Is it okay to do RN to MD?

Hi Everyone ,

I really need your feedback. Does applying to Med School as an RN have a downside? If so please explain? I am in a bit of a dilemma. I will be taking my MCAT soon but desire to have an applied science degree, i.e. Nursing, Respiratory therapy, etc. Please advise as to which one sounds better applying to med school. Also my husband is the only one working and not very supportive at all. I am always under financial pressure to be creative and get money for us but, I find it very difficult to study and really focus on sciences while working in an non-health related field like I was in (technical and human resources). Once I would come home and switch roles it was very difficult and I never had any energy after dealing with family life and work. Thank God I was laid off. I really would like to be in a professional healthcare setting with some sort of license working part time or per diem while studying. I’M OPEN TO ANYTHING, PLEASE RESPOND…

If you get your BSN and immediately apply to Med School, there’s a downside: you took a competitive spot to become a nurse and then didn’t become a nurse. It comes across as a misuse of resources. You could have been any major, but you wasted the opportunity for another person to become a nurse.

With a few years experience, being an RN is not detrimental. You saw it, you tried it, you decided it wasn’t enough. You also have a better perspective to decide if you REALLY want to be an MD.

Med school is not an easy thing, and neither is medical practice. It will come at a price to you and your family. Time spent studying and working will be time not spent with them. If your husband is not supportive, this may be a very difficult journey (more so than normal). Search through the past posts to find a lot of wisdom from folks who have “been there, done that”.

Also, you state you’ll be taking the MCAT soon. Have you finished all of the subjects covered on it? Physics I/II, Ochem, Bio I/II, Chem I/II? Are you doing well on practise MCATs (such as on AAMC web site - real old MCATS), and have you got the timing/pacing down?

There’s also another recent thread with a very similar topic and more indepth answers…I think the OP was “Naomi”

I’m not trying to discourage you, just want you to attack this with your eyes open. Good luck!


As stated, there is a downside applying straight to med school from finishing a BSN. Also, that is AT LEAST 4 years, which is a lot of not-working and moula to get to work in the healthcare field. I’d suggest, if you already have the prereqs and are ready for the MCAT, pursuing becoming a paramedic and working at that. Good exposure, material that should be interesting, less investment of time and money, and can sometimes work and not get calls and be able to study also.

Just a thought.

There is no down side to being an RN and applying, providing you have worked as a nurse for a bit…assumption is you’ve seen what it’s all about and decided to go further.


If you can impress an ADCOM with a solid reason for why you decided to switch, I think you would stand a fighting chance. Nursing courses involve a lot of A/P and medical microbiology, which, in my opinion, gives an outstanding baseline of knowledge to build upon. I served in the Navy as a medic, and in many circumstances I was the primary care provider, in the absence of the medical officer, and I can tell you that nursing courses would have done a lot more for me than most of the undergraduate bio classes that I have taken thus far.

You are wise to seek direction in this regard, but if your intentions are admirable, and an ADCOM can see that, then that may work for you instead of against you. Remember, the process involves many variables…try to control as many of them as you can. You can do it.

Based on the responses I’m not sure I understand. There seem to be more than just one issue here but the only one we can provide feedback on is which degree. In the end any degree. However if your plan is to have a degree that will help pay the bills in between graduation and starting med school I would opt for the nursing. I might even advise you work for a bit but without more info it’s difficult to give you any really helpful advice.

Is the plan to graduate and start med school right away? If so why those degrees? Backup if med school doesn’t pan out?

I appreciate all of ur very genuine responses. My plan is to work as an RN for at least 1-2 years as I’m already 42. I need to save some money in case we divorce or separate also. My son is only seven. I decided that even if I get a part-time position I can do better financially. As far as adcoms go, I have a very compelling story. I can and will convince them of my sincerity. Not worried there. One thing that does trouble me is that even other RN to MD candidates can be very discouraging. If u have been there and faced the trials then why discourage other hopefuls. Makes no sense to me. Please don’t let this board become SDN. afterall we are all NON-TRADS OR OLD-PREMEDS.

