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Nursing vs. the life-consuming medical lifestyle

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catchingthedream

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I am currently a nursing student in my first semester. Nursing is so boring and I can't stand the lack of science in the curriculum. I guess I didn't understand that in nursing school I wouldn't be learning anything NEAR what people learn in medical school besides vital signs and such. Maybe due to some of the science prerequisites I figured it would have to do more with science. But I seem to be mistaken and now I am obsessed with wanting to learn what med students learn. and I want to learn everything about the body down to the molecular level, but I am so conflicted because I don't know if I could deal with residency and the rigors of being a doctor including the 80hr+ work weeks until I retire, night shifts, no time for family, huge loans, etc. I feel like I would be one of those people that get's burnt out and stressed often, and that's no way to live life. It seems that the main reason I would go to medical school- is just for that. Medical school. Learning biochemistry, histology, and all of the science behind diseases. It's so intriguing. I'm sure I would love being a doctor as well, but I dread residency and fellowship because it takes up all of your time, I hear miserable stories, and I won't be able to have kids until my 30s! Even then, how am I going to raise very young children if I'm a doctor working 80+/hrs a week? I'm struggling so hard right now to decide which path to take. Does anyone have any advice for me? Should I consider a biomed major instead or in addition to nursing? I'm having trouble finding anything nearly equivalent to med school except maybe biomed or a PA program. I just have this insatiable desire to learn medicine and science.

I'm leaning towards sticking with nursing (but there are some days I'm sure i need to go to medical school) because my end goal is to be a neonatal nurse practitioner. (They don't really have PA's in neonatal units that much) Neonatal is like the only area of nursing I would consider besides maybe Labor and delivery or possibly peds (but probably not peds) if NICU didn't work out. I'm just not into the "caring-based" learning. I want to learn science.

I would even be very happy with just teaching classes in med school as a professor, but thats not how it works and I hear its very hard to get into those positions. In addition, you still have a very full plate with teaching, research and clinical "doctoring," for lack of a better word.
I feel stuck like there is no good advice out there for my situation. But I'm under 20 and have my whole life ahead of me. I just hate wasting time.
Please help!
 

YouEverHadOurSausages?

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I think your view of medicine/physician lifestyle is a bit too intense. Yes, some physicians work grueling hours, night shifts, etc., but that's really up to you. You can have a very reasonable lifestyle if you want to. Loans aren't too big of an issue, since even after your annual loan payment, you will be making significantly more money than you would as a nurse. You should speak to/shadow some physicians if you want a better idea of what it is like to be a doctor, and you seem to be interested for all of the right reasons. Also, what about becoming a nurse practitioner? I don't know too much about it but I believe it's a little more in depth than just becoming an RN.
 
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Weirdy

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You've only been in school for 2 months.

Would suggest holding judgement.

If you want med school that bad, quit and get pre reqs done while shadowing physicians.
 
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Consider researching a bit more into the lifestyle of physicians, the process of medical training, how specialty and practice location can change this. Shadow some docs, talk to people. Your views seem slightly uninformed. For example, you mention 80+ hr work weeks until you retire. If you look at survey data, the avg work hours of 95% of physicians surveyed was <65 hours per week.

Medscape isn't the gospel, but it's something.

http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2016/public/overview#page=25
 
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sazerac

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I was in a similar position to the OP. If you are only a couple months in and already see the BS that is the nursing curriculum, then get out. Spring semester you can take some soft prerequisites like psychology, ethics, wiriting, etc, then over summer take the general chemistry you missed. Sophomore year hit it hard with biology, physics, and organic chemistry. You will be caught up with your peers.

The work of becoming or being a doctor isn't as bad as some folks say. And the journey, with exposure to abstract basic science, applications to human pathology, and training for a cool job at the end has been as enjoyable as I thought it would be. I even managed to have more than one kid along the way.

Since you are dissatisfied with the nursing curriculum already, the seven-years-in-the-future you says go for medicine instead.
 
