Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A: Does Having a Nursing Background Hurt Me?

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Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A: Does Having a Nursing Background Hurt Me?

Session 69

Do nursing courses count toward your medical school prerequisites, and is there any truth to low medical school acceptance rates for nurses?

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[00:24] Question of the Day

Our guest today is a nursing student with a strong intention of becoming a physician. But she has received a lot of negative feedback about having a nursing background when applying to medical school. Basically, her question is whether having a nursing background hurt when applying to medical school.

She was informed that the nursing prerequisites are different medical school prerequisites. She has gotten feedback that they’re not going to think that you’re as strong of an applicant.

[02:25] Are Nursing Prereqs Weak for Medical School Application?

Your nursing prereqs more than likely are not going to count as prereqs for medical school. The nursing prereqs typically aren’t going to cover the mandatory classes that most schools want. And so with that knowledge, then you can finish your nursing degree. Then go back and take classes as a non degree seeking students to fulfill those prereqs.

“There's a little bit of validity to what they are saying as far as your nursing classes, not being as strong for medical school.” Click To Tweet

They’re not the classes that you need to take for prereqs to get into med school. So that’s step one. Obviously, you’re more likely going to have to take more classes after you graduate to fulfill those prereqs for medical school. 

[03:59] Low Acceptance Rates for Other Healthcare Fields

Wanting to be a medical student is a weak argument to tell your story. If you can tell your story and your personal statement as to why you were originally a nursing student and now why you want to be a physician, who cares?

It’s not like you started off anthropology and then you went to architecture school and then you want to do psychology and then it’s nursing and then it’s a lawyer and now it’s a doctor.

You’re not making huge switches. You’re going from nursing to being a physician. 

That’s a very logical transition for a lot of people who start off nursing. Maybe they didn’t have the confidence they wanted to be a physician. Maybe they didn’t have the mentors, the resources to know that they could be a physician.

And then now, they have a mentor and then they could now see themselves going to medical school.

AAMC has historically looked at prior undergraduate majors, prior undergrad, graduate degrees, and those looking to get into medical school. And so when you look at chemistry and biology, the hard sciences degrees, those acceptance rates are pretty high.

When you look at degrees like humanities, those acceptance rates are pretty good. They’re pretty high. And when you look at different healthcare fields like nursing, those acceptance rates are low.

Why? I have no idea. That doesn’t mean that just because you are a nursing student doesn’t mean you’re not going to get into medical school. That means there’s some other variable there.

We don’t actually know what’s causing the students not to get accepted. Maybe they didn’t go get their medical school prereqs and they just applied with their nursing school classes. And the medical schools didn’t think it’s going to work. And so they’re not accepted.

“There are a thousand variables as to why students who have a nursing background have lower acceptance rates.” Click To Tweet

[06:48] Is a Nursing Background Going to Hurt You?

No. It will actually help you when you have this background and you obviously knew you wanted to go into healthcare for some reason. But that being said, you’re going to have to explain that in your personal statement. 

“You're going to have to explain why being a physician is actually what you need to do and not nursing.” Click To Tweet

So get that out of your head that it’s going to hurt you. It will help you. It’s just part of your journey.

And now when it comes to applying, you need to explain your story and your personal statement. Explain your story and your extracurriculars and secondary essays. That’s easy to do once you learn how to tell your story.

[07:30] Your Next Step

For now, figure out your next step whether you want to finish your degree. Or if you realize that you don’t want to be a nurse then just stop your nursing degree. Switch majors into something else.

“Go and take the prereqs that you need and figure out the shortest distance to getting the classes that you need to apply.” Click To Tweet

Maybe you want to finish your nursing degree and then just take a couple extra classes afterwards. Or maybe it’s stopping your nursing major and doing something else to get the classes that you need. That’s going to be your first step to start off on this journey.


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