Doctors and Nurses are both important in the medical field. They are both trained to care for people with diseases and illnesses and in many cases, their job descriptions overlap. However, there are many aspects of their job description and training that differ.

This is why a Registered Nurse who wants to become a Doctor has to undergo some specialized training and fulfill certain educational requirements. If you are a Registered Nurse looking to become a Doctor, here are the steps you need to take:

How Can a Registered Nurse Become a Doctor?

1. Acquire a Nursing Degree

You’ll first need to complete a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing course (if you haven’t done that previously). This is essential because you’ll have to apply for medical school, and you’ll be admitted faster if you already have a nursing degree.

2. Apply to Medical School

Applicants who have Nursing degrees, especially those who are already practicing nurses, are often ranked highly amongst medical school applicants so with good grades in your Bachelor’s degree program, you’ll be able to secure admission into a medical school.

Medical school should take you about 3-4 years to complete before you graduate. In medical school, you’ll take lessons in Pharmacology, Anatomy, Medical laws, Biochemistry, and so on. You’ll also learn how to obtain a patient’s medical history and diagnose medical ailments.

The first 2 years of medical school are usually spent in classrooms and laboratories while the last two are spent in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of seasoned Doctors who will take you through different departments in the hospital to broaden your knowledge and experience in the medical field.

3. Start Your Residency Program

After graduating from medical school, you’ll be required to go through a medical residency program which usually takes between 3 and 8 years depending on your preferred area of specialization.

4. Pass Medical Licensing Examination

After you complete your residency program, you’ll have to write and pass the medical licensing examination. After writing and passing this exam, you’ll be issued a license that allows you to practice as a medical doctor.

5. Become a Specialist

It’s not mandatory to obtain certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties but if you want to increase your chances of lucrative employment, it helps to obtain this certification.

If you don’t want to go through medical school and medical residency, you can still become a Doctor but you’ll not be allowed to diagnose diseases or treat patients as a Doctor. This method involves obtaining your Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) and then enrolling for a Master’s program in Nursing (MSN).

On completion of your MSN program, you can enroll for a PhD program in Nursing which allows you to become a Doctor. This might help you get promoted to senior level roles and might earn you a pay raise but it doesn’t qualify you to work as a medical doctor or administer treatment to patients.

It is impossible to automatically switch from being a Nurse to practicing as a Doctor. These are two different fields with different requirements so you have to go back to get trained as a Medical Doctor before you can switch from being a Registered Nurse to a Medical Doctor.