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Should My Child Become an Nurse or a Doctor?

There is a difference between being a nurse and being a doctor.  But please, don't base your decision on academic achievement, but on where your students heart lies.  It's the intangibles that are the deciding factor.
The person giving her assessment told my daughter to go ahead with her plan to get an RN, but not to stop there with her "educational potential" as he called it.
~Cam in Washington

As a nurse, I'm a little offended by the psychologist's perspective that an RN is for those with less educational potential!  (I'm not offended by your comments at all, just the psychologist's comments!)  Here is what I suggest.  If your daughter LOVES science and math, and ENJOYS taking care of people, then she might be a great doctor.  If your daughter LOVES taking care of people and ENJOYS math and science, then she might be a great nurse.  Because, in general, doctors TREAT patients - nurses take care of patients.  Doctors diagnose, write orders and then leave.  It's a completely different job - not related to educational potential at all.

One easy way to decide what you want to do is to work in a hospital.  For younger students, I often recommend being a hospital volunteer.  That's what I did!  You can volunteer usually from the age of 14.  For older students (18 years) you may be able to look into phlebotomy, or the drawing of blood.  That has the added benefit of being a paying job, and introducing you to actual physical intervention, all while getting you into the hospital setting.

I don't recommend is choosing to be a doctor "because" of academics, anymore than I recommend being a nurse "because" of gender.

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Comments 4

Guest - Lee (website) on Sunday, 16 August 2009 17:44

This is such great information! Thanks for the comments, each of you!
Blessings,
Lee

This is such great information! Thanks for the comments, each of you! Blessings, Lee
Guest - gradchica on Sunday, 16 August 2009 10:34

The financial and lifestyle ramifications of this decision (and the sheer amount of schooling) should also be talked over by student and parent together--and perhaps with a nurse and/or physician friend. This may be a crass way of looking at a such a big life decision, but it will affect how your child lives his/her young adulthood and how and when he/she will be able to start a family and raise children.

My husband is a physician, currently in his last year of residency and facing three more of fellowship. He had enough "educational potential" to lead him to a prestigious out-of-state college and then medical school, which left him with a mortgage's worth of student loans which are racking up interest during residency. The average debt after med school (for his graduating class) was about $200,000, so students will be starting out their adult lives deeply in debt. Painful, yet doable, if you specialize, but tough if you want to be a family physician or generalist, who make significantly less money. Also tough if you even entertain the desire to stay home with children for any length of time.

Going straight through college, medical school, and residency (mostly 3-4 yrs, excluding surgery residencies), one will be about 29-30 before being eligible for a "real job" (32-33 for those who decide to specialize). Residency caps your time at 80hrs/wk of work (averaged over a 4 week period), fellowship has no cap on work hours. Balancing work and family is tough for everyone, especially tough for residents/fellows--especially if the spouse has an equally demanding job.

Thinking about how your student pictures his/her life (being the primary breadwinner, being part of a two-earner family, working part-time to stay home with children, etc) and how work fits in to that picture should have a big impact on this decision (ie, if you end up with hefty loans but only want to work part-time to be with children, will that be feasible?).

I don't know much about nursing as a career, but I do know my sister in law will graduate from college as an RN and be ready for a good, in-demand job. If your student's interests seem to be pointing to being an RN but nagging doubts remain ("why not go "all the way" to the MD?"), thinking clearly about how his/her life will play out for the next 6-10 years may be enough to put those doubts to rest.

The financial and lifestyle ramifications of this decision (and the sheer amount of schooling) should also be talked over by student and parent together--and perhaps with a nurse and/or physician friend. This may be a crass way of looking at a such a big life decision, but it will affect how your child lives his/her young adulthood and how and when he/she will be able to start a family and raise children. My husband is a physician, currently in his last year of residency and facing three more of fellowship. He had enough "educational potential" to lead him to a prestigious out-of-state college and then medical school, which left him with a mortgage's worth of student loans which are racking up interest during residency. The average debt after med school (for his graduating class) was about $200,000, so students will be starting out their adult lives deeply in debt. Painful, yet doable, if you specialize, but tough if you want to be a family physician or generalist, who make significantly less money. Also tough if you even entertain the desire to stay home with children for any length of time. Going straight through college, medical school, and residency (mostly 3-4 yrs, excluding surgery residencies), one will be about 29-30 before being eligible for a "real job" (32-33 for those who decide to specialize). Residency caps your time at 80hrs/wk of work (averaged over a 4 week period), fellowship has no cap on work hours. Balancing work and family is tough for everyone, especially tough for residents/fellows--especially if the spouse has an equally demanding job. Thinking about how your student pictures his/her life (being the primary breadwinner, being part of a two-earner family, working part-time to stay home with children, etc) and how work fits in to that picture should have a big impact on this decision (ie, if you end up with hefty loans but only want to work part-time to be with children, will that be feasible?). I don't know much about nursing as a career, but I do know my sister in law will graduate from college as an RN and be ready for a good, in-demand job. If your student's interests seem to be pointing to being an RN but nagging doubts remain ("why not go "all the way" to the MD?"), thinking clearly about how his/her life will play out for the next 6-10 years may be enough to put those doubts to rest.
Guest - Katherine on Sunday, 09 August 2009 01:58

Dear Lee, This is a question that I had to face myself and many factors go into making any career decision. As a homeschooling mother and wife and physician, there have been times that I wished I had decided to be a nurse instead. As I look back, I can see that the Lord has been guiding me and that gives me confidence to know that I am in the right career.

Dear Lee, This is a question that I had to face myself and many factors go into making any career decision. As a homeschooling mother and wife and physician, there have been times that I wished I had decided to be a nurse instead. As I look back, I can see that the Lord has been guiding me and that gives me confidence to know that I am in the right career.
Guest - Anissa (website) on Friday, 07 August 2009 09:52

Hi Lee..I am a fellow nurse as well and I really appreciate your thoughtful insight regarding this topic. Thanks!

Hi Lee..I am a fellow nurse as well and I really appreciate your thoughtful insight regarding this topic. Thanks!
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