Advice on Positions to Work While in or Waiting to Attend Nursing School?

  1. I was wondering if anyone had advice on positions to pursue while in or waiting to attend nursing school.

    I have two decades of work experience (most recently in a high-paying technical marketing job), I speak Spanish, and I recently aced my medical terminology class. Further, I've completed all my pre-reqs but one. --I'm changing careers as I predict continued layoffs for high-tech marketers in the coming decades due to globalization. --I think nursing offers intellectual challenge, stability, and personal reward (nice to go home with knowledge that you have helped folks).

    I'm having trouble landing an entry-level job in a hospital, e.g., registrar, unit secretary, etc. I'd hoped - and still hope --to land a unit secretary position as I heard that was a great position to work while in school. I'm now planning to take CNA classes (at the Emmanuel School of Nursing for about $1500 - will be finished in three weeks) and then, once licensed, try for a CNA position.

    Do any of you have any advice on how to break in to an entry-level job at a hospital? I'm currently unemployed, so the $1500 is a big investment. Previously, I'd thought it didn't make sense to pursue CNA work as it isn't part of the Maricopa colleges degree requirement. (I don't understand why not --have asked a few folks, but haven't received any real answers.)

    Thank you!
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   sassiebaz
    Quote from sonoran
    I was wondering if anyone had advice on positions to pursue while in or waiting to attend nursing school.

    I have two decades of work experience (most recently in a high-paying technical marketing job), I speak Spanish, and I recently aced my medical terminology class. Further, I've completed all my pre-reqs but one. --I'm changing careers as I predict continued layoffs for high-tech marketers in the coming decades due to globalization. --I think nursing offers intellectual challenge, stability, and personal reward (nice to go home with knowledge that you have helped folks).

    I'm having trouble landing an entry-level job in a hospital, e.g., registrar, unit secretary, etc. I'd hoped - and still hope --to land a unit secretary position as I heard that was a great position to work while in school. I'm now planning to take CNA classes (at the Emmanuel School of Nursing for about $1500 - will be finished in three weeks) and then, once licensed, try for a CNA position.

    Do any of you have any advice on how to break in to an entry-level job at a hospital? I'm currently unemployed, so the $1500 is a big investment. Previously, I'd thought it didn't make sense to pursue CNA work as it isn't part of the Maricopa colleges degree requirement. (I don't understand why not --have asked a few folks, but haven't received any real answers.)

    Thank you!

    Well, I don't exactly have an answer for you but I was wondering the same thing myself. I came up with a few options for myself, one being to just take an LPN program to fill in the year of waiting for the RN program. Then once in the RN program you have actually done the first year already. However, I am starting to have second thoughts on that as I do need to work at some point in the next couple of years and I still have pre-req's to finish. The other optionI have is that Im currenty an M.A so I can easily get a job anywhere while Im waiting. This is my opinion and Im sorry if I offend anyone but, I would not recommend working as a CNA as in my experience it can be back breaking work and often times you are not treated with very much respect. Having said that it may give you an appreciation for your upcoming role in the future as an R.N. This is just my opinion and I know some may disagree.......I would just keep trying to get into any job that is related to medical or maybe not related. If you really need to work Id get whatever decent paying job you can and then once school starts put your focus there. I just personally wouldnt invest the money into a CNA class if you have to.
  4. by   sassiebaz
    Quote from sonoran
    I was wondering if anyone had advice on positions to pursue while in or waiting to attend nursing school.

    I have two decades of work experience (most recently in a high-paying technical marketing job), I speak Spanish, and I recently aced my medical terminology class. Further, I've completed all my pre-reqs but one. --I'm changing careers as I predict continued layoffs for high-tech marketers in the coming decades due to globalization. --I think nursing offers intellectual challenge, stability, and personal reward (nice to go home with knowledge that you have helped folks).

    I'm having trouble landing an entry-level job in a hospital, e.g., registrar, unit secretary, etc. I'd hoped - and still hope --to land a unit secretary position as I heard that was a great position to work while in school. I'm now planning to take CNA classes (at the Emmanuel School of Nursing for about $1500 - will be finished in three weeks) and then, once licensed, try for a CNA position.

    Do any of you have any advice on how to break in to an entry-level job at a hospital? I'm currently unemployed, so the $1500 is a big investment. Previously, I'd thought it didn't make sense to pursue CNA work as it isn't part of the Maricopa colleges degree requirement. (I don't understand why not --have asked a few folks, but haven't received any real answers.)

    Thank you!

