This isn't a commercial but a warning.
Like most folks here, I decided to become a CNA to learn from the "ground up"," pay my dues", get in contact with healthcare professionals. It's the biggest mistake I've made in recent years.
Know why? CNA school doesnt really tell you what being a CNA is about. The private CNA school admission officers lie and gloss over the truth all the while collecting that exorbitant tuition. At a skilled nursing facility where 99% of you will start in, it's 80% changing diapers and making beds. It is a back-breaking, thankless, feces-collecting, low-paying scut job that you can master within months if not weeks or days. I should know. I have.
All those techniques of bedbathing, turning, grooming? Hah. Out the window. CNA school makes you think you have all the time in the world to attend to these patient needs. No way. You have an overloaded roster of patients and no time to talk, let alone groom them. You have your lead CNAs, your other residents and the nurses themselves yelling at you to attend to their needs. The first month, I was almost crippled for a week because my back was so aching and I had used proper body mechanics. These patients are so overweight, that turning them on the bed just to change their diaper is excruciating at times. CNA school didn't help with that problem among the other REAL situations that arise in LTC.
Being a CNA means you see the whiniest, neediest dark side of people. After I became one, I've heard one consistent caveat amongst nursing professionals, "You'll get burnt out and will start hating your patients." All true.
Another caveat? The nurses, whom you work with and are hoping to become one day, you eventually deeply resent. Why? CNAs do ALL the heavy lifting. If a resident vomits or ***** in his pants? Guess who the nurse immediately calls because she can't stomach it. You'll have three call lights to answer and the nurse is yelling at you on top of that to get her vitals done.
And for those hoping to get into a hospital? Good luck, because to basically get in you have to be a blood relative or really lucky. Especially if you have no experience. Those CNAs working at those hospitals are basically lifers doing the same thing over and over for years on end. Don't envy them too much.
Become a Medical assistant. You have more interaction with the doctors and nurses, higher variety of patients rather than just old people. No heavy lifting except for maybe transferring once in a long while. The pay is roughly the same, the schooling is longer though. Tuition is a little more but totally worth it. It also counts as healthcare experience which is key since my eventual goal is to get into physician assistant school. Barring that, then nursing school.
I came in like you all nursing hopefuls wanting to help people. It gets harder week by week to maintain that attitude but there are some bright spots like when one of my residents relatives pulled me aside to tell me that her mother loves me taking care of her. Yet, I can feel my attitude waning. I've been in for three months and it feels like years.
I'm doing you a favor here. Do yourself a favor and wave off becoming a CNA and be a MA. I wish I did. As for the tuition? There are public school options. I found one for $750, that teaches front and back office at local adult school here in California.
You have been warned.
Quote from caliotter3
One of the problems with becoming a medical assistant is finding employment afterwards. Not all people enter the field with the intention of using it as a stepping stone in healthcare. It can be very disturbing to face the mountain of debt incurred from a medical assisting program when no one will hire you or there are no jobs available.
I second that Caliotter. At my last LTC, nearly half the CNA staff were Certified Medical Assistants who could not find jobs. These people spent thousands of dollars in tuition only to end up making the same amount as money as me AND they still had to attend CNA training! These MA's needed a job because they were in debt and being a CNA was the only other thing to do. There is nothing wrong with becoming a Medical Assistant, just make sure your local market has a demand for it. It is rather hard to get a job as a Medical Assistant, especially with so many of them around looking for the same job as you.
I would like to say however, that I totally understand how the OP feels. CNA school prepares you to pass your state boards, it is not an absolute indicator of what you will really experience. Being a CNA is VERY, VERY hard work. I myself have had days when I just could not figure out why I would subject my body to such physical and mental stress for the shotty wages and the ungreatfulness I often recieved in return. You can experience life long pain if you endure too much of those back breaking days. You just have to weigh the pros against the cons.
Last edit by asun21ta on Feb 21, '10
Feb 22, '10
Although I have never been a CNA I have been a CMA. I never regretted it. I went to the JR college so although I did not make much as a CMA I paid my tuition off very fast. If you are not going to go on to nursing I would say go the CMA route. It can even help in nursing school; I know a lot of medications because of it, even many that some of the experienced nurses I work with do not know, which really helped in pharm and on the NCLEX. That being said, I would not recommend it as an "instead" of CNA if you are going on for your RN. Being a CNA is not required as a re-req anymore for most RN programs, however it can get your foot in the door. If you can get an aid job in a hospital (and my area they do not require a CNA) so that you can get your foot in the door with the hospital you will up your chances of getting a job in this bleck economy. EVERYONE that worked as an aid in my nursing program got jobs at their place of employment when they graduated.
Also, I have never heard of an expensive CNA program. Not in my area at least. The nursing homes will train you for free for a commitment, even pay for your study materials and exam. The local JC has a Basic Patient Care course $156 tuition, not including text and uniform of course.
Last edit by HeartsOpenWide on Feb 22, '10