RN to MD or DO

Im a cardiology nurse that will be applying to medical schools this year…
Any advice to offer?

No advice, but good luck! I'm sure you will be great with that kind of experience.

I thought of one thing that might help. Try to get your Amcas done by June since lots of schools have rolling admissions the sooner you apply the better your chances. Apply to a range of schools, maybe 15 to 20, including quite a few DO schools with a few dreams schools and a few lower tier schools thrown in.
Good luck!

good luck nurse2doc, Im in the same boat with you. Reckon im medic2nurse2doc (2doc hopefully). Well anyhow good luck and keep us posted through the year with the details.

No advice but just well wishes! Good Luck!!!

Be prepared to explain your career switch. RNs “jumping ship” can be viewed negatively by interviewers - not always, but it happens frequently enough. You need to have your reasons articulated well.

As Mary wisely pointed out, be prepared to articulate why you're changing careers. Folks from who were allied health professionals are expected to know why…and since you're an insider, to know it well. I was a respiratory terrorist for many years before medical school. That opened me up to an entire genre of questions others did not have to anwer.
1 - As experienced as you are, I feel that you should be conducting this interview. Please interview me about this program and demonstrate how you belong here.
2 - You will obviously know much more about resp & vent management than the majority of your colleagues. Please explain to me, and provide examples, as to how you will deal when your managing residents or attneding physician is incorrect in their choices.
3 - What if what they order is dangerous to the patient and the room is full of family members, how will you deal with this?
And the ever-present absurdly escalating ethics questions…they love to pull those on we old war horses.
Another point you should bear in mind, having been a nurse is not sufficient to impress the members of the AdCom. You still must prove yourself capable of handling medical school through solid academic performance and a solid performance on the MCAT. These elements are required of every applicant. Only after having successfully undertaking those two things will they give you any quarter for your experience. In other words, do not expect that you can overcome academic or MCAT underperformance by demonstrating that you were an excellent nurse.
Please do not take away from my post that having been an allied health professional is a disadvantage. Quite the contrary! However, just be very cognizant that the AdComs expectationsof you will likely be different…even higher when it comes to interview time. They know that some 22-yr old applicant who volunteered to pass out cookies in the ER does not truly know the inside of medicine. However, they will expect you to know and be able to express why your experiences as a nurse prompted you to try to become a physician.
Best of luck & success to you!

Lol! I laughed out loud when you said 22-year old… As a matter of fact Im 23 and although I may not be considered a classic “old pre-med” I definately feel Im a non-traditional applicant and will be a few years older than most of my collegues.
I chose nursing to begin with for a number of reasons… When I started college the idea of becoming a doctor was one that I had always wished for but some how tried to talk myself out of it. I know now it was because I was scared to try. Its an extremely challenging path and was just plain scared of failing.
As I started, I was on the typical Bio Pre Med track. Once I started my undergrad pre-reqs I quickly became discouraged once I started my chem classes. They truly kicked my butt and those insecurities of failing set in deeper.
I talked to my mom who is a nurse as well and she suggested going into nursing. I really not only thought about it continuously but also prayed about it. I finally came to the conclusion that it was the right choice for me and decided that I wanted to graduate with a degree in a major I could actually put to use!
I have not once regretted my decision to become a nurse. I have been able to experience sides of medicine from a vantage point that most applicants have not. I am the someone that doctors collaborate with to decide what could be the best course for a patient. I am someone that the one that family members can consult before making a major decision. I am the one that is there for the patient… be it to help them get cleaned or to act as an advocate on their behalf. Its been a great learning and life experience for me.
However… lol… as much as I do enjoy what I do know… I know myself and realize how limiting of a profession nursing is as far as decision making is concerned. (You do have a lot … A LOT of choices within the profession and can jump from peds to ICU to OB in a few months. ) I know what it feels like to really have an opinion about what the patient needs and have it negated just because I am a nurse and I dont have the amount of education or training of a doctor. In my profession I cant allow a patient to walk to the bathroom or increase the amount of oxygen a pt gets (after a certain # of Liters) or basically do anything without a doctors order to do so. I know that what it feels like to just not know enough about the patient’s disease or medications and wish that I had learned more.
In that sense, I feel very limited and constrained in what I can do. Besides probably being more physically available to the pt to help with activities of daily living and being an advocate for them… theres not a lot I can do within the scope of my practice without a doctor.
Others have questioned me about getting my masters or becoming a nurse practitioner… but I feel I would still be back where I started just with a little more education…
In the healthcare field the physician is the leader of the team that takes care of the pt. I just want an opportunity to prove that with the right training and education I am willing and capable to be that leader.
Hopefully I will get that chance soon…
Thanks for all the words of encouragement and advice!

