Rather than a pat answer about the length of time you’d spend in school getting prepared for your career, the first question you should ask if you have doubts is, “What do I want to be doing for the rest of my life? What are other medical options?” If you study to be a nurse only because the path for getting you there is shorter, and then don’t enjoy the work, then what have you accomplished?
There are literally dozens of other medical options, depending on your interests. As a pre-med with doubts, now’s the time to consider them all. A physician’s assistant (PA) works alongside a doctor, and in many settings works independently with his or her own patients. PA programs are competitive and last from two to four years.
Nursing school can range from two to four years as well, followed by additional schooling for a master’s degree. So you could spend nearly as long preparing for certain nursing careers as you might for certain medical careers.
A psychologist can do two or four years (or more) post-college, depending on the degree and the setting he or she is preparing to work in.
Check your skills, interests
What other medical options are the most viable, for you and you alone? We’re back to what you think you’re best at. Working in a back office as a medical tech is completely counter to the experience of a physical therapist or psychiatric aide. Do you like interacting with people? Would you rather be hospital-based? Are you seeking autonomy? Opticians, pharmacy techs, home health aides, all have some autonomy depending on the company that employs them. Even an anesthetic nurse has almost complete autonomy, depending on the state in which he/she practices.
Medical careers are extremely diverse and varied, highlighting a range of interests and skills. If you have concerns about medical school, stop now! Take the time early in your pre-med track to research the education and salary potential of dozens of other medical options from pharmacists and medical technicians to physical therapists and home health aides, at websites like: http://www.medicaljobs.org/search.