Does working as a cna before becoming an rn make you a better rn?

  1. When I told my sister (who is a bsrn) that I am going to rn school next year (due to a waiting list at the college), she seemed very adiment about me obtaining the cna certificate and to work as one while I wait my turn. According to her rn's who started as cna's are prefered and are often hired into entry level positions over graduates, whose only working experience is clinical studies.
    Is there any truth to these claims, and if so what are your personal experiences?
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  2. 75 Comments

  3. by   nursegoodguy
    I have much respect for all CNA's! It is a tough job!
    I think that if you have the chance to do some hands on basic patient care you'll feel much less anxiety when you go to clinicals. It can be a very demanding job though... be careful that you don't judge what being a nurse will be based on your cna experience... It's HARD work!
  4. by   Dayray
    There are a couple of posts that answer this same question. dig a littel.

    if you want a quick answer ...yes =)

    but there are some good observations on the subject in other posts.
  5. by   live4today
    I don't know about anyone else, but I worked as a nursing assistant, then a junior nurse asst. (that's what student nurses were called) and I would say that experience certainly made me more at ease in the clinical setting as well as more at ease around patients and other healthcare professionals. Hats off to all CNAs!!!! Uhhhhh...the real hard working ones, that is. :chuckle :kiss
  6. by   pebbles
    Oh yes!

    I worked as an NA while I was in university to get my BN - paid my tuition nicely. I did not learn much about any of the "nursing" tasks that get done... got to watch a few neat dressing changes, etc, but most of that is off limits for the CNA and the cna has other responsibilties.

    But I did learn lots about how a hospital works, workplace culture and environment. When I graduated as an RN, I did not feel so much like a fish out of water. Also, at least where I work, RN's help with bathing, transferring patients and mobilizing patients, etc... my colleagues who did not work as NA's had much less experience in these aspects of hands on care and take longer to do those tasks... which is important.

    Other big thing I learned was communication skills... how to talk to patients and families, how to get them to do what I am requesting of them, how to get information. And how to interact with other staff. I learned a lot just by observing and absorbing, even participating in care as a cna is a valuable learning experience. The *basic* skills - the "how to take care of people" skills are what cna's use as well as nurses... You won't get to insert foleys or iv's or change dressings... but those you will practice more as a student and as a grad nurse....

    I would say working as a CNA is the best career move you could make at this point. (plus: working as a cna, your supervisor will be a *nursing* manager - which carries more weight as a reference than a manager at some other type of job)

    Hope that helps!
    -Pebbles
  7. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Well. I will agree that previous work that involved patient contact would make the transition to patient care as a student easier. But I can honestly say that as a working nurse, I don't see how working as a CNA would have helped me. Most of the "first time touching a patient" jitters were worked out by the time I was done with nursing school.

    So, I can see where it would benefit you, but I wouldn't consider you any less of a student or nurse if you didn't have that experience.

    This goddess had never laid her hands on a patient before her first day at clinical. I do OK for myself now, if I don't say so myself

    Heather
  8. by   Love-A-Nurse
    although it would not make you a better or worse nurse, it certainly will be a great assest to you in knowing if this field is for you in general. i was a nursing assistant too. it does give one "first hand" knowledge on what the nursing assistant job really is. all the best to you in all of your endeavors!
  9. by   live4today
    Originally posted by pebbles
    Oh yes!

    I would say working as a CNA is the best career move you could make at this point. (plus: working as a cna, your supervisor will be a *nursing* manager - which carries more weight as a reference than a manager at some other type of job)

    Hope that helps!
    -Pebbles
    In addition to having that reference from the Nurse Manager, I was paid a few dollars more per hour after graduation for staying at that same hospital to work. At that time, all their Nursing Assistants (didn't have to be certified then) were paid a higher hourly wage than graduate nurses who did NOT have prior nursing assistant experience. To me.....that was a real plus!

    When I worked as a nursing assistant, I got to do accuchecks, record bloodsugars, vitals, I/Os, and all the other typical duties nursing assistants do (ie. baths, showers, weights, feeds, ambulating patients, and lots of therapeutic communication with the patients, etc.). So....I did feel as if I had an advantage in that respect.
  10. by   reddgott
    pebbles, it sounds like you agree with my sister, while obnurseheather dosnt consider it necessary yet agrees. thanks to all who replied. since I am limited to certain courses untill next fall I did start the cna training class for lack of any other advancement. I'm starting to feel it wont be a complete waist of time and see more pros than cons.
  11. by   reddgott
    cheerfuldoer I never thought about that. more money! yehaww!! I'm also wondering if VA hospitals are good or bad? does anyone have an opinion? Stay away or apply today?
  12. by   live4today
    reddgott.....VA hospitals are not bad to work for.....depends on which one it is. Check it out.....if it appeals to you, go for it! Serve our veterans proud! :kiss
  13. by   alwaysthere
    I am the CNA who mentors the new NA's on my unit and i have mentored several RN students who have remarked to me that they learned alot on the floor that they where not taught in class and that they have learned more about how to deal with people wich is one of the main things we all do in this proffesion. Personaly speaking I know ill go into my classes better prepared from working with nurses and pt's and seeing/assisting with procedures. and getting all my jitters out of the way.
  14. by   mark_LD_RN
    it wont necessarily make you a better nurse, but it gets you used to working in hospitals and exsposes you to procedures if you seek them out like you should. it is also helpful if you try to work as a CNA on the floor where you would like to be a nurse.gives them a chance to know you

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