Medicine or Nursing- how to help DD decide which?

(57 Posts)
FiveHoursSleep Sun 22-Sep-19 21:51:44

DD1 is in Y13 and is definitely interested in some sort of medical job. She likes science and is good at it. She got all 8s and 9s for GCSEs, except for one 7 for Spanish and an A* for Classics.
She's doing bio, chem and sociology for A levels and is predicted AAA* and sat UCAT last week and got 3000( or 750) .
Up until her UCAT score she was slightly biased towards nursing but now she says she feels she should do medicine.
She thinks she would be happier doing nursing but is worried she might regret not doing medicine. She has a part time job working with the general public and is good with people and thinks medicine might not allow enough patient contact for her.
Deadlines are looming and she's torn and is getting upset about it.
Oh and she's pretty keen to take a gap year if that helps any.
Any suggestions?

OP’s posts: |
OrangeSwoosh Sun 22-Sep-19 21:53:23

They're very different job roles. Can she get some careers advice?

Also check entry requirements for medicine. Is sociology accepted as a 3rd science?

FiveHoursSleep Sun 22-Sep-19 22:11:57

She's talked to lots of careers people but it hasn't helped her choose.
She's done a lot of work experience around both roles too and likes some things from each.
Sociology will stop her applying to a few Unis but there are plenty of schools who will still consider her.
It would have been easier if she had got a lower UCAT score.

OP’s posts: |
pusspusslet Sun 22-Sep-19 22:18:33

That’s a very big decision, and really not one to make in a hurry. Since your DD is keen to take a gap year then perhaps the sensible thing is not to apply this time round, start getting some work experience and doing some research and apply in the next cycle. Very best of luck to your DD, whatever she decides smile

ItsReallyOnlyMe Sun 22-Sep-19 22:18:50

No words of wisdom regarding her choice, but unfortunately f she wants to apply for medicine to start next year she needs to put her UCAS form in by 15 October, which isn't that long.

JoanieCash Sun 22-Sep-19 22:19:04

They’re such different roles that I’m quite suprised she’s in this conundrum despite having done work experience. However, if her concern is about patient contact then remember Senior nurses often end up in managerial positions (ward managers, educators amongst others etc) and will have similar patient contact to doctors. Junior hospital doctors spend all day with patients. So she is maybe comparing junior nurses with senior doctors etc. Although fair to say that doctors have less day to day continuity with same patients as they cover many ward areas whereas nurses obviously spend longer time with same patients. But roles are so different.

PosyRosie Sun 22-Sep-19 22:25:25

I did nursing. I always felt it was the better fit for me. I got straight A*/As in my GCSEs and 4 As at A level, my grammar school were horrified at my choice. Even though I am no longer a nurse for family reasons, I feel that I made the right choice for me. I wanted the greater level of caring and patient interaction that nursing brought and I became a nurse specialist in a certain field and loved it.

However, there were times especially in the early days when there would be junior doctors a similar age to me and I would think ‘I am brighter than you’ and ‘I could have done that’. But in reality I hadn’t wanted to and I made the right choice for me. I know people who went on to do medical degrees in their 20’s from healthcare and science degree backgrounds, I believe Warwick and Leicester (I think) are good for this, so she could always do medicine at a later date if she felt that way.


sproutsandparsnips Sun 22-Sep-19 22:25:47

If it helps, I wish I'd done medicine rather than nursing. I had the grades (at the time) but not the subjects. I've loved some of my nursing but it's a struggle to undertake further studies on the job and with other family commitments. Probably better to do what you can when you have the time and energy to devote to it. For what it's worth that's my advice to your daughter.

LunaTheCat Sun 22-Sep-19 22:26:57

Maybe I am biased as I studied medicine.
There are differences and similarities in both jobs.
There is a lot more emphasis on teamwork and actually quite a lot of overlap now as there are nurse practitioners doing jobs previously done by doctors.
Medicine is a stressful course but very intellectually stimulating. The job is horrendous at times because of restricted funding and the hours are very long. It is very physically arduous and doesn’t leave much time for hobbies and interests in the early years.
Doctors are usually paid better than nurses.
In medicine you can choose a speciality where your hours improve eg if you are a dermatologist you are unlikely to be woken at night but if you are a trauma surgeon you definitely will be!
Nurses who choose a hospital career are often still working shifts later in career - in my 50’s now and kudos to my nursing colleagues but I could not do that.
I disagree that doctors spend less time with patients - I am a GP and one of the joys of my job is getting to know people overtime and the wonderful relationships.
It would be great to hear what my wonderful nursing colleagues think.
Do you know any doctors or nurses - would be helpful to talk to them?
You are welcome to PM me and I can e mail your daughter .

FiveHoursSleep Sun 22-Sep-19 22:34:01

@ItsReallyOnlyMe yes, she knows this- hence the panic! She wants to apply while she's still at school so she gets help with her PS and application.
@JoanieCash That's a really good point and something I don't think she's considered. Thank you.
@LunaTheCat We do have GPs in the family so I think she's feeling a bit of pressure from them. She doesn't think she wants to be a GP though.

