CNA before RN?

  1. Hello all,
    First of all thank you to anyone who answers this post and gives me advice! I am doing the pre reqs for the nursing school at my college right now and have two questions I need answered:

    1) To all you RNs out there would you recommend working as a CNA for awhile before becoming an RN? I have to wait 3 semesters to start my nursing classes after I apply since the wait list is so long and I'm wondering if I should get my CNA license while I'm waiting so I can get a head start on my healthcare career.

    2) I was wondering what a job as a CNA entails. I have read many job explanations online but they are very general. I was wondering what specific things CNAs are allowed to do and what their typical work day was like.
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   swee2000
    I may not be an RN, but I still feel I can give you sound advice from an LPN's point-of-view.

    First of all, I'm not sure if I misread something, but if you have not taken the course to become a certified CNA, please do so. This is the only way you can become a CNA as well as eligible to work in any facility. Plus, most nursing schools nowadays require students to be CNA certified before they even start the program(and some are even requiring job experience as a CNA, as well).

    Secondly, I believe most(if not all) states require that you work x-number of hours in a licensed facility in order to keep your CNA certification active.

    Third, once you are an official CNA, do yourself the biggest favor and start working as one ASAP while you wait to begin nursing school. Even work during school, if possible. Trust me, having this job experience will only benefit you in the long run!! Why? Because I was in your shoes at one time. When I started nursing school, I was a certified CNA but had never worked as one, let alone anywhere else in the healthcare field. In fact, I thought my instructors & fellow students w/experience were tooting their own horns when they kept stressing how helpful a CNA job would be for me, my education, and my career. It didn't take long to figure out that they were right. As a CNA, no matter where you may work, you will learn many skills that will come in handy down the road. Here are some of them: taking vital signs & blood sugars(if the facility permits); learning the correct way to make a patient's bed(with & without a patient in it); assisting patients with ADLs(bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, toileting); transferring & repositioning patients(pivot transfers, using lift equipment, working with walkers/canes/gait belts/etc); learning to properly & appropriately communicate with patients & families at their greatest time of need; putting in/removing foley catheters; learning how to communicate with fellow staff members, including CNAs, RNs, Charge Nurses, etc; TEAMWORK and how important & helpful it is for everyone, staff & patients alike; basic caring for the sick &/or dying; and recognizing nonverbal signs &/or behaviors of your patient that could indicate something serious is wrong(ie: patient suddenly becomes confused, diaphoretic, dizzy, &/or SOB...all these mean something!!!).

    Fourth, as a CNA, you'll also learn how to properly prioritize patient needs, develop good time management skills, and build a strong sense of self-confidence. These 3 things are very important to have when starting nursing school and will help you out immensely in clinicals and on nursing exams(including NCLEX, which is the State Board exam you take after graduating from nursing school).

    Fifth, the experience of working as a CNA(regardless of where) will begin to expose you to alot of the pathophys & pharmecology stuff you'll be covering in school. Therefore, when it comes up in lectures or readings, you'll be able to connect the dots and have a better understanding of the many different diseases/disorders out there, the signs & symptoms unique to them, how they can effect the body, and medications used to treat them(ie: Type I or Type II diabetes; s/s of hypo or hyper -glycemia; circulation, BP, kidney issues, etc; insulin or PO meds).

    Lastly, I just wanted to stress that as you transition into nursing student and eventually RN, please don't think you'll never have to do a "CNA skill" again. You will everyday of your nursing career to some degree!!

    So, have I convinced you yet?
    Last edit by swee2000 on Oct 26, '07
  4. by   sistasoul
    Hello future RN

    I would say go for it. I work as an aide on a cardiac floor and it really has been helpful for all of the reasons stated in the above poster.
    It also lets you experience the teamwork needed on a unit to take care of patients. You will also be able to see what nurses really do. Two days of clinical a week just don't let you see the realities of hospital nursing. It has also helped me by seeing how different nurses care for their patients. Most nurses are really good but there are some you just say I am not going to be like that when I become a nurse.
    Get a job in a hospital though. It will be much more beneficial to you as a nursing student than a nursing home.
    Hospitals also try to work around your schedule if you are a student.
    The only negative I can see as to working as an aide is that it is hard to break out of the LNA mode in clinicals and think like a nurse (at least it was for me).
    best of luck, Heather
  5. by   swee2000
    Quote from sistasoul
    Get a job in a hospital though. It will be much more beneficial to you as a nursing student than a nursing home.
    Hospitals also try to work around your schedule if you are a student.
    I couldn't agree more!!! When I finally got a job as a CNA in my 2nd semester of nursing school, it was on a Med/Surg unit at a hospital. The PERFECT place to learn all about the things you'll be discussing, reading, and talking about in school. But please don't wait as long as I did to start working because the majority of nursing schools have Med/Surg clinicals as part of the 1st semester and sometimes right in the beginning. All the more reason why you should "get your feet wet" now by working as a CNA. Plus, you'll have the upperhand once nursing school really starts due to all the experiences & exposure. Again, I mean it when I say this is only to your benefit.

    Good luck!! :spin:

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