Jump to content

Potential Nurse, but scared to do it?



I am a 17 y/o female. A senior in highschool from CA. I am applying to colleges with BSN nursing as my intended major, but I don't know if I truly can handle it as a career.

I am terrified, to be honest, of the job. I am afraid of making a med error, I'm afraid my patient will code or aspirate, I am afraid I will make a mistake that will cost someone his or her life. I am also afraid of contracting a disease or accidentally sticking myself. I am also afraid of the bullying and disrespect that goes on among hospital professionals. Last summer, I interned in MedSurg (I mostly hung out with the Unit Secretary) but I saw everything - palliative care patients, oncology, combative patients, psych patients, etc. But I also saw how much the nurses cared and loves their jobs. And I know that "anything worth having never comes easy"

So, in short, I don't want to go to work each day with crippling fears. How can I make it past this/ does anyone have advice for me? Thanks!

I had a lot of people try to push me into nursing when I was younger, but I never wanted to do it because I didn't think I could handle the "blood and guts" of it. I hate to see people in pain. I cover my ears when I'm watching TV and someone is getting stabbed. Basically, if I see someone hurt then I hurt.

Fast forward ten years later, two kids, and an unfulfilling career...I decided to give nursing a try. It is NOTHING like I thought it would be and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

In my experience, other than the ER or the OR, there is very little "blood and guts." Furthermore, we need more nurses who hate to see others hurt aka empathize.

I say go for it. If you don't like it, you can always change paths. Most people only regret the things they DIDN'T do.

Wow. Both of these stories sound hauntingly familiar! I am 30 years old & a mother/nurturer of 4. I have always been afraid of the responsibility of being an RN, and I still am. But I, very recently, decided that nursing is the job that I will be happiest doing. I just want to help. I hope to work in oncology. The last post was so helpful & reassuring to me!!

rubato, ASN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/hematology.

At 17, it's really hard to know for sure that you will be making the right choice. Trust me, I'm 42 and just now getting into nursing. My past career was personal training and I hated it. But, your fears are normal. It is a scary thought that someone's life depends on you. I am almost done with my first semester of nursing school and feel so much more confident now than I did at the beginning of this journey. If it's something you feel passionate about, you will be able to overcome those fears. They are normal, don't worry! :)


Has 7 years experience.

Shadowing is a great idea. If you know a nurse personally, you might try to shadow them in their job for the day, following as they do their routine; try to shadow in a few different departments if possible. I would highly suggest becoming a CNA first as well; in my area, it is a short & relatively inexpensive program. It will give you a basic foundation & should help you decide if continuing on to RN is something you would like to do.


Specializes in none.

At your age I was afraid too. I took CNA training in high school and even got my CNA certificate but never used it because of my fears...now I am 32 years old,. married with 3 kids with a career I am unhappy with (I work for DSS as a supervisor) and am thinking of going back to school for a second bachelors in nursing (either that or my MSW but nurses make more and have more career options :)). I hope to start taking my pre reqs in the Spring and maybe 2-3 years I will enter an accelerated BSN program. I am still scared but if I just went straight into nursing in the first place, I would be about 9-10 years in and still young, as opposed to becoming a nurse in my late 30s. I say if you want to do nursing, just go for it because it wil probably be harder to enter the field when you are older and have a lot more responsibility.

I am exactly in your shoes. I'm currently debating whether I should transfer to a school with pre-nursing. Don't let fear push you away from what it is your heart desires. But in the meantime, truly consider whether this is the right fit for you.

Good luck in your decision! (:

I think being afraid of the responsibility is very healthy. Never be afraid to chase your dreams, the world is your oyster:) maybe spend some time volunteering in a hospital? Good luck!!


Has 2 years experience.

My first year of college was wasted because I was in a different major & didn't think I could do it. I was so unhappy and ended up switching schools to get into pre reqs. I am so happy I did it. Don't talk yourself out of it.


Specializes in Telemetry, PCU, Private Duty, Hospice.