I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Tell your story in the PS and when you get to the interview elaborate but I think you’ll be just fine…all things considered (GPA, MCAT…)

I know when I was thinking of being a physician (which it is still on the table, just not as heavy anymore), being an RN was a tremendous booster. BUT I’ve been doing it for some time and as the years pass, I can see how my interactions with patients and their conditions have changed.

This is what I do, I assess each patient as I would according to their presentations to the ER and think, “If I were the ED doc, what would I focus on?” and then act accordingingly, within my scope of practice. If N/V comes in, what would you do? Where’s the pain, upper or lower or generalized? How long has this been going on? What preceded it? Bad chili or sudden onset? Does high fat foods bring this on? Does eating help the pain go away…and so on. Look at the EKG’s and try to figure them out and ask the physician if you’re finding are right…right bundle branch block by this dibit here within the QRS. Left bundle branch block by this dibit on this side of the QRS. Pt is “fibby”. ST depression states old possible MI, etc. They’ll get a kick out of you…

Kate has some wonderful advice (high five Kate!!)!! Work as an RN and really look at how the budgets are met…as a physician, you’ll be hammered for quick bed-turns and tests upon tests upon tests.

On a side note, your husband may be scared that he won’t be able to make the household bills while you’re in med school, which could be the reason why he’s not very supportive. I suggest, work as an RN, save up as much as possible during that time and show him how much $$$ you’ll be worth after you’re on your own. The ER docs earn about $240/hour.

Whatever decision you make, I know it’ll be the best for Y-O-U!!!

Sorry if I came across as negative. I understood you to ask whether Respiratory Therapy or Nursing would be a better degree to pursue. On that question, I’d definately think nursing would be preferable because the focus is more as a generalist. I don’t think either degree would be a hindrance when applying to med school. But I think EMT-B would also be a strong background, would enable you to begin working in the healthcare field and would take much less of an investment in time and money. I did not realize you wanted to be able to support yourself fully - certainly nursing would bring you closer to that. In fact, when my husband sought a divorce I started nurse-midwifery school, as I didn’t think I could support our three kids solely on my nursing salary, but as a nurse practitioner was in a much stronger position. Since then, nursing salaries have improved significantly. I certainly understand wanting a marketable degree.

My note of caution was based on the understanding (having taught nursing in 2 different RN programs) that is is time consuming, many students take longer than 4 years, and it can be pretty expensive. I myself was biology/premed for three years of college, and then transferred into the junior year of a nursing program and took 2 years to finish with a BSN. 5 years total, lots of tuition, and then here I am in med school in my 50’s. Was trying to save you a year or two!

Best of luck in your pursuits!!



What is the pay for a BSN nurse with experience where you’re at? I worked with a gal from Oklahoma who couldn’t believe how little we get paid here in Texas; she has soon left.

What’s your thoughts on the DNP FNP? I’ve heard both sides of the story and am not sure which is true. I know the state I’m from isn’t as strict on NP’s as in others. New Mexico is also one without strict guidelines for NPs.

With you being an NP and now a med student, would you have still done med school? I work with a new 55+ doc that said “No”.

p.s. I didn’t know you taught!! Pretty cool!!

Regarding pay - somewhere between 48000 and 60000. I know that is a huge range. Night shift, critical care, more like 60,000.

Would I have still done med school? Yes, definately. Nursing school is like knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep. CNM is like being a foot deep in some areas, but a bit less wide. Med school is like a mile wide and 3 feet deep. At least that’s my subjective impression so far. I wanted to be wider and deeper, if that makes sense.

Regarding the DNP FNP - I don’t really know enough about it to comment. I’d suggest calling Case Western Univ. or Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing about their FNP programs.


