If You are Paying for a CNA Course... aka The Post I Wish I'd Read a Month Ago.

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    Author shares his background and reasons for enrolling in and attending a CNA program, as well as his experiences, and his regrets. He concludes with a piece of advice for prospective CNA students.

    If You are Paying for a CNA Course... aka The Post I Wish I'd Read a Month Ago.

    I am a 50-year old former teacher pursuing a 2nd career. Last Fall semester I applied to an RN program at a community college in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. This particular program had 160 applicants. Only 48 (<1/3) were accepted. I am one of those fortunate 48. I'm even more fortunate because all of my prerequisites, general education, electives, pre-nursing, etc, have been completed. So I need only 4 college classes to sit for the NCLEX: 1 this coming Fall, 1 this coming Spring, 1 next Fall, and 1 next Spring.

    Most of my classmates, on the other hand, will be busy with 3, 4, or even 5 classes per semester, as they haven't already completed a college degree and are basically starting from scratch. With relatively a lot of time on my hands I decided I wanted to gain some work experience in acute care. Problem is, hospitals don't hire 50-year old former teachers with no experience in a medical field. At least not for acute care, at least not in New York state.

    So, a month ago I sat down with a representative of a local CNA course, asked a few questions, forked over $1,600+ out of my own pocket, and just today completed the 4th week of a 5-week (125-hr) CNA course. A week from tomorrow I hope to complete the Prometrics proctored exams and apply for an acute care position at a small regional hospital known for hiring CNAs.

    Last Saturday was 1 year since I joined this AllNurses group. I had lurked for a few months prior to joining. I have learned an incredible amount re Nursing, far more than any other single source, and have recommended this site to several RNs and prospective RNs.

    Until now I really haven't had anything to contribute, it has only been take, take, take, and no giving back. But finally I have something I'd like to offer. If you are paying for a CNA course please do yourself a favor: pay for one that your fellow classmates are also paying for themselves, and not one where your classmates’ tuition is being paid for by the taxpayer.

    I am in a class of 13 students. Ten of whom are employees (UAs, Unit Assistants) of a local nursing home and 3 (including me) who are not. The ten are on paid training.

    So get this: the ten on paid training are not only attending a $1,600 course for free, but they are getting paid $10+ per hour x 125 hours = $1,250+ over a 5 week period. And, like anything else in life, when something is handed out there's little to no appreciation for it.

    Topics initiated by the ten on paid training in the last 4 weeks during class time: Bieber, Trump, sex (hetero), drugs, sex (transexual), who can hump the mannequins fastest (this one complete with enactment), the cheating boyfriends (boyfriends of the female students and boyfriends of the male students) who gave them gonorrhea, latest tattoos (this one is show-and-tell), how much of the neck can be covered in tattoos until it's actually considered face, and other themes fundamental to the pillars of society. These were just the ones of greater than 20-minute duration. There were others of shorter duration, all Jerry-Springer-worthy. All in all non-CNA related topics have constituted at least 1/2 of our class day.

    And the three of us who collectively chipped in $4,800+ sit and look at each other in amazement. What about the 4 skills that require documentation? We know we are gonna get one of those on the test, right? Let's hammer those home, huh? And the 6 "Promotion of Health and Function" skills that we are also guaranteed to see one from. Hey, can we talk about them? Or better yet, how 'bout we practice them some more.

    The instructor is an RN, and means well, but is all too easily persuaded to talk about anything other than boring CNA stuff. That she is leaving for another job next week, and that this is the last CNA course she'll ever teach, doesn't offer much incentive to stem the tide of garbage.

    Back to "The Ten." They couldn't give a flying, fornicating, fecal fragment whether or not they get through the Prometrics hurdle the first time around. NYS taxpayers are pathetic suckers, 2nd only to Californians. How dare you discriminate between those who pass and those who fail. Don't you know discrimination is bad? Tolerate them and grant them another chance. It’s just money. Give them a hand, they won't take an arm, really. (This is why states like Texas are losing their population at an ever alarming rate to states like NY and CA and... er, um, wait, what?)

    Age is the factor here, right? The Three are older than The Ten, right? Well, I'm old. But the other two are not. They are the same age as The Ten.

    Education is the factor here, right? Well, I'm educated, but the other two are high school grads, like The Ten. Hospital prospective employees vs nursing home prospective employees? Hmmm… I've given this one a bit of thought. The three of us are, in fact, not interested in nursing home employment.

    But in the end I'm left with source of payment as the only real variable. As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in West, it's the source of the funding, and the ensuing appreciation (or lack thereof) that's the only thing at play here.

    I drive home each day knowing that I'll pass the written portion with flying colors. It’s not nearly as difficult as A&P I & II, and Micro. But lately, more and more, I have been up at night trying to memorize the materials needed, and all the sequential steps required, for perineal, and catheter, and dentures, and partial bed-bath, and bedpan, and the other “Personal Care Skills.” After all, somebody has got to, and it sure as Hell ain't gonna be The Ten, so might as well be me. And wouldn't it be ironic if "the RN student" you know the idiot who paid for the course out of his own pocket, was the one (or one of the ones) to fail the CNA test?

