Every nursing student at some point or another thinks about dropping out of nursing school. I regularly did when I was in nursing school, and I know plenty of my classmates did too.

So those feelings and thoughts are normal to have and can be overcome. But is there ever a point when you really should quit nursing school? Let’s talk about it.

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When You Should Quit Nursing School

Here’s the quick answer to when you should consider quitting your nursing program.

You should consider quitting nursing school if you don’t think you can tolerate the nursing profession and everything that comes with it. Or you or someone closely associated with you are experiencing major medical or financial problems.

Signs You Should Quit Nursing School

Keep reading if you need more info or you don’t want to watch the video. If you’re struggling with your grades in nursing school make sure to check out the nursing student academy.

Let me start by saying that nursing school is hard and being a nurse is also incredibly hard. There are many reasons why some people look at nursing and decide that it’s not for them. 

Such as:

  • Being afraid of needles and blood.
  • Feeling like they can’t do math so they shouldn’t be a nurse.
  • Being introverted and thinking that it makes a difference for being a nurse.

I’ve written multiple articles on many of these topics, and pretty much all of them can be overcome with time if nursing is what you really want to do.

So yes, you can be a nurse if you’re squeamish. Yes, you can be a nurse if you’re bad at math and science. Yes, introverted nurses (such as myself) can be nurses…and make great nurses at that.

With that said, there are instances where your nursing school career comes to an end, and your road to becoming a nurse closes (if only temporary).

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1. You Can’t Tolerate the Work Nurses Do

nurse thinking

You’re probably wondering why I said “tolerate” instead of “passionate.” It’s because I don’t think passion makes you good at your craft. I think it can help facilitate it, but it’s not the end all be all. 

Being passionate about nursing doesn’t make you a good nurse. I’ve met plenty of nurses who were passionate about being nurses but weren’t really good nurses.

Being passionate about nursing doesn’t make you a good nurse.

At the same time, I’ve met nurses who weren’t really passionate about nursing and saw it as more of a means to an end (stable job, fits their life goals, etc.) and were great nurses.

You know why because they were compassionate and empathetic people. They were knowledgeable about their craft, and they cared about doing good work. Most importantly, they tolerated being a nurse and EVERYTHING that comes with being a nurse. 

For seasoned nurses, you know there’s a lot more to being a nurse than taking care of patients. 

  • There’s dealing with patients when they’re sick and about to pass away.
  • There’s dealing with family members (and patients) who belittle you.
  • Dealing with administration who are standing in your way of delivering good patient care, only to get on to you later for not handling an issue [that they caused] well. 

All of those things wouldn’t be so bad if nurses weren’t consistently the punching bag for administration, the patients and their visitors, the doctors, and just about everybody else.

Don’t get me started about some of the risks of physical violence nurses have.

Passion will ebb and flow as you move along your career. At the end of the day, if you can’t (or can no longer) tolerate being a nurse and EVERYTHING that comes with it. It’s time to move on.

Because you can still be passionate about nursing and can’t tolerate the job, and that to me is a bad place to be.

2. Family and Medical Emergency

front door emergency room

The next reason you may need to drop out of school is if a family emergency happens. This could be anything from a death in the family to a debilitating accident or illness.

It’s hard to narrow down what could fall into this category because it’s very different what could happen for each person.

I’ve heard stories of students needing to drop out because their spouse or child got sick. There was a story about someone needing to drop out to take care of an ailing parent. 

I think students needing to drop out because of marriage issues is also a common one.

If you’re in this situation, try to see if there’s a way you can make your schedule work. If that’s not going to work, talk to your academic advisor and see if you can postpone nursing school. For emergencies, many programs will try to work with you if possible. 

Pro-Tip
Many programs have deadlines on when you would have to finish a program before you start repeating courses.

Before withdrawing your enrollment, make sure you know the timeline even if you think you’ll never be back.

3. Your Physical or Mental Health Deteriorates

sign self care is not selfish

You can easily group this section with the family and medical emergency section. Still, I felt this one was worth giving its own section because mental health and our personal self-care are taken for granted.

This is honestly clear-cut and straightforward. If your mental or physical health starts deteriorating for whatever reason, make sure to seek out professional help.

Professional help would be your primary care physician, a psychiatrist, a licensed therapist, etc. Please take your health seriously. If you need to take a break, there’s no shame in that.

Nursing school will be there but make sure you’re looking after yourself. Don’t depend on other people to do that.

4. Financial Issues

That last reason why I think you would need to suspend nursing school is for financial reasons. It’s no secret higher education is expensive.

With that said, if you can’t pay for nursing school, you shouldn’t attend. This is of course assuming you couldn’t get student loans or any other financial aid to make up the difference.

You don’t have to drop out forever, just indefinitely as you work and save up money. 

Nursing Student Academy

Check out the comprehensive supplemental course nursing students are taking to improve their grades and pass nursing school.

If You Are Thinking of Quitting Nursing School

Before quitting or dropping out of nursing school, you should discuss the decision with a friend, spouse, or another trusted person. If you journal, consider doing that as well.

The reason for that is to make sure not getting your nursing degree is what you really want to do. Or what you need to do at that moment.

I bring this up because the road to being a registered nurse is difficult, and if there’s a legit reason you can’t keep going, so be it. But I don’t want you to use how difficult the journey is as a crutch or an excuse not to accomplish your dreams.

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Frequently Asked Questions

It’s normal to have the feeling of wanting to drop out of nursing school. I did, and I know many of my classmates did too.

The dropout rate is about 20%, according to the National League for Nursing.

You may be entitled to a refund or pr-rated refund depending on when you withdrew and your program’s policy. If you decide to change majors, make sure to speak to an academic advisor to assess your options.

If you find that nursing is not what you should be doing, there’s no point even starting nursing school. The earlier you quit, the more money and time you’ll save, and the sooner you can start doing what you actually should be.