How easy is it for a person who has failed or dropped out of medical school to try nursing?

This is hypothetical, and neither I nor anyone close to me is in this situation.

If someone fails to complete medical school (e.g. expelled due to low grades/“flunked out”, dropped out because of stress, etc.), but feels that they did gain some valuable health care education, how easy is it for them to switch tracks and become an LPN or RN? Do they pretty much have to start over with the first day of nursing school, or can they tailor a curriculum that fills in whatever gaps they didn’t master in medical school (perhaps they passed anatomy just fine), learn nursing-specific topics, then take the license exam?

I do understand that a nurse is not just a “doctor lite”.

They’d pretty much have to start over. Some courses might be transferable (or at least allow the student to take a placement test) but most wouldn’t.

My uncle did it. He developed substance abuse issues in medical school and was asked to leave. His coursework wasn’t an issue but he couldn’t continue until he got that sorted out. He became an ER nurse after he got better. He was excused from most of the academic classes like anatomy and physiology but still had to do all of the practical training and things specific to nursing. He went on to become a successful hospital administrator after that.

Oddly enough, it almost never happens. Very few people fail medical school. People who make selection generally pass. (Or perhaps once selected, the faculty works very hard to make sure you pass.)

I seem to recall being told in my high school days (1990’s US) that the flunk-out rate for medical school students was rather high.

No its not. He is right about that. Medical schools screen perspective students so carefully that it is pretty rare for them to truly flunk out and medical schools don’t like to do it. Medical school graduation rates are much higher than undergraduate school graduation rates (generally higher than 80% and most of those that don’t complete it drop out for reasons other than not being able to handle the courses).

Nope. In most American medical schools it’s in the (low) single digits. The weeding-out process occurs before medical school - a lot of kids start college as “premeds” but then discover that they don’t have the grades for it, don’t like science, or just become interested in something else. Many give up, apply to Caribbean schools or defer applying because they can’t do well enough on the MCAT. Of those who actually apply to medical school, only 40% are accepted.

In countries where medical school starts directly from high school, the dropout/flunk out rates are considerably higher.

According to a couple of doctors in the family … with few exceptions, if you can get into medical school you will become a doctor. Those who struggle are subjected to a great deal of pressure / help / guidance from faculty and peers to continue – those who struggle academically will be guided toward one of the “dumb doctor” specialties like podiatry or urology.

Considering where a urologist is going to be working, I’d like to think that he took that specialty not because he couldn’t hack the hard stuff but because he actually wanted to do it.

Podiatry is a different degree, not a medical specialty. Urology is a relatively competitive field.

The stereotypical dumb doctor specialty is orthopedic surgery, but you have to do pretty well in med school to get a residency.

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Same deal with law school, incidentally.

A process described by physicians are “recycling”. :wink:

Untrue. Podiatrists are not MDs, they are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine. Their training is restricted to the foot. A number of my college classmates who did not get into medical school went instead to podiatric school.

Urologists are MDs who after graduating med school do a general surgery residency year followed by further years of training in urologic medicine, especially surgical procedures. Urology has in the past been a tough residency to get into. Though I admit I don’t know if that’s still true.

I thank you for the effort being shown. A useful article…

Not true at all. Orthopedic surgery is at the type of the food chain, along with radiology, anesthesiology, and dermatology. The top med students gravitate to those four fields, which they refer to as the ROAD to success. (ROAD being an acronym for those four fields).

The least desired residency programs are psychiatry, family practice, and pediatrics.

Doctors who have problems with the language gravitate to pathology.

All this talk about residencies is making me wonder…

Is it possible to graduate medical school with an MD but have such a low GPA or so few recommendations from instructors that you can’t get a residency? What happens then? Do you go into private practice and hope no patients ask you about your residency?

At least one year of residency after medical school is required to obtain a license to practice. If one is a US medical school graduate, one can find some sort of residency position for at least a year, no matter how nearly one came to flunking out for academic reasons.

In the past, docs who just had a year of residency generally went ahead and hung out a shingle as a General Practitioner, and did a little bit of everything. These days, a lack of such credentials is making it harder and harder for new docs who didn’t complete a residency, and hence lack Board certification, to get hired, get hospital credentials, and get accepted for reimbursement by insurance plans.

The O in ROAD is typically said to stand for ophthalmology, not orthopedic surgery.

Also, while anesthesiology is one of the ROAD fields because of its hours and income potential, it’s a common myth that it’s very competitive to match into. A useful proxy for residency competitiveness is the mean USMLE Step 1 score of those who successfully matched. As can be seen here (warning: PDF) on page 13, anesthesiology is in the middle and is roughly comparable to internal medicine in competitiveness. But yes, psychiatry, family medicine, and pediatrics are the lowest.

Private practice doesn’t mean you can practice without doing a residency. It’s virtually impossible to work in medicine at all without doing a residency. In the old days there were General Practitioners who did just 1 year of internship and then went into practice, but now, no hospital is going to give you admitting privileges, and no insurance company is going to reimburse for your services, if you are not board certified in a specialty, which means doing a residency. Not to mention you’re not going to feel comfortable practicing in any setting at all without the experience gained in residency. Technically you could do just a 1 year internship, get your medical license, and do Botox injections or something for cash on the barrelhead, but that’s exceedingly rare. (BTW, primary care doctors today are not GP’s, but docs who did at least a 3-year residency and are board certified in family practice or internal medicine.)

The worst medical student in the country can land a spot in the least competitive family practice or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency programs, so generally getting through medical school means you will be able to practice some form of medicine.

ETA: beaten to the punch by Qadgop.

Also, the ROAD specialties are known not necessarily for attracting all the top med students, but for being both high-income and “lifestyle” (meaning manageable hours) fields. Yes, many top students go into these fields, but other fields which are very non-lifestyle friendly, like neurosurgery and ENT, are very competitive and thus attract only the top students as well.

Back to the question in the OP: at my school, all science and math courses required as prerequisites or part of the nursing program need to have been completed within five years of your expected graduation date. So if the student took Biology for Medical Majors four years ago, he’s going to have to take it again (because once you’re in the nursing program, it’s a two year program - your Bio will be outdated by the time you graduate.)

They really don’t care whether you were a pre-med, in medical school, or an accountant. They just want copies of your transcripts and the prereqs completed within the last few years.

There were three doctors - licensed doctors from other countries - in my class when we started the program. Two of them flunked out before the end of the first year, and we lost the other one at midterm of this year. Not at all because they were dumb or poor students, they weren’t, but because they kept thinking like doctors and fixating on medical diagnosis and treatment instead of nursing interventions.

When you’re a nursing student, the answer to “Your patient is wheezing, short of breath and the fingernail beds are turning blue - what do you do?” is not “prescribe albuterol nebulizers Q 2 hours to treat acute asthma exacerbation.” It’s “Raise the head of the bed, encourage deep breathing and administer oxygen to aid in ineffective breathing patterns due to restricted airway as evidenced by wheezing, shortness of breath and cyanotic fingernail beds.” Then, of course, you call the doc to ask for (or “anticipate” the test writers like to call it) a scrip for a bronchodilator, but that’s never the correct answer on the test for the “primary” or “immediate” nursing intervention. Docs seem to have trouble unlearning what they already know and constraining themselves to *nursing *diagnoses and *nursing *interventions.