    I still can't help to think though, that all that time spent on Jerry Springer rehearsals could have been better spent on CNA stuff. Another 60+ hours on CNA skills could have gone a long way toward easing my concerns.

    I don't blame The Ten. I can't. I'm an existentialist, so I can only blame me. I blame myself for not asking the question last month, "How many students are paying their own way vs how many have duped the taxpayer into paying for them?" Well, I wouldn't have worded it quite like that. Fiscal conservatives aren't popular in socialist New York. But I'd certainly have searched for a CNA program that consisted primarily of paying students.

    I blame myself for enrolling in the CNA program nearest my residence, instead of driving up to an hour away for a CNA program funded by the students, not by the taxpayer. I am kicking myself harder and harder each day for not asking the question last month. Don't be me. Ask the question. Get into a program with like-minded people. Don't make the same mistake that I did. And now that you’ve read the post that I wish I had read a month ago, you have no excuse.
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    About MadruGada

    Joined Aug '16; Posts: 6; Likes: 9.

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    28 Comments

  3. by   chacha82
    $1600 is EXPENSIVE for a CNA course. For-profit schools and even community colleges are charging big bucks and extending the length of the programs to multiple semesters. Shop, shop, shop around when choosing a CNA course. As long as it prepares you to sit for your state exam, it does NOT need to come from a fancy institution, and it need not be expensive. CNAs do not make big money, so it makes less sense to pay that much for the tuition. I did a night class that was about five months and under $600.
  4. by   Paws2people
    My New York CNA class was very similar to yours. (Plus I paid almost $2000 when all was said and done)

    I didn't learn ONE skill. Not one. In the end, I had to buy better updated books, DVD's, and watched endless hours of You Tube videos to learn the skills. I printed out Prometric's Skills' Checklist, and practiced till I was sure I knew every skill forward and backward.

    When I got my hospital job, I was shocked to learn that most of my coworkers didn't pay a dime for their CNA class...
  5. by   twinsmom788
    Wow, that sounds really sad. As a former surveyor, it was sometimes my job to review the CNA programs and continue to certify them. In my state, most of the programs are nursing home based for 2-3 weeks. Then the students have about 4 months to work before they must pass the certification exam. I've been around many of these students and not witnessed this behavior. Possibly, they were on their best behavior around me!
  6. by   WanderRN
    I'm still stuck back in the first paragraph when you say you only need 4 classes to sit for the NCLEX. Aside from prereqs, our program was 2 each semester and 3 classes one semester. What classes are your four?
  7. by   jaycam
    I went to a CNA program at a local 4-year college. It was a certificate program, 8 weeks, and cost less than that. Students were students, some more studious than others, but the deciding factor wasn't who paid for it. I was the student on a training grant, the one already working in home health for years as a caregiver, and I took it rather seriously since I needed it to get into nursing school. Now I'm a RN, I work in a smaller psych hospital, and I really enjoy my job.

    Your post comes off as if you fit the more conservative side of the spectrum. Learn to relax just a bit. Take a deep breath and understand other people can make choices. What will you do when it's your patients who want absolutely nothing to do with your sage advice? Everyone is an adult and has their own things going.

    Learn to occasionally let go and relax. If you don't, nursing school is going to be a special kind of torture. Being able to relax and laugh at the situation is a form of resilience, and every nurse can use a few coping skills that increase their resiliance.
    Last edit by jaycam on Aug 18
  8. by   MadruGada
    chacha82: re “$1600 is EXPENSIVE” Who cares? Just take it from the taxpayers, they’re used to being screwed. re “CNAs do not make big money” In New York state a CNA with just 12hrs overtime per week can gross an average of nearly $16/hr = >$40K/yr. This means a young couple with a work ethic can still buy a house. This with no college education, just a high school diploma (or even a GED) and passing a 5-week CNA course. Of course, this rarely happens anymore here in this state. It’s the “work ethic” part of the equation that has been all but dissolved by Liberal handouts. It’s a welfare mentality now, where everybody deserves a good life handed to them. They’re entitled to it.

