Dear Mentor:

Will a nursing degree help me in an MD program?

I want to become an MD [Doctor of Medicine] but I am making up my mind to go for BS Nursing first and then do the MD degree. How far is it going to help me?

Nursing for MD, Morgan Hill, California, USA

Dear Nursing for MD:

The short answer to your question is: it depends. Mostly it depends on what you mean by the word "help."

Here are some possibilities:

  1. It will help me get admitted to med school.
  2. It will help me to get a job in medicine if I decide not to pursue the MD.
  3. It will help me to be better prepared than are other students in my MD class.

We will answer the final version. The nursing program is significantly different from a pre-med program and from an MD program. While intuition and instincts may suggest that you would have a leg up on other MD students because of your background in nursing, such is not the case. Any nominal advantage that a nursing background may offer would vanish very quickly at the start of the MD program.

As you may know, to become eligible for the MD program, one needs a bachelor's degree in any discipline with certain requirements for credits in sciences. Thus, the path to the MD offers significant flexibility for pursuing any secondary interests you may have in other disciplines of education. You should do your undergrad in nursing because that is of interest to you and you find the field appealing, and not otherwise. Pursuing a field totally unrelated to medicine and healthcare may in fact have several advantages, provided you do the required science courses for the MD. These advantages include: following your passion in another discipline, gaining broader knowledge and skills, pursuinga less common and more exotic field of work due to a combination of your undergrad and MD degrees, and so on.

We can not make a choice for you, nor would we want to. We would encourage you to articulate your goals (becoming an MD is one), ambitions, passions, and interests. A careful analysis may then produce a path to the MD that is highly enriching and rewarding.

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