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Which one you guys think would have best hands on clinical experience; nursing/PA vs RT vs radiologic tech?

tmra2100

New Member
Jul 4, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
IMG didn't match for 3 years, thinking to take a different route to get some hands on experience in the US, and earn some money at the same time. I've been told that accelerated nursing program is the easiest and best one.
 

Monkeymojo

Full Member
May 23, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
I am currently a licensed vocational nurse so will limit my comments to only that realm since I do not have experience with the others.

Pros:
- Really impactful patient experiences: It feels good knowing you are the last line between a possible error from a provider and the patient. It also gives you a glimpse into a lot of interventions and facilitates you seeing how different physicians tackle different diagnoses and how those interventions directly impact the patient experience/outcome.
- Truly understanding what it means to be a patient advocate: This isn't just advocating that XXXX is in pain and needs more than just Tylenol. It consists of everything. Sometimes just listening and being present during a patient's time of need is more impactful than what any Rx can accomplish. This can go into the whole 'skills not pills' ethos but that is a complex issue for another topic.
- Lateral transfer of skills: You will learn lab values, Rx's, assist in interventions, and conduct assessments that will aid you later on.
- Wide range of work environments: I've done ER, addiction medicine at an IOP, and now work with intellectually/developmentally disabled (IDD) individuals in a residential setting. Each one is unique and you learn that choosing a specialty is more than just $$$ or being interested in the science behind that field. Each environment comes with a different patient population and different subcultures of co-workers. ER nurses/physicians act and socialize much differently than an addiction medicine IOP which has a lot of social workers.
- Relatively fast training time: This is in relation to PA. You can easily start and finish an LVN/LPN program over the course of a year.
- Decent pay and flexible hours: I am able to work 24hours/wk in 2-weekend shifts while attending college (currently make $23/hr) at a relatively low cost of living area. In addition, you have access to PRN shifts which gives crazy flexibility during the summer when you need more money (I am literally in a group chat where my manager asks if I can cover a shift with no strings attached on if I say yes or no).

Cons:
- Time: Time is often short depending on the work environment you choose. There are lists of both medical and nursing interventions that you are expected to accomplish and it can be frustrating when you see a patient who needs more time but you alas have 5 other people waiting to be assessed.
- Emotionally draining: I really love the patient population I currently work with who are all IDD but it is very emotionally draining. Life sucks, everyone experiences episodes of anxiety, anger, stress, depression, etc. It is even harder to deal with these issues when you are not given the same toolbox that other people have. This can result in a lot of non-compliance and even aggression/sexually inappropriate behavior from the patient population.
- Limited scope: While it is fun to predict what intervention might come down from the providing physician it might make you feel a little frustrated when an intervention isn't prescribed that you think could help aid in a patient's care. This again is for another topic, but you need to be ok with just advocating for a patient and not overstepping your role.
- Limited research: While there is some interesting research that nurses do it does not compare with what you could achieve as an MD with clinical/scientific research.
- High female to male ratio: You can interpret this however you want but the vast majority of social workers and nurses are women. As a male, it was kind of difficult to connect with my co-workers on a social level while I was in the addiction medicine IOP and ever social worker/nurse/tech was female but myself.
- Burnout: Burnout is real. It doesn't mean you stop providing the standard of care or you become lackadaisical with your level of professionalism. It does mean that other aspects of your family/social life can suffer as a result.

Overall, I absolutely love nursing and recommend it to anyone who is interested in the healthcare field.
 
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tmra2100

New Member
Jul 4, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
Great and well written post, thanks.

Are your pursuing an MD now? There are Post-Baccalaureate Nursing programs, where you could earn BSN or even MSN in 16 months. I am interested in that.

What're things RN (ASN and BSN) can do, LPN can't?
 
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Monkeymojo

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May 23, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
Great and well written post, thanks.

Are your pursuing an MD now? There are Post-Baccalaureate Nursing programs, where you could earn BSN or even MSN in 16 months. I am interested in that.

What're things RN (ASN and BSN) can do, LPN can't?

I am currently a bio major and plan to continue with my pre-med coursework in the hopes of becoming an MD for some of the reasons I listed under the con's list. If you are interested in going back for MD/residency I would recommend LVN since it is quicker and provides similar clinical exposure to that of an RN. The main difference between RN and LVN/LPN is scope. RN's can take verbal orders, push narcotics, conduct initial assessments, etc. while LVN/LPN's cannot. In addition, there are far fewer positions available to LVN/LPN. The ER position I had is rare to come by and most of the 'cool' specialties require an RN with additional certifications (like ICU/surgical nursing).

Nursing is extremely versatile but it is kind of all in. By that I mean a lot of the classes don't transfer to being an MD, PA, pharmacist, veterinarian, physical therapy, etc. whereas a bio major can fairly easily transfer a good deal of their coursework to other occupations within healthcare if MD doesn't work out. If you are planning on going full nurse I would 100% recommend going BSN as it gives a greater salary, more options in terms of work environments, and more upward mobility (you will be able to easily continue your education and go for APRN/DNP/CRNA although most of these require a GRE). The greatest strength of nursing vs MD is you are in charge of your future. You do not need to STEP or match or scrounge for research in order to get the specialty/position you desire. Nursing more so focuses on work experience/additional certifications in order to reach your desired position or graduate-level program. I have had friends who make a very comfortable living as a CRNA if that is your thing, who have combined nursing with criminal justice in order to be professional witnesses for malpractice suits, who have gone into teaching, or those who have chosen to stay as an RN due to their love for bedside care. Either way, this seems like a fairly pivotal crossroad for you so make sure to do your research before committing.
 
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tmra2100

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Jul 4, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
Are your plans to apply to the match after working these jobs?

PA school is an expensive and time consuming route. I would not recommend PA school as a way to reapply to residency.
Yes of course, I'll keep trying every single year, but in the meantime I need to work on something else. I've talked to a few PA schools, they make it very hard for IMGs for some reason, and GRE is a must. So you are a PA now? Are you aware of any school that doesn't require GRE and a little "easier" to get into as an IMG?
 
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Means

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Jun 8, 2016
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Yes of course, I'll keep trying every single year, but in the meantime I need to work on something else. I've talked to a few PA schools, they make it very hard for IMGs for some reason, and GRE is a must. So you are a PA now? Are you aware of any school that doesn't require GRE and a little "easier" to get into as an IMG?
A few schools dont require the GRE, but these ones tend to be actually even more competitive. You will find it extremely difficult to be admitted to a PA program if you are using it as a stepping stone to attain a residency (this is a big no no in the PA world).
 
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