Thread: Nursing vs Medicine
20-06-2009, 02:40 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Nursing vs Medicine
I am currently a HCA having graduated from university in July 2008 (I am 23). I love the healthcare industry and love being a HCA. I am trying to decide whether to persue a career in nursing or medicine. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and no matter how much soul searching I do..I cant come up with answer..some people tell me I soul search too much!
Browsing the forums, I have noticed that you are all very helpful and there are quite a few nurses who have now decided to go into medicine, so I thought I would ask for your advice. I know it is ultimately my decision, and ultimately only I can make this decision..but the more insight and suggestions/advice I could get, the easier this decision may be..if the decision to do medicine is ever considered easy..
Here are some of my ideas:-
The advantages of nursing over medicine is the course would only be two years, I would have no debt at the end of it, its more family friendly, maybe slightly more patient contact
The advantages of medicine is its a challenging career, it has higher responsibility, its more academic, dare I say higher salary, it has to be one of the most rewarding careers of all time.
The disadvantage with medicine for me is even if I took the shortest route and became a GP, I would be about 35. I wouldnt even graduate until I was 30 provided I got in first time. Ultimately, its the debt afterwards...how easy is it to pay off? how quickly? and by my 30s I would hope to have a family and dont want a debt interfering with my ability to take care of kids? I should also probably state that I have a 2.2 in my degree although I am not afraid of the GAMSAT.
Or are my work colleagues right, should I stop worrying about the future and kids that dont exist yet (although family is the one thing I have always wanted) and live in the here and now?
One of my favourite quotes is life isnt measured by how many breathes you take, but how many moments take your breath away? Maybe I should start living and stop existing...
Thanks in advance for your advice..I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Last edited by FutureDoctor???; 20-06-2009 at 02:42 PM.
20-06-2009, 03:17 PM #2
I say take the risk and go for medicine if you really want to be a doctor. A lot of us are in the same boat, slightly scared of the financial side of it but if you are English and doing a GEP then the NHS pays years 2-4 tuition so that cuts off a large chunk of would be debt. Plus you may also be entitled to a bursary if you went down that route (you prob already know this lol).
I'll be in my early 20's when I start med school and by no means would you be the oldest in the class, some people start med in their 40's and go into hospital specialities.
Personally I've seen enough births and delivered enough babies to be put off for life lol, so I'm a career girl now and I will worry about having kids when I'm at registrar level.
Where I work loads of the female registrars have had babies (obs and gynae) and are married etc.
I think you should also specialise in whatever takes your fancy and not the quickest route to X/Y/Z ... you want to make sure you are happy in your field.
As for nursing, well I'm a student midwife so I haven't really seen much of a nurses role first hand, we have very different roles contrary to popular belief lol. I have a few friends who are nurses though and they seem to love it, they are happy in their chosen area which is again important.
Some of the reasons why I'm leaving midwifery for medicine is simply because I want to learn more, see more and do more clinically. I want to be the person who is called to review patient X and not the person calling for a review (if you see what I mean, I don't mean that in snide way). I just really need to be a doctor or I won't be happy... there would always be that feeling of missing out I think.
I think if you do well in the GAMSAT you would have a strong application with your background as a HCA. What is your degree in if you don't mind me asking? xBSc Midwifery - Distinction (p.1:1 Hons) Qualified Midwife 2010
20-06-2009, 05:14 PM #3
You're so young, don't let age hinder you! I'm 37 and just starting...
What's 2 years in the grand scheme of things? It's taken me that long to get in anyway - so with hindsight I could have completed the PG Dip nursing anyway and at least have some really good experience behind me... but I didn't, although this year I did an MSc in audiology as a backup if I hadn't made it this year.
As you are funded for the nursing you wouldn't be losing out really if you did that first and then applied to medicine - it won't look like your changing your mind, rather confirming that you found nursing wasn't for you - or it may well end up being just what you wanted? It would also help you academically.
If you go the GAMSAT route, then you need to start focusing on revision and practice, but at least it's valid for 2 years (it's expensive, so at least you get 2 applications out of it). With a 2:2 you do face a challenge to get a place on a GEP but of course it's possible and with all that experience as an HCA you'll no doubt fulfil the w/exp req for St. Georges...
20-06-2009, 05:35 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
I am planning on taking GAMSAT in September 2010 as a practise as they are valid for two years anyway. Which gives me just over a year to do some hardcore revision!
Thanks for your insight!
20-06-2009, 05:41 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Due to current finances, I cant apply for anything for another couple of years. So my plan at the moment (for medicine anyway) is to spend the next year and a bit doing hard core revision for GAMSAT, take a practise test in Sept 2010 (as you say they are valid for two years) and hope for a great result which I can use in my application in Sept 2011..
