NP vs MD? Advice please!

Specialties Advanced


I'm a sophomore in college, and I've recently switched my major into nursing. I became ill when I was 17, dealing with all kinds of chronic illnesses, and I was exposed to a lot of different doctors and tests. I found it all to be so fascinating, and I recently decided to focus on a career in medicine.

My ultimate goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner, because I loved the idea of being able to diagnose and treat patients.. but recently, I've started wondering if I should try and become an MD. I know med school is hard, and I'm honestly not sure if I could handle that... or if it would be worth it. I know the schooling is longer, more expensive, and you have to endure 3 years of residency. But at the same time, the salary is larger, the title is more prestigious, and it seems to come with more knowledge of the human body and better classes.

So, I guess, can anybody give me your take on it? Pros and cons of being a nurse practitioner? Pros and cons of being an MD? Differences between grad school and med school? To all the NP's out there... do you ever regret not becomig a doctor? Why or why not?

Thank you!!

There is a HUGE difference between the two so it isn't an apples to oranges comparison. The pros and cons are different for each individual. I can give you my opinion on the topic. I came into nursing after having already started my family. I always knew I wanted to be a physician, however, my desire to be an active mother outweighed this desire. I have been a nurse for 8 years and a NP for 2 years. I see my own patients, I assist in surgery, I cast, suture, round and order meds/tests. Essentially, I am practicing the way I want, making more than any of my Family Physician friends and have time to be a mother. All that said, I still struggle with the lack of MD title, but I sure don't want to walk away from my life to go to med school, 5 years of residency (I'd be an Ortho Surgeon only) plus 1 year of fellowship. I guess for me, the choice of NP versus MD was an easy one. Sit down, make a list of your financial life, your goals, hopes and desires and then go from there.

Specializes in CTICU.

Sometimes I regret it, mostly when I wish I knew more about more stuff... if you feel like you have a shot and you can afford both the personal and financial sacrifices, I'd go for it.

Specializes in FNP-C.

I'm thinking about going to Medical School. I'm 26 yo male in active duty air force with 4 years left in my committment so i cant do anything yet except take prereqs. My biggest thing was dealing with "you're not a physician" precepting issues and the lack of residencies for us. I started out as a new NP with no experience and struggled last year, but after a year, it actually got better and I'm more competent with standards of care no matter how much of an itch i wanna give abx for lots of things such as acute sinusitis and bronchitis and i know my limits such as not giving T3 and instead consulting with the endocrinologist for that. :) but yeah, i heard our practice will expand to our fullest scope soon in all states and especially with obamacare coming up, i'm sure NPs will need to be allowed to do more and get paid more. with that, i may stay as a FNP and go through various NP residencies after the military and get my DNP instead. I care less about being called Dr. I just want to practice with full scope and get paid well. Being a NP is no easier than being an MD. I work with MDs in the military and we work as a team and we all get equal stress except for those in commander positions which is a lot of admin work. So as a physician in civilian world, you may be the leader of the team, but that soon may change in the near future with obamacare with NPs taking leadership roles. Not sure about PAs, I can't speak for them because of that whole issue with them required to have a "supervising physician" either directly or indirectly...

I dont have any pros/cons for you but Im in the same shoes. I have graduated with my BSN (working as a nurse for 1.5 years in an ICU) and now on the fence of NP/MD. I will honestly going NP simply because it is much faster and I dont want to dedicate 7 more years of school/residency. Im 28 and dont have the patience. If I was a sophomore in college I would go with the MD route IF (huge if) you truly have the desire and discipline for going all the way.

If you want a family life choose NP, if your willing for medicine to be your life choose MD. Being a physician is a way of life, it is a huge time commitment. 80 hour work weeks required for years before starting your own practice, and up to 50 or 60 hours a week of work after that. I have alot of respect for physicians, but i value family time and my own hobbies. I make more as a crna than most physicians, they might pull in a half million per year but they have to pay for alot of office staff. After they pay thier overhead they dont have much left.

Specializes in Emergency,.

I would go with medical school, no questions, if you want to practice medicine, then go.

Don't look back, make it happen.

I wish I did.

I just graduated with my master's degree and got certified as a FNP. As long as it took me and for the stress I went through, I feel like I should have went to medical school like my father asked. Time is going to go by anyway...might as well go to school and be what you want. If you are even THINKING about it at this age, you might as well go for it! You are still young and will still be young when you graduate. You will be extremely knowledgeable and well respected. Plus, you will make a lot more money than a NP and be doing practically the same thing only slightly more. Sure, you will have to put your life on dull, but not on hold. It will be worth it in the end. And who says you cant have a family and fun and that you have to work 80 hours a week. Those doctors who do that, choose to. You can go into a specialty. Or work in a clinic and set your own hours once you get experience. I know a couple of docs like that. I also think you will find a job a lot easier when you graduate as well. I am looking for a job now and the FNP world is looking a little saturated.

But the good thing about becoming an NP is that you can go home after work and just be home (depending on where you work). No call, no weekends, no holidays. A great work / life balance. And pretty decent salary too (depending on where you work and depending on what is considered decent to you).

this was supposed to be a reply to SkiBumNP from above: i'd love to hear some elaboration as to why you feel so strongly. did you always have your sights set on med school only to switch to an NP track, and have regretted it since?

as others have said, i too believe it's a matter of lifestyle. medicine is a career that wraps itself around you and is likely to consume your life - which many people enjoy. being an NP could also be that way but it isn't the norm; many of us get paid hourly and get to enjoy a great paying, autonomous practice without the worries of being on call, covering overnights or working 36-hour shifts, or other things that come along with med school and residency.

Not wanting an on-call career was a huge thing for me. Also, I do better with the step by step learning model of becoming a nurse first. I look forward to becoming an overwhelmed new grad nurse and learning while doing, I know that's how I thrive. I feel like there's a wide variety of roles you can have, too. I'm more and more ok with the lack of prestige but do worry about wanting more autonomy.

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