Getting a CNA... worth the time?

  1. Here's my situation in a nut shell:

    Age: 30
    Family: Wife with 2 kids
    Education: General A.A. / Bachelors in Industrial Design
    Scenario: Planning on dropping everything, taking the pre-reqs and applying to Nursing school for a BSN. Then go on to get a MSN/CRNA.
    Question: I have a summer semester before the pre-reqs begin. I can take a class 2 nights a week and get my CNA. Is it worth my time? What will I learn?

    IMO, it will be worth it, just to learn some basic nursing skills before I go to school. I also think it could give me a chance to pick up a couple shifts and actually get myself into a hospital. Unfortunately, right now it would be a huge pay cut for me to drop my current job and become a full time CNA.

    Any opinions?
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   Keely-FutureRN
    I believe it to be totally worth it! I just finished a class at the red cross and have taken the first written test (out of 2) to become certified! I am also taking it to get some experience in a hospital. You should contact the red cross. They have day, night, and weekend course options so you can pick the one that best fits your schedule. Hurry though because they fill up pretty quickly. As for the pay cut, you could try doing it PRN so you can work a couple of shifts and gain experience w/o loosing money.

    You will learn basic care (bathing, feeding, dressing, etc). I am not in a hospital yet but other posters have said that sometimes you can watch procedures to gain more insight on what nurses do (exciting! ) I believe it's worth it because when I finally make it to nursing school, I will be that much ahead of those who have no experience in the medical profession.

    The number for nursing services @ the red cross (for Greater Salt Lake Chapter) is 323-7013 and they will send you info. about the classes and fees. Good Luck!

    Keely
  4. by   Spidey's mom
    Seems like this question has been asked as I remember telling my story before. But I'll add my 2 cents for what they are worth.

    Alot of my fellow students were talking about taking a CNA course in the summer before nursing school started. I spoke with a nurse who had been acting as my mentor. Her advice was to take the summer off and spend time with my family and just relax as I was about to start the most stressful time of my life.

    One of my friend's started the course but quit so she could spend time with her grandkids.

    The first semester of nursing school, we learned about direct patient care stuff . . . making beds, taking vitals, giving baths, etc. So, you will learn it anyway.

    I always make it a point to think of what I do as being part of a team . . .I help the CNA's - while they shower a patient, I make the bed. I empty urinals (I hate it when a nurse is in the room and a patient asks for a urinal to be emptied and the nurse LEAVES the room to get the CNA - geez, just empty it!), help a patient up to the bedside commode, etc. Taking a CNA class won't necessarily make you a better nurse . . character and a good work ethic is something you have or you don't.

    I think I'm a good nurse and work well with my CNA's without having to take the class.

    And I'm grateful for that summer. My poor family suffered once I started school. Good luck and hang on to your hat . . . you're in for a ride!
  5. by   AmyLiz
    It's required by my school to be a CNA before starting your actual nursing classes. They offer a class, or you can get it through another agency (red cross, hospital, LTC, etc). I think they use that requirement so that they don't have to teach the basics that you learn in NA Training. (I think)

    If your school doesn't require it...I can see how getting some NA experience could really help you in the long run. At the least it will get your feet wet (so to speak) in the health care field!

    Good luck!
  6. by   warzone
    Thanks for your replys.

    My only concern was getting a little bit of 'Nursing Knowledge' before I jumped into school. Since I will be transfering right into a Bachelors program, I don't want to be thrown to the wolves! LOL! I figured 2 nights a week, is no big deal. Plus, it's been 3 years since I have been in school full time, so it would be nice to ease back into it...I don't want to shock my system too bad.

    Can you get a CNA type job without having a CNA?
  7. by   Ortho_RN
    I think it is a great way... I did not work during my first semester (the one you learn all the CNA stuff in), but I did start working as a PCA during the summer before my 2nd semester.... and I have been there almost a year, and I learn something every day.... Nah, it won't make you necessarily a better nurse, but it makes you a more well rounded nurse... You will know what it is like to work from the bottom up, and have more respect for the people who do the job on a daily basis...

    I think some people are just scared to do it or feel it is beyond them to bathe someone.. They think once they get their RN they won't every have to do the CNA type things... Well some don't... and trust me you will see those... A nurse that I work with, she has been a RN for 30yrs now, said she can tell when a new nurse has worked as a PCA/CNA, because they aren't scared to do the dirty stuff.