    Paws2people: re “endless hours of You Tube videos to learn the skills” Many are flawed or outdated, evident by the comments below the videos, which identify incorrect steps. re “When I got my hospital job, I was shocked to learn that most of my coworkers didn't pay a dime for their CNA class” Generally speaking, lousy hospitals with high turnover rates offer free classes, or even paid training, especially to those who start out with them as a NA (Nursing Assistant, but not certified). I’m not implying
    the hospital you’re employed at fits that description, it may very well be a stellar institution. But for the most part the most coveted hospitals don’t need to offer extra incentives for joining their teams and their CNAs have in fact paid for their own training. This can hold true for nursing homes too. The best nursing home in our area offers neither free classes nor paid training. It doesn’t need to, it’s got a very low turnover rate and a reputation for being a great place to work.

    twinsmom788: re “In my state, most of the programs are nursing home based for 2-3 weeks. Then the students have about 4 months to work before they must pass the certification exam” In New York state most programs are 4 weeks of sitting in classrooms located miles away from the nursing homes, and then 1 week of “clinicals” in a nursing home where >1/2 their time is spent feeding the residents. The only other skills during our "clinicals" were peri-care (once), partial bed bath (once), and dressing (twice). And none of those four skills used the sequence, or even the materials, that students are required to follow/use to pass the state exams. (Which, by the way, students may have to wait 4+ weeks to sit for - all the while slowly forgetting more and more of the skills with each passing day.) There are 20 possible skills students could be tested on, the other 16 skills not mentioned here were not used at all during a week of clinicals. Furthermore, students in our "clinicals" were not even allowed to do two of the skills: ambulation and transfer. And those two are part of the 6 "Promotion of Health and Function" skills, students are guaranteed to see one of the six on the state test. (Come to think of it, we never saw a single gait-belt there... it's just as well that we didn't do ambulation or transfer.)

    LDRNtoB: re "What classes are your four?" Nursing I, Nursing II, Nursing III, and Nursing IV.

    jaycam: re “I was the student on a training grant, the one already working in home health for years as a caregiver” Years as a caregiver is a good requirement for training grant eligibility. re “I took it rather seriously since I needed it to get into nursing school.” What’s the connection between taking CNA classes seriously and getting into nursing school? re “What will you do when it's your patients who want absolutely nothing to do with your sage advice?” You mean I’m gonna have patients asking for advice on CNA programs? re “Everyone is an adult” You wouldn’t say that if you’d attended the same CNA course that I just completed. re “Learn to occasionally let go and relax.” I learned that 30+ years ago and I’m an expert at it. There’s a right place and right time for almost anything. re “If you don't, nursing school is going to be a special kind of torture.” You’re wrong, again. I loved my pre-req classes with the pre-nursing students (and looking forward to being amongst them again), in classrooms where all of us sat up straight, took notes, asked relevant, meaningful questions, and shut up while instructors were speaking.
  9. by   shibaowner
    You come off as very angry. Why did you spend $1600 for CNA training? Here in California, community colleges offer CNA training for $600. I took the Red Cross CNA training in Los Angeles prior to nursing school and had a great instructor and classmates. It is on you to research programs prior to enrolling in them.

    As for "the ten" you are so upset about, taxpayers were not paying for them. They were employees of a nursing home and were being paid by their employer.
  10. by   DesertRosee
    I don't get how tax payers are funding "The Ten" isn't the nursing home that is offering the class just funding them in exchange for them working there for X amount of time? Which isn't uncommon.
  11. by   chacha82
    Madru, in order for your math to make sense the CNA would have to accrue serious overtime on a consistent basis. You say "just 12 hours a week" but many facilities have rules about overtime in efforts to keep costs low. I have addressed this in several posts with pre-nursing students who want to enroll in very expensive programs and then figure they will work overtime to pay the tuition back. Most facilities prohibit overtime until you are off of orientation. Beyond that, you have to work those 3 12 hour shifts to get to the overtime in the first place. If you have worked in healthcare you are aware how often people call out. I'm not sure what you mean by "let the taxpayers pay it" or the liberal handouts part.
  12. by   shibaowner
    To the OP: You state you are 50. So why didn't you speak up during class instead of venting on this forum? You were a teacher and used to being an authority. If you weren't happy with the class, you can speak to the instructor and if that didn't work, to her management. You could have demanded a refund. Part of being a good RN is the ability to advocate for your patient and exercise leadership. You demonstrated a complete lack of courage.
  13. by   meanmaryjean
    An RN program with only four nursing courses? Color me confused? What school is this?
  14. by   jonjor2m
    I am also a former teacher making a career change in Colorado and want to be a nurse. I am also over 50. I realized to get my "feet wet" I needed to be at least a CNA. My course cost $1200 dollars and lasted about 15 days including the clinicals. It was very intense and we didn't talk about Beiber but Trump was mentioned (well it does have to do with health care, doesn't it?). I passed the test the first time I took the test and I had my first job before I passed my licensure test. Mind you this is Colorado. I can say I look at this as an extension on my clinicals which I will be having and I will have practice with patients before I start nursing school which is smart. In Colorado many many programs really want you to have a CNA or EMT experience before they will even consider you into a program. It is also good to do this because it gives you an idea of your work environment and who you will be working with. It has been mentioned that is it worth taking these classes if you are over 50 to go into nursing. I think it is. Is it worth taking all of these education classes to become a K-12 public school teacher if you are over the age of 40. No it is not. If you are an RN and don't go crazy with your loans and attend a community college, it is doable to pay back.

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