I agree with Nancy1-probably the closest you can get to nursing without being a nurse would be to work as a CNA. It puts you at the bedside with patients, teaches you how to juggle responsibilities and tasks for multiple patients at one time, and allows you to hear some (probably much) of the opinions, both good and bad, of the nurses themselves re: nursing! Nursing is much more than just passing meds-you are responsible for monitoring the patients response to treatment, and must know when to act "on just a gut feeling". You must know enough about medicine to know when the doctor (gasp!) makes a mistake! You also assume many roles-including, but certainly not all-inclusive, teacher, patient advocate, and counselor. You must have the skills to talk a patient through difficult decisions and painful treatments. You must be willing to know and provide the little things that make a patient just a little more comfortable-such as the right words, or just wiping someone's face. You must know when to just listen. You must know when you don't know the answers, and when the patient knows more than you do. You must know the "politics" within your facility. You must be able to stand the physical exhaustion-and mental exhaustion-of nursing. That is, you must be able to run until you think you can't run anymore-and then you must keep running. And then you must document all about how and where you just ran! :-) You must be prepared to deal with the emotional side of nursing-really being there for a dying patient is tough! You must realize that you never really leave your work at the office when you're a nurse. There's always something that you take with you. You must realize that you're life will never be the same-you'll see people's bare arms as "easy or tough IV sticks"-talking about body fluids at lunch will not bother you-you'll be signing your checks as M.so-and-so, RN. Lay-people will look at you like you're nuts when they hear the story that has you rolling off your chair in laughter!
The same things that make nursing so exhausting-also make it one of the most rewarding careers a person can have! I would highly recommend nursing as a career-for the right kind of person. There are so many opportunities! The day you die, you will still know only a small portion of all that is out there. But-only you can decide if it is the right move for you.