There are so many awesome comments. I’m 42, an ICU nurse and studying for the MCAT. My advice would be to look into a one year medical program offered at a local community or city college. Try to ease the financial hardship in anyway possible with your spouse. An agreement need to be made that you both can stick to. Stress in the marriage will effect EVERYTHING!! Go to nursing school only if you TRULY desire to be a nurse. Nursing school isn’t easy. It will take up all of your time and energy. Nursing is an excellent career but making a terrific salary greatly depends on where you live and size of the hospital. I’m a nurse in California and I’m making twice as much as I did practicing in Louisiana.

thanks for ur response but why are you preparing for the MCAT BUT I shouldn’t do nursing unless I want to be a nurse? sounds a little hypocritical…why are you seeking medicine and not satisfied with nursing? we are in the same boat regarding desire.

Mmcintosh, there’s kind of a difference with majoring in nursing with the expressed intent to go to med school and practicing as a nurse to later realize that the next best career/education step for that person may be med school. I’ve been in RN for 5 years. When I completed nursing school (2nd degree) I had no intention of going to med school. I was content with my career choice and felt that I was using all my background and skills (public health, health promotion). Earlier this year I was trying to decide if I should to back to grad school. I researched all my options NP, PA, MD/DO, PhD. With my academic interests, MD/DO will provide me with the most opportunities for practice and research which is what I’m looking for. I’m not sure if I articulated this as well as I wanted to, but I hope it provided a little clarity. Getting into nursing school is a challenge in and of itself and many schools have waiting lists.

Have you considered being a scribe in the ER. Some of the premed students at my school are doing this part time. They work with and I’m not sure what the pay is but the hours sounded flexible. Some other options may be CNA, PTA/OTA, EMT……

Yes it may sound hypocritical yet I’ve been in nursing for 10 years worked in Med/Surg, Telemetry, Rehab, ICU Stepdown, Travel Nurse, MICU, Home Health Nurse and Charge Nurse. I’m grateful for my career and accomplishments. I’ve given myself time in the profession to truly understand it and time to know that moving on is a logical choice for me. For me, I missed the science, the understanding of the body systems, it’s make up, the diseases, the pathology. I craved to learn more. I look at medicine not as me abandoning nursing but building upon it.

precisely as i said hypocritical. I now see why most pre-meds don’t ask nurses advice about becoming physicians after being a nurse. looks like the answer is always judgmental. and even after knowing the real circumstances for choosing that option as a path out of many, they are made to feel inferior because you have been a nurse for a long time and have just come to the decision to pursue an MD. Not sure why that is, but it is very selfish and somehow depicts a superiority complex that probably came out of feelings of under-utilization or not being recognized for being more than a nurse.

My question was directed towards those that don’t need to compete as to why they are now pursuing an MD after nursing, but can just provide an answer as to whether there is a stereotype associated with applying to med school as a nurse. i feel sorry for those that feel like because they have been a nurse for years and are dissatisfied with the profession, that those years as a nurse have somehow placed them in a league of “i earned my right to go to med school”. because you have healthcare experience.

just as many of you have said med school was not your intention, then don’t pursue med school. but it was always mine. and as a matter of fact, i have done a number of things in healthcare as well as the corporate sector. i’ve worked in pharma research, clinical diagnostic research, been a medical technologist, surgical technologist, software development manager, technical project manager, HR manager, started a recruiting firm and now trying to finally pursue my dream of becoming a physician because i have always had to work and support everyone else and never complete my goal.

it is very strange but this type of condescending attitude does not exist amongst respiratory therapists. they actually know the scope with which they practice is limited and actively and openly pursue medicine without constant caddy competition. they are more supportive than most RN-MD transitioners that i have met on this board and elsewhere.

and no nursing school is not that competitive for someone that is a biology major or has a bio degree because they have a done upper level courses and have a study ethic that is conducive to digesting and processing complex material. i have several friends that are RN’s and NP’s in med school and say that nursing school did not prepare them in any way for the rigors of med school and it was a breeze that left them wanting more depth of knowledge and experience.

Just want to say thanks to jfowler, crooz and sevenwheels for your unbiased, genuine and thoughtful answers. I hope that others like you will respond with positive feedback.