Nursing student seeks help from experienced nurses: NP or MD?

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    I am a nursing student who had been looking forward to a career in medicine -- although the postings I have read so far are discouraging. As of now, I plan to become a Family Nurse Practitioner after I gain one year experience as a RN. My sister is currently a RN, and is trying to talk me into medical school. I have always wanted to be a doctor, but I also want time for a family, which is why I thought NP would be a good alternative.

    My questions to you:
    Is a NP a good alternative to Physician, or should I go for the MD?
    Is the pay and less "crap" MD's have to put up with worth the extra schooling? -- do MD's actually put up w/less "crap"?
    What are the salary ranges of these professions? How about entry level?
    What are the pros and cons of these different professions?
    What is the likelihood of getting into a NP program w/1 yr exp?

    Any other comments you have regarding MD vs. NP careers would be great!

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful responses.

    Last edit by missyh7 on Dec 10, '01
  2. 11 Comments so far...

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    I had the same ideas before going to nursing school. My cons on the MD list were: a lifetime oncall so no time for family, WAY too long in school, four years of their education here has no direct patient contact, they just don't get to spend that much time with their patients. I wanted something prctical right away and wanted to spend more time with patients so I opted for nursing. Doctors obviously make more money and are more prestigeous, but NPs aren't bad at all. Salaries here range from about 60K-100K. Family doctors don't make much more. Also as a nurse it is fairly easy to switch areas, but that isn't the case for doctors.
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    hj
    Last edit by fergus51 on Dec 10, '01
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    Thank you very much. Your reply was helpful. How long does it take to achieve a salary $60K-$100K? That is the range I had expected prior to my first post regarding this topic. However, I have been reading a lot of other people's posts. Most of them complain about the salary -- how dependent is salary on location and experience? I know that this is no reason to go into healthcare, and it is definitely not the reason why I have chosen to pursue a career in this field, however I believe it is wise to know what to expect. Again, thanks for your thoughtful response.
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    I would think area is the most important factor in salaries. 60K in NY is different than in Arkansas. NPs I know all work in rural areas mostly for the federal gov't and their starting wages were about 60K. Even though they didn't have NP experience when they started they were experienced as RNs, so I don't know how that affects it. I think there is a website that does salaries, salary.com or something.
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    missyh,
    I too am a nursing student and was thinking NP. I just looked at salary.com and the median in this area (Washington State) is $68k with a range of $64k to $74k. I know that Washington State asks that you have 1500 hours experience before you enter the Masters program. I will be attending in Portland OR and don't know their requirements for same program. I think it depends on the individual school and you will have to check with them.

    Good luck to you and enjoy your family. I know that is the reason that I decided to take this path, no MD for me thank you!
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    missyh,
    Just realized you are in the same area as me. Where are you going to school?

    I am headed for University of Portland this fall. I couldn't see siting around and waiting for Clark College to give me a spot in another year, since I am done with all the prerequisites.

    Really interested in hearing where you are attending and what you decide to do.

    The pay scale should pretty much match your area too!
  9. 0
    Nurse anesthetist=salary>100K
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    After 8 yrs in ER/Trauma nursing, I left to go to medical school. It was "time" for me. I felt comfortable in my own skin and in my abilities to care for patients. I chose to go to a D.O. school (vs MD) because of the grief I received for being a nurse from the MD schools. The D.O. schools were more than happy to help me transition from Nursing to Medicine, incorporating my former career -- not wanting to wipe my proverbial slate clean and start anew the way "they" wanted me to be. D.O. and M.D. are the same -- same job, same salary, same chances for specialization, same prescriptive/OR/hospital privledges, etc, etc, etc. -- so the same in fact that there has been a long-standing arguement on whether or not to combo the degrees. Our difference, we have more training in Anatomy/Physiology due to our additional training in Osteopathic Manipulation (in a nutshell: a mixture of chiro, massage, acupressure -- chiro is actually a branch off of us back in the 1890's). We also have a different philosophy re: pt approach; a more "whole person" view, not just a focused "your stomach" (etc).

    I am proud of my decision to go DO and not NP (or MD for that matter). JMHO -- I have a few handfulls of friends that have gone the NP route and they are/were not happy with their schooling. They gave thanks that they were 15 and 20+ yrs experienced nurses before they went back to NP school. They were appalled at the lack of clinical experience time while in school. One of my friends went so far as to say that she "wrote so many bullsh*t papers in NP school that she could probably write a 20 pg report on Dirt"; and when it was time to get in front of a pt and perform a H&P she said she felt like, "duh..". My friends actually wish that they went to PA school vs NP school! On the flip, I have worked with a few NP's that are happy with their decision. Most of these NP's are in Family Practice, OB/GYN, Peds -- not the ED, where I plan to specialize. ...JMHO...

    My best advise is to do your research. Think about your personality type. Think about what kind of responsibilities and job type you want to do; read your State Practice Acts on NP's, PA's, MD/DO's. Shadow a NP/PA. Shadow a MD/DO. See where you feel comfortable. Don't forget to enjoy some time being a Nurse -- you may find you want to stay! I don't regret my Nursing experience at all....

    Good luck to you!

    Kat
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    I'm an RN and, when my children get older, I would like to go back to school. So I asked a MD and a PA that work in our office, "Which profession would you recommend?" The MD said medical school had left her with so many bills that her $90K pay didn't look like as much as it should. She also was unhappy that she spent so many years in school. The PA said her $75K salary suited her just fine, and she liked working with a doctor. Both said I should go the PA route. I haven't found a NP to ask yet... they only seem to be in OB around here and that's not my specialty.


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