CNA and first semester... does it help?

  1. Well i'm not a certified CNA, but i have been a tech on a telemetry med surg floor for almost 2 years now. In january I will be starting nursing 1. I was jsut wondering if i will be struggling or if working in a hospital setting really helps since nursing 1 is all basic stuff. I work 12 hour nights and the nurses are really good about explaining things to me, and taking a hands on approach to a lot, so i have learned a lot in the time i've spent on the floor. Also i'm in the eavning program at school, so I'm hoping it will be less stressfull, fewer doctors and visitors.... I've wanted to be a nurse since i was in high school, but my study habits aren't the best. I know i need to do my reading before class so as not get behind, and i've already done practice NCLEX tests to get me aquainted with the format of test questions. I'm so excited to start in a few weeks, but so nervouse that i won't do well! anyone else in the same boat?
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   babbz
    OMG yes, it is a big help. I worked in several hospital's/LTC facilities too so I am familiar with a lot of things. I used to laugh in my heart when I would observe some first year clinical students who were so nervous about everything. At least you will be in a familiar setting and won't have to deal with nerves. Experience helps with the following:

    - you will know how to touch a patient-some students are afraid of touching pt's, they are just apprehensive and don't know how to go about itand it's normal but you have an edge.
    - you will know all about the wonderful world of call bells/lights. Some students will not answer a call button until a month after clinicals because they simply have never done it before.
    - you will know protocol, privacy issues, HIPAA etc.
    - you will be familiar with all the newer machines in pt's rooms. The ones at school can sometimes be older/outdated models.
    - certain smells won't have you going EEEWWWWWW!
    - you will already be accustomed to certain situations, ie: pt's family in the room

    I can go on but your oveall familiarity with being in a hospital/medical setting will be a great asset for you and your fellow students!!!! Now when I walk into any hospital everything is familiar and I'm sure that'll help me with my clinicals.
  4. by   Jules A
    The CNAs in my LPN class did wonderfully the first semester which I think would be a huge relief to start. As the second semester wore on they weren't as far ahead as before and some had an adjustment to having to study and work a bit harder. I think it will be very helpful to you, especially if your team at work is supportive and lets you increase your duties as your skills increase. I bet you do fantastic!
  5. by   swee2000
    Trust me when I say that the clinical portion of nursing school is 95% easier if you have some CNA experience underneath your belt. I started my 1st semester of nursing school never having worked as a CNA anywhere...And it showed!! Everyday, I had the classic "Deer caught in the headlights" look on my face and no clue what to do with patients or even how to act around or communicate with them. While all the other students breezed through their clinicals, mainly due to their prior CNA experience, I struggled. And no matter how much people tried to convince me of the benefits to working as a CNA, particularly when it came to nursing school, I remained stubborn about switching jobs due to not wanting to take a pay cut(for personal reasons). I ended up not starting my 1st, and only, CNA job until I was halfway through my 2nd semester of nursing school. In my opinion, that's waaaaaayyyyyy too long for one to wait because so many important, yet basic, skills are not getting utilized and honed down.

    On the other hand, a negative to working as a CNA while also going to nursing school, is that you tend to learn or pick up shortcuts on the job for doing different skills. Even though there's nothing wrong with these shortcuts or doing them on the job, most would never be allowed in nursing school because your instructors want things done exactly how they've taught you...and regardless of how it's done at work. So, as the saying goes, old habits are hard to break.
  6. by   MB37
    It can't hurt - unless, as mentioned, you've acquired "bad" habits on the job. And as said, it might not be so helpful in second and subsequent semesters, although if you switch to a "nurse extern" or similar position they'll let you practice more of the skills that you've learned in school (outside the scope of a CNA). It's not necessary, since I'm doing well without the experience, but I do have many years of service industry experience, so I'm at least very comfortable talking to people (and I've cleaned up my share of puke working in bars...). My first month or so was really tough, since I'd never worked with sick people before. I was afraid to touch them, felt like I was going to break them or something. CNA/PCTs are already used to it, and they're familiar with all the machines and stuff - for example, we don't have a Dynamap at school, so I had to learn to use one on a patient, fumbling around for the right buttons to push, and looking like a total idiot. You should definitely have a leg up, just don't think it will exempt you from studying, and make sure you pay attention to the textbook way of doing skills. Good luck!
  7. by   Danusia522
    thank you so much everyone! I have picked up a few bad habbits & am trying to shake them as we speak, that way when i start clinicals in a month i won't be getting marked off for them.
  8. by   mark3274
    my advice is working as a cNA can be a good experience for first semester but after that I would find a less demanding pt job to get you by nursing school.

    no need to keep at the cna stuff longer than a semester IMO

    being a tech or cna helps but imo is not needed.

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