Hi there. First of all, I would say that the fears you have are all legitimate fears and not uncommon. But every nurse makes a mistake at some point, truly. Just because we are nurses does not mean we are perfect. We are all human. I have only been a nurse for a year and a half, but I had a lot of the same fears while in nursing school and I still have fears. Even though I haven't been a nurse for very long and I'm sure more experienced nurses can give you better advice, I would say to start out taking your general ed courses in college...can not go wrong there. Then get your CNA license and start working in a hospital or long term care facility. You will see a lot more and get more comfortable in the healthcare setting. It will be a great experience and it will definitely help you relax a little bit more. You will see if you love it or not. Even though being a nurse is different than being a CNA, it's a good idea to start with the basics and foundation -- patient care and comfort. I wish I would have had a better experience in healthcare before becoming a nurse. I haven't had a code yet or even assisted with one and it scares me to think about.

This site is also a great resource! I became a member during nursing school and everyone on this forum is so wonderful and encouraging!

Good luck to you :)

I started out working as a CNA/HCA in a LTC facility and a little over a year ago made the switch to working in a hospital. I did my practicum in the ICU and since have held a position on a medicine unit but have had opportunities to pick up shifts on various different units....ER, Cardiac, NICU, L&D, Rehab, Anti/Gyne. Some units, especially in the ER & ICU I was super nervous about the what if's. As a CNA/HCA we are responsible for doing CPR and there's always that fear of a code being called but after seeing a few codes (while doing my practicum) I was amazed at just how well everyone jumps into action and works well together. As for the rest I can understand those fears, some of which I share, but again the experience I've gained thus far has helped to ease some of those. And I will say that ANY experience you get as a CNA will definitely help you along the way. I cant say enough good things about the LPN's and RN's that I work with who worked their way up from a CNA. Gives some perspective. Not to say that the nurses who didn't aren't good...it's just different.

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start thinking about what could go right. :)


Has 4 years experience.

Hi! If you are genuinely interested in the career and there are positives for you then of course you can do it. I was scared to do nursing too, I was scared even before I applied to school about the whole process, clinicals, etc. Fear isn't something that should stand in your way, it can also be seen as a motivator. With a four year bachelors program, you will have a pretty long time to slowly become adjusted to these 'uncomfortable' things. But if you really want it, you will work through them. I remember the first day of clinical, when I had to just TALK to my first patient, and interview them. I was kind of terrified. And I remember my first code two weeks ago, as an RN, after which my patient died. I was also terrified. This kind of stuff comes with the territory. No one comes into the field an expert. It is a lot of work, emotionally draining, but also challenging, invigorating, and rewarding. If you want it, you can have it. Good luck!

Your fears are natural. I am 40 and changing gears and getting into nursing and I have the same fears as you do, in fact, those fears are what held me back from doing nursing sooner, which now I regret. So here I am now taking the plunge, wish I would have started sooner though. But I know that I really like to help people and that urge has grown with each passing year.

My advice to you would be to shadow a nurse (or a couple), get a nurse mentor, volunteer at a hospital a couple days a week. Really get in there and try to get an inside insight on nursing before fully commiting to a nursing program. There is no harm in going into college as an undeclared major the first year(usually the first 2 years are spent fullfilling your general ed requirements anyway) and then declaring nursing as your major once you have had time to explore nursing more.

Good luck!

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 6 years experience.

Just to echo PPs:

1) Your fears about the profession make total sense and you're not alone! I think that those are things that never go away, and they are part of your motivation for being thorough and careful. We all make mistakes, and we all most likely WILL make these kinds of mistakes that we are afraid of. That's what school is for: getting down and dirty and having our judgment questioned by professors and instructors who have been there, done that. I hate being wrong, especially when it hurts someone else, but think of all the good we'll miss out on doing if we give into that fear.

2) It might help a lot to get more experience in direct patient care. You said you mostly hung out with the unit secretary at your last job/volunteer experience if I'm remembering right. I used to work as an admin assistant at an inpatient hospice unit and thought I was learning a lot. I got my CNA training and started doing nursing assistant work at the same place, and everything was sooooo much different! There is no substitute for doing the real thing. As a CNA, you'll probably be helping an RN, or at least witnessing an RN, doing a lot of their everyday tasks, and that puts you in a better place to decide whether it's for you. Plus, it puts your ability to deal with every kind of sight and smell and situation with grace and compassion. If you can continue to be pleasant to a patient and family who has been running your butt off all day, you can probably have faith in your ability to do this nursing thing.

Good luck in your decision!