Hi there,
I am going to play the devil’s advocate here for a minute to make sure that you have read and absorbed the advice that Mary R and Dave have presented for you.
First, Mary suggested that you be prepared to explain why you want to leave nursing for medicine. You have explained that nursing is a limited profession for you yet you articulate in the next paragraph that you have “a lot of choices within the profession”. If you have “a lot of choices withing the profession”, how is the profession limiting for you?
Second, Dave suggested that you will have to convince adcoms through a solid academic performance and a solid performace on the MCAT that you can handle the rigors of the medical curriculum. You have noted that you are 23 years old which would indicate, in my mind, that you have not taken any additional classes above your nursing degree that would convince an AdCom that you can handle the medical curriculum in light of the fact that you said “As I started, I was on the typical Bio Pre Med track. One I started my undergrad pre-regs I quickly became discouraged once I started my chem classes. They truly kicked my butt and those insecurities of failing set in deeper.” I can tell you that an AdCom member is going to ask you what is different in your short experience of one or two years of nursing that has changed your way of thinking in light of your performance in undegraduate chemistry class? Please be prepared to have some solid grades in some classes outside of nursing to show that you have moved beyond this.
You will be non-traditional only in the sense that you may be a couple of years older than some of your colleagues but many of your medical school colleagues will be your age or older (in fact nearly half of my medical school class was over the age of 26). Even being 26 is not going to strike many AdComs as being mature by any stretch of the imagination so you have some time to work on getting together a great package to apply with. Since you have taken some of the pre-med classes you may want to look into a post-bacc program such as the Hopkins program or the Georgetown non-thesis masters in physiology. The Georgetown program is essentially the first year of medical school and with excellent performance, will put you into the second-year class at Georgetown Medical school.
Finally, take some time and look at the concrete differences between the approaches that medicine takes to patient care and nursing takes. These are fundamentally different and must be clear in your mind especially when you hit third-year clerkships. As Dave said above, you are going to find yourself in a position where your senior resident may not know as much about interacting with families or nursing procedures but will have more medical experience. How are you going to handle these differences? How are you going to interact with the nurses that you will encouter? Medical students generally do not give orders to nurses and the fact that you are a nurse may create some resentment.
Take some time to think about the advice from Mary and Dave. Formulate a strategy as to how you are going to get an attractive and competitive medical school application together. Enjoy the journey toward your goal of becoming a physician! smile.gif

