Should I be a doctor or a nurse?

Well I’m thinking when I go to college I want to study for being a doctor. But I’d like to follow my family’s things to my sister. I look up to he because she is very kind and caring and doesn’t do anything bad. She is going to be a nurse and I thought, you know I think I want to be a nurse also. But Doctor’s get all the money. Not saying its all about the money, it’s about the patients too but you want a job that pays good money! So should I be a doctor or nurse? (and it’s not the only thing why I want to be a nurse like my sister. They get money and help people) and I also love helping people of they get hurt or don’t feel well.

Answer #1

I’m a retired RN, so I’ll try to give you some information. The road to being an MD is extremely long and difficult. 4 years of college, where you must REALLY do good! Find a medical school that will take you. 4 years there, working like a dog to get through. (Forget Grey’s Anatomy; that is pure fiction.) 1 year of Internship. 3-6 years of Residency. You have to take Board exams to get certified. And THEN you can either find a practice where you can join a group of other doctors, or perhaps open a private practice - but that can be expensive to set up an office.

Nurses: do VERY well in High School. Try to be in the top 25% of your class, or higher. There are prerequisite courses that nursing school will look for: chemistry, math, sciences. The waiting list for nursing schools can be quite long, 2-10 years, depending on the school. Associates Degree Nurses are graduates of Junior Colleges + an associated Nursing School. It is a very difficult and demanding course requiring LOTS of homework and clinical studies. Then there are the National Boards, a 2-day exam, which you MUST pass to get your RN license. You are then ready to go find a hospital that will hire you. Try to find a hospital that will also nurture and teach you, because you still have a LOT to learn before you are a confident and competent nurse. BSN programs require 4 years of college (which includes nursing school). Forget Diploma schools: they are almost all out of business today, and Diploma nurses lack the technical background to advance in nursing.

Money: surprisingly, there’s not a whole lot of difference between doctor and nurse. Doctors don’t rake in the millions like they used to. They have a LOT of expenses, plus heavy student loans to pay back. So their actual take-home pay is not that far off from RNs. Of course, if they have advanced specialties, Neurosurgeons or Cardiovascular Surgeons, for example, then making a million dollars per year is not out of reach. But those guys have a LOT of training, trust me!

Nurses: most hospitals will pay a decent wage, and there aren’t a lot of overhead expenses outside your uniforms and a few instruments such as your stethoscope. Malpractice insurance for nurses is around $100 per year, where it can run thousands of dollars for a doctor. Some hospitals prefer to insure you themselves, so check with them before you take out insurance. That’s to prevent you from becoming a “deep pocket,” which can invite lawsuits where none would happen if you were poor.

Nursing is a VERY hard and sometimes heartbreaking job. Some hospitals are absolutely vicious against their nurses. We call them “Nurse Killer” hospitals, where they work you like a rented mule and give you no respect. Other nurses can be your worst enemy, so don’t get too chummy with any of them. Just maintain a professional attitude with them, and carefully watch your back. Some nurses who don’t like you will flat out lie about you to get you fired. It takes several years of experience to learn how to deal with them. Just stay professional at ALL times, and don’t talk more than necessary to perform your duties. Idle chatter on the job will come back and bite you. Remain professional all the time, and you’re probably safe. But if not, go find another hospital. There are jobs everywhere.

Do NOT do drugs, or take drugs from the hospital. DON’T do it! I have watched more than a few nurses destroy their careers by taking the “waste” drugs and using them themselves, or smoking a few joints at home, then getting caught in a surprise drug test!. It’s a serious - but seldom discussed - problem in hospitals. Just keep yourself clean all the time, and you’ll do fine.

Answer #2

I know a lot of doctors and nurses. My wife is a nurse and many family friends are doctors or nurses.

First off, doctors do not make the kind of money they used to. I know some rich doctors but the rich ones are over 50 and made their nest egg before insurance companies negotiated payments down to just over the doctor’s cost. Then there are expenses. A doctor I know who is probably the best OB/GYN in town pays more in malpractice insurance than I make in a year. He is in a high liability field so his insurance is sky high even though he is an excellent doctor. The doctors who are starting out now with a big student loan debt won’t be l iving the good life for years.

I’m not trying to persuade you not to be a doctor, if you like to help people than it is a wonderful career and you will make a good living at it; just don’t think that it is a way to become super rich because it isn’t as lucrative as it used to be.

Nursing is also great. Nursing is not a cake walk. Nurses still have to use their judgement and share responsibility for the patient’s care. Nursing school is very rigorous; remember in most jobs if you make a mistake it is something you can usually joke about afterword, a nurse who makes a mistake can kill a patient. Nurses don’t make as much money as doctors but they can make good money, especially if they are willing to work nights, weekends, and holidays since these times pay extra. Another nice thing about nursing is there are options to work as little or as much as you want. I know a nurse who only works 1 shift a month and I know another nurse who needs all the money she can get who works 36 hours/week at 2 different hospitals. Try that with an office job!

Whatever you decide best of luck!

Answer #3

That’s a very tough question, the answer to which depends largely on you. The reality of pursuing the MD is that it will take you many long, arduous, grueling years of study and a mountain of debt before you begin to make any kind of money. The timeline is as follows:

  1. 4 years (minimum) of pre-med in which you must get a 3.5 or better to have a decent chance of acceptence to medical school. During this time period, you will most likely accumulate $30,000 worth of debt. You won’t have time to work part-time if you are going to do well in Pre-Med Coursework.

  2. 4 years of Medical School, which is notorious for long, sleepless nights and even longer days. During this period, it is a safe bet to say you will accumulate an additional $200,000 worth of debt, for a total of around $230,000 with Undergraduate.

  3. Internship: 1st year of “real” medical training that averages about 90 hours per week of intense, sometimes demeaning work: the average intern does about a dozen disimpactions per week. (You are finally getting paid during this period, but only about $45,000 a year; with the school loan payments, this salary amounts to somewhere near next to nothing).

  4. Residency: depending on speciality, this can take anywhere from 2 years (primary care) to 8 years (neurosurgeory, etc). You make about $47,500 per year during the residency years. Again, because of tremendous school indebtedness, this salary is next to nothing…you would actually do better as a waiter with no college education (or the debt that goes along with it), than as a Resident with that school debt.

  5. Beginning of career: assuming you chose a primary care speciality, you’ll make about $140,000 a year. Not a bad salary. But remember, that assuming you start Pre-Med at 18 years old and absolutely EXCEL, getting into medical school at 22, graduating med school at 26, completing internship/residency by 29 (primary care specialty), you won’t be making the $140,000 salary until your 30!!!

As you can see, becoming an MD is a serious ordeal. You essentially sacrifice your 20’s for your medical training. At 30 years old, you can finally START to pay those loans back. Remember that while you may have taken out $230,000 total of school debt, this number does not include interest accumulated on this principle while you were in school.

Bottom line: if you want a “good life”, I would recommend becoming an RN. While becoming an RN is difficult, it is not as demanding as pursuing the MD. You don’t accumulate much debt; you make a great salary $55,000 - $65,000 per year; you work three 12 hour shifts a week, and the rewards are endless, but…

If what you want more than anything in the world is to become an MD, and your literally willing to sacrifice your 20’s and a good portion of your 30’s to get it, then I’d go for it. Just understand that becomming an MD is a process that essentially defines who you are.

So, if you want your career to be enjoyable, and a PART of who you are, then become an RN.

If you want your career to be a tremendous challenge, a never ending fight towards perfection, and the WHOLE of who you are, then become an MD.

PS: I am doing both pre-med and RN school. I’m going to be going into a career as an RN, because I want to have a life outside of my career.

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