Work as a CNA while in Nursing School?

  1. Hi everyone! I've been reading posts for quite awhile and really enjoy hearing all of your experiences! I am a first semester nursing student and have been informed that at the end of this semester (only a month away...yay!) I will be able to get my CNA license just by proving I've passed my Basic Health Assessment class and my Fundamentals of Nursing class with clinical rotations. I definitely want to go for it and get a part-time job while working so I can accumulate some experience. I've already started the job hunting process and it doesn't look like there's much available at the local hospitals (I'm in the DC metro area). The openings that are available want at least 6-12 months experience. I did find some openings at assisted living facilities. I just wanted to know what anyone's suggestions are for working as a CNA while in nursing school. I know that working in these kinds of places (nursing homes, LTC, etc.) can be very demanding, but just how different is it from working as a nurse tech in a hospital? When I become an RN, I definitely want to be in an acute care hospital setting, but I know I have to get my foot in the door somewhere. Will this kind of experience really help me in the long run? Should I wait for a hospital position to open up, or will any experience be helpful? Thanks for any advice you guys have!
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    About MomBak2Skool

    Joined: Feb '11; Posts: 439; Likes: 8
    Student and Stay-at-Home Mom/Homemaker; from US
    Specialty: Future CRNA or Nurse Practitioner


  3. by   brillohead
    Why not work in LTC for 6 months to get your experience in as a CNA, then apply to a hospital to work as a CNA and have a foot in the door for an RN job at that facility?
  4. by   MomBak2Skool
    Thanks brillohead! That makes a lot of sense. Do you know anything about any differences in responsibilities between CNAs in an LTC facility vs in the hospital setting? Or are the responsibilities pretty much the same in both environments?
  5. by   CrazierThanYou
    In my experience, they are similar. Nursing home has more feeding and butt wiping, but you'll also encounter this in the hospital, to a lesser degree.
  6. by   chevyv
    I was a CNA first in hospital then LTC and there are some big differences. In the hospital, you will get report, do vital signs, assist the nurse with anything they might need. You will also get some experience with the medical side of things. I worked psych, ortho, critical care, and ER. Many nurses will take you under their wing and teach you skills you'll learn in school. I assisted with codes, did telementary monitors, assisted docs with sutures etc.

    In LTC , you will get report, start passing linens, get your residents up and toileted. You have the opportunity to really get to know your resident and will be comfortable with a busy assignment.

    I loved working both. Either will help you be a better nurse right off the bat. Even if the ad wants 6 months of experience, apply regardless. I did during a time when hospitals weren't hiring new CNA's. I told them if they gave me a chance, I would be the best CNA they've ever had. I worked hard and stayed for 7 yrs.
  7. by   xtxrn
    I worked 40 hrs/wk during school as a CNA. Evenings only has one meal, but hs care/changing into gown/jammies....NIGHTS (my fav) has no meals, but more butt wiping. Both have different ways to help with time management skills that will be SO important when you graduate. I think being a CNA should be mandatory for getting any level of RN. It's the fastest way to learn how to hustle through what needs to be done, but still get to know the residents/patients. I worked 3-11 & 11-7 on Fri/Sat, then bounced back for 3-11 on Sun to reset sleeping at night..... not everyone wants full-time- but it is possible

    Good luck- I loved LTC. I worked in hospitals and LTC (among other things when I got my license) but the CNA experience was really valuable Good luck
  8. by   LindaB73
    I did not work as a CNA while in nursing school but I totally wish I would have. I think it will give you valuable experience and will get you comfortable talking with patients. Do it if you can.
  9. by   TheDreamJourney
    Hi I am taking my skills test on thursday for CNA and the class was worth it. I learned a lot about patient care in my class. And I also did my internship at a LTC and it was a big eye opener. I enjoyed my class and shadowed the CNAs there. I also helped them care for some of the residents by applying my skills. I will start nursing school in Jan. and am already applying for CNA positions around my hometown. good luck with everything.
  10. by   BeTheLight1145
    I was originally just going to volunteer while in nursing school, to somehow get my foot in the door that way. I love volunteering so much. After much thought and research I am 80% sure I want to become a CNA while in school, even if it is just per diem. Not only will this be vital as a future nurse, but I am hoping it will land me a job on a unit in the hospital setting. Setting goal after goal and planning is what its about. I have failed and fallen many times on this journey but I have learned so much about myself along the way. Thank you all and good luck!
  11. by   Missingyou
    My sister (as a new grad nurse)applied at a hospital that required 2 years RN experience even tho she had NO nursing experience. She did have 3yrs experience as a CNA in LTC. She got the job.

    You never know.

    Sometimes I wonder if the hospitals and any other health care providers put out advertisements for nurse's or other professionals stating they want 2 yrs (or whatever) experience because job seekers aren't the only ones that see the ad. The general public could possible see it and they want to give the impression that they hire only experienced.
    .....Just my opinion....