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Pusheen

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If you're already so frustrated with nursing, I don't see how you are going to be happy with it for the rest of your life. That being said, I think you have an exaggerated view of what it's like to be a physician. Most physicians do not work anywhere near "80+ hours a week until they retire". Yes, you will have loans, but also a reasonable income to repay them with.
As for kids, most female physicians have kids and do just fine. Don't sell yourself and your talents short for some abstract idea of what your future life has to be as a woman. So what if you have kids in your 30s? Maybe you won't want kids at all at that point or will prefer to foster or adopt! Maybe you will work part time or locum for a few years, or maybe you will have a partner who will prefer to stay at home with the kids. It's not an all-or-nothing choice, there are plenty of great resources here and on other websites for mothers in medicine.
Best of luck to you!
 

catchingthedream

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Sounds almost like a troll post on second read through. Can't tell if troll or just severely unexperienced.
I'm not trolling. I am a legitimate person with legitimate concerns. I've read so much online from this website and it seems like my worries are legitimate too, but I do understand I AM very unexperienced.
I've even spoken on the phone with a neonatologist and she confirmed for me that she works 80 hrs a week often. That is one of the main specialties I would be interested in so... seems pretty legitimate to me. There are just so many conflicting opinions on this website.
 

catchingthedream

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Consider researching a bit more into the lifestyle of physicians, the process of medical training, how specialty and practice location can change this. Shadow some docs, talk to people. Your views seem slightly uninformed. For example, you mention 80+ hr work weeks until you retire. If you look at survey data, the avg work hours of 95% of physicians surveyed was <65 hours per week.

Medscape isn't the gospel, but it's something.

http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2016/public/overview#page=25
Thank you very much for that. It's very helpful to see that information, I needed it. Now I feel a little better knowing that a lot of physicians don't work 80 hrs a week! I just need real people to help me since I am young and inexperienced.
 

easy peasy

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I've read so much online from this website and it seems like my worries are legitimate too, but I do understand I AM very unexperienced.
I've even spoken on the phone with a neonatologist and she confirmed for me that she works 80 hrs a week often. That is one of the main specialties I would be interested in so... seems pretty legitimate to me. There are just so many conflicting opinions on this website.

A lot of the negative stuff on here is from people venting. Don't let that affect your perception of the profession. Most doctors don't work 80hrs/wk but most also work more than 40, especially new doctors. If you're passionate about practicing medicine, it's very rewarding in many ways even when you have to work a couple extra hours every few days.

A little info about what you might expect from each route:

Nursing:
Pros:
Usually work 36-40 hours in 10 or 12 hour shifts, so 3 shifts for 12 hours or 4 shifts for 10 hours.
They are hands-on much more so than doctors, and they usually provide the care of the doctor's order.(this could be a con if you don't like bedside)
They have less liability than doctors.
If you decide to switch to another nursing specialty, it's MUCH easier for a nurse to do this.
You can go from RN to NP and practice in the NICU
Way shorter school
Cons:
Less pay, although with OT and shift differential you can get pretty frickin close to Dx pay.
Not nearly as autonomous as physicians, even as an NP
You sometimes get caught in the BS battles of supremacy if you go the NP route

Pros:
Full autonomy
Much better pay, usually
In-depth knowledge
Ability to start your own practice in any state
Long-term, one way or another it's going to be worth it.
Cons:
Premed, Med school, and residency usually SUUUCKSSS, but it can be rewarding. Lots to learn
Insane debt
Getting called in the middle of the night
The next 12~ years of your life will be very stressful

That's a very broad overview of it.
Since you're just starting out, there are some things to consider. Nursing in a decade from now could be different, and this has a direct effect on medicine. It's not a big secret that NP's are gaining traction in a lot of areas, including peds and it's subspecialties. You might find yourself a new M.D. next to a DNP that is equally recognized, and not help but feel like you got shafted. Now a lot of people will say that this will never happen, but the truth is that you have to accept that this might be a possibility. Alternatively, you could be that DNP next to the M.D. that is being despised for nothing that you personally did or had control over.

Either way, just keep in mind that the education never stops. No matter which profession you choose, your patients will depend on you to keep them alive and healthy through the knowledge that you gain throughout your profession. Good luck with your endeavors.
 

