? 4 those who went to RN school without previous experience

Nurses General Nursing


Hi everyone! I have a question that is bugging me to death. (Actually it's in conjunction with a question that I am being asked every day from family and friends.)

Here's what I am getting asked....

Do you realize what an RN is?

Do you realize what an RN is responsible for?

Do you realize what kind of position you are putting yourself in becoming an RN?

Granted.... these questions are coming from people that aren't in the least bit interested in the medical field. None of these people even know a RN personally that I am aware of. But anyway...... Don't even get me started on that! LOL

My question is this - Did any of you have to deal with those kind of remarks? How did you handle it? Did it scare you? How did you handle the transition from no-medical-experience to school for RN? (Although I will have some experience)

My problem is this - It's beginning to scare me. I've began to think that maybe I don't want that kind of responsibility. But then again - I know it's what I want to do, and what I have always wanted to do. I know the answer to all of those questions. I know what Im getting into. And until now - it didn't bother me. And it's really not bothering me all too much right now - but the scare is slowly creeping up on me.

If Im feeling this way - does it mean that maybe it's not for me? I surely hope not. Because I know I want to do this. It's in my heart and has been for a very long time. Am I thinking about this too much?

Please tell me others have had their doubts as well. Im not the only one am I?

I am 25 years old - married but do not have any children. Right now, I want to work on getting my ADN from the CC here in my area. That way - I can already be well in my career before having children. I think it would be too hard if I had kids right now.

The only good news I have right now is that I have talked to all the Nursing recruiters here in my area from many different hospitals and 1 of them hires people (that aren't even CNA's) that are enrolled in school for LPN or RN and trains them to become CNA's for their hospital while in school and will work totally around your school schedule any way that you wish. You don't even have to be in clinicals in school. So I thought that was a great idea. I will know next week about starting. They hire for many departments and you can go to any of them. So I think that will be a great source of knowledge for me and help me through out school.

Anyways, I would just like some of your thoughts on this and how to deal with the "questions" that I am recieving.

I just need to feel like Im making the right decision. I hear so many different things from people around here. "You need to do LPN first" or "I would be scared to go into something like that". I don't want to hear from these Non-Medical related people. I would love to hear from you!!

Thanks and Sorry So Long!


263 Posts

My question is this - Did any of you have to deal with those kind of remarks? How did you handle it? Did it scare you? How did you handle the transition from no-medical-experience to school for RN?

Well, I can't help you with the first question, since my family and friends were all very supportive of my decision to become a nurse. But I can tell you that when I started my nursing program, I had no medical experience other than that of being a patient and the fact that my mother was a nurse. And I wasn't alone, many of my fellow students came into the program without any medical background. In fact, I didn't even know how to lower and raise a bed (the old crank kind) when I began nursing school! :rolleyes:

I had an opportunity, much like yours, to get a job working as a "nurse tech" in a local hospital. I learned many invaluble skills there, much more than CNA duties, as the other RN's were usually very happy to explain things and allow me to assist when I could. Combined with the clinical expericence I had in school, it helped me to start to "feel" like a nurse. And if I had any doubts before, they slowly started to fade as my confidence in myself increased.

I just graduated, and am awaiting boards. I know I have a LOT more to learn before I will ever feel truly comfortable, but I think a nurse, lik her profession, is always changing, always growing, always learning.

When I look back on nursing school, when I started I was scared to death. I think some instructors like to scare ist level students too, in order to "weed out" those who potentially won't make it. Looking towards the future, and the huge amount of responsibilty I wil soon be faced with, I admit is a bit daunting. But I will make it. If your heart is in it, you will too! :)

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Brandie......Only you can make this decision. You may never be 100% sure of it, but very few of us are, and those few have days occasionally when we wonder what on earth possessed us to become nurses!

I had NO experience when I started the nursing program back in 1995, although I did become a CNA and worked at the hospital where I'm now a staff RN, during the time I was in school. It worked for me. It doesn't for everyone. All you can do is go for it and find your way as you go......it's not a straight shot for most people, there are hoops to jump through and obstacles in the guise of "general education" classes that leave one shaking her head and wondering, "What in the world does THIS have to do with nursing?"

I wish you the best of luck in deciding what to do, and advise you only to listen to your own heart.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I have oriented literally hundreds of new nurses over the course of my career in staff develpment ... and I can tell you without a doubt that you should not let those people talk you out of anything you really want to do. Many nurses go into nursing fresh out of high school with little or not previous experience. In the olden days (10 -20 years ago) it was rare for student to be anything BUT that 18 year old recent high school grad.

Yes, RN's have more responsibility than people in some other careers. But there are a lot of other careers with just as much, if not more, responsibility. And think about ... every time you get behind the wheel of a car, you have the potential to kill someone. If you feel ready to take on the responsibility -- go for it!.

I don't know what's wrong with those friends of yours ... maybe THEY are afraid of responsibity ... maybe they don't want to see you succeed and elevate yourself beyond their own socio-economic or educational level ... maybe your dreams cause them to feel a little insecure about their own. I don't know. But whatever their problems, let them stay THEIR problems. Don't make them your own.

BTW ... I had the opposite problem. People were always trying to talk me out of it, saying things like, "Why are you settling for being just a nurse?" It's all a matter of how you look at it. Choose what's right for you.

Good luck,



131 Posts

Brandie, go for what you feel is right for you. I got into nursing after many years of not even considering it.

