Anyone else NOT have had CNA (or similar) experience before becoming a nurse?

  1. I don't. I have never worked in the healthcare field. I have read that it's a good idea to work as a CNA beforehand in order to get your feet wet and find out if this is what you want. Well, I already have a job--I'm a stay-at-home mom. I go to school at night. I don't have the time to work outside the home. I have, however, done a lot of research on the nursing profession on my own, not to mention I am a "slightly" older student who does not see the world through rose-colored glasses any more. I've already been in the real world for a few years. Yet I wonder if not having any healthcare experience will put me at a disadvantage. It seems like everyone else already has a head start and a foot in the door. Then again, I guess I wouldn't have been accepted if I didn't have what it takes.

    I have considered looking for a very part-time job in a hospital once my son begins preschool in the fall, but I was planning to use his school time as my study time. He's only going to be there a few hours a week anyway.

    So, I'm wondering if there is anyone else who doesn't have the healthcare experience either, and if those of you who are nurses can comment upon whether this makes a significant difference. Thanks.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   RN-PA
    Because I was older when I started nursing school and also because I felt that school was my job, I had zero experience in healthcare before becoming a nurse.

    I envy those who started their careers as CNA's or PCT's since I went into nursing on blind faith. I'm not sure I would've continued with nursing had I started out as a nurse's aid. I had a lot of learning and growing to do, spiritually and emotionally, which I only confronted a little in clinicals, and have definitely been a "late-bloomer" as a nurse due to my lack of experience and personality type.

    In spite of that lack of experience, I do wholeheartedly recommend that one should try to be exposed to nursing through working or even volunteering in the field. Those nursing students who had worked in LTC or hospitals seemed light years ahead of me in confidence and competence. If your circumstances make a job impossible, I can understand and empathize, however.
  4. by   KRVRN
    I became a nurse without ever being a CNA. Early twenties (at the time), no kids, single... Just didn't really want to be a CNA.

    Being a CNA would probably give you a bit of an edge when you become a nurse, but not being one won't necessarily hurt you, either. It's not necessary unless you're unsure about becoming a nurse. Then you might want to consider it.
  5. by   st4304
    I became a registered nurse at the ripe age of 35 and after being a stay-at-home mom for 8 years. In my previous life I was several things -- bank teller, legal secretary, etc. -- but had always dreamed of being a nurse.

    Did I feel disadvantaged because I had no medical experience? NO. I had LIFE experience. I went through an excellent nursing program and felt very prepared when I graduated. Sure, I was green at some things, -- we all are in the beginning!

    I think what helps us "late starters" over the young 'uns is that we have more experience dealing with people, bosses, co-workers, and the everyday stuff that happens. I guess what I am trying to say is that my "maturity" was my "advantage" in my early nursing career.

    For example, I started my nursing career with a fellow RN. I started at 35; she at 23. She has worked at this hospital since she was 17 as a transport aide, care partner, telemetry tech and then returned as an RN. Six years later we are great nurses, but at times she has had to struggle with her "people skills" while her nursing skills were excellent. I don't know, I just feel it was easier for me since I was older.

    I love all nurses. . .Young or Old! New or Seasoned! I am just sharing MY experience.

    Don't worry about lack of medical experience. You will be a great nurse and TRUST ME ON THIS with today's nursing the way it is, you catch up in no time!

    Good luck!

    :kiss :kiss

    Sherri
  6. by   Paprikat
    I, as well, did not have any CNA experience before I went back to school at age 26. I did however have the Health Records Technician course prior and it helped me eliminate some of the courses that I needed, ie. English, Anatomy/Physiology, which, I must say made my life alot easier. Prior to nursing, because there weren't any Health Record Tech jobs out there, I was a waitress for ten years. I think that helped me as well, dealing with people and situations that arise. I think CNA's work extremely hard, compared to my job, in a LTC facility. I think that if you want to try a casual position, go for it. In my province, you need the 6 month LTCA course, which apparently is expensive and does not get you any credit when you go for your RN/LPN, things may be different where you are. Perhaps go for your LPN and see how things go...
    Good Luck
  7. by   dawngloves
    I had waitressing experience. Does that count?
  8. by   Paprikat
    I also was a waitress, Dawn....it sure gives us experience in SERVING people, doesn't it? As in one thread here...."Welcome to the Hilton, don't forget to tip your waitress!"
  9. by   dazedandconfused
    I did not have any experience. I went straight from high school to a BSN. I was a life guard and sales clerk before and during colloege. I don't think helped or hindered me. My mom is a nurse and started back to work when I was 13. She is still at the same job. That was my experience those many years ago. Would I do it that way again.... I don't know.
  10. by   Gomer
    Becoming a nurse's aide is not required; but, couldn't hurt.

    There are two advantages which I see: 1) you get experience with patient care...not just the technical side (which is a plus in itself), but also the people side (and no matter how much "people skills" you think you have, until you have to care for the "uncareable" you are unexperienced) and 2) you will see what nurses really do and and then decide if you have the desire to do the same.
  11. by   carlalogan
    Dianacs...I can really relate to your concerns. I too am in nursing school at an older age (34) and have never worked in the health care field. I have 2 children that I have stayed at home with and feel so guilty about the time studying and school takes away from them now, I cannot even think about getting a part time medical job too. I'm choosing to go into it understanding that I'll be more nervous and apprehensive than those with experience, but I do think our age and caregiving status we already have as moms will help us too and maybe balance the scales a little. Anyhow, that is what I am choosing to believe!
  12. by   micro
    yes, I know one personally.....
    my s.o. #1
    he will be 45 and hasn't done this before......
    but he is finding a different piece of his heart/mind and that is good.............
    he has the intellect for it......and the caring he has deep inside of him.......
    he will do fine............
    his own path is a journey.......some shared, some not(even with me).........
    lol all,
  13. by   live4today
    First worked as a Hospital Volunteer, then a Nurse Asst., then a Registered Nurse.

    I read medical encyclopedia's all my life when living with parents since my father once worked as a Heart and Lung Technician, and had every medical journal and encyclopedia I could ever want at my disposal. Partly why I was dead set on becoming a surgeon, but instead the path of life journeyed me elsewhere...nursing being one of those many journeys.

    Did it help having hospital volunteer and Nurse Asst. experience before becoming a nurse? I suppose so, but how would I know since I didn't try it both ways in order for me to be able to compare the two.
    Last edit by live4today on Apr 6, '02
  14. by   Cubby
    I believe it helps to have experience as a CNA prior to becoming a nurse, only because you understand what the CNAs work is like. Empathy etc. But, my job as a nurse is nothing like my job as a CNA so it probably neither hinders or helps. However it is nice to "walk a mile in their shoes"

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