Saifa

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Nursing is only going to get "worse" in the respects that you've mentioned. There's no sense holding out for it.
 

stickgirl390

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As stated before, shadow some physicians first. Depending on the specialty, physicians can have plenty of time for a family, recreation, etc.
 
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Sardinia

@catchingthedream I had that problem as well. I thought my biochemistry/biotechnology major was going to be science intensive. But after I graduated, I realized I never took a single class called, "Science!" Where do you think all the science classes are hiding?
 
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Weirdy

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Your preferences may change during rotations.

You need to shadow. Thoroughly.

I'm not trolling. I am a legitimate person with legitimate concerns. I've read so much online from this website and it seems like my worries are legitimate too, but I do understand I AM very unexperienced.
I've even spoken on the phone with a neonatologist and she confirmed for me that she works 80 hrs a week often. That is one of the main specialties I would be interested in so... seems pretty legitimate to me. There are just so many conflicting opinions on this website.
 

Psai

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Neonatal icu vs peds vs labor and delivery? Those are 3 very different things. Sounds like you like kids. The easiest and fastest way to get to your career is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. But if you want a solid understanding of the science, there's no substitute for medical school. No NP program will even come close.

The best way to figure out what you want to do is to shadow. Even then, you will only get a piece of what it's like because people shield you from the boring stuff and try to show you cool things. But it's better than nothing. I would ask people to see if you can follow them around for a day but the most interesting things are going on in their heads and if they don't explain things well to you, you will miss a lot.
 
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bornunderatree

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Reading all the above posts, I'm bewildered. As an RN currently applying to be an MD, a lot of the advice given by the posters above is reminiscent of a very stereotypical view of nursing.

To comment on the original posters concerns, nursing school is what you make of it. Additionally, from my personal experience and speaking with many talented nurses and nurse practitioners, nursing school does not adequately prepare you for the demands of actual nursing.

Every position you take will have an extensive orientation and education period with a heavy focus on the pathophysiology of the population you will care for. Much of the learning required is self led and exposure to disease states spurs on knowledge acquisition during orientation periods and the first years of practice in your specialty.

Secondly, bedside nursing is not simply three days a week, 12 hours a day. Shortages in healthcare workers exist everywhere, from MDs to CNAs. 12 hour days can easily become 16, and with mandatory overtime, meetings, and ongoing education, 60-80 hour weeks and working 9 days straight is not uncommon.

Third, "caring" is a quality that is essential in all disciplines throughout healthcare. The best MDs I have met are the ones that care the most. Ultimately at the end of the day, healthcare is about taking care of people. Changing fields to pursue a career in medicine is not going to change that.

Fourth, with more patients and less healthcare providers, the interdisciplinary model allows for significant autonomy of practice of RNs, RTs, Pharmacy, and Dieticians. Physicians rely on different disciplines to assist them in taking the best possible care of patients to make sure essential treatments are not overlooked and implemented.

Finally, NICU and L&D are very specialized areas. I would keep an open mind and have time to do rotations in these areas before deciding that is your life's goal. Many premature infants are premature for a reason, and family dynamics can complicate things drastically. Ultimately, there are many different areas within nursing to practice, explore them.

My motivations to become a doctor stem from wanting to take a larger role in the patients I care for. I love what I do, and because of it, I know I will love being an MD as well.
 
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Sardinia

@bornunderatree Don't worry, the posts made in this subforum also bewilder me. A first year nursing student wanting NICU is like a first year pre-med wanting Ortho/Derm.
 
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Mad Jack

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I am currently a nursing student in my first semester. Nursing is so boring and I can't stand the lack of science in the curriculum. I guess I didn't understand that in nursing school I wouldn't be learning anything NEAR what people learn in medical school besides vital signs and such. Maybe due to some of the science prerequisites I figured it would have to do more with science. But I seem to be mistaken and now I am obsessed with wanting to learn what med students learn. and I want to learn everything about the body down to the molecular level, but I am so conflicted because I don't know if I could deal with residency and the rigors of being a doctor including the 80hr+ work weeks until I retire, night shifts, no time for family, huge loans, etc. I feel like I would be one of those people that get's burnt out and stressed often, and that's no way to live life. It seems that the main reason I would go to medical school- is just for that. Medical school. Learning biochemistry, histology, and all of the science behind diseases. It's so intriguing. I'm sure I would love being a doctor as well, but I dread residency and fellowship because it takes up all of your time, I hear miserable stories, and I won't be able to have kids until my 30s! Even then, how am I going to raise very young children if I'm a doctor working 80+/hrs a week? I'm struggling so hard right now to decide which path to take. Does anyone have any advice for me? Should I consider a biomed major instead or in addition to nursing? I'm having trouble finding anything nearly equivalent to med school except maybe biomed or a PA program. I just have this insatiable desire to learn medicine and science.

