foggyw1ndowlove (foggyw1ndowlove) wrote in pubmed,

Hi I'm new!

Hi I'm Kate!

      I'm going into my second year of nursing school, and just recently I've decided I want to be a cardiologist. I want to continue with nursing so I can have a job to help me pay for medical school, but I need a plan. How exactly should I go about getting into med school. Should I take some extra bio and chem classes and then get a masters degree and then apply to med school? Orrrr I duno. I know I want to be a nurse to help pay for med school, but as far as getting into med school I'm clue less! Help me please!




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hi kate,

unfortunately this community isn't very active... sorry about that.

you might be able to find a community that is more suited to answering the questions that you asked, but i will give you my two cents anyway. for the record, i'm a phd student (in a biomedical sciences field) but i've known a good-many md students so my advice isn't necessarily bad.

how do you get into med school? well, lots and lots of people apply to med school. with so many people applying, they need ways to cut lots of people out of the running very quickly. this means that you need to get excellent grades as an undergraduate student, and that you need to do very well on the standardized tests, if they use those in your country (i didn't look to see where you are). here in the US, we use a test call the mcat, which you would need to do very well on. if you don't do well, you won't get in. and the better you do on the test, the better school you have a chance of getting in to.

those are the things that will get you a "foot in the door" for getting in. beyond that, you need to look at which schools you're actually interested in attending. obviously, the better med school you attend, the better chances you have of getting into a top-notch residency (or it might be called your internship or fellowship, depending on where you go to school). but since you don't really specialize until your residency you don't have to decide which school to go to based on their reputation for individual fields of medicine.

you can use this fact to your advantage. for example, the school i attend, OHSU is a very good med school but doesn't require that you have an extensive background in biology or chemistry. they only require some basics in biology (i think general, genetics, and cell) and chemistry (inorganic, organic, and biochemistry), but other than those i think they'll take english majors, philosophy majors, etc. at my school, they feel that most of the biology training you get as a biology major isn't applicable to the practice of medicine, so why bother. they're much more interested in getting interesting candidates--people that have experience working with others, histories of helping people, that sort of thing. (but there's still a lot to be said for good grades in tough classes!)

in my opinion, a masters degree is 100% unnecessary. if the school wants research experience, it would serve you much better to work as a research assistant (laboratory technician) for a couple of years. the school will almost certainly look upon it as equivalent experience to a masters, and you get paid while you do it (which is unlikely for a masters). most of the time, an investigator will be hesitant to hire you unless you make a 2-3 year commitment, but that's how long it would take for a masters anyway. the research should be animal-biology related (preferably, you cut open mice or rats in your research, or culture bacteria, or something like that).

i think a background in nursing would be great for getting into med school, because it would demonstrate your general apptitude for studying medicine and working with people. however, you should not get ideas into your head about working while going to med school. you'd be much better off taking out loans and studying rather than working. after med school you will need to get into a residency, which will be decided in part by your grades, letters of recommendation, and such. as a cardiologist you will be able to pay back your loans, so don't worry about them. the only reason not to take out loans is if you don't think you'll actually make it through med school and don't want the risk of debt. but if you don't think you'll make it through, then you probably shouldn't pay for the tuition in the first place!

now, a word on letters of recommendation. these are one of the biggest factors used to decide whether or not you get in to med school, after you've made it past the grade and exam requirements.

letters of recommendation should:
1. be written by people that know a lot about you, so that they have a lot to say.
2. say wonderful things about you, not just mediocre things
3. be written by people who are in an appropriate position to recommend you to med school. this means that your anatomy professor is a much better choice than your english professor. (however, if you have three stellar letters from biology/chemistry/nursing professors, a fourth letter from an outside field might add to the package)
4. be written specifically to address you getting into med school.

don't ask for letters until the right time comes. this means, if you're going to be taking more classes from the person, wait awhile. if you think the person will remember you for a year or two, wait until you apply. but if you think the person might forget you, an older letter might be your only option. if you work as a research assistant, then your boss would also be a good person to write a letter.

be up front about asking for letters. ask "would you be comfortable writing me a strong letter of recommendation?" some professors will write negative letters (you often times don't get to see them), but if you ask them this question they should hopefully be honest and tell you that you should ask someone else. this clears them from being dishonest to you without compromising their integrity if they don't feel you deserve a good letter.

ask for advice from your college advisors, as well as other professors that are in medicine-related fields. don't take any-one-person's advice for granted. get many opinions (they'll all be different) and sort through which ones you think are practical for you (you might not want to volunteer overseas for a year), and which ones are just superstitious beliefs that one person passed on to you, as opposed to good solid advice from someone that knows what they're talking about.

hopefully this helps, and thanks for your interest in the pubmed community