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How will i be able to get started in the medical field as a senior in high school?

I want to work in nursing and go to medical school after high school, not sure how to prepare for that.

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Audrey’s Answer

Hi Athenna,

When you mean "medical school," do you mean nursing school? Medical school is a graduate-level program, meaning you must have already graduated with a four-year college degree to apply. Nursing school can be undergraduate or graduate-level, depending on the program, so it is something that you can do straight out of high school if you go to a college that offers it.

For nursing, your options are a two-year associate's nursing degree (ADN) or a four-year bachelor's in nursing degree (BSN). There's also an RN diploma/certificate between the two, and it usually takes 2/3 years to complete, but after you take the pre-requisite math and science classes in a college or university. The main difference between being an ADN and being a BSN is that while the ADN program is shorter and cheaper, the BSN allows nurses to specialize in a specific type of nursing. Both of those are degrees, and therefore, the time put into those programs can also contribute toward post-graduate programs like a master's (MSN) or doctorate (DNP) in nursing or another graduate medical program like medical school (MD/DO). An RN diploma is not a degree, and therefore, the time spent toward it cannot contribute toward a later degree further down the line. To be a practicing nurse, regarding of if you pursue an ADN, BSN, or RN diploma, you have to take a national licensing and certification exam.

For medical school, you have to complete a 4-year college degree, complete the pre-requisite math and science classes, and take the MCAT, which is like the SAT for medical school. Medical school programs can be for an MD or DO, but the difference between them is virtually indistinguishable. Medical school is 4 years and is for people who want to become doctors in a specialized field of medicine. Now, you can get your four-year degree in a BSN program and practice as a licensed nurse for a while before going to medical school if you want to become an MD/DO. More medical schools are admitting older students who already have experience in healthcare fields, and having some income before medical school will definitely help with the expenses.

However, if you want to practice medicine, you do not need to become a doctor. I'm on the med school track, and it's a good fit for me, but if your priority is patient care and practicing as soon as possible, then you should consider an advanced nursing degree rather than a doctorate in medicine. MSNs and DNPs can become nurse practitioners, which have more freedom and responsibilities than an RN, and their training program is shorter and cheaper than a doctor's, so they can begin practicing and helping patients sooner. The only real benefit of going to medical school is if you'd like to specialize in a very specific type of medicine, like vascular surgery or pediatric oncology, or clinical pathology. If you want to work in a hospital or a primary care clinic, NPs are a fantastic and valued part of those healthcare systems.

Now that that explanation is out of the way, what can you do as a senior now in High School? If you can, try to prioritize classes in math and science because those are really helpful for either career path. Additionally, getting shadowing experience in clinical spaces or your local hospital is a great way to see medicine up close and better understand what areas of it are the best fit for you. Healthcare is a service industry, and a strong sense of community engagement is essential, so having volunteered and done community service is going to make you look like a more appealing applicant to any nursing or medical program. Work out what path you feel is the best fit for you and begin applying to colleges and programs that can help you achieve it. And remember, you're only 17/18; you have plenty of time to change your mind or shift the path ahead of you if you realize that it's not a good fit for you. Don't feel like you have to stay committed to a certain path in medicine if the one you're on isn't working.

I hope these suggestions help!
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Nusrat’s Answer

You can try to get patient care certification and work under a nurse by the time u finish high school.Enter into college and plan on taking MCAT in your early college days.
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