Can u be a good nurse if you've never worked as a CNA?

  1. I just had a bad clinical day. The nurse whose patient I was assigned to thought it was awful that the nursing school allowed those who had not worked as CNAs to be in the program. She thought it was unfair to the students, the nurses and the patients for inexperienced students to be anywhere near them. I'm one of the few in my class who's not worked as a CNA though I've gone through the class and have state licensure. After today I began to think about exiting the program with my LPN in a few weeks and getting experience for a year or so before returning to school for my RN.

    Is it irresponsible of me to go for my RN when I've never worked as a CNA? Or am I overreacting to her criticism? To date I've gotten good grades in both clinical and lecture, my clinical write-ups have always been positive... Thoughts?
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   RN2Bn2006
    You know what - I had the exact same thing happen to me yesterday. I was furious:angryfire .

    Just for the record, I see a DEFINITE benefit all the way around from being a CNA first - for many reasons I will not go in to. BUT just because you havn't worked as a CNA does not mean you can't learn and be a good nurse. It will be harder for you andtake you longer to adjust to your new job, but you know what - it can be done!

    I am a 3rd semester student in a 2 year program. I was a loan assistant at a bank for 12 years before going to nursing school. I have wanted to be a nurse for many years. My first semester was so hard - NOT because of the book-work - I did fine in class. It was the patient interaction type stuff. I was very akward. But guess what - now I am very comfortable. I will admit that sometimes I don't know what to do in a simple situation, but guess what, I learn.

    Yesterday at clinicals, one of the RN's was saying (about me - while I was standing there)- she used to be a banker (not in a negative way) and just jumped right in to RN school (like she was impressed) and this other LPN just jumped in and started saying " I don't think that should be allowed - I think it should be required that they be a CNA because these kind of nurses get out of school and don't know what they are doing, and are rude to CNA's and don't think the CNA's know anything when they probably know as much if not more than the new RN's. I turned red in the face, and I am the type of person who does not like conflict, but felt the need to stand up for myself. I said listen - I am not a rude person, and do not intend to ever be rude to my co-workers. Sure there are nurses that are like that, but you can't categorize them into the ones who have never been a CNA. There are people out there that are going to treat you that way regardless of what you are. I told her I give baths, wipe butts, make beds in my clinicals, and do not feel I will be too good to do any of that. She pretty much shut up after that, but I thought to my self - how RUDE of HER - and she is worried about me being RUDE simply because I have never been a CNA - PLEASE.

    Now nobody jump on me because I am very sure there are nurses that are rude to CNA's I'm just saying that is not dependant on whether you have been a CNA before or not.

    So don't let some prude discourage you. Like I said it will be more difficult, but it can be done!

    I'll shut up now!
    PB
  4. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Prior healthcare experience is a help, but definitely not a must.

    Being a CNA or a Unit Sec, etc might give some help understanding HOW things are done - but nursing is just as important a study of WHY they are done.

    What you bring to the table is unique to you and will make you a unique nurse. For somebody to say that you aren't up to snuff because you don't have their background is garbage.

    I wouldn't let that opinion get you down or discourage you. Most of nursing is about NURSING experience and that will come. Having a health background may be a temporary aid, but it isn't a requirement. If it was, it would be. LOL.

    Just smile and nod, but more importantly, know better.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
  5. by   HappyNurse2005
    I think it should be required that they be a CNA because these kind of nurses get out of school and don't know what they are doing, and are rude to CNA's and don't think the CNA's know anything when they probably know as much if not more than the new RN's.
    See, as a new RN, I disagree. Although CNA experience helps with patient interaction, comfort in a hospital setting, etc, all of which is beneficial, I don't think that those of us new RN's who weren't CNA"s are worse RN's than those who were CNA's. Maybe they are more comfortable in the hospital.
    I am a fine nurse ( i think). I do not mistreat CNA's, nor am I rude to them. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but somehow, I don't think that CNA experience would have made me feel like I do know what I'm doing.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I don't think it should be required, but i feel like, in my program, i'd had a leg-up on the basic care than did some of my classmates, who were struggling dressing pts., bathing pts, etc.
  7. by   ERNurse752
    I think being a CNA first can be to your advantage, but I think you can do just fine without it.

    However, I do think it is really important to work as a student nurse extern or whatever they're called depending on your hospital/area during school...gives you some valuable on the job experience that's a little more "real world" than clinicals.

    The only reason I got through nursing school was b/c of the SNE job I had (and I was a tech first.) I HATED most of my clinicals and nursing school, so it helped keep me sane. But, if you can't, you can't.

    I think rude people are rude people, no matter if they've been CNAs or CEOs before nursing school. As long as you keep in mind to treat people with respect no matter if they're an MD or housekeeping, you'll be fine on that end.

