I'd always wanted to be a nurse since I was little, but got pulled into science and engineering because I was really interested in it and the money was good. I majored in electrical engineering back in 1990 (*gulp*), worked in the software industry until 2001, then was laid off just before I had my daughter. At that point, I revisited the dream and figured it was now or never. So I made the big leap. I'm now almost through the first year of an ADN program and I love it. So here goes my long post...
The last person mentioned the volume of work in nursing school, and it is ASTOUNDING. You thought you had reading to do for your engineering classes...well, forget it, this beats any of the reading for my EE classes hands down. You will also have research papers, presentations, research for clinicals, paperwork for clinicals...and many times, it will all be due within the same week! It never ends. I don't know what your level of engineering education is, but with my little bachelor's in EE, I don't recall having this much work to do at once. The thinking process is also different. I'm not sure what your work as an aerospace engineer is like, but nursing school stresses a lot of "crltical thinking" and a lot of thinking quickly on your feet. For me, this is a lot different from the structured software engineering environment, where you have scheduled time to work on a project and think out all the details. In nursing, there is not always a clear-cut answer to the problem at hand. People are more complicated than computers or software programs, unfortunately...
In your classes and clinicals, you will get a quick scenario, or a quick look at the patient's chart, or a quick eyeballing of your patient, and you will need to use common sense and nursing theory on the fly to alleviate what is already wrong with the patient...and to prevent other things that could go wrong. But if you are able to use common sense while "thinking outside the box" (man, I HATE that phrase), that will help. Also, as an engineer, you are probably very thorough and detail-oriented, and are able to organize your thoughts well. That will help you a lot...just don't let the detail get carried away when you do your patient documentation, or no one will want to read your chart notes
To me, nursing school is challenging in ways that engineering never was. You have to have good study skills and the smarts to absorb and use all the theory, but it is also a challenge to your communication skills, and sometimes to your personality and emotions. So many engineering jobs involve sitting in a cube and working away, just you inside your brain, with the usual meetings to come up for air
Not so with nursing. Not only do you have to be competent with the technical aspects of nursing, and with time management and prioritization skills, but communication skills are absolutely key and can make or break an effective nursing relationship with a patient. So much of nursing involves getting in touch emotionally with patients and assessing their psychological and emotional states, not just asking them how they feel physically and treating just their physical body. And sometimes, that communication won't go easily or just won't work at all -- there will be personality clashes, language barriers, noncompliant patients...AND you are also dealing with the patient's families as well, so that can multiply some of the communication issues. Sometimes you can work around these issues, and it will take some finesse; other times, you just have to let it go. We have a few former engineers in our class, and it has been a challenge for them (and myself) to become "people persons" to this level.
One other thing...as an aerospace engineer, you must be very intelligent
but if you do make it into nursing school, you may need to learn to be easier on yourself. Case in point: For our class, there was a waiting list of about 700+ people. Which means that the people who did make it in are pretty darn intelligent. Unfortunately, though, someone still has to be first, and someone still has to be last. It has taken many of us a long time to get used to NOT getting A's all the time, or to not be the top in the class. We still go nervously into clinicals, and we still kick ourselves for minor mistakes that we make on exams or in clinicals. That's partly b/c we all have really high standards for ourselves, and most of us are a class of career-changers...so we KNOW this is what we want to do and we want to succeed really badly. But that just adds to the stress, and I'm trying to learn to cut myself some slack so I don't burn out before I get out of school!
Hopefully this will not scare you off. I LOVE what I'm doing, and I too am hoping to get into L&D or OB nursing. We just finished that rotation yesterday and I absolutely loved it. I know when I get out that it won't be the same pay as in my previous engineering jobs, but that's not important. I know it's a career I will love and stick with. Good luck with whatever you decide.