Nurses and doctors have distinct roles within the healthcare system and provide different levels of patient care.
Doctors’ responsibilities and scope of practice go way beyond most professional nurses.
With that said, some committed nurses can become doctors.
However, it takes time, education, training, and pursuing a medical doctor (MD) degree.
Nurses can pursue a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
As a result, they can become advanced practice registered nurses with extensive career opportunities.
This article covers the educational, financial, and mental/emotional requirements needed to become an MD.
It also provides additional career paths for registered nurses that want to pursue advanced degrees but prefer remaining in the nursing profession.
There are plenty of options for advancing in nursing and transitioning into the medical doctor profession.
If you’re unsure which career to pursue, continue reading to learn more!
Medical School Requirements
Becoming a doctor is hard.
Therefore, nurses must strongly desire to become doctors before pursuing a degree in this field.
Before pursuing a degree as a medical doctor, nurses must possess a bachelor’s degree.
It is necessary to apply to the medical program regardless of educational background.
For nurses that have their BSN (bachelor of science in nursing degree), you may have completed most medical school prerequisite requirements.
However, you must determine whether the school accepts your prerequisites and identify if there are still prerequisites to complete.
Furthermore, medical schools require up-to-date and up-to-date prerequisites within a specific time.
The university will not accept outdated prerequisites. It’s especially true of nurses that haven’t taken college courses in years.
Applying for Medical School
Obtaining their BSN is the first step toward medical school for nurses with an ADN.
Assuming you have a bachelorette degree and have completed the medical school prerequisites, the next step is to apply for medical school and take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT exam).
This standardized exam evaluates students’ problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, written analyses, and understanding of scientific concepts and principles.
Nurses must also meet the institution’s numerous requirements when applying for medical school.
A nurse’s background can be beneficial when applying for medical school due to work experience.
However, it depends on the medical school, as some institutions don’t consider prior healthcare experience when approving applicants.
Medical School Admission Requirements
- Hold a bachelorette degree
- Complete all prerequisite courses
- Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT exam)
- Complete application and secondary application
- CASPer test preparation
- Meet GPA requirements
- Obtain letters of recommendation
- Write a personal statement
- Criminal background check
- Financial information
The previous list does not contain the complete requirements for admission.
However, here is a helpful guide explaining what medical school requires.
Nurses are just as capable as other students when becoming medical doctors.
Previous training and education help understand educational demands and university expectations.
With that said, medical schools consider numerous factors.
It includes undergraduate grades, prerequisite GPA, exceptional personal skills, and other determinants.
As a result, nursing experience alone will not give you an advantage over applicants with excellent educational backgrounds.
The accumulation of your educational background and experience impacts the application process.
Read how medical schools review applications for more information on the application review process.
Furthermore, each medical school has its application process and requirements for gaining acceptance into the program.
Once nurses join a medical school, the program takes approximately four years to complete.
After completing courses, students do a residency program that lasts numerous years, depending on career specialization.
Furthermore, the program may require a fellowship.
Overall, it can take up to 10 years to become an MD.
As a result, most medical students are in their 20s and 30s while pursuing medical degrees.
Some students pursue medical school in their 30s and even 40s.
Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs
The post-baccalaureate program is essentially a curriculum for students with undergraduate degrees.
This program provides essential education and training that allow students to complete medical school prerequisite courses. It also prepares students for the MCAT exam.
A post-baccalaureate program can be beneficial for nurses that haven’t pursued college in years, haven’t completed medical school prerequisites, don’t have a BSN, or have difficulty with the MCAT exam.
These programs provide lots of value for students with low MCAT scores, outdated prerequisite courses, and those without a science background.
Joining the program can improve the odds of getting into medical school.
The post-baccalaureate program is generally more advanced than a typical bachelor’s degree.
With that said, post-baccalaureate programs can be expensive and require two years of study.
Therefore, nurses must weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to join a post-baccalaureate program.
Nurses that have obtained their BSN and have up-to-date prerequisite courses completed do not need the post-baccalaureate program.
However, you must determine your medical school eligibility to see if taking a post-baccalaureate premedical program is beneficial.
The Steep Cost of Becoming a Doctor
Finally, the biggest hurdles to pursuing medical school are the high financial costs and time required to become an MD.
As previously mentioned, becoming an MD can be a 10-year process.
During this time, students pursue post-bachelorette education, complete a residency, and (depending on the program) do a fellowship.
Furthermore, there are many expenses for medical students earning their MD.
As a result, many students take out loans to cover educational costs and cannot work full-time jobs.
Most medical schools expect students to limit work to the demands of the medical program.
Therefore, nurses must determine whether pursuing an MD degree is worth the time, effort, and cost.
If you aren’t committed to the program, you’ll have no degree and loans you must pay back!
Read the average cost of medical school for more information on what you can expect to pay and what you’ll do as an MD.
It may be the perfect career pivot for nurses passionate about healthcare and working as a doctor.
However, for those that are unsure or want work stability, there are dozens of careers in nursing that accommodate most nurses’ interests.
Other High-Level Professions for Nurses
Not every nurse wants to become a doctor, but the thought of pursuing an advanced degree is attractive.
Those nurses have opportunities to obtain a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree.
Nurses with advanced degrees have an extensive scope of practice and can easily earn six-figure annual incomes.
Nurses with advanced degrees are known as advanced practice registered nurses or APRNs.
These healthcare professionals practice in one of four careers specializes.
Each profession allows nurses to provide high-level medical care to patients.
Some APRNs can even establish clinics and become primary care providers for their patients.
This fantastic profession opens up many opportunities to work in all areas of healthcare.
For example, APRNs can pursue clinical, legal, educational, research-focused, and entrepreneurial occupations at the highest levels of nursing.
Furthermore, APRNs demonstrate authority within their profession and are highly respected.
With that said, not every nurse wants to continue the nursing profession.
Therefore, if you’re truly passionate about becoming an MD, listen to this podcast on how an ICU nurse transitioned into a medical student.
Also, consider watching Antonio J. Webb, MD, which provides numerous inspirational and educational videos for aspiring medical doctors.