Should I Go to Med School?

  1. 1
    We've all seen it and hate it. TV nurses wanting to "move up," so they go to med school. And now I'm considering that, too, but I would really like a nurse's perspective on the situation.

    I'm about 20 years old, and I'll be starting my second year in nursing school (ADN) in the fall. I'm top of my class (and 1 of 2 people in my class of about 80 to still have a 4.0 GPA), which I know nursing school doesn't seem to care about ("'C's get degrees!" is all I hear). I spent a year before nursing school doing some pre-reqs.

    I like nursing. I adore nursing school itself--I love gaining knowledge about the human body, medications, diseases, etc. I don't love being a student nurse in the hospital--most of it is bed baths, and 98% of the time, I have a complete care patient who's unable to speak. Granted, I always feel good after a day of clinical. I love helping people. (Also, giving injections is my new favorite thing to do.) But what I had the best time doing, though tedious, was the care plan research. I like solving mysteries ("explain abnormal lab values").

    My original plan was to graduate with my ADN, get my RN, start an RN-BSN program, then hopefully go on for my MSN to become an NP. Then suddenly two of my biology professors told me they thought I was in the wrong field, and should go to med school. I should say that both of these professors always emphasized the importance of nursing, how we're the ones with the patient 24/7. I never sensed an ounce of disrespect for nurses from them, so I knew it wasn't that. But they told me that they think I'm more of a problem solver than a caretaker; I kind of agree with them.

    So now I'm thinking--should I just go to med school after I finish my BSN? I know I'll have to take chemistry, physics, and etc. But if that's a better route for me, I'll suffer through a couple of prerequisite courses. Or would I be better off just getting my MSN (though I hear it's changing to DNP in 2015, which is the year when I'll graduate with my BSN)? Any advice is very appreciated!
    Last edit by contentment on Aug 23, '13
    Joe V likes this.
  2. 21 Comments so far...

  3. 5
    A few quick thoughts:

    1. "C's get degrees" isn't accurate. Ir should read "C's may get A degree". I know lots of nurses that want to go back to school for NP/CRNA that can't because they got C's back when they were in school.

    2. People will always ask "why not med school". They think it's a compliment.

    3. Insinuating that nurses don't problem solve (at every level) shows a misunderstanding on the part of your teachers.

    4. Only you know what is right for you. BSN-NP is going to be 1.5-3 years. BSN-MD is going to be 6-8 years. Shadow an NP and shadow a MD see what you like.

    5. Don't care what everyone else thinks you should do. Be happy and proud of what you think you should do.
    jalyc RN, GrnTea, KelRN215, and 2 others like this.
  4. 3
    [QUOTE=contentment;7490487]We've all seen it and hate it. TV nurses wanting to "move up," so they go to med school. And now I'm considering that, too, but I would really like a nurse's perspective on the situation.

    Your use of the word "we" implies that you identify with nursing, but if so, you need to work toward a deeper understanding of the nursing profession. Your very first assumption is wrong. Nurses who want to advance in their careers do so via advancing their nursing education &/or credentials - not by switching to a completely different discipline (medicine).

    Unfortunately, disrespect for the work of nursing is very common by'outsiders' who do not really know what we do or the knowledge/skills required to practice nursing .... they also think nurses' primary function is 'caretaker' rather than 'problem-solver' & many times, lifesaver.... maybe their primary source of information is also via TV shows?? Who do you think is keeping those patients alilve for the 23 hours & 45 minutes each day when the physician is not there?

    If you want to be a physician, then go for it. But please do not categorize our field as a stepping stone to medicine. Although we share many commonalities with medicine, we have our own body of knowledge, ongoing research, professional regulation and code of ethics. We are a completely different discipline.

    If you are set on medical school, you are certainly taking the long way round. Why bother going through with a BSN? This will only increase your time/cost.
    jalyc RN, RNFiona, and meanmaryjean like this.
  5. 0
    3. Yeah, that's exactly why I'm seeking out a nurse's opinion.

