CNA or EMT while taking nursing pre-requisites?

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    I want to work in a health related field while I am doing pre-requisites for a nursing program. I'd like something that will be most valuable in the long run to my nursing career. My brother is an RN and recommended I take EMT courses. He said that with experience and further training I could become an ER Tech in a hospital and that that position would pay very well. I've noticed most RN 's on this board recommend becoming a CNA. My brother said that CNA's are fine but CNA skill sets are very basic and that I'd gain more valuable skills as an EMT. Your thoughts are greatly appriciated.
  2. 13 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    I'm going to take a CNA course in January, because the school take High school students and it's cheeper for hs students.. Do what ever you feel like doing more
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    CNA training will be more valuable as an RN student, because so many of the tasks you do as an RN are things CNAs do. EMT training will be less valuable as much of it involves things only done in a pre hospital environment and are skills that have no value in a hospital. You arent going to be putting a traction splint on someone or using a KED device in a hospital, ER or otherwise, but you will definitely be making occupied beds, cleaning up incontinent patients, doing bed baths and transferring people who can barely stand with tubes and lines attached to em.

    The one thing that can be said about EMT school is that its definitely a lot more fun. CNA school was boring as hell.

    Its funny. RNs either seem to have an inflated view of EMTs and the knowledge they possess(maybe because they mistake them for paramedics), or think they are just ambulance drivers who dont know anything. There doesnt seem to be any middle ground, but the truth lies somewhere in between.
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    funtimes, you make a good point that while being an EMT will teach me valuable skills they won't be skills I'll use in a hospital as an RN. The EMT program I'm interested in doesn't have avails in the course till March. The Red Cross has courses available to train as a CNA as soon as mid Dec and I'll be done mid Jan '13. I guess it wouldn't hurt to take the CNA course and in the future do the EMT course if I wanted to in addition.

    If I become a CNA are there any advanced certificates or skills I can obtain in addition to my CNA certification that will help me advance until I'm done with school?
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    I did EMT before I got into my RN program. There are a lot of EMT skills that are useful in an RN setting, particularly in trauma and critical care. The emphasis on airway, breathing and cardiac is universal. Taking vitals in the field is good prep. Learning how to interact with and read patients is good prep. Learning how to do predictive testing for your license is good prep (I'm not equating it with the NCLEX content, just the style of testing).

    Having said that, most ERs around here want ambulance experience before they will hire you. That may not be true in your area.
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    I did EMT and CNA and found both to be beneficial in different areas. EMT; I learned more hands on about how to give medical care. The ABCs. How to treat trauma victims, caring for the psychiatric patient, administering O2, vitals, and many others. Im sure it would be beneficial in any aspect of learning within the nursing profession, but you are limited as to what you can and can not do. That's where the Paramedic comes in. As for CNA, I wasn't taught as much about the "medical" part but more so on the ambulation of patients, bed making, how not to dispose of dirty linens, vitals, bathing, feeding, and things like that. It really doesn't prepare you for what to expect when a patient is having trouble breathing, the controlling of bleeds, and how to react during medical emergencies. I'm sure CNA would look just as great as EMT, but I found that EMT taught me more. Hope this helps and good luck on whatever your decision may be.
    illusion9376 likes this.
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    Thanks for the insight. givemeu1, I have been thinking both would be beneficial to complete. There's a CNA program that's a month long that goes from mid Dec-mid Jan right before classes start in the spring. The EMT course doesn't have room till March and I wouldn't be done till June. I'm thinking of taking the CNA course now and getting a pt job as a CNA early next year. If I want to take the EMT courses still I could put down a deposit to go in March and back out if I choose to. I just need a pt gig soon. I can't wait till next summer. Unfortunately, if I do both I'll be spending close to $3000 but it couldn't hurt to be certified for both. Then I'll have choices when it comes to pt jobs.
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    You could always get your CNA and take a first responder course, which is quicker and cheaper than EMT school. In terms of skills, first responders learn most of what EMTs learn anyway. The main difference is EMT school gets more in depth in terms of knowledge and patient assessment, but in terms of skills like splinting, spinal precautions, bleeding control, basic airway procedures, CPR and AED use, etc, theres little difference.

    Off the top of my head I can only think of a few things EMTs learn in terms of skills that a first responder doesnt. Maybe using advanced airways like combi tubes, assisting with intubation, giving neb treatments, and thats about it.
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    I am currently a CNA and have started taking my pre-requisites for nursing school. I really recommend being a CNA. I got a job at the hospital on a surgical unit and have experienced so many things that I never thought I would have as a CNA. I work along side the nurses on our floor and on top of the ADLs, we empty drains, take vital signs and dc foley catheters. Nurses can always use an extra set of hands when doing large dressing changes, inserting NGs, pulling drains, etc.

    We get nursing students on our floor every once in a while and I see them struggle with patient interaction and basic skills that CNAs already know. I think that having been a CNA will put you at a huge advantage in terms of nursing school. I can easily spot out the nursing students that have been CNAs.

    Having said this, your CNA experience can be SO different depending on where you are. I don't recommend working at a nursing home if you plan to work in a hospital as a nurse. So many CNAs I know have been turned off a healthcare due to the terrible experiences they have had working at nursing homes. You are underpaid, overworked and not appreciated for all the work you do (I have never worked in a nursing home so this is just from all the stories I have heard).

    I'm sure either way you will learn a lot of things that will prepare you for being an RN!!
  11. 0
    I agree both would be expensive; mine were taken about 5 years apart and each 4 month course was about $500 each, (community college). I loved being a CNA, but found myself searching for something more hands on. The minute I got in the back of that ambulance during my first clinical call, I was in love! During clinicals I not only went on ambulance runs but also helped out in the ER, and that's where my CNA skills kicked into action. As before, both are very useful and look great on a nursing application, but I longed for something more and now find myself questioning nursing or paramedic...which I would love to be a Paramedic but having 3 kids, a husband, working full time, and the closest Paramedic School over 1 1/2 hours away, it's just not something I can do right now. I don't think CNA is a bad choice because it does prepare you, especially working with nurses that will let you watch their everyday tasks. Good Luck to you in CNA school and even more luck when you get into Nursing School.


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