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What can someone with no patient care experience do for relevant work in healthcare even if they don’t have the money to get a BSN?



Dear Donna,

I want to go back to school for nursing, but I am not ready financially. What can I do for relevant work in healthcare now, with no patient care experience?

Nurse To Be

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Nurse To Be,

There are relevant things you can do to gain some wonderful experience and start getting a feel for the industry and the profession. Your best options probably would be to work as a certified nurses’ aide or patient care technician/associate. Some hospitals and nursing homes will provide training to you as part of your employment. I suggest you contact several hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in your area and ask about these opportunities. They are always looking for good candidates. Be sure to mention when you call that your ultimate goal is to become a nurse. Once working there, you may even be able to get some tuition reimbursement from them.

There is scholarship money available for nursing programs for those who go after it. Some people assume money is only available for those who have academic excellence, very low income or are of a particular ethnicity or race. While those types of scholarships do exist, many are simply for those who are pursuing nursing, live in a certain geographic area, are interested in a particular specialty (e.g. pediatrics) or write a great essay! Read “Master the scholarship game” ( for tips on how to go after scholarship money.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.

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