she died in the hospital she worked at. i was about 16 and i was down the hall from her room when it happened. since then my father killed himself and i had a little sister die of cancer. so all i have is 1 little sister left, my baby sister. it was my dream to help her through college and to make sure she went through it smoothly (sorta like no one guided me).

    speaking of, at the age of 18 i decided to go to a school for digital arts. biggest mistake of my life. im 25k in debt. i know how to run a multimillion dollar studio...but good luck making a living off of recording other peoples music. i wish i had someone to talk me out of going to that school.

    so here i am, with a 300$ bill every month, 25k in debt, with 1 or 4 semesters to go. if i continue with nursing, i'll complete my ASS degree by the fall of 2009.

    if i transfer into the university, i'll just be taking the mcat exam by the fall of 2009.



    everyone tells me that this debt should not hold me back, and should not be the reason why i jump into nursing, just so i could start working faster. on the other hand i would rather enjoy being a nurse (or course i would eventually work my way up to a NP or higher).

    any advice?
    •  
  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   smk1
    Quote from youngEd
    i'm 24 years old and i'm 1 semester away from finishing up the prereqs for nursing....

    or...

    i'm 24 years old and i'm 4 semesters away from finishing up the prereqs for medical school...



    my mother was a nurse and she worked hard for her RN-BSN. she was only a nurse for about 6 months before she died in the hospital she worked at. i was about 16 and i was down the hall from her room when it happened. since then my father killed himself and i had a little sister die of cancer. so all i have is 1 little sister left, my baby sister. it was my dream to help her through college and to make sure she went through it smoothly (sorta like no one guided me).

    speaking of, at the age of 18 i decided to go to a school for digital arts. biggest mistake of my life. im 25k in debt. i know how to run a multimillion dollar studio...but good luck making a living off of recording other peoples music. i wish i had someone to talk me out of going to that school.

    so here i am, with a 300$ bill every month, 25k in debt, with 1 or 4 semesters to go. if i continue with nursing, i'll complete my ASS degree by the fall of 2009.

    if i transfer into the university, i'll just be taking the mcat exam by the fall of 2009.



    everyone tells me that this debt should not hold me back, and should not be the reason why i jump into nursing, just so i could start working faster. on the other hand i would rather enjoy being a nurse (or course i would eventually work my way up to a NP or higher).

    any advice?
    Why not do both? You could look into taking the nursing coursework and taking the medschool prereqs as well. Yes you will be very busy, but at least this way you will have options, or you could take the LPN course to get working sooner and have money to pay bills etc.... while you go for your medical degree.
  4. by   youngEd
    Quote from SMK1
    Why not do both? You could look into taking the nursing coursework and taking the medschool prereqs as well. Yes you will be very busy, but at least this way you will have options, or you could take the LPN course to get working sooner and have money to pay bills etc.... while you go for your medical degree.
    your probably right.





  5. by   nurse4theplanet
    If what you want to be is a doctor, then you will not be happy with nursing. If what you want to be is a nurse, then you will not be happy with med school. Both take hard work and dedication in their own respects. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. What type of experience do you have in the medical feild? Have you ever worked as a CNA or volunteered at a hospital? Getting some inside working experience in a hospital where you are surrounded by both doctors and nurses will give you the best insight into which route would better suit your interests. I reallly didn't have a clue what nursing was all about until I got in the thick of things. In the same respect, I didn't understand the doctor's role and obligations entirely either. I am very happy with nursing and I would never wish to go to medical school...but that is MY personal preference.

    My advice is to get some experience in the hospital setting before making your decision. I would worry less about time (you are 24...so am I...you have plenty of time) but you do have a lot of debt, and you don't want to risk taking on more debt and switching mid-stream because you are unhappy with your decision.

    BTW, what an incredible personal journey you have been on. My heart goest out to you and your little sister. You seem like a very strong individual and I wish you the absolute best in your future endeavors!
  6. by   youngEd
    its not all about me.

    i would love to help people and provide a better life for my family (i have NO KIDS though). i want what i do to be meaningful. so being a docor or a nurse is fine by me. i work hard in everything i do so i know i could do it.

    i know that if i go into nursing i can become a physician with a masters or a doctorate.

    but if i go the medical school route, id be in a ton more debt with no work until i graduate.
  7. by   PeachPie
    Why are you limiting your choices to med school and nursing school? There are so many other fields, like PT, OT, nutrition, etc. If you're unsure of which field to go into, why not consider them all? Lots of healthcare fields share similar prereqs.

