Medical School or Nursing School: What is Right For Me?

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes much of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a company specializing in travel nursing jobs.

When people think of the medical professions, the first professions that come to mind are that of the doctor and the nurse. Doctors and nurses make up the core of the medical field, and when you are thinking of entering the field yourself, there are a few things that you should consider. Both doctors and nurses require extensive training, but the jobs and how they are perceived are quite different. If you are trying to make the choice between being a doctor or a nurse, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Prestige: Whether we like it or not, doctors tend to receive more prestige than nurses and though both fields are quite demanding, as doctors could not function without the support team made up by nurses and surgical technicians, there is still the sense that doctors have acquired more skills and knowledge due to their years of medical school and training. Doctors are among the most trusted professionals around, and they command a lot of respect from the community. Despite working in the same field and doing many of the tasks that people expect doctors to do, nurses simply receive less recognition than that of their medical counterparts.
  • Role in Patient Care: A person who has attended medical school (a doctor) will be the leader in a patients’ care, they will provide a diagnosis and they will order treatment. A nurse will carry out the care; they may be the ones who run the patient’s test, and they will administer the treatment. However, it is important to note that for many different conditions, nurses are the ones that create treatment plans.
  • Advancement: Doctors have more room for advancement and for more money across the board than nurses do. A nurse can perform many different functions at a hospital, but across the board, the position may not advance to the degree a doctor could. Some doctors may go on to do research or to head up a hospital or a clinic, while nurses may often be kept in administrative positions or have to look into alternative options to further their career. This advancement is emphasized and reinforced in a very real way through the pay scale. Though nurses can go on to command a respectable salary, a doctor will tend to have a higher salary throughout their career.
  • Time Spent in School: Tuition costs are always on the rise, and this can dramatically affect whether you decide to go into medical school or to enter nursing school. To be a doctor, roughly eight years of study are required. This includes an undergraduate degree in pre-med and then four years of graduate study. Nursing school can take a few different forms. It is possible to get a nursing degree from a four year college, to get an associate’s degree in nursing in two years, or to receive a certificate from a hospital in three years. To progress further as a nurse, it is recommended that an individual take a master’s degree as well, in order to become a nurse practitioner. Though it takes a fair amount of time and investment to become either a nurse or a doctor, the investment is slightly lower for nurses.
  • Teaching Opportunities: Both nurses and doctors can take on teaching responsibilities if they so choose. Returning to educate students is one way for nurses and doctors to watch their careers progress. However, research is something that is typically headed up by doctors and supported by nurses.

When you are trying to make a decision regarding what you want to do in the medical field and how you wish to move on, there are several things that you should know about both nursing and being a doctor.

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