    One more thing, if you want to work with people in a semi-nursing environment, try some of the home health agency's. If you are open to homecare there are several places that will hire you as a "caregiver" and you do not have to be a CNA. You can make $10-12 an hour also........
  5. by   SarasotaRN2b
    $1500 for a CNA course? That does not seem right at all...Even a third of that would be the high end. You should check with some nursing homes...sometimes you can either get on the job training OR they will pay. I'm sure in Arizona you should have as many retirees as we do in Florida. I'm sure that that $1500 only covers the course...you'll probably also have to shell out money for the state testing.
  6. by   CrazyPremed
    Hello all.

    My advice would be to shell out the money and become a CNA. You are going to spend thousands becoming a nurse; just consider this part of the process. All of the classes that I found in the valley were between $1000-$1500. Becoming a CNA was the most important factor in my decision to go to nursing school. CNA work is part of being an RN. Actually, it's probably the most disgusting and physically demanding part of being a nurse. If you can do it, it will give you great insight and appreciation for the nursing career. Many people only have a generalized view of what a nurse does on a day to day basis. Working as a CNA will place you in a great position to learn.
    Secondly, CNA jobs tend to pay between $9-$13 dollars per hour starting. This may be less that some people earn, but there are many benefits. First of all, extra shifts (expecially in hospitals) are, usually, abundant. Need some extra cash to pay for books/car repairs/etc.? Sign up for an extra shift. Also, most facilites have tuition reimbursement (up to $5000+). This can add an extra $2.50 per hour for a 36 hour/wk employee. Health insurance is great, and some facilities even prepay for nusing school tuition and books.

    Basically, I say go for the CNA. I'm glad that I did.

    CrazyPremed
  7. by   RNfaster
    Thank you to all of you. I just found out I'm eligible to receive funding for the class because of my layoff.

    Previously, I'd contacted Phoenix Workforce Connection as I'd heard they might be able to help me with retraining as a NURSE as I was laid off from a field declining because of globalization. But, because of a comment from a counselor that my income last year was too high, I'd given up on it.

    My severance package is nearing the end, so I just signed up for unemployment (you can't receive it until severance and accrued vacation runs out) this week. Upon doing that, I learned I'd have to have all my ducks in a row with Phoenix Workforce Connection before I was eligible to receive UI. I messaged the counselor I'd talked to several months ago to say I was going to take care of my classes, but wanted to ensure my paperwork was in order. He called me back and told me they'd be able to help with my classes. Boy, was I surprised.

    When we talked this time, I let him know I was interested in CNA training as an interim step to becoming a nurse. He said CNA TRAINING was very doable. Apparently, their budget has been cut and cut (it had just been slashed when I made my first visit to them, and new rules were being constructed ---I think that is partly why I received mixed messages from him). I get the impression that in the past, a nursing program would have been possible. I also learned that now they are using a rating system that does use income as a qualifier. He said I entered the program before that system went into effect, however, so I was eligible.

    I talked with some hospital hiring managers about whether or not a CNA certification would make a difference in the way they looked at me. They were resoundingly in favor of it. (I think this may be in part because they or their colleagues worked as CNAs on their road to becoming a nurse. I think they have deep respect for the work CNAs do.)

    I also talked to a representative from the Arizona Board of Nursing. I asked her why the Maricopa Colleges just recently dropped the nursing school prerequisite for CNA certification. She said that there were several reasons:
    1) nursing students looked down on the CNA position --felt it was beneath them.
    2) nursing students were getting the training, and then forgetting it by the time they got to block one, so they needed the training again.
    3) nursing students were getting the training, but not pursuing certification (I guess this indicated to the colleges that CNA training/certification per se was not critical...???)

    I can't help but wonder if this issue with CNA work reflects a transition of sorts in the medical field (perhaps with various roles are being redefined with greater equity). I get the impression that the medical profession is very, very rank conscious (this, as I see it, is rooted in competition for work/money, and even rooted in gender and societal class issues). I know such attitudes don't always promote patient welfare. think CNAs do some very critical and difficult work, and they should probably be paid more for it. Tough situation. (Have started reading a book by Suzanne Gordon called, "Nursing Against the Odds," it is rather skewed towards the negatives, and can be depressing for a prospective nursing student, but I think there are many truths...and pointers that can help bring positive changes to the field of nursing and medicine in general.

    I am going to pursue the classes, certification, and the work. Then I will pursue nursing school.
  8. by   sassiebaz
    By all means, if you can get it paid for, go for it! It is very true that working as a CNA is the foundation of what is yet to come for you in the future as an R.N. If you can do the work and are willing to work for what they will pay you, I think that's great! It can be very rewarding and at the same time, it is hard and can feel like as I said before, a "thankless" job. That's not to say your patients won't appreciate you, that is where you will find the most satisfaction, from your patients.

    There are many that feel they are above you, but just know most of them started right there or in a similar position. We all have to start somewhere. I did work as close to a CNA as I could but was never licensed and I did get burned out. But I never felt nor do I now feel that I am "above" that. It's just a "been there, done that" sort of thing.

