Is Med School or Nursing School a Better Option in New York?

If you’re looking to start a career in healthcare within New York, the first step will be getting medical education. At this point, you’re faced with two choices, either going for medical school or for nursing school. 

Choosing either one of these pathways is a potentially life-altering decision, as the education and final job positions are incredibly different. Luckily, whichever you choose, New York is a great place to begin, filled with world-class healthcare institutions.

Within this article, we’ll break down the difference between med school and nursing school, helping you decide which is the best option for you.

Is medical school harder to get into than nursing school?

In short, absolutely. Medical school in America is incredibly difficult to get into, with the top 100 medical schools having an average of 6.3% acceptance rate. This is mainly due to the steep qualifications needed to get in. Just taking a look at the top 100 medical schools, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a GPA that’s below 3.7

Additionally, there are also a lot more applicants than places for medical school. In 2020, there were 53,030 applicants to medical school, with only 42% of those applicants being offered a place. That means that there’s over a 50% chance of not getting into medical school at all.

On the other hand, the average acceptance rate at nursing school is 66%, instantly putting the odds significantly more in your favor when applying. While applying to nursing school is still a difficult endeavor, you won’t have to be one of the very brightest in your class to get a position.

Medical school in America is significantly harder to get into than nursing school, no matter where you’re applying. Especially when applying for medical or nursing school in New York, where some of the best-rated programs in the country are, your odds are even lower.

What is the difference between nursing school and medical school?

After you secure your spot in either nursing school or medical school, your years of education will look significantly different. There are some main differences between these two programs, mainly:

  • Time commitment
  • Clinical differences
  • Class difficulty

Let’s discuss these in more detail.

Time commitment

The intensity of content studied in medical school eclipses nursing school. Due to the sheer quantity of information you need to absorb and commit to memory in medical school, you will be working a great deal more. Often, medical students work anywhere from 60-90 hours a week just to keep up with the huge amount of content that they have to deal with.

On top of this, considering that the process of medical school lasts for years more than nursing school, you’ll also have to sustain this time commitment for years in a row.


While initially much of what is studied in nursing school and medical school is similar, medical school often goes deeper into the topics at hand. While the difficulty of classes starts off the same, medical school always takes the topics further, increasing the difficulty as the systems explored become more advanced.

That means that while at medical school, your classes will most likely be much harder. With this added intensity, the amount of work you’ll have to do increases. That’s not to say that nursing school isn’t difficult – it definitely is. The only difference is that medical school covers more depth on every topic that a nurse in training would encounter. 


Both doctors and nurses have to undergo clinical training as a part of their medical education. These clinicals will teach students how to perform physical actions that will be needed in their day-to-day lives. From stitching to how to chart, these clinicals are a required part of education.

While nursing school does teach using clinicals, these clinicals will focus on softer skills that are slightly easier to earn. While someone in medical school may be working on a cadaver to learn anatomy, someone in nursing school might learn how to talk with patients or how to clean and dress a wound.

The skills taught in medical school clinicals are fast-paced and require the students to learn quickly or be left behind.

While nursing school and medical school have different education paths, both of them require drive, stamina, and intelligence.

What are the education pathways for these two disciplines?

Although both of these careers will end up working in the healthcare industry, the education pathway they take to get there varies incredibly. In New York, the process of medical school and nursing school are fairly distinct. While medical school is much harder, it also lasts for a lot longer.

Let’s look at the pathway to becoming a doctor through medical school.

  1. Pre-Med – First of all, you’ll have to take four years of undergraduate in pre-med studies. This course will give you basic skills you’ll need for medicine, including an understanding of chemistry, math, biology, pharmaceuticals, and physiology. Additionally, you have to excel in your degree, with anyone not in the top 10% of their class being at an extreme disadvantage when applying for medical school.
  2. Medical School – Once you overcome the odds and get a place in medical school, you’ll now have an additional four years of studying ahead of you. These are intense, grueling four years. Especially when studying in New York, your living costs will also be steep, making financial pressures another ball to juggle.
  3. Residency – After graduating from medical school, you’ll then spend anywhere between 3-7 years conducting your residency in a hospital. Once again, you’ll have to have excellent final grades in medical school to secure a residency program, with hospitals being incredibly competitive to get into. Over these years, you’ll be worked to the bone, often working 24 hour+ shifts while also keeping up with your studying.

At a minimum, you have 11 years of education to get to the stage where you can take your board exams and qualify as a doctor. These years are filled with studying, intense working conditions, and non-stop work. Medicine isn’t a career that you take on lightly. 

Alternatively, the pathway to nursing is much less intense and takes only a fraction of the time.

  1. Undergraduate Studies – You’ll be working on an undergrad degree for four years in order to get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. You could also attend a nursing college in New York and complete this first stage of qualification in slightly less time.  
  2. NCLEX – After graduating from your undergrad program, all nurses must then take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which will grant a nurse their license. At this point, you’ll officially be a registered nurse. 

As you can see, the progress isn’t nearly so arduous. You’ll be working in the healthcare field within a few years, opposed to the graft of education that is medical school.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re keener on medical school or nursing school in New York, this is a fantastic place to conduct your medical studies. Not only is New York a wonderful city, but you’ll also be among some of the finest medical centers in the world.

The sheer opportunities of New York make this the perfect place to start your medical education.