    4. That's really what I want to do, but all summer I've been trying to shadow an RN and I can't even find a place that'll let me do that. Maybe I'll ask my nursing instructors if they know a way to shadow an NP or MD.

    Thanks very, very much for replying! As an FNP, how different is it from having an MD or DO? Do you ever regret not going the physician route?
  6. 1
    Quote from contentment
    3. Yeah, that's exactly why I'm seeking out a nurse's opinion.

    4. That's really what I want to do, but all summer I've been trying to shadow an RN and I can't even find a place that'll let me do that. Maybe I'll ask my nursing instructors if they know a way to shadow an NP or MD.

    Thanks very, very much for replying! As an FNP, how different is it from having an MD or DO? Do you ever regret not going the physician route?
    For the job I do there really isn't any day-to-day difference between me and my MD/DO colleagues. If you want to do surgery or procedure-based practice then MD/DO is the best option.

    I never regret it. I really respect their education and training and I hate some of the administrative red tape, but I wouldn't change things if I could do it over. Remarkably, many of my MD/DO colleagues would not go to med school if they could do life over.
    GrnTea likes this.
  7. 0
    First, I'm really sorry if I offended you. I didn't mean for my post to sound as if nursing is inferior to medicine, or a stepping stone to becoming a physician. I was trying to say that I hate when TV shows portray that an MD is the next step for an RN -- I realize how many amazing routes a nurse can go in the nursing field, and how uncommon it is for an RN to go to med school because they're different fields.

    I understand that outsiders don't know what a nurse really does, and I am trying to take that into consideration. When I first started nursing school, I had no idea how much an RN did. Now I have an even larger respect for the profession than I did before. I'm amazed with how many roles a nurse has to play, and how vital each role is. I never see it as inferior to medicine, just different.

    I'm not set on going to medical school. I figured I would get my BSN because, if I were to go to med school, I would need a bachelor's degree anyway. I'm halfway done with my ADN and I'm not stopping. I know most hospitals require a BSN degree now (or proof that you're working on it), so if I wanted to work as an RN while taking pre-requisites for med school OR going to get my MSN to become an NP, a BSN is the next step.

    Again, I'm really sorry if I offended you. I didn't mean to; I'm really not that good at explaining what I'm trying to say. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply!
  8. 0
    This helps tremendously--thank you.
  9. 0
    Sorry, I keep hitting "reply" instead of "quote."
  10. 3
    My suggestion is to carefully research the differences in education and training of a physician versus a nurse practitioner. Also research physician scope of practice versus nurse practitioner scope of practice (this varies from state to state), and research job opportunities and employment trends for both. If you are interested in becoming a physician, the American Medical Association web site has information on physician education and training. If you want to practice medicine at the level of a physician the training required is that of a physician, i.e. medical school.

    There are big differences in the education and training requirements of nurse practitioners and physicians. Physicians, after first obtaining a bachelor's degree, usually in a science, spend four years in medical school, and then several years in residency, and may even spend several more years after that obtaining further specialized training. Nurse practitioners must first obtain an RN and a BSN, then attend a master's degree nursing program with a nurse practitioner specialty, usually for three years. Nurse practitioners with a master's preparation may also spend a further couple of years obtaining a DNP.

    Physician training uses the medical model. Nurse practitioner training uses the nursing model.

    Good luck with whatever decision you make.
    Last edit by Susie2310 on Aug 23, '13
    GrnTea, ruralgirl08, and contentment like this.
  11. 0
    2 things:

    1) I also once had a biology professor tell me I should go to med school. It's supposed to be a compliment - being good at biology doesn't make you more fit for medicine rather than nursing. When you really think about it, it's kind of a backhanded compliment.

    2) I'm a little biased, but I think ICU nursing has everything you are looking for. It's exciting, and challenging, and intellectually stimulating. You work super closely with the whole team and half of the time the docs are asking us what we want them to put orders in for. Definitely try and shadow in a surgical or trauma ICU if you can, it's a whole different kind of nursing than you do in clinicals.

    Those things being said, if you want to go the medicine route, do it. I think getting your BSN first is a bit untraditional but I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time it was done.


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