EMT or CNA for Pre-Nursing Student?

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    Hello, I am a sophomore psychology major looking to apply to an accelerated nursing program after college. I am interested in Peds Hem/Onc, ER, Med/Surg (anything in peds). I am looking to take either a CNA course or EMT course this summer. My dilemma is that if I take the CNA course it won't finish until June, and I have to return to school (4 hours away) at the end of August. I would ideally like to get a job at the local children's hospital, which will hire "patient care assistants" without a CNA license (license/enrollment is preferred, not required) or get the job after I get my CNA. I REALLY would not like to work in a nursing home. I don't want to take the class and then not get hired. If I took the EMT course, I wouldn't have the inpatient nursing experience, but I would have more "medical" experience. I wouldn't get a job with it this summer, but I would do the observation ride alongs. Once at school I could possibly get a CNA job or a volunteer EMT position, so both options sound good, but I'm not sure which would be more worth my while. I don't want to spend $800-$1000 on a course that isn't right for me. Any CNA's know what the hiring market is like, for adult and/or children's hospitals? What was more helpful in nursing school, EMT or CNA? Input is much appreciated!!!
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  3. 8 Comments so far...

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    If you can, get both. I've learned so much being an EMT. I do not have my CNA though. I feel like I will have a bit better time adjusting to clinicals especially with things getting thrown at you. I would not trade my experience of being involved in EMS for the past 7 years.
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    Given that you are going for a bachelors degree and then an accelerated nursing program after that, and you are considering EMT or CNA certification, I would highly suggest getting your CNA certification. The reason I would suggest that is because you would be practicing the fundamentals of nursing long before you even begin nursing school. I'm not saying that EMT training is good or bad, rather I'm saying that EMT training is very different from nursing. Most of the skills that you learn as an EMT will not apply very nicely to nursing except for perhaps taking vital signs.

    Please do not misunderstand me in the slightest. I would not trade the 7 years that I was working as a field provider as an EMT and as a Paramedic for anything. I learned a lot as a field provider, particularly how to assess patients very rapidly. However, like I said, fieldwork is not nursing. Most of the skills that you learn as an EMT are not really going to be very applicable. It's just the way things are for that particular field.

    Personally, if I was in your particular situation as far as I understand it, I would choose to take the CNA course. That is specifically because I would learn the fundamentals of nursing and would be able to apply those skills down the road as a nurse. Most likely you would not be able to get out of "Nursing Fundamentals" or whatever your introductory course is to nursing in your accelerated program, but you would certainly excel and be able to understand the material at a much deeper level simply because you no longer have to concentrate as heavily on the skills portions.

    That is my advice, take it for what it is worth, being that it is "on the Internet"...
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    If you know you want to be a nurse, why not go directly into nursing school and get your BSN? Slightly confused as to why you're doing a psych bachelor first. You can't really do much with a bachelor in psych, so why not save yourself 2 years. Time is precious, no matter how old you are!

    As for your original question, CNA will better prepare you for nursing school. You'll get to spend more time with patients as a CNA than as an EMT, and your entirety of your first clinical rotation is identical to the CNA role. Hope that helps!
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    Go with the CNA. It will give you the clinical experience you need to succeed in nursing school. EMT is a whole different side of the medical field. As for school, you should do your bachelors in nursing. The accelerated programs and very expensive and your psych degree will be useless for nursing school. You are basically wasting time. Take the rest of your nursing prerequisites and apply to a bachelors degree program. You will be so tired of school by the time you graduate...and in debt from your undergrad. Save your money and time!!! Get your BSN!
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    There are opportunities to work in a hospital with an EMT license. With an EMT cert you can work in an ER as a tech which I promise you has LOTS of useful patient contact. I'm a tech and the experience I'm getting is rather valuable. As an EMT, your scope is certainly limited, but that doesn't stop you from absorbing pretty much everything that happens in the department. This ranges from assessments, to treatments to hands on experience with all of the tasks that do fall within my scope of practice. Don't forget the all important things that can't be learned in a classroom, but only on the job.

    That said, I do think a CNA license will probably give you more job opportunities than an EMT Basic license. Whether or not it's a position you actually want is another matter.
    I would think about what you want to go into and what a job will offer you in terms of experience.

    There are also some CNA programs that are very accelerated, like 21 days or something like that which might be something to look into.
    CupcakeMonster likes this.
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    Coming from a CNA that works as a HUC/NST in Labor and Delivery at a hospital, I would say CNA! The job opportunities here in Minnesota for a CNA in a hospital setting go QUICK, so if you want a job in a hospital... apply, apply every day if you have to! I did not like working in a nursing home at all ~ just wasn't for me! I love working nights and being in school as a pre-nursing student. It gives you valuable experience and you have your foot in the door if you'd like to stay at that hospital.

    Do what works best for you and your schedule, but I did the CNA and haven't regret it Seriously though, apply a TON to hospital jobs. They list them as PCA, HUC (health unit coordinator), NST (nursing station tech) and a multitude of other position titles. Just something to be aware of. Good luck to you!!
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    I would agree with the majority on obtaining a CNA. I am a first year nursing student (also was a psych major but switched), I have my CNA and was an EMT 8 years ago for a short while, and work currently in a Children's hospital as CSA (clinical support associate) on the float pool. I ultimately would like to become a CRNA and after being in Pediatrics for a little over a year, don't think I can go back to the general population facilities. So we have a very similar path. I learned a few great things as an EMT, however, being on the float pool especially as a CNA I have learned so much. This first year of nursing school honestly seems to easy. I take every opportunity to learn at work that I come across. If I'm running a med I don't know, I look it up. If I see a diagnosis I am unsure of, I research it. If I see an interesting procedure being done, I take part in it by observing and restraining if needed. If you make your presence known and are available to help and show ambition, nurses, techs, and even a few of the nicer, less egocentric physicians will include you.

    Best of luck in your endeavors.
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    Im trying to figure out the same course of action as you are right now. I've decided to do EMT basic because I want to do Trauma/ ER. I do think more jobs will be available for CNAs rather than EMT-Bs but they are out there for both. Ultimately you should do what you think will be most beneficial. I want to be a Flight nurse so I need the EMS skills of patient transport and rapid assessment which being an EMT will provide. I agree with the other responses on switching from psych to Nursing. Im now pursuing a second bachelors and wished I would have done nursing the first time around. Save yourself the time and money and go into the field you want to be in. You can always get a minor in psych.


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