I'm leaning towards sticking with nursing (but there are some days I'm sure i need to go to medical school) because my end goal is to be a neonatal nurse practitioner. (They don't really have PA's in neonatal units that much) Neonatal is like the only area of nursing I would consider besides maybe Labor and delivery or possibly peds (but probably not peds) if NICU didn't work out. I'm just not into the "caring-based" learning. I want to learn science.

I would even be very happy with just teaching classes in med school as a professor, but thats not how it works and I hear its very hard to get into those positions. In addition, you still have a very full plate with teaching, research and clinical "doctoring," for lack of a better word.
I feel stuck like there is no good advice out there for my situation. But I'm under 20 and have my whole life ahead of me. I just hate wasting time.
Please help!
Lol, it's not that crazy. I think you need to chill out. Most doctors I know work on the order of 50-55 hours a week, about the same hours as most of the nurses I know that are milking that sweet OT. Loans take care of themselves. Some specialties are more chill than others.
1feb1c44-9f6c-4332-92e4-c19ff22f7040.jpg

A full half of doctors work 50 hours or less.

https://wire.ama-assn.org/life-career/how-many-hours-are-average-physician-workweek

Residency sucks, sure. But medical school isn't nearly as bad as you'd think, people really make it sound worse than it is because I think they've got a martyr complex or they just haven't been out in the real world enough to realize that everything sucks, so medical school is really just more of the same, but with a better path at the end.
 
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Psai

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Reading all the above posts, I'm bewildered. As an RN currently applying to be an MD, a lot of the advice given by the posters above is reminiscent of a very stereotypical view of nursing.

To comment on the original posters concerns, nursing school is what you make of it. Additionally, from my personal experience and speaking with many talented nurses and nurse practitioners, nursing school does not adequately prepare you for the demands of actual nursing.

Every position you take will have an extensive orientation and education period with a heavy focus on the pathophysiology of the population you will care for. Much of the learning required is self led and exposure to disease states spurs on knowledge acquisition during orientation periods and the first years of practice in your specialty.

Secondly, bedside nursing is not simply three days a week, 12 hours a day. Shortages in healthcare workers exist everywhere, from MDs to CNAs. 12 hour days can easily become 16, and with mandatory overtime, meetings, and ongoing education, 60-80 hour weeks and working 9 days straight is not uncommon.

Third, "caring" is a quality that is essential in all disciplines throughout healthcare. The best MDs I have met are the ones that care the most. Ultimately at the end of the day, healthcare is about taking care of people. Changing fields to pursue a career in medicine is not going to change that.

Fourth, with more patients and less healthcare providers, the interdisciplinary model allows for significant autonomy of practice of RNs, RTs, Pharmacy, and Dieticians. Physicians rely on different disciplines to assist them in taking the best possible care of patients to make sure essential treatments are not overlooked and implemented.

Finally, NICU and L&D are very specialized areas. I would keep an open mind and have time to do rotations in these areas before deciding that is your life's goal. Many premature infants are premature for a reason, and family dynamics can complicate things drastically. Ultimately, there are many different areas within nursing to practice, explore them.

My motivations to become a doctor stem from wanting to take a larger role in the patients I care for. I love what I do, and because of it, I know I will love being an MD as well.

I haven't met a single nurse that can explain the pathophysiology of any disease. lol at nurses working 80 hours weeks. Also, ancillary staff should not be practicing autonomously in any capacity. They should be implementing the plan as laid out by the physician. Sure, they have a voice if they have something to contribute but no way does the interdisciplinary model mean that nonphysicians are just doing what they want. So I'm not sure what you're talking about in your post.
 