I noticed that MaryR recieved her BSN in 1978… I was wondering if you had any advice for me as a former nurse yourself?
Thanks to those that replied… youve helped me think through what I need to focus on when it comes time to sit in front of the AdCom
I think I find the nursing profession limiting in the sense that you cant do much under a nursing license when it comes to decision making. If I decide to hold a medication or do anything outside of what has been prescribed by a physician I have to get permission or be held liable for the consequences. Even If the pt needs some type of urgent treatment I have to find/call the doctor first before any medical interventions can be undertaken. Also I get the impression that because most everything is spelled out for you as a nurse it keeps nurses somehow from thinking outside of what they are expected to do. Now some people are absolutely fine with this and dont want the added responsibility of being a doctor…
However, thats what Im looking forward to that responsibility and knowledge base … . Nursing as a whole just doesnt agree with my personality… Its not something that I could stay in for very long.
Ive witnessed an incident where a pt started seizing and needed an anticonvulsant fast. The nurse pulled up the right dose, attached it to the pt’s IV line and right before she gave it had to turn to the doc that was standing there to make sure that it was ok.
I understand this is because nurses dont have the education necessary (nor are they meant to have it)and that is precisely what I want … is the amount and type of education and knowledge that physicians have…
When Im working… I find myself wondering why this pt is getting this particular medication and why the doc prescribed this and how exactly it works. Im constantly wondering how exactly the disease affects my pt… I feel like there is sooooooo much more I should know and want to know!
The nursing profession is also experiencing a critical shortage… as a new grad Ive felt the pressure to do more than is humanly possible on some days. Its only going to get worse in the coming years… and I know that I wont be able to give the kind of nursing care that I would like to.
I want to be in a profession where I will be happy… feel challenged and rewarded by, and be able to give pts the type of care they deserve.
It took me about five years to complete all of my PreMed prereqs and to graduate with my BSN. I graduated in 2002 and Im currently working on a Cardiology floor and will be taking my MCAT in April…
Im very proud of the route Ive taken on my journey into medicine. Its definately “a path less traveled” and Im hoping in the end it will be “what has made all the difference”.

Absolutely “right on” advice from Mary, Old Man Dave, and Natalie. Read what they had to say carefully, and then read it three more times.

I was wondering if you had any advice for me as a former nurse yourself?

You seem like a tough young person so I hope you will take all this advice in the spirit with which it is intended - I can relate to so much of what you say, and I would like to see you succeed in your quest. So here's my thoughts....
I probably have very little useful advice for you from the perspective of a former RN, actually. I worked as an RN in postpartum/nursery in the late 70s / early 80s, then retired for several years when my kids were little. I couldn't stomach the thought of going back to that particular line of work, and ended up doing health-care related stuff but not nursing - I worked for a non-profit agency that develops a yearly certifying exam for lactation consultants. When I got sick of that, too, I started toying with the idea of going back into nursing - become an NP maybe? - and, frankly, I recoiled in horror at the thought. The intervening years had brought changes in the field that I knew would make me unhappy - higher acuity patients, poorer staffing ratios, unreasonable expectations. Yeah, the money was better but that was small consolation for what I heard from my nurse friends about their working conditions.
The other thing was, having been out of the field for several years, I would have had 6 months of "refresher" training followed by a 'beginner' job that I'd have to stay in for at least two years before I could apply to an NP program. I just knew it would suck.
I would advise that you be VERY careful in relating your experiences as an RN and how they have contributed to your desire to become a physician. Saying stuff like, "I know I want to understand this better," is fine. But even the most innocuous hint that you have felt like second-guessing a physician on occasion will go over VERY badly.
(last week, a nurse withheld a medication order for one of my patients because it appeared the order was erroneous - it wasn't any kind of dosing schedule she was familiar with, and it seemed to be a dangerously large dose of phenytoin. The order actually was EXACTLY what the patient needed - written in consultation with neurology and the pharmacy - and this action left a patient critically low on Dilantin for an unnecessarily long time. Regardless of what your experiences have been, it is, unfortunately, THIS sort of anecdote that will be on the mind of a physician on the AdCom evaluating your application, or a physician interviewing you.)
You are right that the nursing situation in US hospitals is critical, and getting worse. Think carefully about how you will present that - are you "abandoning ship?" Or worse, abandoning patients? How is it that you are so sure after such a brief time that nursing is not for you? (I am asking these questions in a spirit of devil's advocate - *I* understand what you are saying, very well, but your audience may not.) If you spent a few more years in critical care nursing, you'd find that in fact advanced-degree nurses in such settings have a high degree of autonomy - it's not always like the situation you described with the anti-convulsant meds.
Im very proud of the route Ive taken on my journey into medicine. Its definately "a path less traveled" and Im hoping in the end it will be "what has made all the difference".

