Nurse to Doctor Programs


Some nurses enter the nursing industry, only to become dissatisfied with their scope of practice. As a result, they want to become doctors instead, and nurse to doctor programs can help facilitate that… if they can find them. Nurses that try to transition to doctors run into problems for a variety of reasons.

Some of these include:

–        Many doctor programs look down on nurses, reasoning that if they were any good, they would have gotten into a doctor’s degree program to begin with.

–        Nursing programs are not equivalent to pre-med programs in many schools. They have a different emphasis, and require different coursework.

–        A lot of nurses have bachelor’s degrees, or even advanced degrees in nursing, and have to go back to the pre-med level before they can try to become doctors.

–        Students that try to go directly  from nursing school right to medical school may be looked down on during the med school entrance interview.

–        Actual RN to MD transitioning programs are difficult, if not impossible, to find in the United States.

The challenges that nurses face when attempting to transition to doctors depend largely on the school the nurse graduated from, and what courses were offered. Ultimately, there is no more of an impediment for a nurse switching to becoming a doctor than there is for a nurse becoming a lawyer, a scientist, or any other type of professional.

Nurse to Doctor, or Doctor Nurse?

Nursing degree programs vs. doctor degree programs can create some confusion for students and patients alike. Nurse to doctor programs help nurses and nursing students transition to a medical program designed to turn out physicians, the people we normally associate with the word “doctor.” Physicians have doctorate degrees in medicine, and a scope of practice that is far wider than the average nurse’s.

That said, there are some nurses who are doctors, and who have a scope of practice similar to a doctor’s. In many states, they can even be a patient’s primary care provider! However, these nurses are not doctors, and didn’t go through a nurse to doctor program to get where they are. Instead, they are nurse practitioners, and are nurses who have obtained a doctorate. In academic circles, they would be considered a Doctor of Nursing, but in the medical field they are still considered nurses.

When it comes down to it, the choice between becoming a doctor or a nurse practitioner is a personal one. Some people wish to become specialists, or just want to have a wider scope of practice than their state’s nursing regulations allow them. People choose to switch from being nurses to being doctors for the same reasons that students want to get into pre-med programs in the first place.

Finding and Enrolling in Nurse to Doctor Programs

Currently, there are no recognized nurse to doctor programs available in the United States, but this doesn’t mean that schools won’t be willing to help transition students on an individual basis. Some programs can be found overseas, but students should always be suspicious of distance learning when it comes to nursing and medicine, and many medical schools will not recognize distance learning credits. Nurse to doctor programs aren’t overseen by a state’s Board of Nursing, so nurses also can’t rely on their list of approved nursing programs to find one. Instead, they will have to find a medical school in their area, ask what is required for entry, and go through all of the steps they need to to finish their pre-med prerequisites, take their MCAT, interview for a medical school, graduate, and go through their residency.

In general, if a nurse wants to enter medical school, it’s easier if he or she finds out what classes are needed for med school, and then takes them at a local college on their own. Meeting prerequisite requirements, having a sufficiently high GPA, getting a good score on the MCAT, and acing the medical school entrance interview are more important than finding a recognized transitioning program.

There are a lot of different reasons why nurses try to find nurse to doctor programs, and a lot of misconceptions attached to them. Nursing and medicine are two different paths, and there isn’t usually much overlap between the two. Med school prerequisite classes can help close the gap between nursing education and pre-med, and allow people with nursing degrees to pursue their dreams of becoming doctors.

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