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bornunderatree

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I haven't met a single nurse that can explain the pathophysiology of any disease. lol at nurses working 80 hours weeks. Also, ancillary staff should not be practicing autonomously in any capacity. They should be implementing the plan as laid out by the physician. Sure, they have a voice if they have something to contribute but no way does the interdisciplinary model mean that nonphysicians are just doing what they want. So I'm not sure what you're talking about in your post.

Many rapid response teams in non-academic secondary care settings are composed entirely of nurses. The protocols they operate off of, require considerable reliance on clinical judgement and understanding of pathophysiology.

Post cardiac surgery recovery, ventilator weaning, tube feeding, TPN, antibiotic dosing, vasoactive infusion titrations, post cardiac arrest hypothermia, IABP timing, and anticoagulant dosing are all just a few examples where the disciplines operate with high levels of autonomy.

Physicians are definitely leaders in the acute care setting, however they rely heavily on the disciplines to prevent adverse events.
 
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catchingthedream

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@bornunderatree Don't worry, the posts made in this subforum also bewilder me. A first year nursing student wanting NICU is like a first year pre-med wanting Ortho/Derm.
What is that supposed to mean? I've had a passion for neonatal nursing since i've been in 6th grade and I've never strayed from my passion for wanting to take care of infants that are very needy and rely on a caring health professional to coax them back to health. This IS the reason why I am in nursing school right now.
 
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Sardinia

What is that supposed to mean? I've had a passion for neonatal nursing since i've been in 6th grade and I've never strayed from my passion for wanting to take care of infants that are very needy and rely on a caring health professional to coax them back to health. This IS the reason why I am in nursing school right now.
That sounds wonderful. I'm sure you'll immediately segue into a NICU unit immediately after you finish your BSN or ADN/ASN.
 
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Weirdy

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What is that supposed to mean? I've had a passion for neonatal nursing since i've been in 6th grade and I've never strayed from my passion for wanting to take care of infants that are very needy and rely on a caring health professional to coax them back to health. This IS the reason why I am in nursing school right now.

It means you need more experience.

Your perception of NICU before you even complete your nursing degree or go on clinical rotations is completely different from what you will see in real life.

Even medical students after their 3rd/4th years will realize what they thought they wanted to specialize in was completely different from how it turned out.
 
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AnatomyGrey12

That sounds wonderful. I'm sure you'll immediately segue into a NICU unit immediately after you finish your BSN or ADN/ASN.

Speaking from personal experience with my wife, getting a NICU job is not even in the same stratosphere as someone shooting for ortho and derm. My wife had more than 3 interviews for NICU positions coming right out of school. One of them told her beforehand the interview was a formality and if she wanted the job it was hers. And this was at a major hospital with a level 3 NICU.

Many more nursing students end up in whatever field they wanted before nursing school even started than medical students who wanted something before medical school started. Unless you live in an area where the nursing market is completely saturated, getting a nursing job in any field is doable right out of school.
 
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Sardinia

Speaking from personal experience with my wife, getting a NICU job is not even in the same stratosphere as someone shooting for ortho and derm. My wife had more than 3 interviews for NICU positions coming right out of school. One of them told her beforehand the interview was a formality and if she wanted the job it was hers. And this was at a major hospital with a level 3 NICU. Many more nursing students end up in whatever field they wanted before nursing school even started than medical students who wanted something before medical school started. Unless you live in an area where the nursing market is completely saturated, getting a nursing job in any field is doable right out of school.
I live in the most densely populated state.
 
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Psai

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Many rapid response teams in non-academic secondary care settings are composed entirely of nurses. The protocols they operate off of, require considerable reliance on clinical judgement and understanding of pathophysiology.

Post cardiac surgery recovery, ventilator weaning, tube feeding, TPN, antibiotic dosing, vasoactive infusion titrations, post cardiac arrest hypothermia, IABP timing, and anticoagulant dosing are all just a few examples where the disciplines operate with high levels of autonomy.

Physicians are definitely leaders in the acute care setting, however they rely heavily on the disciplines to prevent adverse events.

