Unsure About Nursing School? Check Out These Tips

Unsure About Nursing School? Check Out These Tips

Have you ever been unsure about nursing school? You aren’t alone. Perhaps you have been accepted into a program and you’re on the fence. Or, you’re already in nursing school and you are wondering if this is the right place for you. Starting a career journey is a major life decision that often has unexpected twists and turns.

If you’re starting to think nursing school isn’t for you – don’t panic. The best thing you could do at this moment is to talk through your concerns, reflect on your feelings, and come up with a plan. These tips are not only helpful but practical. You can start them immediately!

Talk to Your Peers

No one knows what you’re going through more than someone who is in a similar situation. It might be helpful to talk to your peers about how you feel about nursing school. It is important to bring this topic up with people who you feel will not judge you and will offer honest advice. Asking the following questions might help to guide the conversation:

  • Have you ever felt unsure about nursing school, too?
  • What made you decide to go to nursing school?
  • What are some strategies you have used to help make these big decisions?

Your peers may be able to relate to your situation or help you with managing indecisiveness. It is important to remember that the advice or reaction that one person gives you might be completely different than another person’s advice and reaction.

After speaking with your peers, take some time for yourself to reflect on the conversation. It is important to tweeze out what feelings and thoughts are truly your own versus what feelings and thoughts are prompted by another person.

Speak With Someone in The Field

Although speaking with a peer is helpful, their advice is also limited because they are in a similar situation as you. Try talking to someone who is already working as a nurse. Talking to a nurse can give you further insight as to what your career might be like when you finish school, if they have any regrets, and how you should move forward.

Make it clear that you are seeking advice because you’re unsure about nursing school. This way, the nurse is hopefully as transparent and honest as possible. If you don’t know a nurse you can speak to, ask the nursing department in the school you attend (or about to attend).

They may know someone you can reach out to which may be alumni. If that isn’t possible, it might be helpful to read interviews with nurses instead. Check out this interview and this one.

Keep a Journal

If you find that you are on the fence about attending or staying in a nursing program, it might be helpful to keep a journal that is dedicated to exploring this indecisiveness. Here are a few journal writing prompts and activities that can help:

Make a Pros and Cons List
People use pros and cons list all the time. Seeing how many pros and cons you can come up with may be a good indicate on what you’re leaning towards. However, sometimes, certain pros or cons weigh heavily than others. This activity takes this into account, too.

  1. Write a “pros” and “cons” list about attending (or staying in) nursing school.
  2. Prioritize your pros and cons by choosing the top 3 pros and the top 3 cons that are the most important to you.
  3. Spend time reflecting if finishing nursing school is absolutely necessary to experience each of the pros you selected.
  4. Then, reflect on whether or not there are any practical solutions to making your identified cons less terrible and if the cons are rooted in anything else like fear, anxiety, etc.

Keep Track of Your Decisions
Being unsure about nursing school can take up a lot of mental space and cause you to spiral into all sorts of thoughts. This activity is aimed at making your thoughts more concrete.

For this activity you’re going to need graph paper. This activity will help you visualize how you generally feel about attending (or staying in) nursing school. It is an especially helpful activity for those who are visual learners.

  1. Create a color code at the top of the paper. One color should equal that you are leaning towards staying or attending nursing school. Another color should equal that you do not want to attend or stay in nursing school.
  2. Decide on what time of day you feel that your mind is the clearest. For some people this might be right when they wake up, and for others, it might be right before they go to sleep.
  3. Color in one box based on if you want to stay or attend nursing school or if you do not.
  4. Review your progress after 2 weeks. What patterns do you notice? Is one color showing up more than the other? Does seeing how your feelings look visually influence your decision?

Write a Letter to Your Future Self (Twice)
This activity is intended to pour your heart out (two times!). It might be helpful to keep your eyes closed until the end of the activity to improve concentration.

  1. With a piece of paper in front of you (and your eyes closed), write a letter to your future self as a nurse. Express what you went through to get there, how it feels to be a nurse, what your daily routine is like, and what kind of nurse you are. Include the hopes and dreams you have for your future self as a nurse.
  2. Fold the paper in half and do not view it. Take out another piece of paper.
  3. Write another letter to your future self who is not a nurse. Describe what your life is like and how you feel. Include the hopes and dreams you have for your future self (as someone who isn’t a nurse).
  4. Fold the paper in half and put both letters into an envelope and seal it. You may open the letters and re-read them in 2 weeks.

When reading the letters, pay close attention to what letter you feel the most drawn to. Also consider what are the similarities between the two letters? The differences? If you had to choose a future self, who would you want to be?

Consider an Alternative Career Plan

It might be helpful to consider an alternative career plan if you are unsure about nursing school. It might be helpful to start with identifying all the reasons why you’re not sold about nursing school.

For example, perhaps you aren’t sure if you want to work in healthcare. Then, you should explore non-healthcare jobs. Or, maybe you aren’t ready to fully commit to years of schooling. Then, considering getting your certified nursing assistant degree first.

Feeling like you don’t know what career you should pursue? That is okay! An alternative career plan does not have to be definite. You may come up with a plan that affords you the opportunity to spend some more time exploring careers and yourself.

Take a Step Back and Breathe

Realizing that nursing school may not be in your future can be uncomfortable or scary. It is important to spend as much time taking care of yourself during this process as you do with thinking about your career. When we are stressed or anxious, we do not think clearly and may make decisions that aren’t true to what we want.

If this is how you are feeling, allow yourself some space from this decision, and engage in activities that keep you focus and relaxed. When it is time to revisit this decision again, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to move forward with whatever you choose.


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About the author

Kristie Cabrera

Kristie is an occupational therapist, mental health advocate, and amateur urban farmer. Her experience with taking care of others in the healthcare setting and taking care of the land are both important pieces that make up who she is. As a life-long learner and creative, she hopes to create content that is centered around wellness and healing.

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