    Good luck to you!
  9. by   RNfaster
    Sassie,

    Thanks for the thoughtful responses (by not addressing yours specifically I realize I may have seemed to have slighted you --I did not mean to do this). I have to admit, I was concerned about pursuing the CNA work at first. When I saw it wasn't part of the degree plan, I thought, nope. But then I started having trouble getting what I considered entry-level hospital positions, etc., etc. One of the reasons I want to get into a hospital early on is I hope it will help me get into nursing school sooner.

    I also think it will be good discipline for me and help me to see what is going on. The more I read here, the more I think I would like to start getting my feet wet.

    I could get a job elsewhere, but I pause for two main reasons: I will deviate my new focus; I wouldn't likely be with the employer for more than a year. If I go the CNA route, I am hoping I will have established a strong relationship with my management and team that is conducive to my nursing school efforts as well.

    I am used to working long hours --50 to 60 hour weeks were "normal" for me. I know it won't be easy, but I will have to find a way to make it work. I have a previous degree, so when I start nursing school, many of the credits, e.g., math, electives, will transfer and lighten my load.

    I really like this forum. I am am totally new to the field, and it gives me a chance to talk to others who are in the same boat, experienced, etc.

    Just finished some studying. Checked this board as I do enjoy reading it. Signing off now!
    Last edit by RNfaster on Jan 14, '07
  10. by   Curious1alwys
    Getting into/working in a hospital won't get you into Nursing School any sooner.....not if you are trying to get into MCCD. Just FYI.

    I know getting a job in the hospital can be much more difficult than you thought. I had the same problem when I started. But, I just kept on applying and finally something came through. It wasn't clinical "hands on" but I still got to see the inner workings of the hospital, so it definitly was valuable. Good Luck to you.
  11. by   Seven, RN2b
    My advisor through Rio/MCC advised that there is an advantage to moving up the waitlist for nursing, if you are employed by many of the local hospitals upon your acceptance review. I guess I'll find out when I get there - but, I have faith that all will work out.

    I, too, am considering the CNA course through Emmanuel. Although I doubt I am eligible for assistance with the cost due to the past year's income. My position elimination, downsizing, and severance begins very shortly.

    Good Luck to you!
  12. by   RNfaster
    Thrashej - What does MCCD stand for? Maricopa Community College District? I was hoping that if I got with a hospital that participates with one of the Maricopa Community Colleges that I might be able to assume one of the spots that are reserved for their employees. I read a list recently (I'm not at home now - I have it there) that indicated that two hospitals had a significant number of unused slots (they were only to be used for their employees) in the nursing schools.

    RMBnAZ - If you are getting laid off, contact Phoenix Workforce Connection. Don't assume that you won't get aid. I believe the budget for retraining (displaced workers, etc.) runs from June to June. If you are laid off in the next few months or so (I think within 90 days from when they replenish the budget) the rules may change.
    You might wait to formally initiate your relationship with them so you are closer to the June budget replenishment (but call them and explain your situation - I spoke with Tim Cohoe at the Phoenix Workforce connection on the west side of town near Glendale). You won't be able to receive unemployment until all your vacation and severance runs out, anyway, so might as well wait until then. I think they won't give you the aid until then, but I am not sure.... I think I could have completed the CNA training sooner or at least gotten my ducks in a row for it sooner, but for my assumption that I made too much.
    Good to know that there is an advantage to working in a hospital with regard to admission.
    Changes are good! Hard sometimes, but good!
    Good luck to all of you, too!
    Last edit by RNfaster on Jan 14, '07
  13. by   CrazyPremed
    Quote from thrashej
    Getting into/working in a hospital won't get you into Nursing School any sooner.....not if you are trying to get into MCCD. Just FYI.
    Actually, Scottsdale Healthcare and the John C Lincoln network have partnerships with Scottsdale Community Colleges and Paradise Valley Community Colleges. they actually HOLD spots for their employees and volunteers. This can definitely shorten waiting time!!!

    CrazyPremed
  14. by   peeesh
    I volunteered at John C. Lincoln while i am waiting for nursing school. I quit after the first month the head volunteer lady was very very rude to me..I was placed in the Lincoln Learning Center which offers preschool and kindergarten programs. I currently work as a preschool teacher and i wanted to volunteer somewhere more towards the hospital setting. the lady said i had to fulfill a 9 month commitment there before i could change..she did not care that i was a nursing student or that i was already currently a preschool teacher!!!... and i said see you later!! Good thing i didn't get sucked into one of there 30$ volunteer shirts. ...I appled for the JCL employee/volunteer spots.. there was 100 applicants and only like 20 somethin spots. I am still waiting through MCCD i will hopefully get in during the fall....Ugh... i don't really like that place i don't think id want to do my nursing school there.. id perfer scottsdale for sure.

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