Can I succeed in nursing school with no previous medical experience?

  1. My whole life right now is about getting through pre-requisites with As, preparing for the TEAS and being as strong a candidate as possible for a ADN program. I'm 41 and while I have a prior bachelor's degree (not science-related), it's been an adjustment learning to study sciences, getting comfortable again with the math I slacked off on back in high school.

    Many of my classmates are CNAs, EMTs, etc -- and I really envy that they have real experience with patients and a medical setting. I've been looking into a CNA program for myself, but I don't think it makes sense in my situation for a variety of reasons (mostly it would delay my entry into a nursing program, and pay wouldn't be much of a help compared to part-time work I do now). Yet I am scared to start a clinical program with zero experience doing anything with patient care. Is this going to be a huge obstacle? Or is it assumed most student nurses are starting with none?

    Just trying to figure out if *some* kind of experience would make a huge difference in my success. Can't help but wonder after spending so much time with my nose in a book.
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    About oneday_nursepoundcake

    Joined: Apr '18; Posts: 17; Likes: 14

    15 Comments

  3. by   MiladyMalarkey
    I definitely feel my CNA/EMT classmates had a definite advantage when it comes to nursing school. But, I only really felt that way my first semester in nursing school. They were more comfortable interacting with patients, knew a lot more of the lingo & are used to being around nurses and other medical staff and how they do things. So yeah, I won't lie, I did feel disadvantaged at first. I'm now headed into my last year of nursing school and while they still have advantages in certain aspects, I feel the playing field has leveled out a bit. They still are just as nervous about skills check offs as the rest of us, they still struggle with pharmacology (some are better than others) and they have to sit & pass the same exams I do. The only piece of advice I can give you is try not to compare yourself to them, it will feel like they have an advantage at times, but, that does not mean you won't be successful and one day be a damn fine nurse. Good luck!
  4. by   Rionoir
    I don't think it would've been worth the pay cut to be a CNA. Take a CNA course before nursing (required at my school) and that was a huge help though.
  5. by   rnhopeful82
    I'm in my 2nd semester of nursing school after 4 semesters of pre-reqs (yikes!) I have 2 previous, non-medical degrees. I'm 36 now and quite a few people show up in scrubs to class because they are already somehow in the medical field. I haven't let that stop me from kicking butt in all of my classes and getting a great TEAs score. Keep doing what you are doing. I see being "older" as an advantage, it means I know this is what I want to do so I'm going to work hard at it. We had an EMT and some CNAs in my first clinical. They didn't know EVERYTHING, but they did know a LOT more than me. They were more than happy and willing to help show how to do things like checking vitals and changing a bed and everyone helped everyone, prior experience or not. Nursing school is expensive, I don't know if I would take a pay cut just to feel more comfortable in clinicals, you will feel about par soon enough. Nurses come from all backgrounds, I wouldn't worry! Good luck!
  6. by   FutureNurseInfo
    Yeeesssss
  7. by   emmjayy
    As someone who started nursing school with zero medical experience and who graduated as the salutatorian of my class with a job in critical care waiting for me, I can tell you that it's very possible to succeed in nursing school without medical experience. Trust the system! It is definitely assumed that you know nothing when you come in. Experienced LPN's in my program had to go through the exact same training on taking a blood pressure, giving a bed bath, and getting a patient out of bed that people like me had to go through.

    I was terrified all through my first year, for the most part. Second year, everything clicked and got much easier. I always got great feedback from all of my instructors. I just was as enthusiastic as possible for every learning experience, got help when I needed it, and asked my instructor for more guidance when I was uncomfortable with a skill. Apply yourself to the clinical portion with as much zeal as you've applied to getting in, and you should be just fine!
  8. by   KelRN215
    I was 18 when I entered nursing school and my prior "medical experience" consisted of being a volunteer in my local hospital where I did things like find wheelchairs and deliver them to the floors or pick up lab specimens in a cooler and deliver them to the lab.
  9. by   ThatChickOmi
    If it helps you feel any better, I've made it halfway through my 2 year program so far having no prior experience in the healthcare field.

    My "regular job" is actually driving a delivery truck...lol.
  10. by   alovingnurse
    It is absolutely possible! I just graduated from an LPN program with zero past medical experience and made straight As and Bs during the program. Yes, I did feel inferior to my fellow classmates that were CNAs or EMTs at first. There were plenty of students who had years of medical experience who didn't pass first semester. It just depends on how much you want it and how much of your time you are willing to put aside for studying and dedicating yourself to becoming a nurse and helping people. You will do great! Try not to stress over it too much. I did it and so can you!
  11. by   ThatChickOmi
    And to add to what I said previously, there were some students in my class that didn't make it and they were already in the field. One guy was a tech at a local hospital and didn't pass first semester....soo my point is yeah having prior experience may help but it doesn't always mean you're going to pass. It's just hard work and dedication and sharpening critical thinking skills and application of knowledge.
  12. by   ddockery85
    Hello

    I work in an emergency room doing patient registrations. Besides just working in a hospital I really have no medical knowledge except for what I see and hear. Most of the nurses have told me that it doesn't matter whether you have a medical background going into a nursing program. Many have said that nursing schools teach by the book fundamentals but when you get out there in real life and actually become a nurse you'll see how things are different.

    GOOD LUCK!!!
  13. by   oneday_nursepoundcake
    Thanks for all the feedback! It really is helpful hearing how this has really played out for people in the real world. Plugging away through pre-requisites can be pretty isolating, and at times you look up from your books and wonder how this will all work out when it's "the real stuff". You all helped lessen a lot of my worries about this.
  14. by   HalfBoiled
    I got into nursing school at 18 and had 0 experience on the hospital.

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