    Good luck!
  8. by   angelladyclaire
    I graduated nursing school in May. I did not work as a CNA prior to nursing school but there have been numerous times I wish I had because I'm still kind of clumsy at turning patients, etc. However, I am not afraid to ask questions of the CNA's I work with and I am trying to learn from them. Prior experience as a CNA is not going to keep you from making med errors or to help you in making most clinical judgments. From what I've seen it makes the transition into clinicals easier, but it is definitely not something that should be a requirement. My advice to you is to continue on your path to becoming an RN and to use your CNA's as resources when you graduate. I've found that the CNA's I work with appreciate the fact that I want to learn from them.
  9. by   James Huffman
    A while back, someone was asking about qualifications for being a nurse. I posted the following (with some other stuff, too, all of which I posted on my blog at the time):

    "Some have recommended being a CNA to see if you like nursing. That's not a bad idea (I did it) but being a CNA is not being a nurse, and as a nurse, one deals with a whole different set of priorities and problems. I would especially encourage finding a nurse (local hospitals might help with this) who would let you shadow for a day, seeing how a nurse organizes a time schedule, deals with problems, and works through day-to-day practice issues."

    Working as a CNA is a good, useful, and valuable career. But it's not professional nursing. There are components of being an RN that are done by CNAs. But nursing -- like any other professional field -- is the business of putting together all of those parts into a theory-driven practice.

    My advice to the OP: yes, I think you may be over-reacting to the nurse's criticism. But it's not about you, and I hope you recognize that. I would also encourage you to speak to your clinical instructor about this, and perhaps you could work with someone else. And by all means, I wouldn't do an early exit based on this one person's short-sighted comments. It doesn't sound like you are ill-prepared at all: your grades are good, and your clinical evaluations sound solid. Don't make career changes just because someone is unable to keep their mouth shut.

    Jim Huffman, RN
  10. by   NickieLea
    Quote from retour_divin
    I just had a bad clinical day. The nurse whose patient I was assigned to thought it was awful that the nursing school allowed those who had not worked as CNAs to be in the program. She thought it was unfair to the students, the nurses and the patients for inexperienced students to be anywhere near them. I'm one of the few in my class who's not worked as a CNA though I've gone through the class and have state licensure. After today I began to think about exiting the program with my LPN in a few weeks and getting experience for a year or so before returning to school for my RN.

    Is it irresponsible of me to go for my RN when I've never worked as a CNA? Or am I overreacting to her criticism? To date I've gotten good grades in both clinical and lecture, my clinical write-ups have always been positive... Thoughts?
    Uh oh, I didn't work as a CNA either! Tell that nurse to keep her opinions to herself unless asked.

    Blow her off and go on your merry path. It takes more than snotty opinions to make someone a great nurse. Don't let her ignorance get in the way of your journey.
  11. by   cindyRN 2006
    I think that being a CNA before entering nursing school would of really helped. There is some definite benefits. I did not work as a cna before entering the nursing field and in a way I am glad because I learned it the way the school wanted me to demonstrate for them so I did not have to relearn anything. that is one positive, But I would have to agree that the pros of working as a CNA far out weigh the cons.
  12. by   Nat_gagui
    Good thought, i am student too taking the pre-req, prior to this, i work in different field which is out of medical field.i'm thinking of taking EMT this spring just to have a exposure in this field. i would appreciate your opinion if i need to take CNA or EMT in our campus.


    Nat
  13. by   jalvino1
    [QUOTE=James Huffman]

    "Some have recommended being a CNA to see if you like nursing. That's not a bad idea (I did it) but being a CNA is not being a nurse, and as a nurse, one deals with a whole different set of priorities and problems...

    Working as a CNA is a good, useful, and valuable career. But it's not professional nursing. There are components of being an RN that are done by CNAs. But nursing -- like any other professional field -- is the business of putting together all of those parts into a theory-driven practice.



    INCREDIBLY well put! Being a cna teaches basic skills which is good, but it doesn't teach critical thinking skills, and that's what makes nursing more than a job, but a profession. Being a cna may give somebody the upper hand at first, but only at first. sooner or later you will pick up those skills.

    My nursing instructor always said- I can train a monkey to give a bed bath, but it takes a skilled professional to understand the rationale for treatment as well as assess the patient, make a nursing diagnosis, plan and intervene, and evaluate. That's something they don't teach you as a cna.
  14. by   nurse4theplanet
    :angryfire
    WHAT AN ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS THING TO SAY!!!!
    :angryfire

    Talk about one judgemental pessimistic oppinionated nurse...maybe SHE started out as a CNA but that doesn't MAKE it a PRE-REQ now does it

    CNAs are fantastic, but guess what...you will have plenty of experience doing what they do while you are in clinicals, but you learn sooooo much more.

    And you think you will drop out of the RN program to do LPN instead because ONE nurse told you that you should have been a CNA first?!?!?!?!?

    That is just silly. Tell that nurse that you have set high standards for yourself and you would appreciate it if she quit analyzing your educational path and showed you what you needed to do next for your patient. The only danger that existed for your patient is that your nurse didn't WANT to teach you appropriate patient care because she disapprove of your personal choices. That's what I would have said...and I am normally a VERY even tempered, diplomatic person...

    SHEESH...this has got me all fired up!:angryfire

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