DNP vs MD: Which route is better for public health?

  1. 0
    Hello all! I have posted here a few times regarding nursing and medicine, and after my last thread, I thought I had ultimately made a decision between the two. I had decided to pursue an MD and until the past week or so, felt no ambivalence.

    I'm fairly certain of what I want to do in regards to specialty, so I suppose I should begin with that. I want to work with underdeveloped communities at the start of my career. I mainly want to provide direct, primary care at little-to-no cost and become involved with community planning. I would also be interested in disease and outbreak prevention and disaster/emergency care. When I'm old and gray (or maybe not-so old and gray!), I would like to work with a non-profit organization like MSF or WHO. I would also welcome the opportunity for research. Whether I decide on an MD or a DNP, I plan on preceding or coupling that with an MPH. I should also mention that I do want a life outside of my career; I just want to be happy, money is not as important as my fruition.

    My question is: Because DNPs are in such high demand, especially as primaries in rural areas, would it be wiser for me to pursue a DNP as opposed to an MD? Since I mainly want to work with underprivileged patients, my assumption would be that both the affordability and availability I would have as a DNP would be invaluable to them.

    For reference, I'm a formerly-homeschooled, 17 year old college sophomore.

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  2. 10 Comments...

  3. 0
    Honestly, I think it comes down to what you want your philosophy of practice to be. Whether you are an MD or a DNP, you can still have the opportunity to work in non-profits or in rural areas. It's what you make of your career that will make those opportunities available to you. So from there, I ask: do you see yourself more drawn to the nursing or medical model of care? Are you willing to go through 8 years of schooling plus residency (4 years) for an MD, or would you prefer the 8 years of schooling only for a DNP.

    If you have the chance, I would recommend finding a DNP and an MD to shadow and seeing which you like better. Or, shadow a few to get a better perspective.

    IMHO, I think if this is truly what you are interested in doing, being a DNP or MD won't make a difference. See which route more suits your needs, and make a career out of it.
    Good luck to you.
  4. 8
    Wait for 4 years. Do your undergrad required courses first. You will be surprised at how much your mindset and life goals and philosophy changes after 1-2 years of college.
  5. 1
    I think you should look at your current financial circumstances as well. If you have some wealth and can afford all those years of school go with the MD. If you can find someone to help you pay go with the MD. If you can barely make ends meet get your ASN and work towards the DNP. It is sad, but alot of this comes down to finances. It is almost certain that MD's will not make the salaries of those before them. This is why there is/will be a shortage of primary care docs. It is not that they don't want to be primary care. It is simply when you are looking at a 400k education does it make economic sense? Ultimately, you will make the right decision for your circumstance.
    DNS on the go likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from blackbird singing
    Honestly, I think it comes down to what you want your philosophy of practice to be. Whether you are an MD or a DNP, you can still have the opportunity to work in non-profits or in rural areas. It's what you make of your career that will make those opportunities available to you. So from there, I ask: do you see yourself more drawn to the nursing or medical model of care? Are you willing to go through 8 years of schooling plus residency (4 years) for an MD, or would you prefer the 8 years of schooling only for a DNP.

    If you have the chance, I would recommend finding a DNP and an MD to shadow and seeing which you like better. Or, shadow a few to get a better perspective.

    IMHO, I think if this is truly what you are interested in doing, being a DNP or MD won't make a difference. See which route more suits your needs, and make a career out of it.
    Good luck to you.
    Thanks for the response! As I've posted before, there are things I love about both nursing and medicine, but ultimately, I prefer the medical model. The things I love about medicine, however, can be achieved through mid-level care, which is why I've had such a hard time deciding between the two. :-/
  7. 0
    Quote from RoyalPrince
    Wait for 4 years. Do your undergrad required courses first. You will be surprised at how much your mindset and life goals and philosophy changes after 1-2 years of college.
    I completely agree with what you said, but I do need to make a decision soon. If I decide nursing is for me, I need to finish my nursing pre-requisites in the next two semesters to be directly admitted to a BSN program. If not, I'll continue with my pre-med courses and hope I made the right choice. :-P Thanks for the reply!
  8. 0
    Quote from Loux
    I completely agree with what you said, but I do need to make a decision soon. If I decide nursing is for me, I need to finish my nursing pre-requisites in the next two semesters to be directly admitted to a BSN program. If not, I'll continue with my pre-med courses and hope I made the right choice. :-P Thanks for the reply!
    I suggest the following...If you can major in nsg as an undergrad, do that. Work as a nurse for a year or two then decide. If you want to go to med school you will just have to take the bio/chem/ochem/physics. Try to take as many of these as you can as an undergrad - having a strong backround in science will make you a better nurse.