OP’s posts: |
iamclaireandfleabag Sun 22-Sep-19 22:36:26

I'm a nurse. I didn't do a levels as I was from an area where hardly any one did. Most of us left school and went on a YTS (showing my age!) but I had ambition and got onto a nursing course early P2000 days. About 10 years later I felt restricted and intellectually frustrated and applied for medicine and law. Got a place for both. Personal circumstances stopped me taking either place. Stuck with nursing and I do a job now very few do that requires a level of experience, interpersonal skills and intelligence that many don't have. Given a choice again I'd do medicine. I may still have ended up in a similar field but would have a better salary, pension and greater academic opportunities in my speciality (including respect). With grades like that do medicine. It's a myth that nurses spend more time with patients. Unqualified HCA's do but qualified don't and as someone who has had NHS treatment, the best interpersonal skills and compassion have been from junior doctors .

caoraich Sun 22-Sep-19 22:41:33

I'd agree with exactly what Lunathecat said.
I'm a psychiatrist and the more senior nurses I work with have comparatively little patient contact. A senior charge nurse at my work has less patient contact than a consultant psychiatrist. Both have managerial aspects to their roles.
There is also the money and shifts aspect.
It makes not much difference being in medicine for a lot of the early years, but actually on a consultant salary she might be able to afford to work less than full time or retire earlier which would be more difficult in a nursing role unless very senior.
It's worth looking at the medical and dental salary scales and comparing them to agenda for change scales.
It's fine to feel that this is a vocation, but it's also a job and end target salary and working conditions are worth considering too

FiveHoursSleep Sun 22-Sep-19 22:47:27

@caoraich tbh the salary is something she has considered that makes her favour medicine. I wasn't sure if I should say that though.
My teens are all quite interested in possible future salaries. I'm not sure I was so wise at the same age!

OP’s posts: |
sproutsandparsnips Sun 22-Sep-19 22:48:48

Yes and I would agree with pp I have a fairly senior clinical role and still work 24 hour shift system. In amongst that, I am studying to further my career clinically (and with, I may add, fantastic support and teaching from my, often younger, medical colleagues).

TooStressyTooMessy Sun 22-Sep-19 22:53:36

I was your daughter a long time ago. I chose nursing. Given my time again I would still make the same choice between medicine and nursing. I am now in a related field but not mainstream nursing (don’t want to out myself).

Of course it’s up to your daughter but fwiw I would strongly advise against going into either medicine or nursing. They both have huge negatives and a high possibility of shitty hours. I should have chosen pharmacy or physio if I could have got into either of these.

Lougle Sun 22-Sep-19 23:01:43

One thing that sets the two careers apart is the pathway to seniority. If, as a doctor, your DD trained in one speciality (after her Foundation/Core training years) but then decided to switch specialties, she would have to start again in the new pathway. I know someone who I met as a trainee anaesthetist, who decided she liked talking to her patients so much that she'd rather it was the core of her job. She switched to psychiatry, but had to step back in her seniority to do so.

Nurses can switch areas frequently. There are specialist courses for some areas, but those are useful in other areas, also. For example, I have completed the critical care course, which is a specialist course for Intensive Care, but that experience would be useful for a Resuscitation Officer role, in education, in A&E, any surgical ward or, in fact, medical.

It shouldn't be the defining factor for choosing, but if she's more a 'pick and mix' personality than a 'pin your colours to the mast' sort, then nursing might give that flexibility.

june2007 Sun 22-Sep-19 23:04:24

If she is smart enough to do medicine do that. But nursiong is good too. What area of meds would she/he want to do? Can they shadow someone. (My sister shadowed a gP as a A level student. ) My other sister went into psychiatry.)

FiveHoursSleep Mon 23-Sep-19 08:38:06

Thanks everyone, some more good points.
I don't know it'll help but I'm going to show DD this thread.

OP’s posts: |
SirTobyBelch Mon 23-Sep-19 09:16:22

Of course it’s up to your daughter but fwiw I would strongly advise against going into either medicine or nursing. They both have huge negatives and a high possibility of shitty hours.

But I know lots of doctors who absolutely love their job despite this. I'm sure many nurses do, too. It's all about what's right for the individual. OP: your daughter need to go into either career with eyes wide open and be very clear about what the good and bad things are going to be for her. These might not necessarily be the things that would be good or bad for other people. I work closely enough with doctors to know there are many bad things about the job: it's only worth doing if the positives (satisfaction, challenge, etc.) outweigh the negatives (disruption of family life, frustration, disrespect, risk of assault, etc.) for the individual.

bubs80 Mon 23-Sep-19 09:21:09

Senior nurse here and my patient contact is all done via telephone

SirTobyBelch Mon 23-Sep-19 10:20:05

Also check entry requirements for medicine. Is sociology accepted as a 3rd science?

Only one medical school (Cambridge) requires three sciences. (In fact, they don't formally require three sciences, but they do state that students without three sciences have a very, very low success rate.) There's no problem with sociology as a third A-level at the vast majority of medical schools. I'd certainly prefer psychology or sociology to maths, but that's just a personal view and not part of my medical school's policy.

lljkk Mon 23-Sep-19 19:22:15

I think of nurses as care managers (producers) & doctors as care directors. Simplistic, I know.

242Mummy Mon 23-Sep-19 21:21:05

Well, if she hated the course after a year and wanted to swop, would it be easier to swop from Medicine to Nursing or Nursing to Medicine?

moreismore Mon 23-Sep-19 21:27:10

If patient contact is important has she looked into something like Chiropractic? I’m sure any local chiros would be very happy to have her shadow. Main college is the AECC in Bournemouth. The degree is rigorous (5 yrs full time) and includes training in radiography. There is actually a lot of crossover with what medics are taught.

lljkk Tue 24-Sep-19 18:59:54

Don't physiotherapists have a really high job satisfaction rate?

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