Nursing vs. Medicine

  1. Hey everyone!

    I am currently a Freshman in College. I have always wanted to go into medicine and am currently a Pre-Med. However, in looking at alternatives to med school, I've stumbled across nursing, and I was hoping for a little bit of insight. Like I said, I have always seen myself going to medical school, I have strong grades/extracurriculars/etc., but nursing is now seeming to be very appealing. I actually have a lot of nurses in my family, so I'm definitely going to talk to them about it, but I was hoping for some outside perspectives. I have already seen the nursing vs. medicine posts on SDN (being a pre-med), but all of them seem very biased and not very informative. When talking with friends/parents, they all say stick it out and go for the MD, but for the first time, I am actually doubting if med school would be better than nursing.

    Here is what I think (please feel free to correct anything or add your own opinions!):
    opportunity to specialize (though I am currently interested in pediatrics)
    hypothetically more knowledgeable about certain aspects of medicine
    able to diagnose/prescribe medicine
    higher pay
    hypothetically greater prestige/respect
    a lot more school
    a LOT of debt
    work long work weeks, with odd hours depending on the specialty
    not as flexible in terms of having a family
    given the trend, although they make more money, physician salaries may decrease over time, along with increased regulation if a nationalized healthcare plan is instated

    more patient contact
    more flexible scheduling, generally not as long of a work week
    family friendly
    great stability
    opportunity to switch "specialities" relatively easy=little to no burnout
    ability to go back for higher degree (NP)
    job stability from nursing shortage
    less school=less debt (especially with some hospitals paying off debt)
    can't diagnose/prescribe medicine/do more advanced procedures
    less pay
    unfortunately, less prestige
    simply put, not an MD
    have to answer to doctors/may be looked down on sometimes (again unfortunate)

    As you can see, I'm really torn. With as much respect I have for the nursing profession, I feel like I may just be settling if I decide not go through with medical school because I've seen a lot of pre-meds turn to nursing once their GPAs start dropping. Eveyone keeps telling me its just the stress of finals getting to me, but I really think it might be something more. I just want to make the best informed decision for me. And I know only I can make this decision, but I would really like to hear from you guys on what you think: Why did you go into nursing? Did you ever consider medicine as an alternative, and what made nursing the better choice for you? What have been your experiences as a nursing student/nurse?

    Thanks so much!
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Jolie
    You've obviously put a lot ot thought into your post, something we don't always see when students post a medicine versus nursing question.

    The greatest consideration, IMO is the difference between the nursing model of care and the medical model of care. If you research these you may find that one is more suited to your personality and interests than the other.

    I would also encourage you to research advanced practice nursing roles of certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse midwife (CNM) nurse practitioner (NP) and clinical nurse specialist (CNS). These Master's and Doctoral level programs allow the nurse more autonomy in practice as well as the credentials necessary to diagnose and prescribe. You may find one or more of these roles to be of interest.

    Good luck!
    Last edit by Jolie on May 10, '09
  4. by   Bicster
    Your Pros and Cons are right on. You will just have to decide if the pros of one, outweight the cons of the other, and vice-versa, versa-vice. You do have the ability to specialize within nursing, but undoutedly you will have a deeper understanding of patho, AP, and pharm in med school. Have you considered PA, or AA?
  5. by   criticalRN10
    I went through this exact same debate a few semeseters ago...I took patho and A&P and microbiology and I reallly enjoy the science aspect of the medical field more than the patient interaction part of it so I really thought that I would probably be better off going to medical school rather than nursing school. In the end though I decided to look at the goals I have for my personal life and though right now i'm young and dont want kids for a long time, I do want them eventually and a family and to be able to enjoy the things In my life. When you're a doctor you have alot more responsibilities to your career, alot more hours to work, etc. I also talked to several nurses and doctors and even the doctors were telling me to go nursing. They all said that the nursing field is so dynamic and there are opportunities to specialize and like you said little to no burnout if you want to switch it's easier. About the pay- there are alot of different things you can do, some nurses make just as much as some dermatologists. My plan is to go for a CRNA, or DNP.
  6. by   Soon2BNurse3
    The surgeon I used to work for told me he was proud of me for going into nursing. He started listing all the good things about nursing and then said, "Maybe I should go into nursing!"

    Good luck with whatever you decide!!