20-06-2009, 09:06 PM #6
It sounds like you have a good idea of the pros and cons for both careers.
Nursing is a 3 year fully funded course. The money at the end isnt great, you start on £20000 and tbh your lucky if you get over £25000 10 years down the line! (unless you get into one of the nurse specialist roles) But on the other hand you work 3 days a week (12 hour shifts), its a great family friendly career, you spend your whole shift looking after 12 patients, you really get to know them and their family, help them through difficult times and do some interesting clinical things.
I love my job, I really do. I enjoy going to work every day, and actually hate days off! But I still feel a part of me is missing. I want to do all the stuff that Drs do, want more responsibility, and a role in the diagnostic side. I want to order the tests and decide on a course of treatment.. I want to talk to my patients about their illness, and not spending my time trying to pin down the doctors to get them to talk to my patients!!
I am 30, so aware time is getting on, but I don't want to have kids or get married so I am willing to put myself through med school. But I know if I had wanted to have kids or anything, i think my decision may be different. Nursing is so much more family friendly than medicine.
But you are right, ultimatly its your decision... But the way I see it, if you want to work hard for the rest of your life, and focus on developing a career, I say go for medicine. If you want a family friendly career with a degree of medicine in it, and lots of patient contact where you are making a differnce at the part that really matters to the patients, then I think nursing is an option!
PxSt Andrews 2nd year medic!
20-06-2009, 09:17 PM #7
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
20-06-2009, 09:29 PM #8
There is no difference at the end of it, you all start on band 5 salary! However the diploma will be phased out, and we are all expected to upgrade to a degree at some point anyway. Funding is slightly different for the courses though.. In England you get full bursary for diploma, but only student loans for the degree. In Scotland you get bursary for both, and in Wales they only offer the degree courses.
check out Student Nurse for the nursing side of it!!St Andrews 2nd year medic!
20-06-2009, 10:43 PM #9
21-06-2009, 10:38 AM #10
I'll add my own comments
Firstly, don’t stay as an HCA. HCA’s reach a career and financial ‘ceiling’ very quickly. Nursing is a good choice. The DipHE is still used as an entry point, as we senior nurses can’t decide among ourselves about nursing being a graduate only profession. I think it should be graduate only, by the way. You will get a non-means tested bursary for a DipHE, but not for either an undergrad or post-grad pre-reg course (these are means tested). If it changes to graduate only, you will have the opportunity to be seconded as with the Project 2000 conversion nurses.
The DipHE is at level II (i.e. second year undergrad) while the degree gets you a B.Sc. or even better an M.Sc. Degree nurses (in England) are still very rare. In my course of 240, there were only 20 degree students. In my old uni, this figure has only gone up to about 40 out of the 240 nursing students, in the last year or two. All nurses start on Band 5 (old system: Grade D) and progress within the Band over time. However, getting Sister and above realistically, now requires a degree and often post-reg courses. So, if you can afford it, do the degree.
You mention time to get into post. In nursing, you can race through the bands if you are ambitious. There are many different types of nursing role. I’m a Clinical Research Nurse; one of the few PhD, RNs out there! I’m applying for GEP, via GAMSAT. I’ll try for 2 years, then if unsuccessful I’ll go into nurse lecturing and research at a good uni. Senior nurses can carry a heavy responsibility (try being in charge of a ward, for example) although we don’t get the pay that doctors do. So, the opportunities are large, particularly for Adult branch trained nurses.
Medicine is also a good choice. A 2:2 is acceptable for SGUL and Notts and a bioscience degree will help with the science subjects in GAMSAT. However, only these 2 universities will accept your lower second. I must admit that it’s a bit odd that you have a bioscience degree and have chosen to become a HCA. The only HCAs I’ve known with a degree have been ‘transitory’, doing bank work. As to age, you would be within the average age for a GEP (around 26 to 28-years-old). I’m at the other end of the bell curve, being 43. So, you are far from getting too old!
I can’t say I’d recommend doing nursing first then medicine. If you want to be a doctor, go for that. I wish I’d gone for the GEP route instead of spending years in nursing before applying. Doing nursing first appears a tortuous route into medicine. Your HCA experience is enough...
Genevieve mentioned Midwifery. I know a few nurses who have chosen to go down the 18-month conversion degree. Gen must be a ‘direct entry’ Midwife. Whether direct entry is better than going through a nurse to midwife conversion course, I’m not sure – there’s probably no difference. This shows one of the differences between nursing and medicine. In nursing, we specialise early and stay within our specialism. So, I know little about midwifery, other than Midwives deal with ‘well’ people who are going to have/having/had a baby. In medicine, all areas are covered including obstetrics, for example. It’s also another reason why, academically, medicine is so much harder when compared to other healthcare professions.
Hope that helps.
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