Nurse, Microbiologist, or Surgeon?


Hello. I am currently reconsidering my career and need guidance. My original dream was to become a surgeon but I decided to go the nursing route because of my financial situation and I want to have a steady job after four years. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love nursing because I adore helping people out and working in the health care profession. I have been volunteering at a major hospital for about four years and have worked closely with the nurses so I understand what the job entails. I am currently a 19-year-old sophomore pre-nursing student and will be applying to nursing school in the fall. I have a really high GPA and am in/run many organizations at my school. Throughout my pre-nursing journey, my friends have constantly told me that they see me more as a doctor/surgeon or at least a Nurse Practitioner where I am giving orders and not receiving them, while my teachers have stated that they see me going into research. If I choose the nursing route, I want to become a Nurse Practitioner and an Infection Control Nurse/Infectious Disease Nurse because I am absolutely obsessed with diseases! While I have taken my pre-requisite science courses, my A&P II teacher told me that she sees me interning for the CDC while my A&P I lab TA thought I was pre-med with the way I tackled the material. Right now I am taking microbiology in the summer and am doing better than I expected. Both my lab coordinator and professor exclaimed that I am passionate in microbiology and that they see me more as a microbiologist. (Yes, I do talk with them a lot about the current diseases and outbreaks that are occurring throughout the world.) My lab TA and another TA that I talk with during open lab said that I should be a microbiologist and join the research field, especially since I am doing great in the class. The micro class that I am taking is known to be the hardest pre-requisite class at my school. I just don't know what I want to do now, especially since all of my teachers and friends keep steering me toward the pre-med/micro route. One of my teachers told me that I should get my nursing degree so that I have a steady job and then finish up the pre-requisite classes for med school. She said that it would be good getting a steady income because I will have to take out many loans for med school. It would be great to be an infection control nurse/infectious disease nurse because I will be able to do what I am passionate about but I don't know if I will really be able to do research. If anyone could give me guidance or their opinion, that would be highly appreciated. I just want to hear what others say. Thank you in advance. Also, sorry for any grammar/spelling errors/sentence structures. It is 1:21 AM.


7,735 Posts

Specializes in retired LTC.

Just know, that it's not what anyone of us thinks you should do, but what YOU want to do. So many other well meaning folk are giving you a lot of suggestions re you future but the career direction you must go for any ONE of them varies very much so from each other. And it has to be your decision.

Med school training is quite long, intensive, very competitive and expensive. Its philosophy is very much different from nursing. Nurses do not practice medicine - we don't diagnose and prescribe. Our training is shorter than medicine and its model really does not prepare you for the medical model. By many accounts, it too is intensive, competitive and expense varies. Advanced nsg practice does allow a limited venture into the medical arena. Microbiology is a different science, like oceanography or nuclear physics.

I see one big difference in the three. Micro doesn't practice on real people in a practicum type setting.

Depending on which school you would select, it too could be intensive, competitive and expensive.

Somethings important to consider - what's the job market potential for your goals? Long-term debt burden? Will you need advanced degrees (more time & money). Family/lifestyle during & after education?

A nursing education /degree boxes you into a specific career window. Within nsg you have some wiggle-room, but outside of nsg your opportunities are more limited. Medical practices take time to build up with sweat equity. Micro can offer you some different pathways to journey, like research and inf disease. MDs can research and practice IC, too. Nsg too but more limited; a nurse most likely WILL NOT be the one to find a cure for HIV. All three can teach.

In your pre-reqs, there's some common ground early on. But that's pretty much it. Only you can weigh up all the pros versus the cons.

Good luck whichever way you go.

Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

You seem to be more passionate and leaning toward the scientific route. Nurses don't take nearly as many science courses as microbiologists or surgeons. Just weigh your options out a little more before you jump into nursing because you might end up regretting it. You can look into physician assistant programs, not sure if that's cheaper than directly going into med school? I know they have the same pre reqs though, generally speaking. As the last poster states though, it's up to you. It's what you want to do with your future and for the rest of your life.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 43 years experience.


moved to career advice for best response.


16 Posts

If you are considering becoming a microbiologist, consider your personal life and where you want to live. Most micro jobs will limit you to living in mid size to large metro areas unless you work in higher education which will require a PhD. This is one reason I am in nursing school. :)


336 Posts

check the job market for microbiologists too

just cause you have a passion for it, doesn't mean youll get hired for it. which, i know, applies to nursing school too, with so many grads everywhere.

when i was considering my masters, before i decided on NS, the job options in the research industry werent looking so good, so i would check on it.


55 Posts

Thank you everyone for your advice! Right now, I am trying to become and infectious disease nurse. I hope to get my PhD in order to pursue my interest in research.


343 Posts

Take the premed classes before going to nursing school so you can move on and apply to med school or something if you hate nursing.