Thoughts on being a CNA in Nursing school. Is it a good idea?

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    Should you work as a CNA during Nursing School? I see this question quite a bit on here. I have replied to a few posts on this subject. So, I decided to take some time and give you my thoughts on it.

    Thoughts on being a CNA in Nursing school. Is it a good idea?

    Should you become a CNA, if you are planning on going to nursing school? Is the experience worth it? Will being a CNA make me a good nurse? As in every aspect in life, the answer is not an all size fits one. The experience is a plus but not completely necessary. Being a CNA before going to school can help you to be more prepared, but you can still be a great nurse without it. There are many things to consider when making this decision. Lifestyle, pay, and location are just some things to think about. I have been a CNA for eight years and these are some of the things I think you should consider before working as a CNA.

    PROS: The good news

    Experience, Experience and Experience- I cannot say that enough. You can learn so much by working in the healthcare field.

    Basic knowledge of first term skills- I found that my skills as a CNA were very helpful during the fundamentals of nursing. I had firsthand knowledge of so many things we went over for in Lab.

    Forming professional connections- These connections can be extremely helpful. Coworkers are often used as references, for school or for new jobs. Some CNA's will come out of school with their first nursing job already secured. Plus, I can't tell you how many times, I have asked a nurse to explain something, I had a question about from school.

    Financial assistance (some facilities will help pay for school)- This is a great resource if your place of employment offers it. My hospital has tuition reimbursement and scholarship programs. ( Plus, my employer pays for my BLS certification)

    Patient interaction before your first clinical- I am so comfortable talking to patients and their family members. I am also use to having physical contact with patients; Helping someone to the chair, bathing, feeding, and helping with other ADL's (activities of daily living)

    Making a difference in someone's life- This career can be very personally rewarding. For those of us who thrive on helping others, my work is beyond fulfilling.

    It might actually help you get into a nursing program- Two programs I applied to actually gave me points for every year I worked as a CNA (there was a cap for that category).


    CONS: The bad news

    It is hard on the body- Depending on the unit/location the work can be incredibly physical. An 8 or 12 hour shift can take a lot out of you. I started working in my early 20's and even then it was hard on my body. To say it takes a good pair of shoes is an understatement. But don't forget those good shoes will cost you a pretty penny! While we are on money let's talk about salary!

    Pay- To be honest the area of the country I work in does not pay CNA's that well. At least for what all you do on a daily basis. The amount of physical a mental exhaustion might not be worth it to everyone. Most places do offer shift differential for nights and weekends.

    Time to study- You really need to have great time management skills to get in enough study time. The last thing you want to do after working a 12 hour shift is to stay up and study. If you have kids, you can feel guilty, taking the time to studying. There might be times when you have been working the last two days, and you haven't even shared a meal with them. I talk from personal experience on that one. One great option is taking a PRN position with low hour requirements. So that might be something to look for if you are interested, but do not want to be tied down to a set schedule.

    I did a more of an in-depth video on my feelings on this subject down below. Feel free to check it out. I would love to know others opinions on this subject. Please let me know if you found this helpful.

    Rleah
    You can visit my channel here Rachel The Bookworm
    - YouTube


    Last edit by rleah on Feb 9
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    19 Comments

  3. by   Mickey78
    Good video on pros/cons and working as a CNA during nursing school. Again, lots of variables. If you have the luxury of not having to work while in nursing school then why work and not devote your studies to nursing school. Most people though dont have the luxury and have to pay the bills so to speak so, you have to work somewhere. I think the pros mentioned in the video outweigh the cons personally, especially if you are planning on becoming a nurse and getting your foot in the door, so to speak as a new grad. Just some thoughts...
  4. by   rleah
    Quote from Mickey78
    Good video on pros/cons and working as a CNA during nursing school. Again, lots of variables. If you have the luxury of not having to work while in nursing school then why work and not devote your studies to nursing school. Most people though dont have the luxury and have to pay the bills so to speak so, you have to work somewhere. I think the pros mentioned in the video outweigh the cons personally, especially if you are planning on becoming a nurse and getting your foot in the door, so to speak as a new grad. Just some thoughts...
    Thank you for your feedback. I agree so many variables. Whats right for one person my not be right for another. It was the right call for me, I love my job!
  5. by   ADN_In_Progress
    Im doing that now and I regret it. Same pay at a fast food joint or retail and MUCH harder work. You're right when you say it's hard on the body. Don't do it unless you really want the experience!
  6. by   rleah
    Quote from ADN_In_Progress
    Im doing that now and I regret it. Same pay at a fast food joint or retail and MUCH harder work. You're right when you say it's hard on the body. Don't do it unless you really want the experience!
    That's why I wrote the article, and made the video. The work can be very physically demanding. For a lot of people this could be their first job in healthcare and they have no idea what to expect. I was hoping to shine a little light on it.
  7. by   ADN_In_Progress
    Thanks for the well written article. I just wish it was out sooner.
  8. by   Ruixi13
    I think it's a good idea. Just limit your hours if it gets in way of studying. No reason you can't pick up a couple of shifts a week.
  9. by   Nurselife808
    Working as an aid while going to school can be very challenging. But I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. Alot of the time you can tell who was an aid before becoming a nurse because they are more willing to help the aids out, they aren't afraid to take a patient to the bathroom or give them a shower. You learn critical communication skills with patients and family's that will benefit you as a nurse. You feel more comfortable interacting with people.
  10. by   rleah
    Quote from Nurselife808
    Working as an aid while going to school can be very challenging. But I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. Alot of the time you can tell who was an aid before becoming a nurse because they are more willing to help the aids out, they aren't afraid to take a patient to the bathroom or give them a shower. You learn critical communication skills with patients and family's that will benefit you as a nurse. You feel more comfortable interacting with people.
    I completely agree with being able to tell who worked as a CNA previously. Most will jump right in when you need help. Though there are exceptions to that as well.
  11. by   retiredmednurse
    I worked as a CNA only during the summer months, when nursing school was not in session. Because the hospital knew me from previous summers, I was hired as soon as I put in my application. I could never work and do nursing school both at the same time. I do agree with all the pros written above though at being a CNA. Someday, I would not be surprised if Being a CNA for 6 months before nursing school application will be a requirement. Being a CNA shows one the messier side of nursing such as code browns, belligerent patients and/or families, being a waitress to get that cup of juice when you have a patient sitting on a bedpan. One learns time management, prioritizing, and inter-personal communication skills.
  12. by   Wannabenurseneko
    I regret becoming a CNA before nursing school, where I work my job is punishing me for going to school . Ever where wants you to work, work and not have a life I wished I stayed working in retail or any other job , the only good thing to come out is I can talk to patients .
  13. by   Wannabenurseneko
    Quote from rleah
    That's why I wrote the article, and made the video. The work can be very physically demanding. For a lot of people this could be their first job in healthcare and they have no idea what to expect. I was hoping to shine a little light on it.
    This was me my first job in health care .
  14. by   rleah
    Quote from Wannabenurseneko
    I regret becoming a CNA before nursing school, where I work my job is punishing me for going to school . Ever where wants you to work, work and not have a life I wished I stayed working in retail or any other job , the only good thing to come out is I can talk to patients .
    I am so sorry you are going through this. Some places can be toxic and demanding no matter the situation. You will get through just keep you eyes on the prize. How far are you into nursing school if you don't mind me asking?

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