Reader question: Is it worth it to have a nursing degree for medical school, going through an RN to MD program?
The route from registered nurse to medical school could be another path to becoming a physician.
Even as an RN finds fulfillment as a nurse, becoming a doctor definitely does have its advantages.
RNs are able to deliver nursing care to patients, but only under physicians’ orders and supervision. Lets look at the idea of being a nurse for medical school.
RN to MD program probably not worth it?
There are more advanced nursing professions that have wider latitude of authority, like nurse practitioners.
There is also an option to become a physician assistant, who works under a doctor, and is capable of diagnosing and treating patients.
If you have a bachelors degree, a masters will qualify you for being a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. These may be a better route.
But for arguments sake, lets consider a nursing degree for medical school.
Back to school
Nurses have the clinical experience and patient care exposure that other bachelor’s degree graduates do not have.
However, remember that registered nurses either have an associate’s (ADN) or bachelor’s (BSN) degree in nursing.
And to become a medical doctor (MD), one of the prerequisites is a bachelor’s degree, preferably with concentration in science courses.
So if you are working in the nursing field and considering to pursue a medical degree program, make sure that you have a BSN.
If what you have is an ADN, your coursework and curriculum will have to be evaluated by a college adviser for whatever transferable or creditable units you have.
This will not be a considerable quantity of credit units, though. You will practically need to go back to obtain your bachelor’s degree in nursing, or any science-based bachelor’s degree.
It might not be wise to proceed to medicine unless you are prepared to start all over again.
Does an RN have an edge over others at the MCAT?
For having all the accumulated knowledge from experience and training in the medical field, then maybe.
It is important that an MCAT-taker has balanced strength on the four areas. Currently, the MCAT is divided into the following 4 sections:
- Physical Sciences – there will be 52 questions to be answered within 70 minutes
- Reading Comprehension – 40 questions for 60 minutes
- Writing – there will be 2 essays to write at 30 minutes each
- Biological Sciences – there will be 52 questions for 70 minutes.
In 2015, however, the MCAT composition will be drastically changed, with the test to be structured as follows:
- Living systems and their organismal, molecular, and cellular properties
- Living systems and their biochemical, chemical, and physical properties
- Principles of social and behavioral sciences
- Reasoning skills and clinical analysis
A registered nurse will have the clinical training and experience to assess and judge medical situations logically.
Does the RN’s clinical exposure an advantage to MD admission?
The RNs will not have it easier simply because of their clinical and laboratory experience.
They will be on equal footing with other MD hopefuls. That means they must have completed at least 8 semester hours of college biology with laboratory, 8 semester hours of general college chemistry with laboratory, 4 semester hours of organic chemistry with laboratory, 3-4 semester hours of biochemistry, 6-8 semester hours of calculus or statistics, 8 semester hours of general college physics with laboratory, and 24 semester hours of humanities, and social sciences.
These are only the basic science prerequisites; some schools might have additional math and science requirements, such as psychology, genetics, and higher calculus.
Definitely, RN’s will have an edge over non-science bachelor’s degree graduates, but not over graduates of science-based degrees such as BS in Chemistry or Biology.
Admission to an MD program is very competitive and is usually determined by a combination of the following factors:
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree
- MCAT score
- GPA and overall performance in the pre-med curriculum
- Application essay
- Relevant extra-curricular experience
- Letters of commendation
There will be areas where being an RN will prove to be a plus. The RN education, necessarily the bachelor’s degree as explained earlier, will contain most of the prerequisite coursework.
The RN would also have more opportunity than other applicants to have relevant extra-curricular experience, such as volunteering in medical missions and similar undertakings.
In the essay and interview, a registered nurse would have important insights to the medical profession which is otherwise not true with the other pre-med degrees.
Salary: Nurses vs Doctors
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage of nurses in May 2012 was $67,930.
The upper 10% of the nursing population earned more than $94,720 from the same year and statistical data.
Physicians, on the other hand, received $184,820 as annual mean wage in May 2012, with some top-industries paying doctors an annual mean wage of as high as $243,830.
Salaries, solely, cannot determine whether it is worth to sacrifice many years in medical school after becoming an registered nurse.
Medical school entails hardships and expense. There will be internship, residency, and licensure to consider after completing medical school.
And doctors never stop training and learning. They need to specialize and sub-specialize to be competitive in their field.
But so are nurses. Nurses have advanced levels of education and training for their career path in health care. They need to update regularly to keep their licenses and accreditation. They can also grow to specialize in as many nursing areas as there are medical specialty areas.
I hope this helps you with an RN to MD program.