For as long as I can remember I've known I wanted to go into heath care, but was always unsure on which route to take. I'd always juggled the PA vs nursing routes, and finally by the time I was a senior in high school I decided I'd go for the PA. I had the grades and was studious enough to eventually make it, so I began to plan for one of the most important aspects of admission into any good PA program, the clinical experience hours (1,500 min.). At this point I'd been a lifeguard for four years and although there are times when you get legitimate emergency care experience, I knew this job would not cut it for clinical hours. I decided I'd like to get into a more personal type of care, and became a CNA.
Over that Summer I began working at a local nursing home and started accumulating those required hours. A few months in the nursing home started to experience some problems. It had always been under staffed, but with the loss of a few good CNAs we were dangerously short-handed, and word of strict nurses and poor management spread keeping many CNAs from applying. I didn't really mind any of this until I started getting scheduled down what most considered to be the worst hall in the facility.
At the time I couldn't imagine what might be so different about this hall than the others, but I quickly found out, and was disgusted with what I experienced. It wasn't so much the fact that the most difficult and debilitated patients were thrown down this hall, but more so the med aide acting as a nurse who made it so terrible. She would overstep her boundaries any chance she got, and loved demeaning CNAs, housekeeping, and other nurses at any opportunity.
I guess between her and all of this I started to get annoyed. I began to hate my job, yet love the residents more and more. They eventually became the only reason I'd show up for work. To say the least, this became the main reason I changed my mind on the PA route. I didn't want to spend another 2,000 hours in that facility or any other. I think what I like the least about it is the tedious tasks. If I spent the day doing what the nurses there do I would thoroughly enjoy it, but its the small, monotonous ADLs that eventually got to me.
This does not, however, discourage me from the nursing route. I've got most of the requirements completed to enter the nursing program
(all but advanced CNA), mainly because the pre PA program classes are synonymous to those of the nursing program. This will also help if I want to go RN to BSN, because a lot of the classes I've taken (microbiology, statistics, inorganic/organic chem, med terminology, anatomy/physiology, etc.) so I really benefit from going this route. It also helped that my high school offered a lot of dual college courses that put me ahead of the majority of students. I had 34 college credits coming out of high school, most of which were pre reqs.
Anyway, there are some questions I have now regarding how the next few years will go:
- Is being an advanced CNA less frustrating? i.e. less complete dependence by the residents, more skilled care, happier nurses, less of the monotonous tasks of getting 6 or so people up, cleaned, dressed, groomed and ready for the day and then back cleaned and down for bed in the same little time frame? Basically which is better?
-Would I gain some good experience becoming a home health aide? I always thought this sounded like a good idea, and I have a great aunt who use to work at the same nursing home as I did that decided to go this route and says its so much better. I like the idea of actually spending time with someone.
-When I was going the PA route, I wanted to put an emphasis on an endocrinology specialty, can I do the same type of specialty if I get into more advanced nursing with a higher degree level?
-What are some standard skills of nurses, or I guess what do you do on a daily basis (depending on setting).
-Does it help to have a broad medical vocabulary and great understanding of biology, anatomy, and physiology? This is where I believe I would excel. I don't know much about the hands on aspect of nursing, so I'd be right there with everyone else.
-Is nursing more hands on than knowledge, or equal in both?
-How difficult, in comparison to becoming a PA, would it be to become an NP?
I plan on doing an RN to BSN for sure, but if I ever felt like taking it further yet, how difficult would that be? Is it more of a "you need time and money" thing, or more of a general intelligence?
-What can you so with a BSN, just some examples please.
Feel free to only answer as many questions as you feel comfortable with, or care to. I'm really just looking for insight.