You are rightly proud of what you have achieved. However, it's not a path that's held in very high esteem by medical schools, frankly, and so I'd recommend that you take quiet satisfaction in what you've done, but not go pushing it as some sort of improvement on the traditional pre-med pathway, because I don't think anyone is going to see it that way. I would encourage you to really think hard about what advantages you've gained as a result of your training as a nurse, and how you'll write/talk about them. I believe there are many potential advantages that may not have occurred to your typical AdCom member - with insight into the health care system being a big one - and so it's up to you to sell your unconventional preparation as something that has helped you. It will not give you an advantage - but you can figure out the good points and how to sell them.
More devil's advocate questions for you: if you realized early on in nursing school that you were better suited for medicine, why didn't you switch majors to biology or chemistry, say? Or pick up extra science classes or do research? By sticking with nursing, you passed up opportunities in the sciences that could have been intellectually challenging - which is what you're saying you now crave. Quite frankly, I'd be suspicious of GPA padding - hell, I know that it's easier to maintain high grades in nursing school, I did it! tongue.gif (Oh, and all those nursing courses - even if they're titled things like "pathophysiology" - will be classified as All Other (AO) by AMCAS, not BCPM - Biology Chemistry Physics Math.)
This is pretty harsh, and I wish I could figure out a way to present these ideas without coming across quite so nasty. But I also want to honestly reflect what I think an AdCom's reaction to your application may be, so that you can be prepared for it and anticipate it. I wish you all the very best, I really do!

I am in the same boat you are. I am a 26 year old RN, and I have all the premed prereqs done. I went straight from a BSN program after graduating into a MSN program to be a Nurse Practitioner. However, after a semester I realized there is no substitute for being a physician. I am now in a compromising situation because of my undergraduate immaturity; my GPA is only 3.050. So, I am studying things I haven't seen in 4 years to hopefully get a solid MCAT score in April.
I intend on going into the interview (provided I am allowed an interview somewhere!) with the attitude that is completely honest. Many people have suggested to have a back-up plan if you are trying to get into med school. For me, this is not an option. Being a doctor is all there is for me. So, I will continue to interview, year in and year out until someone gets tired of reading my file and talking to me and lets me in just to get me off their back. (Much like a convict attending a parole hearing every year)
I'm hoping that my nursing experience, educational trends (mostly A's in my last couple of years, and 3 A's one B in the master's program), and sheer determination and motivation (along with a solid 30+ MCAT score) will help me to achieve my goal and my dream of becoming a physician.
I will be extremely upset if I'm not accepted next year, as it will equal another year sentenced to nursing when I want to be practicing medicine.
I hope you have good luck in the transition, and I truly believe that nurses should be closely examined to be physicians, because who better knows what a physician on a daily basis than those who take the orders and treat the patients working side-by-side with the doc every day.

I am a first year in an osteopathic medical school, and I can tell you that at our school we have tons of former medical professionals. Myself and another classmate are PA’s, and one of my buddies is an RN who frequents this forum as well. We all do much better than average, and any school that would discriminate in any way against you as an RN is not a school you want to be at. If an RN, LVN, MA, PA, EMT, RT, OT, PT, DC, DPM, can perform satisfactorily on the required pre-reqs as well as function well in their profession, then they deserve the same or even better attention of the adcoms. Many schools like non-trad med professionals because they help lead the class members and do a lot of “tutoring” in the clinical courses. I hate to point out the obvious, but why should you have to answer in any specific way why you chose to leave the nursing profession? Just tell them that you want greater responsibility and that you love medicine. Apply everywhere, because there are schools all over the place that would love to have you. For the ones that don’t, screw em’. Big name schools are overrated and tend to be saught out by young kids who think it is going to somehow get them further in life. Some of the best docs come from the smaller schools and community based residencies.