I was a farrier (corrective horseshoeing) for 15 years. I worked various jobs while I was married and raising kids and eventually volunteered as a dispatcher at a local ambulance service. I became a paramedic then went to nursing school. We each have our own direction in life. Don't let those people scare you, nursing is a rewarding career and has a lot of directions to offer.

Yeh I was in my 30's when I went to nursing school, and yes I worked in 1975 as a nurse aid after graduating from high school and farrier school. I needed an income and medical benefits while I established a business. One week of orientation and I was on my own. Enemas three times a week, taking some vitals, washing everyone, doing range of motion on people who were bed ridden. Rectal temps on the whole assignment on 3-11 shift. Didn't see the nurse much, she was passing pills, charting and starting and stopping tube feedings. My assignment was down in the lower part of the building with all the complete care patients. Old strokes, bad cardiac patients and all were bedridden. I don't think any of them could hold a conversation, but then again it was evening so sundowning played a role too I guess. My training was so limited that I don't really know what I was doing at the time.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,540 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

I had no medical experience whatsoever and didn't know any nurses.

It was a disadvantage because everyone but myself in my clincal group was already a LPN or a CNA.

I was in the hosptal for a few days when I was in my early 20s. It was then the seed was planted, but didn't start school until about 10 years later. But to be honest I had absolutely no idea what being an RN entailed, the responsibility, the skills, the critical thinking, the stress. Perhaps if I did I wouldn't have persued to. But I was driven to by some internal force to become a nurse and it was do or die.

Follow that internal voice and go for it!


40 Posts


I am also 25 and trying to decide what area in the medical field I wish to go into.

I think I've discovered, through talking with friends and other young professionals, that this period of our "20's" is for exploration and not know exactly what's right for you (or, maybe just being unsure of what's right).

Anyway, I'm going through the exact same thing you are (being unsure, etc.).

I think it's normal, but I can't wait until it's over!


TiffyRN, BSN, PhD

2,315 Posts

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research.

I went into nursing school at 19 and had NO idea what nurses did other than what I saw on TV (which of course has little basis in reality). I didn't get such questions, just the usual "I could never be a nurse, God bless you". Fortunately as I discovered what nurses did it was a good fit for me.

You would do well to go to work as a CNA (or train to be one). My fellow students who worked as CNA's or Techs did much better in clinicals. Also you will get a view into what is it that nurses do even if you aren't the one doing it. It usually takes a little while to get accepted into most community college programs. While you do your pre-req's it will give you some insight into whether you are making a good decision.

Don't let people who don't know what an RN is or does discourage you from entering the field.

CoffeeRTC, BSN, RN

3,734 Posts

I started nusing school right out of high school. There were quiet a few students who were CNAs or RNs already. They did seem for confident... Half way thru, I got a job as a CNA in LTC. This helped tremendously!! Just getting used to handleing and speaking with patients was really helpfull. Being a CNA also helps to have the been there done that feeling... I recomend to anyone to work/ walk a day in a CNAs or pt tech shoes...

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

Hello! I also started nursing school right out of high school--well after three years of college anyway, graduated when I was 23. I had had absolutely no prior medical experience. The only time I had even been in the hospital was with a friend that had been injured--though this experience did influence my desire to be a nurse. Why did I choose nursing? I knew I wanted to work with people and with the human body. I though about psychology for awhile but I thought that it would get too boring. Nursing just seemed to offer what I wanted. As far as the responsibility goes--you don't get "used" to it because it is a lot of responsibility- but you do get more comfortable with it and with your knowledge and role. You do the best you can, continue your education and learning and grow with the field. No one can tell you wheter or not or follow this field but it is a great one to be in. It is very flexible and there are many options. Can you follow around an RN for a week or so? In my school, we were eligible to become CNAs after passing the summer term of school, which I know many people did (though I did not). I think that experience would have been helpful but it is certainly doable without it. Good luck in your decisions.

Hey Brandie,

I can relate to everything that you are saying. I am currently a first semester nursing student in an RN program and have never worked in a hospital. Everything is completely new to me. Most people in my class have had some kind of exposure to dealing with patients, so I too feel like I'm at a disadvantage. Funny story...I just purchased my stethoscope and was wondering why I couldn't hear ANYTHING...well....I was told that I had the thing in BACKWARDS!! :rolleyes: How embarrasing was that!! We had to complete a CPR course during our orientation week....of course it would have to be me to somehow dismantle the dummy!! I'm really not trying to be the comic relief in my class, but it seems like I am. Despite my emabarrasing episodes, I'm gonna continue to hang in there simply because I know that this is what I want to do as a career. I am 28 years old, married with 2 children (ages 5 and 16 months). So, if this is truly something that you want to do, don't let anyone discourage you.


70 Posts

I started nursing school when I was 17 and graduated when I was 20.

I had no medical experience (obviously) and did not have any family members or friends who were in the medical field.

My clinical experience started within one month of starting school. Within 8 weeks of starting, we were already giving IM injections, handling all medications, doing patient care and learning how to do catherizations and dressing changes.

I can tell you it was often terrifying, but with the support of the instructors and the trusting eyes of the poor patient, we got through it. Humor helped and being able to laugh at yourself because you will make mistakes in front of patients.

No one hits the floor running - everyone has to start in the same place to learn.

Follow your heart - and ignore those that plant seeds of doubt. They've probably been doing that with all your big decisions.

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