    Seriously, don't think of nursing as a backup plan. as soldierswife said, they're like apples and oranges. Find what suits you.
  8. by   Katnip
    YoungEd, where does your heart lie? Being a physician and being a nurse are two very different jobs.

    One thing, if you think you might like more autonomy than say in nursing, but don't want to take on the time and debt of medical school right now, you could go to nursing school, then become a nurse practioner.
  9. by   jjjoy
    Quote from youngEd
    i know that if i go into nursing i can become a physician with a masters or a doctorate.
    I'm not sure what you mean here. To become a doctor you have to go to medical school, no matter what your bachelors, masters or PhD is in. Med schools have their own list of pre-reqs that must be met (bio, chem, etc).

    Another option to consider is Physician Assistant if you're planning on taking pre-med classes anyway. The schooling is shorter than med school as the job is more circumscribed than MD, but the pre-reqs are generally the same as med school, whereas nursing school pre-reqs often don't qualify for med school (not always, but often intro to o chem and physics work for nursing school while o chem for majors and a year of physics is usually required for med school) - though there's no penalty for taking a higher level class than required.

    As another mentioned, try to get some experience in a hospital or other health setting you think you might want to work in. And consider other health professions as well, which may not require as big an investment as med school.

    Good luck!
  10. by   llg
    Another thought to consider is that you are still not totally decided to a path and may benefit from the flexibility that nursing has to offer. You've already made one bad career choice when you studied digital arts. You don't want to keep making such mistakes repeatedly, jumping from field to field, piling up debt as you search.

    If you get your nursing degree, you can get some valuable experience in the health care field (and be paid) as you explore further. As a nurse, you can switch from one specialty to another ... switch roles from direct care giver, to educator, to manager, inpatient, outpatient, etc. ... and you can go back to school for more education later with the help of tuition reimbursement.

    The flexibility of a nursing career was one of the primary reasons I chose nursing over medicine. Medical careers have much less flexibility and I did not want to find myself locked into something I might regret. I wanted to keep my options as open as possible throughout my career.

    My choice might not be the right choice for you ... but it gives you something else to consider.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
  11. by   mauxtav8r
    I managed to get through college basically solo (parents said "you really need to go to college. Have a nice trip." No support, quite the contrary.

    Now, in my forties, I'm very glad that I took the degree path that I did (liberal arts degree, state school, a bit of debt but not so much). I went back to school three years ago. I have three semesters to go in a BSN program.

    So, hopefully I've got some credibility with you, I'll offer this advice:

    If your gut says Say No To More Debt, then work your way through school. This may mean med school would be too much to manage. Many of my friends are able to maintain a nursing school load and work, too, but not everyone can do it. Saying no to debt makes many decisions a lot clearer.

    If you can live with some debt, your decision making process gets messier, but maybe opens some options for you. Talk to people who became doctors and nurses and FNP's etc. by a NON-TRADITIONAL route.

    What do you want to serve? What is your passion? Think of debt like they did in the olden days, as TIME of indenture. You are enslaved to the debt. Your post sounded like the debt you already have is really getting you down. If you are suffering under this burden, kill the debt, then make your next move.
  12. by   group_theory
    I think spending some time with nurses and doctors will help you decide which path you will want to take. Both fields, while similar, are also very different in terms of tasks, educational requirement, hours, pay, etc. If you have time, see if you can spend some time with other healthcare professions, like NP or PA, Respiratory therapist, Physical therapist, etc. They all have their plus and minuses. Get a feel of what their average day is like and try to see if you can picture yourself in that role on a daily basis.

    If you're almost done with your pre-reqs for Med School, there is no need to wait till 2009 to take the MCAT. As long as you are done with Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics, you can take the MCAT when you feel ready. These are the subjects tested on so it would be wise to have these courses material mastered before you decide to take it. Most pre-meds spend 4-6 months studying for it ... some longer, some shorter. There is also a verbal component to it that is similar to the verbal component of the SAT.

