Sunday, 10 February 2008

Why Be a Doctor over a Nurse?

This is in no way a dig at nurse or any attempt to insult doctors. A question that rises in most interviews which I could be expected to answer one day is "Why do you want to be a doctor?" or "Why a doctor instead of a nurse?". This post will incorporate my feelings and career knowledge so I can answer that question myself. I know I want to be a doctor, but I want to be able to explain it fully and here's my chance.

Above are print screens taken from the NHS website describing the careers of the two areas. To me there is an immediate difference. Nursing is described as a more caring and supporting job, while Doctors are more scientific and diagnostic. Yet I know that many nurses can prescribe, create treatment plans and are independent. Both aim to cure the patient but have different means and procedures. Also Doctors are not just leaders, they are dependent on the team (Nurses and co.) for support and help. It is a group effort.

Many people would beg me not to say these in an interview (People on TSR :P) but I feel they are honest answers to the question. I would of course phrase them differently but money, status and job certainty (in the world not necessarily the UK) are also reasons for medicine. Anyone who is doing it purely to repay the world or help others is kidding themselves. I've done enough work experience and read enough blogs to know this is simply not true. People abuse and use the NHS. Not every patients will want to be saved. You may have a kind heart but unless you are completely dedicated to medicine other reasons must drive.

Update: This is one of the most popular posts on my blog. I assume that it is mainly potential medicine applicants looking at it for ideas for their personal statement and blog. 


  1. Some have a stuck up view and belief that you must lie and fake it for the interviewers. I believe you can be honest about the money and not sound like a money grabbing person.

  2. Don't talk about the money or the status at the interview future doc!

    BTW, junior doctors who just graduated school earn the same as a nurse of the same age nowadays. Of course, the nurse, who trains for 3 years, has been earning while the doc is still stuck in his books for 3 more years. Junior doctors ernings are also coming down further when the European Working Time Directive reduces the number of hours a junior can work from 56 to 48

    Great blog doc :-)

  3. I'm currently a pre-med student as well. I decided that I wanted to become a doctor when I was in middle school and all that blah blah usual stuff. However, one of my main reasons was because I wanted to help people--doctors without borders, etc. Now don't get me wrong, money plays a really big role as well; however, the helping-people part is my main reason.

    Then I entered college, and realized that if that's my main goal, then I should be a nurse. Now I don't know what to do.

    I am very impressed that you are working on interview questions. I recommend you stick with your gut and be as honest as can be.....just don't be blunt!

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  6. Your reason to become a doctor is selfish. Anyone who goes into medicine with the pure intent of money contributes to the reason why health care is a system. If you want to make money and "help" at the same time, go to business school or look into a career in pharmaceuticals. Those who truly want to become a doctor see the salary as something stable rather than validation. Humanitarianism is a great deal of what medicine really is. Besides, medicine isn't just a science-it deals with social and cultural aspects. If you can't have the heart for a patient, you're in the wrong business. I know you're a first year, but you have lots of maturing to do.

    Your comparison of a nurse and doctor is incomplete. Nurses have the ability to diagnose and often times have more of an impact on a patient. Nurses and doctors along with other health professionals, collaborate in order to provide the best health service for patients. Often times, nurses (physician assistants, physical therapists, etc) have more than an adequate salary to live off of and live better lifestyles. Besides, doctors have to worry about malpractice, so you can subtract that from all the money you think you're going to make as a doctor.

    If you want to figure out why you really want to be a doctor, do some volunteer work at the hospital and shadow doctors. Over time, you'll see where you belong.

  7. here is my idea.people choose nurse because its an opportunity to work overseas and earn more money while doctors has lesser chance of going overseas. that is why in some reason doctor undergo again in nursing programs.

  8. In my opinion, their general purpose is to take care of us. They work together to give us better health. We should be thankful that we have them to guide us to better lives. But we should also recognize the huge responsibility they take on their shoulders every day they time in for their job.

  9. I'm a medstudent at the moment, but I'm finding the course really hard. I thought about being a nurse orginially but then thought I should make the most of my intelligience and become a doctor. Now Im not so sure. Im not motivated enough to learn so much, even if i do have the potential. But, maybe I should plough through the course and it will be fine at the end?!
    I also am thinking now that I dont want all the stress and resposibility of a doctor, and would prefer to guarantee working with children by being a paediatric nurse.
    Im not sure what to do, should I be a nurse of doctor?

    1. I'm in a similar situation but is about to choose between the two. I'm more moved to be a doctor. I argue with myself saying it is the better choice but sometimes I'm not sure why.
      My ultimate goal is to help people (very very naive, I know) but maybe there is the subconscience of money and status- I really don't know- it's like a moral dilemma for me because was my ultimate goal to help people or not?
      But for you, I think as you are a med student already you should continue because clearly you must have thought of this before and like everyone else you will a moment insecurities.
      The most important thing is do well whatever you are doing by working very very hard and then continue so you can make a difference in someone's life no matter you are a nurse or a doctor.

  10. Thankyou for this, you're a gem (:

  11. Thanks for sharing....something for me to ponder :)