Should you work as a CNA/Tech before or during nursing school

  1. I have been thinking of working during nursing school and may seek employment as a CNA or Patient Care Technican. What are your thoughts on working during nursing school? I do not need to work during school; however, financially it will be ALOT more comfortable if I do so. Also, I never worked on a hospital floor and read that working as a CNA in a hospital will be beneficial. Some have said nursing student who were not CNA or techs prior to becoming a nurse may struggle with time management skills and have a slower time learning skills. Do you think it is important to work as a CNA/tech before or during nursing school?
    Also, I have healthcare experience assisting in surgery and as a medical assistant, but I never worked on a nursing floor in a hospital.
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    Yes in the ideal world. If you can work part time, if your manager understands you're a student and they will be flexible with your schedule, etc., I think it is a big help for future RN's.
  4. by   EGspirit
    I agree with Brownbook. Work PRN so you can dictate your schedule, and if possible, try to be a tech in an area where you want to work as an RN. Where I live, one of the main universities requires a CNA class before one can enter the nursing program. So, it's definitely a good thing, and it was definitely a good thing for me.
  5. by   mmc51264
    I worked as a home health aide during nursing school. It was great. I had a pretty flexible schedule.
  6. by   Palliative Care, DNP
    I never worked as a CNA during my program. I did make friends and assist every CNA that I ever worked with though. CNAs make or break a shift. They are underpaid and overworked. My parents taught us "that you can learn something from everyone you meet." I learn something daily.
  7. by   RockinNurse2018
    I would highly recommend being a CNA if at all possible. I never was one, and it's made my transition to working as an RN more difficult since I'm trying to learn both nursing and CNA skills. I always help out my aides but sometimes I feel more like a hindrance than a help since the aides are much better at personal cares than I am. Don't overwork yourself as nursing school is difficult but do consider working part time
  8. by   RockinNurse2018
    Also my username indicates I have a CNA certification which is true. I passed the training but never actually worked as one.
  9. by   Munch
    For me its definitely true about time management. I never worked as a CNA before. I did volunteer in a hospital in my teens but I was basically a gofer and assisted the clerk with paperwork. But time management is definitely not one of my strengths. Like rockinnurse said the CNA are better at personal care than I am. No job is beneath me and I often try and help change bedding and stuff most of the time the CNA kindly boots me out because more often than not I make more work for them
  10. by   Crush
    In my opinion, I found being a CNA first and throughout nursing school to be very rewarding and certainly helpful in my education as well. I did it full time while I went through nursing school.
  11. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    It couldn't hurt and it sounds like you could use the cash. Don't let it interfere with your nursing studies and pick up any knowledge you can. However, you will probably learn to be a nurse by being a nurse. School does what it does and so do ancillary experiences but nothing was as much as an educational experience as my first couple years on the job. I still strive (and have to) learn everyday but at the end of the day there is really only one sure way to learn to swim & that's by getting wet
  12. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from MsPeachies
    I have been thinking of working during nursing school and may seek employment as a CNA or Patient Care Technican. What are your thoughts on working during nursing school? I do not need to work during school; however, financially it will be ALOT more comfortable if I do so. Also, I never worked on a hospital floor and read that working as a CNA in a hospital will be beneficial. Some have said nursing student who were not CNA or techs prior to becoming a nurse may struggle with time management skills and have a slower time learning skills. Do you think it is important to work as a CNA/tech before or during nursing school?
    Also, I have healthcare experience assisting in surgery and as a medical assistant, but I never worked on a nursing floor in a hospital.
    I applied for a CNA position while in school, but didn't get it. Looking back, I think that was actually a good thing. The job I already had was familiar, flexible, and paid better. Starting a new job while trying to make it through school would have been tough. I do think working as a CNA would have helped me a lot in one major way. I would have been much more comfortable with "handling" and "disturbing" patients.
    Networking is a positive thing, but I know many well-liked CNAs who did not get hired on as nurses after they finished school. The market was just too competitive. I would also caution you to remember that you'll be a CNA at work- not a nursing student. Some students have difficulties with their colleagues because they want to look at labs instead of clean patients ...and they want to study instead of answer call lights.
    Good luck with whatever you decide.
  13. by   bugya90
    If you can, I would recommend it. I never worked as a CNA before my LVN school and I wish that I had. It would have made that first semester of LVN school much easier and given me some experience for my resume.
  14. by   RNNPICU
    It isn't 100% necessary to work as a CNA prior to becoming a nurse.
    The things that it teaches you are
    1. workings of a hospital
    2. Different roles, responsibilites of nurses, techs, dietary
    3. Learning how to interact with patients and families
    4. How to operate some equipment - monitors, feeding pumps, suction machines, glucose testing. Some will depend on the facility and the specific units. Some CNAs get to do more, some not
    5. Vital signs and reporting VS
    6. basic charting

    What being a CNA does NOT teach you
    1. Daily functioning as a nurse. Although you will work along side nurses, your job is focusing on the tasks assigned to you. You may not get to see how discharge teaching occurs, how discharge planning and preparation work, nursing assessments, determining when and why to call the MD, who are the resources. This is the role of nursing school

    2. The responsibility of licensure. As a CNA you are an unlicensed personell. You have tasks delegated to you. You do not learn why some tasks can be delegated and others not. This is the role of nursing school

    There are liklely others that can be added to the list, but this is a start.

    I worked as a CNA while in nursing school and the hospital I worked at hired me as a new grad because I had good attendance, had demonstrated skills, readiness to learn, and was considered a good team player. I had a good idea of the functioning of the hospital from a CNA perspective, but learning the nursing perspective I learned once I became a nurse.

    It is definitely worth it if you can do it.

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