The whole point of a protocol is to remove clinical judgment and understanding from the picture. Protocols require following instructions, mostly for people who don't understand why they're doing what they're doing.

Being wrong is not a bad thing if you try to understand why. But not understanding that you're wrong and insisting that you're right is foolhardy.
 
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medic0114

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The whole point of a protocol is to remove clinical judgment and understanding from the picture. Protocols require following instructions, mostly for people who don't understand why they're doing what they're doing.

Being wrong is not a bad thing if you try to understand why. But not understanding that you're wrong and insisting that you're right is foolhardy.

I disagree with your view on protocols. It still takes clinical judgement and understanding to choose the appropriate treatment modality since rarely do pt's present with classic signs/symptoms of only one disease process. Secondly, some protocols leave grey area for clinician/ provider's judgement.
 
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Psai

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I disagree with your view on protocols. It still takes clinical judgement and understanding to choose the appropriate treatment modality since rarely do pt's present with classic signs/symptoms of only one disease process. Secondly, some protocols leave grey area for clinician/ provider's judgement.

Feel free to post examples.
 

wanderingorion

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I had a friend in college that had a similar experience to you. She's currently an M1.

If you want the deeper understanding, then I'd suggest you go for it. Go with your gut.
 

darkjedi

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I disagree with your view on protocols. It still takes clinical judgement and understanding to choose the appropriate treatment modality since rarely do pt's present with classic signs/symptoms of only one disease process. Secondly, some protocols leave grey area for clinician/ provider's judgement.
I'd have to agree with Psai on this one.

One of the things that has come up while working at my children's hospital is that a lot of the common patient presentations are simply pathways/protocols. Kids automatically get assigned certain treatments based on certain criteria. While this is generally great for patients as it standardizes care, it detracts from the training aspect of medicine where you have to develop your own sense of appropriate medical management. If everything is just a protocol/pathway you stop doing your own medical decision making and in turn potentially why those decisions are made. That second part is the reason why medical school + residency takes 7+ years of training.
 
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catchingthedream

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That sounds wonderful. I'm sure you'll immediately segue into a NICU unit immediately after you finish your BSN or ADN/ASN.
Well it's too bad that you seem to be so negative but I know of people who have gotten NICU jobs immediately out of nursing school. Yes i'm sure that different areas will allow some people to do this easier than others, but that is not the concern here.
 

Psai

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I would agree with you on nursing philosophy @Psai but I think you underestimate nurses a bit. Many ICU nurses I worked with were capable of explaining patho (at least on a basic level). It's painting with a broad brush (and insulting) to state that no nurse you have met is capable of explaining a disease process. Also, nurses do work a TON to rake in that sweet OT. One I work with just finished a 75+ hr week. FYI if you actually have the balls to say stuff like this in real life and not in the privacy of an online forum, your staff will find it difficulty to communicate with you and your patients will suffer because of it.

I've already done multiple rotations in various ICUs. 75+ hours are pretty routine. I am exactly the same in all aspects of my life

Tl;dr Don't need help from premeds, thanks.
 
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james11

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80hr+ work weeks until I retire, night shifts, no time for family, huge loans,

Almost no attending jobs are more than 80+ hours. It's very easy to form a career with more family time if you're proactive about it and don't mind making a bit less (frankly, still much more than you'd make as a nurse.) And in terms of loans, yes they are big but you pay them off within a few years out of residency and make off much better in the long run, financially speaking.

There are a lot of cons to medicine, but if you're truly enamored by the intellectual draw of the field they pale in comparison. Certainly finances never make sense as a reason not to go into medicine unless you're quitting a career at Goldman.
 

mistafab

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Best of luck in NICU. I know a lot of NICU burnouts.

It is a really rough field with non-stop sadness. NICU nurses have an unstoppably difficult job and no respite is ever in site for them. Best of luck for anyone looking to become a NICU nurse.

What is that supposed to mean? I've had a passion for neonatal nursing since i've been in 6th grade and I've never strayed from my passion for wanting to take care of infants that are very needy and rely on a caring health professional to coax them back to health. This IS the reason why I am in nursing school right now.
 
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