CNA or Volunteer work?

  1. Hello,

    My name is Matthew and I'm trying to become an RN but, unfortunately, I'm going to miss the deadline for applying to my schools RN program this year because I just don't have all my pre-reqs yet. I'm trying to figure out what I should occupy my time with this year to increase my likely hood of being accepted into the program next year. Basically, I've been debating with myself between getting my CNA license and working a hospital (or possibly and probably more likely, a nursing home) to increase my chances of acceptance in that way, or by simply volunteering as much as I can at the local hospital over the next year.

    My only quarrel with getting my CNA license is that from what I've heard, it BARELY helps any more than by volunteering . I've also heard that good references can be a lot more important than CNA experience. For instance, if I were to volunteer at the hospital, I might have a much better chance of getting a great reference from, say, a doctor or an RN, as opposed to if I were to work in a nursing home where there would less of a chance of me getting such references. I've also heard CNA experience can be undervalued and not really worth the effort -although I have also heard it can give you a big boost in during clinicals.

    Also, if I were to volunteer as opposed to working as a CNA, it would leave me alot more time to bring my Spanish up to par which i know will be a big asset to me, possibly alot more so than the CNA experience would be.

    Any opinions on this subject would be GREATLY appreciated. I just don't want to spend this year wasting my time.
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    About mattattack89

    Joined: Jan '10; Posts: 1
    from US


  3. by   cokristinug
    I was a CNA throughout nursing school and would not trade it for anything. A lot of my friends did not work throughout nursing school and have still yet to be offered an RN position after graduation. I received two job offers at the hospital I work at and accepted one. I know that getting a job in this tough economy (even for healthcare!) was largely attributed to my CNA experience. I also did volunteer throughout school as well. Being a CNA also taught me so much. I am more confident and have seen so much more than my new grad peers. I would HIGHLY encourage being a CNA.
  4. by   NP Sam
    I say both! I am a CNA and a volunteer at a free clinic. Don't know whether Im accepted into nursing school but I hope I do.....
  5. by   hearts895, RN BSN
    Do both! Just don't do too many days a week of CNA and Volunteer work, so that you leave time to work on Spanish! I'm going to do both too, and I hope to become fluent in Spanish myself. Good luck to you!
  6. by   jriccardi
    I've heard from many RNs that being a CNA is very valuable. In North Carolina (where I live) it is a newer requirement for the nursing programs and I've heard from many people that they wish they would have done the CNA program. The hands on experiences seem to be worth it to many people.

    I took a CNA program and was certified in October. As of right now however, I have yet to be employed in that field. I am also looking into volunteering at the hospital here I did my clinicals for my CNA program.

    In my opinion... I think doing both is a great idea.
  7. by   Sart45
    I have found it is VERY difficult to get a CNA job in a hospital without experience. So how do you get experience if you can't get hired???? I'm not sorry I got my CNA license but it isn't as easy to get a job as you think. I may apply for Home Health Care but that isn't really what I want to do. Just thought I'd add that bit of information into your decision. I've also applied to volunteer and haven't heard anything yet; some hospitals have waiting lists to volunteer!!!! Try both if you can. It sure doesn't hurt to have your CNA.
  8. by   kewsey407
    Do both if you can! The CNA job will provide you with invaluable insight and experiences alot of your classmates will not have. The volunteer experience will allow you to see other areas of healthcare.
  9. by   Andrew12
    This is a little off on the discussion however, I just registered for a CNA course, and was wondering if you have any feedback on how difficult the course is. Is the work load a lot, I've taken all pre-reqs to enter the RN program i just figured i would take this course while i wait.
  10. by   kewsey407
    If you have taken all the pre-reqs for your RN you should not find the CNA course academically difficult.
  11. by   Sart45
    I agree completely with kewsey407! If you've conquered AP I & II, Microbiology and Statistics, taking the CNA course will make you feel like you are in kindergarten! You'll enjoy it.
  12. by   Andrew12
    Awesome. My confidence has tripled. Thank you
  13. by   Temeika
    I am a CNA and Ive done volunteer work, and if you can do both, then go for it. As a CNA, you do gain alot of valuable experience, such as the hands on, and sometimes it takes for a nursing student to work as a CNA to realize whether he/she will realize if nursing is what they really want to do. I was fortunate enough to get CNA training at a nursing home that paid me to train to be a CNA and they paid for me to take the state certification.
    As a CNA, and working under the supervision of nurses, Ive noticed that the nurses who were CNAs first seem to be the most helpful nurses. I once showed a RN how to use a Sara lift, and if you have experience in healthcare, you may know that thats a machine used to stand residents up for transfer. My experience as a CNA has made my first quarter in a practical nursing program alot easier, and has open my eyes up to alot of pros and cons that come with being in the field. I dont regret working as a CNA, because it will make me appreciate being a nurse much more. I prefer the hospital setting because from what i hear, you can do alot of cross training working in the hospital where as long term care facilities dont necessarily have alot of tasks that CNAs can cross train in.
  14. by   luvs637
    In regards to getting references---as a volunteer in a hospital, you'll likely be pushing wheelchairs, handing out glasses of water, or doing some light filing for a busy secretary, that's what I see our volunteers doing. Your direct patient interaction will be extremely minimal if any. Doctors most likely will not talk to you at all (they're busy and they're at work!) and I doubt that you'd get a reference from one. Even the nurses often won't have the time to get to know you as you won't really be working directly with them.

    If you become a CNA, whether you work in a nursing home or hospital, you will at least have direct patient experience. The nurses WILL know who you are because they WILL need your help. They will be much more likely to write you a reference, in my opinion, because they will know you. If you are already a paid employee of a hospital system or nursing home, it is likely that they will hire you before hiring anyone else as you will already know their expectations. Companies don't put the same amount of effort and energy into their volunteers because volunteers often turnover quickly.