    If in the end you decide to go to med school, being a nurse will make you a good candidate - a stonger one IMO than a cell bio major (for they are legion and all want to go to med school). I have known a couple nurses that went on to medicince, all were happy with that route.

    Also, you do not need a DNP to practice as an NP. A good ol fashoined masters degree will work just fine. Several people in my masters program had or went on to get an MPH in addition to nsg.
  9. 0
    Quote from gettingbsn2msn
    I think you should look at your current financial circumstances as well. If you have some wealth and can afford all those years of school go with the MD. If you can find someone to help you pay go with the MD. If you can barely make ends meet get your ASN and work towards the DNP. It is sad, but alot of this comes down to finances. It is almost certain that MD's will not make the salaries of those before them. This is why there is/will be a shortage of primary care docs. It is not that they don't want to be primary care. It is simply when you are looking at a 400k education does it make economic sense? Ultimately, you will make the right decision for your circumstance.
    My family doesn't have a huge amount of wealth, but they will be able to help me somewhat. I also plan on working to make a little extra money. Because I've heard medical school is a full-time job, I've considered working through an agency as a CNA to control the amount of hours I work. And I can make up for my shortcomings with student loans and scholarships.

    Also, my specialty isn't set in stone; I have definitely considered other options. While I love primary care, emergency medicine also interests me, and I may decide on something that I hadn't even considered, like radiology. What is set in stone is what I want to do throughout the course of my career, and that's what I mentioned in my original post. I guess I'm just confused on how I want to get there.

    Thanks for replying!
  10. 1
    I guess I'm just confused on how I want to get there.

    At this point, why not try to contact some nurses who have their
    DNP and are working in Public Health. You can contact schools of nursing
    to see if their Alumni office can suggest some individuals that you can
    talk with who have finished the DNP and are out working.
    You can then discuss your plans and concerns with someone currently working in the field..


    As for the MD program, consider contacting schools of Public Health.
    Many of the instructors are MDs and many are involved in community
    outreach and issues of emergency/disaster planning and epidemiology.
    They may have some suggestions from their point of view on
    how to reach your goals.

    Whatever avenue you take, best wishes on all your goals!
    ZiggysGal,LVN likes this.
  11. 0
    Hello! Your career goals are very commendable, and I believe what you are planning to do is great! Just remember though, providing medical care at little to no cost is a wonderful idea, but also know that you better get a job on the side that pays, at least for a while, because as other posters have mentioned, a medical education doesn't come cheap, and the average medical student is at least a couple hundred thousand dollars in debt upon graduation. I highly encourage you to follow your dreams, but realize you may have to postpone the free thing a few years until you make some money and get your loans lined out a little. If you have a very supportive family, spouse, etc. that limits the amount you'll have to owe, maybe you can go that route right out of the gate. I know for me, I'm an NP, and the debt and amount of time spent in school was considerably less than medical school, but I also know that student loans are quite the burden, and as much as I'd love to do some charity work, and plan to in the future, right now to pay my loans and my bills, I have to work for pay. It sucks the system works that way, but I'm hoping that in the future, I'll get to make some medical mission trips, and maybe one day donate some time to a free clinic in the rural area of which I grew up. I'm not trying to burst your bubble. By all means follow your heart, and do as much as you can to give back. Healthcare needs people like you. I wish you the best, and good luck!!!


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