From Paralegal to RN?


I recently graduated college with an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies. I was able to maintain a 4.0 gpa the entire time. I am currently working part time in a midsize law firm in my area. I have been looking diligently for a full time position but everything either requires more experience than I have or doesn't pay much at all. So I've really been contemplating whether to go back to school to pursue a career in healthcare. The job market is always growing and there seems to be many different routes to choose from. I really enjoy helping people and I've always had a very giving personality. I'm not completely grossed out by blood, bodily fluids, or vomit either. However, I'm not sure if a nursing job is right for me. It's the math and science that worry me. I've always been a good student and I usually do well in any subject, but math and science are my two least favorite. I've always been more of an English type. I'm pretty sure I could pass the classes because I have a very good sense of determination and will power when I set my mind to something. I'm just not sure if I would enjoy having to use so much math and science everyday. Can anyone please elaborate a little on the specific amounts of math and science that are directly used everyday? Is it straight out of the textbooks type stuff or do you only use concepts that are the most common? Does it all become second nature and part of the routine after a while? Is there anyone out there who is currently a working RN that does not favor the math and science subjects?


15 Posts

OP-not to discourage you, but to give you a little perspective. I was a legal secretary/paralegal for many years. Never felt good enough, like the rest of my friends with "professional" jobs. Pay wasn't that good, etc. Always loved the sciences and wanted to help people, fast forward, went to nursing school. Got my Associates Degree, passed NCLEX first try, and went to work in this so-called hell hole "profession". I've been an RN since 1999. I've worked in many different practice settings, in many different areas of nursing and its all been incredibly stressful. As a nurse, you will be faced with horrible, unsafe staffing on a constant, daily basis and you will not have any control over this. You will be dealing with patients and family members who really do think that they are entitled to demand anything they want out of you and management will always side with the "customer", even if that means you losing your job. You will not be "right", the customer always will be. You will have to deal with bullying co-workers who will be just as stressed, if not more than you, and take out their frustrations on eachother. And you will have to deal with your own management forever throwing their nursing staff under the proverbial bus, just because they need a scape goat and they can--there is always another nurse out there to take your place thinking "it will never happen to him/her". Also, read the posts and see how many new grads as well as us seasoned nurses are unemployed and have no job prospects on the horizon. I lost my last job in a LTC facility a year ago. I had been there for two years, great reviews, no patient complaints. Management decided that they no longer needed per diem nurses, their regular staff would pick up open shifts so after two years of being per diem and essentially working full time for them, three to four shifts a week, I was told out of the blue that they had a new policy and regular staff would now take all open shifts.

The economy is bad now for EVERYONE. There are many different avenues you can take as a paralegal and many different practice areas you can become involved in. You can work for a large firm, or a small group of practitioners. You are helping people by assisting the attorney in solving legal issues for clients. You won't have to go through thousands of dollars in tuitition, books, uniforms, supplies, etc. only to graduate and find out the hard way that there aren't the number of jobs out there for nurses that the public thinks there is. You won't have to find out the hard way how very difficult it is to be a nurse for an entire career--the stress and working conditions are terrible, and yes you won't be immune to these problems.

Honestly OP, I wish I had done my homework and had people talk the truth to me way back when, before I went to nursing school. The path through school is incredibly hard, the path afterward is even more difficult. Think long and hard about staying in the legal profession before you jump ship for supposed "greener pastures."

Wishing you best of luck in whatever path you decide to take.


3 Posts

Thanks Talon. I appreciate your comments and honesty. I have read several comments similar to yours on here. I have also read many that were quite the opposite. I suppose there will always be positive and negative factors that go along with every profession. And I do agree with you about the economy being bad for everyone right now. With that said, I am still curious about the specific types of math and science that are used in everyday nursing. Can you provide any insight in that area?


15 Posts

Hi Smassingale. Math that you need for everyday nursing is basic: multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. You'll use this for calculating/checking drug doseages. Most pharmacies, wheather in hospital, or suppliers to LTCs, usually indicate the doseage for tablets, or the infusion rate/hr for IVs. It's your job to check on that prior to administration. As far as the sciences, you'll need to have a good understanding of microbiology--what organisms are infecting your patients, how they infect, drugs that are used to erradicate them, etc.; pharmacology--how & why the different chemical classes of drugs work and on what diseases; anatomy & physiology--how & why the different body systems work and how they work together; pathophysiology--what happens to the body in different disease processes; general chemistry--what its all made up of. Everyday nursing is heavily weighted on the sciences. You'll need all that in order to understand what is going on with your patients in terms of disease process, drugs that are prescribed and why they work, why certain diagnostic tests are ordered, etc., and be the eyes and ears of the docs. It is the sciences that I always found fascinating and loved.

Again, best wishes with your career desicion.


3 Posts

Thank you Talon. All of this information has been very helpful.

loriangel14, RN

6,931 Posts

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

You stated that you wanted be a nurse because the job narket is always growing. You may want to read the threads on here about all the new grads unable to find work.The job market is not that rosy in most places.

Working conditions are not as universally horrible as Talon will have you believe.There are many nurses out there that are happy with being and nurse and love their jobs ( I am one of them). Management are not always witches, we aren't understaffed and the families aren't always awful.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Another thought.

Many organizations (mine included) employ RNs with legal backgrounds in their Risk Management departments. Most of them are RN/JDs, but I know that one of ours is an MSN/Paralegal. Just wanted to make sure that you knew these opportunities exist. Just make sure that you obtain a BSN if you decide to be a nurse. Most larger hospitals are only hiring BSN new grads.

Count me in the 'love being a nurse' category.