Dropping Out of Nursing School: Pros, Cons, and the Aftermath

Dropping Out of Nursing School: Pros, Cons, and the Aftermath

Nursing school is a challenge, there is no denying that. However, it’s not always the difficulty that makes the thought of dropping out of nursing school start floating around your head. There could be many reasons why you have started thinking about quitting.


Dropping out of nursing school
Kate Johnson


February 21, 2023

Regardless, I am here to help provide some perspective as you make this important journey. You are not alone! 

Before you make any permanent decisions, let’s talk about some pros and cons, thoughts about dealing with the aftermath, and examples of alternative careers without a completed nursing degree. 

Reasons Why You Might Quit Nursing School

Below are just a few of the reasons you might quit nursing school, although it is not a comprehensive list. However, it is important to remember that quitting is not you taking the easy way out, no matter your reason.

Some reasons why you may consider dropping out of nursing school include: 

  • It is an overwhelming amount of work
  • It turned out not to be what you expected
  • financial concerns
  • Events in your personal life, such as  a death in the family, pregnancy, or health complications

Several students drop their nursing program for all of these reasons, though if your reason is different, it doesn’t make it any less valid. 

Pros and Cons of Dropping Out of Nursing School

The pros and cons of dropping out of nursing school probably look different for everyone depending on the reasons. However, we can still talk about some general pros and cons.


  • Opportunity to switch to something else you love
  • Relief from an overwhelming workload
  • No more stress of the financial burden
  • Extra time in your schedule to spend with friends or family


  • There are no refunds on the money you’ve already spent
  • You have to figure out what to do next
  • You won’t be qualified for any positions that require an RN license
  • You might have to start over in a new degree program depending on what you decide to do

Becoming a nurse has never been easier.

Get support and set yourself up for success with Lecturio

Dealing with the Aftermath: What’s Next?

Even after you have decided to quit nursing school, there are probably still a thousand thoughts and questions circling in your head about what’s next, how to tell people, what to do with all the nursing school stuff you bought, and so much more. 

The top two most anxiety-inducing thoughts after dropping out of nursing school are probably how to tell your family and the big scary question of what’s next. These are the two that I am going to share my thoughts on to hopefully give you some peace of mind. 

How to tell your family you quit nursing school

So first, let’s talk about how to tell your family and friends who have all supported you on your nursing school journey. 

The reactions of others are going to vary widely depending on your relationship with them and their individual personalities. However, my best piece of wisdom is this– It doesn’t matter what they think or how they react. 

You are entitled to make the best decision for you and their feelings about it are their own, so you can only control how you handle your own emotions and make your own decisions. I know that if you are a people pleaser like me, your first gut instinct will be to try to absolve any negative feelings because of the guilt you inherently feel, but that is not your responsibility. 

Hopefully, your friends and family will understand, be happy for you, and cheer you on as you decide on another path. However, if they aren’t, please remember that it is perfectly okay for you to distance yourself to do whatever it is you need to do to be happy. 

Alternative jobs with a nursing background (without a nursing degree)

Now the second overwhelming thought when you decide to quit nursing school is probably “What the heck am I going to do now?!” Well, take a deep breath because there are a lot of alternatives to nursing school. From alternative careers to alternative education programs, you still have a wide variety of options after dropping out of nursing school. 

In terms of alternative careers, there are a ton of healthcare-related jobs that do not require a nursing license.

Some of them require a different education program and others you can do without going back to school at all. 

For instance, if you finished your first year in nursing school, you are already eligible to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant or Patient Care Tech. Others do not require any degree, such as being a medical receptionist. Other options require the completion of a specific program but are not as long or as intense as nursing school, like becoming a medical assistant, EMT or paramedic, or pharmacy technician. 

If you are quitting nursing school because you don’t love the healthcare field as you thought, you can switch to any other field! Many people who quit nursing school end up going into the technology sector, but previous nursing students can choose to go into any career they want. The beauty of dropping out of nursing school is that it leaves you open to doing absolutely anything you want to do. 

What If You Are Failing Nursing School? 

We have talked a lot about quitting or dropping out of nursing school, but what if you are failing nursing school and are removed from your program? It can be much scarier to no longer be in nursing school when it wasn’t your decision. If you were removed from your program due to inadequate grades, there are still several options. 

When nursing is still what you want to do, talk to your administration and see if you can appeal the decision. Many times, schools can place you into a remediation or second chance program so that you can still accomplish your goals. Other options include switching to another nursing program that might be a better fit, going for another program that is not nursing, but still in the medical field, or simply choosing another passion to pursue. 

Though failing nursing school seems like the end of the world, I promise, you will overcome and find something that was meant to be!

A Final Deep Breath

Dropping out of nursing school is not a decision to take lightly. After all, you have already put so much time, money, and energy into just getting where you are. 

However, even though quitting can seem just as overwhelming as what you are going through in a nursing program, this is your reminder to take a deep breath. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to and changing paths is not the end of the world. As time passes, you’ll even likely look back and think about how it was the best decision you ever made. 

No matter what you decide to do or where you go from here, remember to make choices based on what is best for you, not what others think you should do. Good luck! I know you’ve got this!

We've been there.
We get it.

Don’t have a clue what to expect in nursing school? Terrified of clinical?

Nurse Liz has spent years troubleshooting the challenges of nursing school for her social media community. Get her proven strategies and inside tips for every step of nursing school. 

Lecturio's Anatomy Course with Prof. Pickering

Further Reading

One of the biggest appeals of choosing to pursue a career in nursing is the opportunity to continuously grow in ...
Many nursing students can’t wait to work in the acute care setting, thriving off the adrenaline and multitasking that comes ...
Switching careers after the age of 30 is often seen as an unorthodox choice. Yet, it is a surprisingly common ...

User Reviews