How does a nurse become a doctor?

Scrub Nurse image by Mary Beth Granger from

Bachelor of science in nursing is among the sets of college coursework that can qualify a student for entry into medical school. This means that after completion of the nursing course, a nurse can take the Medical College Admissions Test. The MCAT is a pre-qualifying exam for would-be medical students to allow them entry into a medical school of their choice, provided they pass the test and their MCAT scores meet the standards of the medical school they are applying for. The Association of American Medical Colleges is the organisation that oversees the standards of the MCAT.

Enrolling in a Medical School

Medical schools have other requirements besides passing the MCAT. In some cases, medical schools with higher standards require seeing a nurse's college transcripts of record, and in some cases, they even look at nursing employment history. How the nurse performed as a nursing student or as an employee often helps in determining whether the nurse is qualified for the field. Sending a formal, written application expressing why the nurse would like to pursue higher medical studies, such as being a doctor, would be necessary. The prospective medical school may also require a personal interview with the medical college applicant to try to see if the student will be a good fit for the school and vice versa. After thorough investigation, the nurse will find out if the school accepts the application.

Medical School Admission

Upon acceptance to the medical school, a nurse can enrol in a four-year medical degree program. In some cases, the school may give credit to some premedical courses taken while in college or if the nurse took some postgraduate courses such as physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology. Some even give credits for actual on-the-job experience where the nurse worked as a nurse practitioner, who is just like a doctor but without the doctor's degree and license.

Medical Courses & Internship

Some of the courses offered in medical schools are bioethics, human anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, hematology & serology, principles of medical research, genetics, obstetrics & gynaecology, paediatrics, oncology, clinical pathology and additional electives. There are clinical laboratory subjects as well as regular classroom learning. The courses take up to four years to complete. After completion, the student takes an internship. The internship will be in a hospital setting for 12 months. The student will work at different medical departments and pass the practical and written exams.

Graduation, Licensing & Residency

After completing the internship and passing the course, the medical student can now graduate. After graduating from medical school, the graduate will then take the Medical Board Examination. After passing the examination, the graduate can now apply for residency at a hospital to practice the profession. During the residency, the new doctor will choose his specialisation, which may take another two to three years to master. Some become specialists after further studies, which may take another three to five years to accomplish.

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