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What’s the fastest way to go from a nurse to a doctor?

High school student #doctor

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Richard’s Answer

If you already have a bachelors degree, you may need to return to school for medical school prerequisites/

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters

Some medical schools require humanities and social/behavioral science courses.

Begin studying for the MCAT as well.

Between obtaining the prerequisites, taking the MCAT, applying to medical school, and traveling for interviews, the process could take as long as 2-3 years.

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Estelle’s Answer

I think theses answers are great. A career in nursing prior to medical school can give you a lot of great experience that can help you on the path to medical school and to being a doctor. The most important things to know are just the requirements for medical school as listed in Richard's answer. I would recommend completing all of the requirements for medical school while you're in college even if you plan to go into nursing first, which may have fewer course requirements. That way you can go straight from your nursing position to applying for med school without needing to go back to college. Its important to keep in mind that you will need to apply for medical school within a few years of finishing your courses though. If you wait too long to apply, your classes won't count anymore and you will need to retake some classes.

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Sarah’s Answer

If you are still in high school and are considering becoming a physician, I would recommend aiming for that. The requirements for being a nurse and physician may seem to be similar, but in reality they are very different paths.

Becoming a physician will take 4 years of undergrad work, completing pre-requisites to get into medical school, including 1 year of biology, 1 year of general chemistry, 1 year of organic chemistry, and 1 year of physics. 1 semester or 1 year of a math class is also usually necessary. Then one must take the MCAT and apply to medical school, which is another 4 years of schooling. After medical school, one will complete a 3-7 year residency in the specialty of their choice.

I am not a nurse, so I can't speak in detail of their schooling, but a BSN, or Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, is a 4 year undergraduate degree. One applies to nursing school during their sophomore year of college and, once accepted, completes their nursing degree by the time they graduate from college.

To become a physician after becoming a nurse is not unheard of, but certainly lengthens an already long path to a career in medicine. You would have to complete all of the pre-requisites listed above for medical school AFTER having already completed your BSN. Since these are already year long classes that are time intensive and require lab work, and that you will need to do well in for impressive medical school applications, it would take at least a few years to do so.

Sarah recommends the following next steps:

look at the aamc website for information on becoming a physician
i have some information on my path to medical school and beyond on my website www.sarahreckmd.com
shadow a physician and nurse to see which career you might like better
volunteer in a hospital to understand the different roles people play

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Robert J.’s Answer

Hello Rachel M.

I mostly get this question from young men and women who are on the fence about which way they want to go. I always ask why not go straight to becoming a physician. Often it comes down to resources or confidence. So, if the issue is money, there are resources. If confidence is the issue, there are resources to sharpen your skills. If timing, or life events are the issue the length of time "to go from a nurse to a doctor" will depend on the quality of time you can give to the process.

Robert J. recommends the following next steps:

Consider the services of a coach to help understand where you in your journey, or what you really want. Then take the steps to get there. If that includes becoming a nurse first so be it. Then work out what resources, including time, you have/need to further your pursuit of becoming a physician.

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Rachel’s Answer

I would say start now. If you didn't complete the pre-med requirements during college, then sign up now. Take the MCAT after taking an MCAT prep course. Then apply to medical school. After four years of medical school, you will still need to complete the residency of your choice, but you will be a doctor.

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Alecia’s Answer


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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Rachel! My best friend is on the nursing school path and she took a lot of the prerequisites that I did for medical school. That being said if you are a nurse and have taken the classes needed for medical school, you will sit for the MCAT. The amount of patient experience as well as academics you have been introduced to as a nurse or nursing student will definitely be helpful in medical school as well as explaining your experiences. One question that most likely will be asked is why the transition, which is probably something you will address in your personal statement.

Best of luck!
I hope this helps!