Do Nurses Need to Go to Medical School?

Nurses go to nursing school, not med school. Does nursing count as pre-med, and do nurses take the MCAT? Discover the differences in healthcare education.

April 2023

Nurses do not go to med school. In order to become a registered nurse, individuals must complete either a 2- or 4-year nursing school program. But do nurses take the MCAT, and does nursing count as pre med? Let’s break down the differences between med school and nursing school, including whether or not it’s good to become a nurse before a doctor.

Do nurses go to med school? 

Medical school is for future doctors, not nurses. While med school and nursing school both prepare students looking to enter the healthcare field, the programs are very different in curriculum and length.


Doctors and nurses both play critical roles in patient care. While there are some overlapping duties, each role brings different functions to healthcare environments. 

Doctors are responsible for diagnosing illness and discovering the root of patient discomfort. In medical school, students are taught the science behind diseases and how to deliver cures. 

Nurses are responsible for facilitating patient care based on established care plans. In nursing school, students are taught how to keep patients comfortable and deliver the medicine and rehabilitation they need. 


Nursing school is either two or four years long, depending on whether students choose an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

Medical school is much longer than nursing school. Future doctors must complete four years of undergraduate studies (or pre meds) before going onto four years of medical school and then up to seven years of residency requirements.

Do nurses take the MCAT?

No, nurses do not take the MCAT. The MCAT is the admissions test necessary to get into medical school and is taken by future doctors. The only reason a nurse would take the MCAT would be if they decide to apply to medical school and become a doctor. 

Individuals looking to get into nursing school will need to take the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills). This standardized test is part of the nursing school application process, along with completing nursing prerequisite courses. 

The TEAS exam assesses a student’s readiness for nursing school, evaluating how the individual will perform in an academic setting. Subjects include reading, science, math, and vocabulary; questions are presented in a multiple-choice format. 

Many future nurses get ready for their entrance exam by taking a TEAS test prep course. A prep course covers everything you need to know to pass the test so you can go into your exam with confidence.  

Does nursing count as pre-med?

Being “pre-med” means you intend to pursue medical school and are taking the right classes to prepare you for that path. Pre-med isn’t a specific major: rather, it’s any undergraduate degree that meets the prerequisite requirements for medical school. 

Pre-med students need to take a mix of biology and chemistry labs, as well as math and English. Common pre-med majors include Biological Sciences, Psychology, Physical Science, and more. 

So does nursing count as pre-med? It can! Completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing will give you the necessary science, math, and English credits to go to medical school. While earning a BSN as pre-med is not the most common path, it can be an interesting view into the healthcare field before plunging into medical studies.

Is it good to become a nurse before a doctor?

Doctors and nurses have different healthcare roles. While they do work as part of a team, many of their tasks do not overlap; other than working in the same environment, the two roles do not share many responsibilities. 

Being a nurse is not a precursor to being a doctor. It is not an entry-level healthcare career: being a nurse takes a challenging mix of compassion, dedication, and knowledge to successfully deliver patient care. While nurses do not have to go through as much school as doctors, it doesn't mean their jobs are easier. Nurses offer the emotional support and daily care that doctors may not have the capacity for, providing a vital need within healing spaces. 

Whether or not it’s good to become a nurse before a doctor is a personal choice. Some RNs may find nursing is not the right healthcare career for them. For those interested in patient diagnosis and the science behind curing ailments may find becoming a doctor is a better fit. Working alongside doctors gives insight into what the job entails, helping nurses decide if they should make the jump and go to medical school.

Succeed in nursing school with Achieve

Nurses don’t need to go to medical school, but they do need to finish nursing school to become an RN. Achieve Test Prep provides educational support services such as test prep, tutoring, and more to make nursing school less stressful. We help future nurses take the first step by testing out of college courses for real, manageable progress. Discover how we can support your RN goals.

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