3 Must-Dos for Kicking Off a Nursing Career in High School

By ThriveAP Intern and Aspiring Nurse Practitioner Evan Neuhoff

For the younger generation interested in a career in nursing, high school is a fantastic time in your life to explore a future in healthcare. While high school is a time to have fun and indulge in, for lack of a better word, irresponsibility, surrounding you are several different outlets into the medical world. As a recent high school graduate, here are a few things I did in order to help me decide if nursing was a fit for me.

1. Engage in volunteer work

In your spare time (when you’re not cramming for exams last minute or finishing that one last season on Netflix), volunteering outside of school in a hospital, nursing home, or at a medical fair is a fantastic way to see how well you interact with others. Although most of the time such volunteer work will not be clinical, you will get to help out with running errands, working as a receptionist/gift shop sales associate, passing out information, and even entertaining patients. Duties involved directly with patients may include social visits, writing cards or making gifts, and offering support. Some volunteer centers, especially hospitals, require an interview process in order to volunteer, so come ready with a resume and questions to ask (and be asked)!

2. Take rigorous courses in math and science

The field of nursing (and any medically-related career field) revolves heavily around the subjects of math and science. As you could have guessed, the majority of your college curriculum will be heavily science-based with a few math courses here and there. Taking courses such as chemistry, anatomy & physiology, physics and biology in high school will help you later on in college, and even more so if you pay attention.

When it comes to math classes, taking four years of math (algebra, geometry, precalculus and statistics) will benefit you in college as well. If AP classes are available, take those as well. These will be a good indicator of how well prepared you are for the rigor of a college class. While these are definitely not blow-off classes, you’ll get an idea of how much science and math you can really handle. If you don’t end up with an A in the class, it is NOT the end of the world. High school should be taken seriously, but these grades will not determine how talented a nurse you could be.

3. Become informed

Learn about the life of a nurse or nurse practitioner. Before you jump into a career headfirst, you’ll want to know about what everyday life looks like on the job. Talk to as many nurses and nurse practitioners as you can about how their job works. Most high schools have annual or semi-annual career fairs where you can get in touch with nurses and NPs in person. If not, join your local chapter’s HOSA, a student health organization where you will be able to find information about several different medical careers as well as hone necessary skills. Surrounding you are a variety of ways to get involved-so get involved!

Realistically, nursing is not the career choice for everyone. While anyone can complete the schoolwork and clinicals, patience, empathy, critical thinking, organization and so much more are required to be a GOOD nurse. If you find that nursing is the career path for you, it is never too early (or too late) to begin the journey to becoming one!


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