Is it helpful to become a CNA before becoming a nurse?

  1. 0
    Did becoming a CNA help you with your nursing career? Do you wish you would have been one before you became a nurse, or are you glad that you didn't? What is your experience?

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  2. 16 Comments...

  3. 5
    Oh, without a doubt! When I finished my first year of nursing school, I was able to get my NA license. I worked every weekend and every holiday while in school.

    I learned SO much, not only from patient care, but also from the conversations that the nurses had regarding best practices. I learned medical terminology, abbreviations, understood why certain orders were made, and learned the general milieu of hospital nursing.
  4. 3
    I found it very helpful.
    To add to Canesdukegirl's list:
    I learned how to multi-task under pressure and prioritize.
    I already had exposure to many types of pt's so I was already familiar with some things I needed to be looking for or thinking about.
    I also understood the culture and was already comfortable in it.

    Do you have to be a CNA first?
    Probably not, but for me I am so glad I was.
  5. 3
    It was very helpful for me. I was able to get comfortable with doing basic care for patients. Confidence around patients is huge, especially for nurses. I learned tricks on how to turn patients/position pillows/make beds effectively, general familiarity with getting specimens and using equipment like lift equipment, how to apply tele/oxygen (christmas trees, humidifiers, etc), workflow of a typical day, how to help prep patients for tests, and how to become comfortable around patients (big for me because I was very shy), how to talk with them, and what their common fears and issues were. I also got to see a typical patient of X/Y/Z diagnosis to gain some familiarity with that as well. I also got to see how nurses reacted to tough situations. I very much enjoyed being a CNA and would have done it much longer had the pay not been far less than my other job.

    One of the most important things about becoming a CNA first is that you get your foot in the door for when it comes time to apply for a RN job. It is becoming more competitive to get a RN job, so having patient care experience, or being considered an internal candidate, is huge.

    I highly recommend being a CNA for all aspiring nurses. It will give you the basic foundation to make the transition that much smoother
    Last edit by Ayvah on Jun 15, '13
    silverbat, Hygiene Queen, and MissM.RN like this.
  6. 1
    I think it's extremely valuable experience for all the reasons mentioned.

    However, I would not delay nursing school for a long time in order to be a CNA first. Get your license and a job and then start your prereqs.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
  7. 2
    I also valued my experience as a CNA for all the reasons listed above. I got a lot of exposure to nursing through it and had a better idea of what nurses do. In addition to a general familiarity with hospitals and wards as well as prioritization/time management skills, it's a great way to meet people, network and learn the terminology/culture before you get tossed into clinicals.
    NurseDirtyBird and Hygiene Queen like this.
  8. 0
    I worked as a nurse tech while I was in nursing school. The experience I obtained was invaluable to my nursing career for all of the reasons mentioned above. If you have the opportunity to work as a CNA before nursing school (or work as a tech during nursing school) by all means, go for it!
  9. 0
    Quote from Jess6
    I think it's extremely valuable experience for all the reasons mentioned.

    However, I would not delay nursing school for a long time in order to be a CNA first. Get your license and a job and then start your prereqs.
    This is what I've heard and what makes the most sense in my situation. I've only ever heard people who were nurses say getting a CNA helps first, but right now I think there's two big strikes against getting my CNA first.

    1: It will delay the time I'm spending working on my credits for my ADN and BSN. The course is 6 credit hours and very time consuming. If I got a part time job as a CNA that would also cut into school time, but this is super super minor and I would gladly accept a hospital job part time... if I could get one. Which brings me to point 2.

    2: Hospitals here are cutting down on CNA's, and I've heard you need at least 2 years experience before you're even looked at by a hospital. This is the major killer for me.

    I think it's super helpful to be a CNA first. You can get paid and possibly get the hospital to pay for some of your schooling. That being said, I don't think I could get my foot in the door at a hospital anymore.
  10. 0
    Definitely! I began working as a CNA about 6 months before starting nursing school and continued to work as a CNA throughout. It was extremely beneficial and I learned so much. It allowed me many great learning experiences and plenty of opportunities to apply what I was learning in nursing school to "real life" situations.

    Being a CNA also gave me a much better understanding and appreciation of how much work goes into this job. I'll never forget this and all the other lessons I learned. I truly believe that my experience as a CNA has made me a better nurse.
  11. 0
    CNA was a perfect student job. I could work evenings and weekends while keeping up on my school work.
    As a CNA, I was in a position to see the "behind the scenes" work of nursing. The nurses I worked with knew I was a student, so they went out of their way to show me around and give advice.
    When my brother went to med school, he remarked that his CNA experience and former sales job better prepared him for a hospital environment than any MCAT study course.

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