    Student Loans - when you enroll in an accredited school (either nursing or medical school), if your loan was from a reputable bank, you may be able to place them into deferment while in school ... meaning you don't have to pay them while in school. If any part of your loan is federally subsidized (stafford loans, perkins), the federal government will pay off the interests while in deferment. Call your bank and see what your options are should you go back to school.

    Follow the path that you think will be best for you. If you have some sense of fiscal responsibilities, the loans, the debt shouldn't be a burden as long as you keep focus on the big picture and long term goal ... not just income but also lifestyle and your happiness.

    It's normal to worry about debt - it a good sign of responsibility and maturity. This might help should you decide to pursue med school instead of nursing school
    Here is a 2004 survery of average compensation for various medical specialities

    Anesthesiology - $332,216
    Emergency Medicine - $246,760
    Family Practice - $148,563
    General Surgery - $256,111
    Internal Medicine - $158,500
    OB/GYN - $221,286
    Pediatrics - $131,000
    Psychiatry - $182,300

    Source: Jackson and Harris Physician Compensation Survey, May 2004 (base compensation, incentives and/or production)

    EDIT: (adding this info)

    According to salary.com, the national average salary for "staff nurse - RN" is $59,046 - however, you can easily make much more than that depending on your workhours (overtime, which shift you work), what part of your country you're in, and what field you work in
    http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/l...C07000001.html

    In the journal "Nursing" Oct 2004 issue by Robinson, Eileen. and Mee, Cheryl, average annual income was $54,574, with more than 25% of those surveyed making more than $65,000. Average income for ICU/CCU nurse was $58,400, Nurse Supervisor/Manager was $67,100.
    LPN/LVN average income for 2004 was $32,400.

    For NPs, the average income for 2004 was $73, 235 with a standard deviation of $20,505. 5th percentile was $38,000 and 95th percentile was $220,000
    Source: http://www.nurse.net/cgi-bin/start.c...ary/index.html

    For CRNA, according to salary.com, average income was $130,776
    http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/l...C07000007.html

    Average income for physical therapy (PT) ranges from $55k-$75k
    Source: Journal of Physical Therapy Education, Fall 2004. Article by Redman-Bentley, Donna
    Last edit by group_theory on Jan 16, '07 : Reason: Add nursing and PT salary information
  13. by   CaLLaCoDe
    [font=book antiqua]woh,,,lost your mother at 16 and dad commited suicide...younger sis ca!

    [font=book antiqua]so sorry you had such tremendous loss in your life!

    [font=book antiqua]my heart goes out 2u!

    [font=book antiqua]with nursing, i like the fact that i don't have to think about patients away from work unlike a doctor!
    [font=book antiqua]and i like not having to be called up at 3 a.m. to address a patient's blood pressure unlike a doctor!

    [font=book antiqua]i recommend ass rn and pay of that debt in 5 years...with potential for night shift differentials and overtime you possibly could!

    [font=book antiqua]ps. the best nurses are the compassionate ones; your tragic losses might be your towering asset at the bedside.
    [font=book antiqua]on a lighter note, my mom's a nurse and we talk about all these nursing concerns in great detail...
    [font=book antiqua]just think of all the wonderful stories you can share with your motherrn when you get to heaven!
    Last edit by CaLLaCoDe on Jan 16, '07
  14. by   moyz
    I think that you should not take the debt into consideration at all unless you're little sister is really having to rely on you for money. Make the decision on what you want to do.

    Honestly, a $25,000 debt is a drop in the bucket when compared to the loans you have getting out of med school (Was it a loan? B/c you can ask loans to be held while you're in school. They accrue interest, but at least you're not paying $300/mo). But pretty much everyone comes out of med school in the same boat, a huge debt with little pay...but they will be able to make pretty good money in a couple of years and get rid of that debt.

    I would also consider looking into USUHS, the military med school (stands for Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences). While in school, the students are commissioned officers in whatever branch of the military they signed up with, and they are paid to be in school, about $65,000/year I think. But then you would owe the military time afterwards-7 years not counting residency, so that could be a big drawback for you.

    I interviewed their yesterday and the students seemed soooo happy. A little stressed as all med students are, but they definitely seemed happy to be there. Just something to look into for you.

    Definitely make the decision on what you want to do!

close