    I think it will be good for you.. Let us know what you decide.. good luck
  8. by   Belgndogs
    I'm taking pre-req's right now, and got my CNA license recently. I'm glad I did it, and have been applying at hospitals like crazy; unfortunately I haven't had a single call-back! I thought that was funny because there are ads everywhere, every hospital has multiple openings and none of the ones I applied to specified that you had to have experience (I don't). I understand that they would pick someone with rather than without experience, but I'd've thought I'd at least get an interview or two! Oh well, it was a good learning experience going through the course work.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Just had to respond to the idea that you can ALWAYS tell a nurse who wasn't a CNA or who didn't take a CNA class. Generalizations drive me crazy.

    I didn't take a CNA course and was never a CNA and I help. I empty urinals, make beds, give bed baths, do post-mortum care, etc. You either have a team concept or you don't.

    The "Q" word superstition gets to me also. I say quiet every day at work just to test the theory that when you say quiet, all hell breaks loose. Hell rarely breaks loose.

    Management is not always evil also.

    I open umbrellas in the house and walk under ladders and run over black cats (yeehaw Heather!).

    I work with a woman who went from CNA to LVN to RN and she has a reputation among the CNA's of sitting on her butt. She hates doing vital signs when the CNA's are called off. But I would never say that all CNA-LVN-RN's are lazy.

    There isn't a wrong or right answer here. Do what you think is best for you and your family. Just know that you will be a better nurse if you work as a team.
  10. by   Flynurse
    Absolutely and totally worth your precious time! I would have been completely lost if I had not become a CNA first. In fact, I believe the school I went to made it mandatory to be a CNA for six months before starting the nursing program just after I graduated. That right there has to tell you something. Being a CNA and a Medication Aide before I started nursing school really relieved alot of anxiety. And gave me the upper hand to help out my fellow students because I was almost always done with my patient cares with plenty of time to try and figure out those darn Nursing Care Plans.

    Good Luck, W. Zone!
  11. by   Ortho_RN
    Originally posted by stevielynn
    Just had to respond to the idea that you can ALWAYS tell a nurse who wasn't a CNA or who didn't take a CNA class. Generalizations drive me crazy.

    I didn't take a CNA course and was never a CNA and I help. I empty urinals, make beds, give bed baths, do post-mortum care, etc. You either have a team concept or you don't.

    The "Q" word superstition gets to me also. I say quiet every day at work just to test the theory that when you say quiet, all hell breaks loose. Hell rarely breaks loose.

    Management is not always evil also.

    I open umbrellas in the house and walk under ladders and run over black cats (yeehaw Heather!).

    I work with a woman who went from CNA to LVN to RN and she has a reputation among the CNA's of sitting on her butt. She hates doing vital signs when the CNA's are called off. But I would never say that all CNA-LVN-RN's are lazy.

    There isn't a wrong or right answer here. Do what you think is best for you and your family. Just know that you will be a better nurse if you work as a team.
    Well.. I wasn't stating my opinion.. I was just stating an opinion of a nurse who has worked for 30yrs.. So I figure she knows what she is talking about...

    And I agree 199% about the team concept... The floor I work on is great, we help each other.. If the other aide is busy, the nurse always helps me with HER patients.... Our floor got closed and we were moved to a med-surg floor (mine is an Orthopedic floor), and they don't have a team concept.. The nurses do their jobs and that is it.. They complain when the aides or LPN asks them for help... It was HORRIBLE working on that floor...
  12. by   nessa1982
    In my RN program you can sit for the CNA program after your first semester of RN classes without having to take a CNA course. So see if your school has something like that first
  13. by   RNonsense
    I worked as an Aide in a nursing home while I went to school. Looking back, I found it really helped with getting organized, delegating, and setting priorities later on. Aides work HARD and I have alot of respect for them.
  14. by   moonshadeau
    Definately get your CNA license if you have the opportunity. Especially if you are entering the BSN where in SOME (not all) parts of the country, colleges focus on the theory aspect of RN activities rather than CNA roles. The local university here only does 4 two hour clinical rotations in the CNA/nurse role (bed baths, vitals, assessments). This being said you can also make extra money doing per diem nursing just about anywhere if you wanted. Not to mention the great exposure to all sorts of medical conditions.

    In addition, I have said this before, I know many people did not believe me or want to hear it. If you fail your boards the first time, your grad license is revoked. If you do not have your CNA license, you do not have a job. This is policy at my facility, and I have personally lost an orientee from a BSN program because this fact was not told to her prior.

    And keep in mind license/certificate are interchangable to me as I have had both in the past, being a Certified NA and a Licensed NA, just in different parts of the country.

    Good luck with school.

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