Nurse Practitioner School vs Medical School

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    Right now I feel like I am at a crossroads. I am 26 and feel like I could do both. On one hand, becoming an NP through a direct entry program is the quickest route. I would start fall of 2015 and be 30 when I am done. On the other hand I know that I have what it takes to go to med school and do well. I imagine myself as an NP working alongside doctors with the feeling that that could have been me. But finishing medical school and residency is a mighty long route and I pictured myself with kids and being settled in my career before 40. So unfortunately for me the medschool ship might have passed. If I choose nursing I would become an FNP. If I were to go to med school I would like to become a gastroenterologist.

    Does anyone have insight that can help me put this issue in perspective? Many thanks.

    Background: Graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in something non-health related. Have been taking science courses at another institution as pre-reqs for both medical and nurse practitioner programs. Married with a husband that can support me throughout either med school or an NP program.
    Last edit by mdaniel747 on Feb 20
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  3. 29 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    The programs are going to be completely different from each other. RN/NP school will be more flexible than Med school. This also depends on where you wanna be in 8-10 years. I'll be honest. I'm 27 and have been a FNP for 6 months. I cannot imagine starting the road to med school…8 more years of school (and no to low income). No thanks. In 8 years you could have been practicing as a NP for >4 years with good income and have already started your family you want. Med school route (not to discourage you) would put you in your mid thirties unless you had children while in med school. It's certainly a personal choice! I will say I never regret not going to med school. I don't look at the docs and "wish I were them" or "that could be me". I'm viewed as a peer and do my own thing everyday. PM me if you have any other questions!
    Crux1024, Panosnurse, and mdaniel747 like this.
  5. 2
    Listen, regardless of whether you choose medical school or NP school, you will be 40 one day anyway. Medical school doesn't make you age any faster or slower. When you're 40 do you want to think "Yay, I followed my dreams!" or do you want to think "I've been an NP for 10 years and I feel unfulfilled."

    NP is great, and they can do a lot, but there are limitations and issues. For one, there are currently less than 20 states where you can work without entering into an agreement with a physician, which can range from paying the physician a fee (10K+ per year) to review your charts up to full supervision without any ability to practice alone. Furthermore, the NP gold rush has left the field crowded, and just as the RN field has become completely saturated with high levels of unemployment, the same is happening for NPs. As a physician, you really will never be without a job.

    Other things to consider:
    - You WILL have to be an RN first, even if you don't work as one, the direct entry programs require that you do the BSN-RN portion first. That's one year (perhaps longer) of working as a bedside nurse during clinicals, doing things like bed baths, etc.

    - If you are really into detail, NP may not be for you. NPs are highly competent and learn a lot, but they don't often go down to the cellular level in many programs. Depending on the program, there may be many gaps in your knowledge in certain subjects.

    I am going the NP route because it works for me and I think they make highly competent providers for the area I want to work in (uninsured, FQHCs). If gastroenterology is your passion, I honestly don't know if NP is the best route.
    Crux1024 and mdaniel747 like this.
  6. 2
    Personally, if I were in your shoes with no nursing experience , I would become a PA. You will be paid the same, if not more than an NP. If you already succeded at a solid school like Brandeis, i'm sure you will be fine. Our roles our very similar, as I'm sure you would be able to easily search on previous allnurses posts. I couldn't imagine going to med school and get paid next to nothing and being pimped for another 4 years by attendings! But, you have to decide whats important to you..
    BritFNP and Mom To 4 like this.
  7. 1
    Quote from BostonRN13
    Personally, if I were in your shoes with no nursing experience , I would become a PA. You will be paid the same, if not more than an NP. If you already succeded at a solid school like Brandeis, i'm sure you will be fine. Our roles our very similar, as I'm sure you would be able to easily search on previous allnurses posts. I couldn't imagine going to med school and get paid next to nothing and being pimped for another 4 years by attendings! But, you have to decide whats important to you..
    Yes I forgot about PA. If you want the quicker cheaper route, but don't want to be an RN, PA is probably the best decision.
    Mom To 4 likes this.
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    If you really have the "fire in the belly" to be a physician, go for it. You don't want to regret not having done it years from now, when it really is too late.
    SHGR likes this.
  9. 1
    You need to do what makes you happy. I assume if you have gone this far in your thinking you have shadowed both NPs/PAs and MDs? Are you planning to work in a primary care setting?

    In the primary care setting there is really no difference in what MDs do versus what NPs and PAs do. I work in an internal medicine and gastro office and see both panels of patients. My role is the same as my MD partner.

    In the hospital, he does scopes. I have been trained to do them but the hospital won't let me do them solo at this time. It doesn't bother me as I find them monotonous and would rather see people in clinic.

    Remember both NP school and medical school will require prerequisite courses so plan on two years of that if you don't have your core sciences done.

    Medical school will make having a baby a bit more difficult if that is in your 10-year plan; you will be 40 by the time you are done with residency and fellowship. This isn't a bad thing unless you want a family and prioritize that.

    As far as NP vs PA it's a toss up; NPs have much more chance of practicing autonomously.
    Panosnurse likes this.
  10. 0
    You sound iffy about med school to be honest, you have to really want it. I remember when I was a 18 frosh in my BSN program and the scores of bio pre-meds who wanted to be docs. I know of 2-3 who started pre med program (close to 1000) who made it to med school. Time commitment and babies are the least of your worries. Honestly with no medical experience PA school probably won't be viable, many are very competitive requiring 1000s of hours of HCE to be even considered. You might have to bite the bullet and go RN first to see if you even like healthcare and work for a bit then decide PA vs NP. I know a few practicing PAs that were once RNs....

    By the way you don't choose your residency, you have a list of preferences and then you match into one depending on a lot of factors.
  11. 2
    Quote from Dranger
    Time commitment and babies are the least of your worries.
    For some this is a far bigger worry than career and that is quite ok.
    mama.RN and SHGR like this.
  12. 2
    Not that an article should affect your decision but the physicians at work (residents, fellows, and attendings) felt that this article had some truth in it...

    $1 million mistake: Becoming a doctor - CBS News

    But they also said that as a physician, you must choose your specialty wisely. As an NP, I would say the same to fellow NP wannabes.
    MyNameRN and zmansc like this.


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