Experience vs. Reward: Working in the field

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    I'm at a crossroads and would like some input from those who have come before me, who also may have been in a similar situation. Basically this post will boil down to one question. Would leaving my current profession, while a pre-nursing student, to work as a CNA/EMT/Med Tech/etc., gain me enough experience to make the early switch over worth the move?

    I already know that even as an RN with a BSN, I might be able make half of what I make now, but money isn't everything.....happiness and piece of mind are at the top of the list.

    Could anyone offer me any insight? Maybe offer some experience that would help me make a more informed decision.
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  4. 8 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    I was in sort of a similar position - the advice that I received was to make a pros and cons list, and compare the two. So I did and found it extremely helpful. My job at that time paid twice as much as a CNA job did and provided better benefits and great flexibility for school, so I ended up keeping my old job for the first 2 years of nursing school, but did switch over to a PRN patient care tech (basically CNA) job late in nursing school (many places will let you work as a PCT after you've completed 1 semester of nursing school - check your local hospital's ad).

    I really valued my time as a patient care tech and it helped me be a better nurse. and it helps you get comfortable providing patient care. Being in the environment you learn basic information which will serve you well as a nurse such as the best ways to position patients, how to use the equipment, general knowledge about medical conditions, see how nurses handle tough patient or family situations(and start to get experience with that yourself), and can start to understand patient flow. It also helps you get comfortable being around and caring for patients with so many conditions in so many stages of life.

    The other reason to do a CNA job, which is one of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, is that it will get your foot in the door so you can apply as an internal applicant once you graduate. RN jobs these days are in no way guaranteed and by doing this it will give you a huge leg up. But, you don't have to do it this early in the game, so do make that pros and cons list because there are many factors to consider!
    Rosenhammer likes this.
  6. 0
    Thanks Ayvah. Your reply helped me out a lot. After a long talk with my family, I've also decided to stick with my current profession and then move over after I have at least 1 or 2 semesters under my belt. It sounds like to me that the value of the learning experience far outways the current paycheck, not to mention the "foot in the door". I'm just so excited about getting started! Thanks again!
  7. 1
    In real life you have to pay the bills. If you can afford to leave your current job for a lower paying CNA/MA assistant job, then it's okay to do that to get experience. But I think it's smart to get a lot of your pre-reqs finished first to make sure you have the interest and academic ability to succeed in nursing school.

    I work as a secretary at a community college, which provides free tuition to employees. So I've had good salary and benefits and gotten to take my pre-req classes for free. It's much slower than if I'd attended school full-time, but I have a family and it's worked for me.
    Rosenhammer likes this.
  8. 1
    I went from a totally non medical felid to LPN school now working as an LPN, in January I start a ADN program.

    I don't know if being a Cna would or would not have helped, the cna's I work with now ate amazing and teach me things I don't know.

    Good luck
    Rosenhammer likes this.
  9. 0
    Quote from CDEWannaBe
    In real life you have to pay the bills. If you can afford to leave your current job for a lower paying CNA/MA assistant job, then it's okay to do that to get experience. But I think it's smart to get a lot of your pre-reqs finished first to make sure you have the interest and academic ability to succeed in nursing school.

    I work as a secretary at a community college, which provides free tuition to employees. So I've had good salary and benefits and gotten to take my pre-req classes for free. It's much slower than if I'd attended school full-time, but I have a family and it's worked for me.
    Thanks CDE. That free tuition has GOT to be nice! I'm jealous. But alas, I too have a family, mortgage, bills, etc. and would squeek by if I left my current job. The experience would be good for me, but not at the expense of my family's well-being.
  10. 0
    Quote from Kimynurse
    I went from a totally non medical felid to LPN school now working as an LPN, in January I start a ADN program.

    I don't know if being a Cna would or would not have helped, the cna's I work with now ate amazing and teach me things I don't know.

    Good luck
    Good for you Kimy. Keep at it and thanks for the reply!
  11. 1
    I'm jumping over to a CNA position next month. I work as an administrative assistant for a hospice program right now and have about a year to go before I enter a nursing program. I will barely make back the money I spent on the class by the time I start, so financially it's it's not going to give me any sort of leg-up. However, here were my reasons:
    -CNAs do make more per hour than I do right now where I work, and the overtime is flowing, so I certainly won't be in a terrible position.
    -I am not quick to adjust to new things, so it is worth it to me to have this year of experience under my belt. I will get used to touching people, delivering care, and all of the interesting new sights and smells I'm going to encounter!
    -It functions as a foot in the door. One of the CNAs here just graduated from nursing school and passed her NCLEX, and all the nurses rallied for her to get a full-time job here and promised to mentor her. I figure that if I do well at this right now, it will pay me back with the recommendations and support. Even if I don't end up working here, the testament to the work I do will be very valuable later on.

    However, as others said, if the money is good where you are right now and you can't afford the cut in pay or the time to take the class, those are your circumstances and what you have to work with. You can always work as a nursing student or PCT later in nursing school, which will also be great on your resume. If you really want to get the experience in now, you could always volunteer a couple hours a week at a hospital; I did that for a period of time and loved it!
    Rosenhammer likes this.
  12. 0
    Thanks carakristin1. Volunteering somewhere is what my wife and I trying to work into my schedule right now. It sounds like you've got all of your ducks in a row and a strong plan of attack. It's sounding more and more like getting a foot in the door somewhere is almost as important as the learning experience, both of which will pay off in the long run.

    Thanks for the reply!


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